Column: Gender-neutral housing needed

In many residence halls, visitors of the opposite sex must leave after a certain hour. Nowhere on campus are men and women allowed to share a room. These are simple and seldom-questioned facts of campus life. There is also no reason at all for these policies.

Why, exactly, are these the rules? The most logical explanation is so obvious it barely merits an answer, which is probably why no one thinks about the absurdity of it: We’re afraid college students are going to have sex. Can you imagine the scandal? Youth — possibly unmarried youth! — doing things that they won’t talk about in front of their elders? Oh, the horror!

I don’t believe that the university should be in the business of trying to block consenting college students from doing the things that consenting college students have done since Adam and Eve enrolled in U. Eden. But what about the complications of mixed-gender housing? Surely some couple would want to room together and then break up mid-semester.

To start with, it’s not like the university has literally never dealt with roommates who start the semester as friends and then have a conflict. Furthermore, that particular point, as well as many others, are really heteronormative. After all, surely we’ve had a gay or lesbian couple room together and break up at some point but no one has ever called for exclusively single-bed housing so we don’t have breakups. And the curfews only affect the platonic male friends of gay and lesbian people, without fulfilling that All Important Objective of preventing the sex. This is, incidentally, more or less the only case where gay, lesbian and bi people have an institutional advantage at the university.

But if they benefit, trans people get hurt the worst. Due to our state’s insistence that men cannot ever, ever room with women until Jesus descends from the heavens to verify the chastity of his faithful, trans people on campus are required to room with people of the sex they were assigned at birth. This is both a denial of the medical consensus that trans women are women and trans men are men (and that nonbinary people exist) and a real logistical problem for a trans person when he or she must find ways to explain why he or she is rooming with someone of the opposite gender.

I am not saying that gender-neutral housing should be mandatory, but the option should at least exist for students. The War on Sex is discriminatory, insulting and doomed to failure. There is simply no compelling reason for it to continue in the modern era.


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