Respect Diversity + Inclusion

Nation’s largest Catholic university provides students with nine gender options

Story at a glance

  • DePaul University, the largest Catholic university in the U.S., now allows students to self-select their preferred gender identity on the school’s online resource portal.
  • Students may also select their preferred pronouns and sexual orientation.
  • The move comes as several other religious colleges and universities in the U.S. have been accused of violating Title IX.

Students at the nation’s largest Catholic university are now able to self-select their preferred gender identity within the school’s interactive web portal, even if it does not match what is on their birth certificate or other legal documents.

DePaul University in Illinois this month launched the update to its Campus Connect platform, which provides access to a number of online resources for students and staff.

Platform users may now choose to identify as male, female, intersex, nonbinary, transgender male, transgender female, cisgender or unspecified, the university’s student government association announced on social media.

There is also an option for those who do not wish to self-identify.


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Existing options to select preferred pronouns and sexual orientation are also available on the platform.

“Simply put, misgendering folks is harmful because it allows for trans and gender-expansive folks to be seen as jokes or as less of a person. It can make the person feel like ‘they are not important enough to remember,’ which is incredibly harmful,” DePaul’s LGBTQIA+ Resource Center coordinator, Mycall Riley, told the university in June.

“Incorrectly assuming someone’s pronouns also assumes someone’s gender, which can lead to other marginalizing and harmful behavior,” he said.

DePaul’s step toward inclusivity comes as several other religious colleges and universities are under fire for reportedly discriminating against students based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights this month launched a Title IX investigation into Lincoln Christian University, also in Illinois, following a complaint from a former student, who identifies as an openly transgender woman.

In the complaint, the woman, Kalie Hargrove, alleges LCU directed her to withdraw from classes or face disciplinary action because of her gender identity, according to the Religious Exemption Accountability Project, or REAP, which had filed the complaint on Hargrove’s behalf.

A class action lawsuit filed last year by REAP alleges the DOE has been complicit “in the abuses that thousands of LGBTQ+ students endured at taxpayer-funded religious colleges and universities.”

The lawsuit challenges the DOE’s religious exemption to Title IX, which states that an educational institution controlled by a religious organization may seek an exemption from Title IX if the “application of Title IX would be inconsistent with the religious tenets of the organization.”

Justice Department attorneys in June updated the department’s court filing to emphasize that while its exemption policy will be defended in court, it is also currently under review.


 

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