OUTSA Introduces Policy for Gender Protection to Houston Community College System for Students and Faculty
by Josef Molnar
IN BETWEEN CRAMMING FOR EXAMS AND SOCIALIZING with their friends, a group of Houston Community College students is also making time to advocate acceptance for transgendered students.
OUT Students and Allies, a year-old pansexual organization at the college’s central campus on Holman, has introduced a resolution to the institution’s board of trustees that extends its protections for minority groups to transgendered students, faculty, and staff. The move has already gained the support of the branch’s student government association, the broader United Student Council for HCC, and numerous faculty and administrators.
Lakeia Spady, president of OUTSA, is confident about the resolution’s passage, even as the current semester draws to a close.
“Time is the only issue,” she said. “We want to get it done by the end of this semester, but even if it doesn’t happen, I’m confident it will be done by fall.”
It helps that the group has done philanthropic work on campus raising funds for the Red Cross to help victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti.
“We’ve also earned the respect of a lot of administration members here, because we’ve done a lot of work on campus,” she said.
The project began last summer when two members of the group attended the Transgender Summit at the University of Houston, which was hosted by Josephine Titsworth, a transgender activist. The lessons learned there, as well as Titsworth’s assistance, have helped the group with the resolution.
“We also have members who are transgendered, so we ran the wording by them and asked them about how they wanted to word it,” Spady said.
Ken Johnson, parliamentarian for OUTSA, said the move is part of the group’s broader mission to reach out to the gay and lesbian community and educate others about their group and its members.
“I would definitely say that with our diversity in the college, it’s only fitting that OUTSA would be born,” he said, “and we do want to reach out to the community and show them we care, not only on our campus, but to bring peple in and show them that we here at HCC celebrate our diversity in all forms.”
Spady’s activism has earned her the Richard L. Schelgel National Legion Honor Award for Emerging Activists, which will be presented by the American University’s GLBTA Resource Center in Washington, DC, this month.
The board of trustees will consider the issue at its April 22 meeting, which will take place at 4 p.m. at the System Administrative Building, 3100 Main, 2nd Floor Auditorium Boardroom, in midtown.
Spady encourages students to show up at the meeting to show their support for the resolution.
“Having a lot of students there really shows that we are behind it, because we have a piece of paper that says it’s the opinion of the student body [that supports resolution],” she said, “but if a lot of students actually show up, it speaks volumes.”