The 203 Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity is pushing for the University of New Brunswick to adopt a Chosen Name Policy for September 2020.
In a press release, Co-Chairs of the Centre Sabine LeBel and Megan Hill note that UNB began development of a chosen name policy in 2016 and reached its final stage of development this year. However, they are concerned that the policy has not been scheduled to be implemented in time for the start of the fall 2020 semester.
“We are very concerned that it will not launch in time for the upcoming academic school year, beginning in September 2020. We are demanding that UNB not only approves but also swiftly implement the Chosen Name Policy before September 1st, 2020,” they write.
Advocates say that a Chosen Name Policy promotes the safety, inclusion, and respect of students who identify as being part of the LGBTQQIA2S+ community while at school and plays an active role in combating homophobia and transphobia by normalizing LGBTQQIA2S+ students’ identities.
A Chosen Name Policy includes in-person interactions but also the name which appears on student identification cards and on digital student profiles, such as through UNB’s digital learning portal D2L and student emails. The 203 Centre says that having a Chosen Name Policy that addresses digital identification is especially urgent given how much of UNB’s programming has been moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the current online environment, the names of all students, staff and faculty are front and centre in all interactions from emails, to Teams, and other platforms,” reads the 203 statement. “If their correct names and pronouns do not appear, violence is done to those individuals in every work and school interaction during their day. Obviously, with so much of the work of the university having moved online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the relevance and impact of this policy on the queer and trans community cannot be overstated.”
Research shows that Trans and other LGBTQQIA2S+ individuals experience greater mental health difficulties as a result of regular discrimination at work, home, and at school. Not being able to use a chosen name which better reflects their gender identity and being regularly misgendered is part of this discrimination.
The 203 Centre believes that UNB can implement a workable Chosen Name Policy for the fall semester which would foster a more welcoming learning environment for LGBTQQIA2S+ students.
“there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done with respect to creating a safe and inclusive environment for queer and trans students, staff, and faculty,” according to the 203. “The recent NB Pride email that was circulated by the President’s office rang hollow given that the Chosen Name Policy has not been prioritized.”
Abram Lutes studies political economy as a graduate student at Carleton University.