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UNC Board of Governors ban gender-neutral housing policy

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors voted Friday to ban gender-neutral housing at the 17 UNC system campuses.

The policy was previously approved by a governance committee.

This fall, UNC had planned to implement gender-neutral housing, which means students could have the option to choose a roommate of the opposite sex. The policy was aimed at allowing gay, lesbian and transgender students to room with members of the opposite sex to avoid harassment.

UNC Chapel Hill already has co-ed dorm buildings, but the gender-neutral plan would have allowed students of the opposite sex to share an apartment or suite, but not the same room.

"Gender-neutral housing would make it possible for LGBT students to have a safer place to lay their head down at night - a basic need that the UNC system should meet," said Anthony Dondero, president of the UNC Charlotte student group Trans*Port.

Several gay rights groups rallied outside Friday's meeting, claiming the policy UNC-Chapel Hill had planned to put in would help prevent harassment of gay students.

"Banning gender-inclusive housing on the 17 UNC system campuses does not serve the safety of any student. It is dangerous and reckless to take such a broad sweeping action," said Executive Director of Campus Pride Shane Windmeyer in a written release. "Research shows that LGBT students experience heightened rates of harassment and discrimination at our colleges and universities, including in campus housing. Students should not have to feel unsafe or be fearful where they eat, sleep, and live on campus."

Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition, released the following statement:

"We applaud the UNC Board of Governors for passing a uniform housing policy that will prohibit students of the opposite sex from living together in on-campus housing unless they are siblings or legally married. With this uniform policy, our public universities and colleges can get back to the business of educating our students and preparing them to be productive members of our society, instead of promoting co-habitation among students of the opposite sex.

"Most taxpayers in North Carolina, and certainly most parents, do not desire to send their children to colleges and universities where they can decide to live with students of the opposite sex without their input. The Board of Governors has brought leadership and sanity to the university housing environment."

Seven of UNC Chapel Hill's peer institutions, including Duke University, allow gender-neutral housing. Friday's decision does not impact Duke. It only impacts schools in the UNC system.

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