MIT has added gender identity to its policy statements specifying the criteria on which MIT will not discriminate or permit harassment. The revised statements are available at http://web.mit.edu/policies (sections 7.1.1 and 9.5).
The Institute also has updated the portion of its nondiscrimination policy statement (also 7.1.1) that addresses ROTC and Department of Defense policies on gays in the military. The updated language underscores the Institute's commitment to supporting students affected by those Department of Defense policies on sexual orientation and to advocating for the change in those policies.
The move to ban discrimination or harassment based on gender identity, approved by the Academic Council, had its origins in a widely supported proposal presented earlier this year by the MIT Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender (LBGT) Issues Group to Laura Avakian, vice president for human resources and equal opportunity officer. The proposal identified the need for a formal statement to ensure that the Institute is free from the injustices experienced by transgendered people and others in society at large.
"At MIT, one of our great strengths is the diversity of our intellectual, professional and personal perspectives and characteristics," Avakian said. "With these changes to our policy statements, we reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that all members of the MIT community are treated decently, evenhandedly and respectfully."
The LBGT issues group is a committee of faculty, staff, students and alumni/ae who seek to foster a safe and welcoming environment for LBGT members of the MIT community. Upcoming efforts include outreach and education on gender identity for the spring 2004 semester, including a relaunch of the "You Are Welcome Here" campaign. For more information, see http://web.mit.edu/lbgt/ig or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 17, 2003.