Report says change in Oklahoma higher education policies aids equality

A new report points to modest gains over the past two years in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in Oklahoma higher education.
BY SILAS ALLEN Staff Writer sallen@opubco.com   Modified: May 29, 2012 at 8:40 am •  Published: May 29, 2012
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A new report points to modest gains over the past two years in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in Oklahoma higher education.

The 2012 Higher Education Fairness Index catalogs nondiscrimination policies regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. The Equality Network, an advocacy organization, released the report May 15.

According to the report, 18 of the 66 colleges and universities statewide have equal opportunity statements that include sexual orientation, an increase of seven schools since the organization issued a similar report in 2010.

Of those 66 institutions, 19 have lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender student groups or gay/straight alliances on campus, a gain of seven institutions over 2010.

Only one institution, the University of Central Oklahoma, has such a statement that includes gender identity or expression.

UCO spokeswoman Adrienne Nobles said the university’s cabinet sought to send that message when it adopted a nondiscrimination policy that included gender identity and expression. The policy hasn’t had any measurable impact on campus, she said, other than reinforcing a commitment toward fair and equal practices that already existed.

“The University of Central Oklahoma has always kept fairness and equality at the forefront of its admissions and employment processes,” she said.

While the report points out that 73 percent of colleges and universities have no policies in place to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender faculty, staff and students, organization co-founder Laura Belmonte said the gains represent a positive change in a relatively short time.

The group released its first report in 2010 as a way to look for areas of progress, she said.



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