Morehouse’s policy requires all students to self-identify as men. If a student transitions from a man to a woman, that student will no longer be eligible to study at Morehouse. Exemptions from this rule may be granted by a three-person committee appointed by the college’s president after a written appeal is submitted by the student. Trans women, or individuals who identify as women regardless of the sex assigned to them at birth, will not be considered for admission.
Dixon said in an interview with the AJC that the college surveyed its 16,000 living alumni to get their thoughts about the proposed changes.
While Dixon called the decision “a great day for Morehouse,” administrators are aware not all share that viewpoint. He said administrators have emphasized to critics and those with questions that “we wouldn’t deviate from what Morehouse is, a place that educates men. Once we explained that, people didn’t have a problem with this.”
Thomas said, “It wasn’t an easy process, but by the time we got to the vote, we were in a position where everyone was on the same page.”
Many colleges and universities, and the federal government, have grappled in recent years with formal policies concerning transgender students. In 2016, the Obama administration announced guidance that schools let students use the restrooms and locker rooms that fit their chosen gender identity. A year later, the Trump administration rescinded that policy. Critics of the Obama administration guidelines cited concerns about safety associated with allowing students of different genders to use the same bathroom and locker rooms.
In Georgia, Spelman College, which is dedicated to the education of African American women, this school year started a policy to formally enroll transgender students. Morehouse and Spelman are part of the Atlanta University Center Consortium. Agnes Scott College, a women's college in Decatur, admits students who identify as female, transgender, agender, gender fluid or non-binary.
David A. Thomas, the 12th president of Morehouse College, is one of two presidents at the college who did not have ties to a historically black college or university before taking the role as president. The other president, Benjamin Mays, is displayed in an oil painting in the background. ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM
Thomas said when he took office in January 2018 he wanted to implement a formal policy concerning transgender students. He consulted Spelman’s president during the process.
Dixon said the college will spend the next year doing more planning and discussing the policy with students, staff and others. Thomas said Morehouse will create a task force to explore what changes need to be made on campus, such as where to place gender-neutral bathrooms, and how the policy will impact the college’s athletics programs.