NORMAN — About 60 University of Oklahoma students rallied on the South Oval on Wednesday in support of a housing policy they say would protect gay students from harassment.
The students held signs and chanted “safe housing for all” and “gender neutral this fall.”
The students presented a petition to OU President David Boren that asks for a gender-neutral housing policy that would allow a specialized housing option for gay and transgender students.
Members of the Students for a Democratic Society and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Friends organizations gathered at noon to speak about their proposal for a gender-neutral housing unit.
Boren appeared before the group briefly, accepted the petition and said he would study the issue.
“I take this very seriously,” he said. He declined to make a housing policy decision on the spot.
OU's current housing policy requires freshmen to live in on-campus housing and provides housing options for upperclassmen.
The students contend the options do not protect gay and transgender students from bullying and harassment.
Gay and transgender students are uncomfortable with existing housing arrangements, the petition states, and often fall victim to derogatory remarks and bullying.
A gender-neutral housing option would protect the students from harassment, the petition states.
A 2005 National School Climate Survey referenced in the petition indicates that 40 percent of the students surveyed reported they felt unsafe at school due to their sexual orientation.
“Gender-neutral housing is a crucial step towards ending harassment of LGBT students on campus,” said Axton Nichols, one of the organizer's of Wednesday's rally.