I was shocked and disgusted when I heard that Florida A&M does not provide students protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
FAMU, named the number one public Historically Black College/University by the U.S. News and World Report, does not offer protection to students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Its current policy only covers discrimination based on race, religion, color, age, handicap, disability, sex, marital status, national origin or veteran status. This policy also affects all the Florida State and Tallahassee Community College students who become involved in organizations on this campus.
The story of TCC student, Fabian Johns, who faced discrimination from FACES Modeling Troupe, Inc., is an example of what can happen to students that do not receive a basic right. After attending clinics to model for the agency, she was turned down, twice.
With a model like Andrej Pejic, who built his career on his ability to model both men’s and women’s fashion, it seems like the modeling industry is blurring the concept of gender.
One would think that out of all the organizations on campus, those related to the arts would be more accepting and understanding when it comes to matters of sexual orientation and gender identity. Both FSU and TCC offer protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, people can still be legally fired for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender in 29 states, including Florida. There are 35 states that do not protect transgendered people.
As a public institution, FAMU has the moral obligation to accept and protect all students who attend the university. With plans to increase student enrollment, the university needs to understand that more people equates diversity. More diversity means there should be changes to university policies.
Like Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”