FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — President Joe Biden’s administration is demonstrating a commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion and a local organization is taking notice.
The new administration is a breath of fresh air for groups like the Lavender Society, a registered student organization at the University of Arkansas that advocates for an inclusive campus for the LGBTQ plus community.
In just a few weeks, the Biden administration reversed the transgender military ban, issued an executive order to prevent workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and relaunched the white house website to allow people to choose their own pronouns.
Toby Klein is the President of the Lavender Society SRO. She tells us it’s important these actions are taking place nationally, especially for those who live in communities where they don’t get equal treatment or protections.
She also notes Arkansas does not have a hate crime law in place.
Klein said some LGBTQ plus people do not feel comfortable or safe revealing their true identities at work or on campus because of fear of discrimination, hate or violence and that needs to change.
“When we see this at the white house, they are saying this is important to us. Then we know that our identities are valued, we know that we are important because we are being told that at the highest level of government,” said Klein.
When it comes to the new website, it has a new feature on the contact form that gives you pronoun options like she- her, he -him they -them, prefer not to share or other.
The gender-neutral title Mx is also there along with the traditional Mr., Mrs. and Ms.
Klein tells us recognizing someone’s pronouns is a way to show them you care and respect them. She adds its a simple task that goes a long way.
“Hey, what are your pronouns? She, her, hers! Great… What that says to me is hey I respect you enough to refer to you in a way that is respectful to you. If you don’t know what someone’s pronouns are don’t assume because we want that conversation to exist,” said Klein.
She added to be prepared to get some people who decline to answer and that’s okay too.
She encourages those who are comfortable and safe doing so to add their pronouns in their email signature or bios.
Klein tells us this is a way to self identify but to also show that your an ally and that can make someone who is having a tough time sharing their identity possibly feel more comfortable.
The Lavender Society is pushing for campus legislation to have gender inclusive housing. Klein adds the group is actively creating spaces so everyone can experience campus life the same way. It is also working to increase scholarships, graduation and retention rates for its LGBTG plus students.