A pilot program at Rutgers University, in New Jersey, will allow 100 students living in three dorms to choose a roommate of either sex. Called gender neutral housing, the move is intended to make the university more welcoming to LGBT students.
“I’m really glad they did it, although I wish it wouldn’t have taken as long,” Aaron Lee, a self-described transgender student, told nj.com. “We live in a world where in order to be considered a human being you have to be male or female, and not everyone fits into that kind of binary. It’s important to have spaces where people don’t necessarily have to worry.”
LGBT student groups had been lobbying for gender neutral dorms for years, but it wasn’t tell after the suicide of Tyler Clementi last semester that the university reconsidered the idea. Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge after a video of him in an sexual encounter with another man was posted to the internet, allegedly by Clementi’s male roommate. Whether the video was related to Clementi’s death remains unknown.
When students apply for a gender neutral dorm, they will not be required to disclose their sexuality. “We’re not asking students their relationships,” a university spokesman said. Rutgers will join several other American universities that already offer co-ed dorms, such as Columbia University, Emory University and Ohio University.