Vanderbilt Non-Discrimination Policy
Are gender identity and gender expression protected categories by the University?
Yes. Vanderbilt University includes gender identity and gender expression in its Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy (under “Equal Opportunity”) against discrimination.
Vanderbilt University’s Non-Discrimination Policy reads as follows:
“Vanderbilt University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, or genetic information in its administration of educational policies, programs, or activities; admissions policies; scholarship and loan programs; athletic or other University-administered programs; or employment. In addition, the University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their gender expression consistent with the University’s nondiscrimination policy.”
How does the Non-Discrimination Policy apply to registered student organization membership?
Vanderbilt University’s non-discrimination policy is an “all comers” policy, under which all students are presumed to be eligible for membership in registered student organizations (“RSOs”) and all members of RSOs in good standing are eligible to run and serve on leadership positions or executive boards. The University has no role in selecting leaders of RSOs; that is for the members of each organization to decide for themselves. Every year, when student organizations apply for RSO status, their leaders and advisers affirm that the organizations will abide by the University’s nondiscrimination policy. The University relies on those affirmations in granting RSO status.
Students are permitted to join any RSO regardless of their gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation. The only exception may be some fraternities and sororities. We advise you to check in with a specific fraternity or sorority for exact information and individualized policy depending on the organization. Overall, the University’s policy explicitly incorporates and follows Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which allows for single-sex social fraternities and sororities.
Where do I report bias?
Please report any form of discrimination and/or harassment to the Title IX and Student Discrimination office if you are a student. Faculty/Staff should report discrimination and/or harassment to Equal Employment Opportunity.
How should I answer questions about “sex” or “gender” on official university documentation?
On most Vanderbilt documents the student should answer how the student self-identifies their gender identity, i.e. if you self-identify as a transwoman or woman, you would want that to be your response on a Vanderbilt document (or you may choose not to answer at all).
The federal government does require Vanderbilt to collect demographic information on a student’s “sex” at several points (e.g., on applications to programs) and requires an answer of either “male” or “female” for federal purposes. Please answer with the option with which you most closely identify.
Federal financial aid for a transgender individual is complicated because of the issue of “Selective Service.” If a student is assigned male at birth (regardless of their current gender status), they are required to register with the Selective Service within thirty days of their 18th birthday to be considered for government benefits. They are also required to register with their legal name AND any name change. Unfortunately, because the FAFSA is based on sex assigned at birth, that form needs to be filled out in accordance with federal laws. More information can be found at https://www.finaid.org/fafsa/lgbtfafsa.phtml under “Transgender Students.”