Friends, family, and graduates fill Century Campus during the 134th commencement exercises at Morehouse College in Atlanta on Sunday, May 20, 2018. The college’s board of trustees adopted an enrollment policy for transgender students on April 13, 2019.
Photo: STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Transgender groups applaud Morehouse’s policy but say it needs work 

Groups that support and assist transgender students praised Morehouse College’s decision to create an enrollment policy for those students, but added the new policy needs some work.

Morehouse’s Board of Trustees on Saturday approved guidelines that allow individuals who self-identify as men, regardless of their sex at birth, to be considered for admission in the nation’s only historically black school for men. 

 

The policy, though, would not allow a student to stay at the Atlanta college if they transition from a man to a woman, unless the student receives an exemption from a three-person committee appointed by Morehouse’s president. The policy takes effect in the fall 2020 semester.

Georgia Equality, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, said in a press release Monday the college’s decision is “a great first step for Morehouse that should be celebrated.”

Georgia Equality deputy director Eric Paulk, who graduated from Morehouse in 2003, said in an interview Monday that the college must ensure safety for all LGBTQ students. The college’s process to determine whether  a student stays at the college if they transition from a man to a woman is “an area that needs attention and fleshing out a little more,” Paulk said.

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Some parts of Morehouse’s policy have been debated in social media.

 

Monica Roberts, media coordinator of the Dallas, Texas-based National Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, agreed. Roberts has a friend who transitioned from a man to a woman while attending Morehouse a few years ago and worries that student will be unable to complete their degree. Roberts called it the “only bone of contention” with Morehouse’s new rules.

Overall, Roberts said of Morehouse’s policy: “it has been a long time coming.” 

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Morehouse officials have said the college will spend the next year doing more planning and discussing the policy with students, staff and others. The college’s president, David A. Thomas, said in an interview Saturday that 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.

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