Support for Transgender Students

February 24, 2017

President Drinan

A Message from President Helen Drinan.

I am writing today to reflect on the recent reversal of the Education and Justice Department’s joint guidance directing school districts and colleges to enable transgender students to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity. This move will place such determinations at the state level.

While I am deeply troubled by this action, I am reassured by existing Massachusetts law and want to reassure you amid these changes at the federal level, that here at Simmons we remain fully committed to the inclusion of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.Massachusetts laws will continue to provide equal rights protections to transgender individuals in all areas of education, employment, housing, lending, and public accommodation. Governor Charlie Baker has also offered reassurances that transgender students will be protected and safe in Massachusetts.

At historic women’s colleges, traditional notions and expectations about gender have always been challenged. Women’s colleges strive to be communities that support individuals who have been marginalized because of their gender. In recent years, women’s colleges have played a leading role in the support and inclusion of transgender students through increased transparency in admission policies, expanded services, and community education. These actions have offered an important example for higher education and our nation, and have resulted in new pathways for transgender students to pursue their education in an environment most conducive to their learning.

Simmons is proud to be an educational institution that strives to create a culture in which transgender and gender non-conforming students feel safe, supported, and fully included and are availed equal opportunities to education.

As we have throughout our history, Simmons College is committed to creating a culture of inclusion; one that signals to the world that we are a welcoming place where a full range of gender identity and expression enriches our community and is most welcome.