Q&A petitions Washburn over gender identities

Sarah Miller

Please select gender: male, female, non-binary?

Washburn University Queers & Allies, a student organization focused on raising awareness for those that are negatively affected by gender norms, has started a petition for the university to make some progressive changes to all its official forms: adding more options when one specifies their gender. 

Queers & Allies originally started this petition last year under the direction of Amanda McGuire, former Queers & Allies president and recent Washburn grad.

“I decided to create this petition because I know a lot of people who don’t use binary pronouns,” McGuire said. “I myself have dealt with the frustration of only having two options, male or female, since I don’t identify as either.”

Since last year, leadership has shifted to Michael Anschutz, senior English education major. He said that he feels prepared and excited to pursue the petition again. According to Anschutz, the club had difficulty finding support for the petition the previous year. Even though they had the support of many faculty and staff members, they fell short on student signature numbers.

“When we started the petition last year, we had a lot of faculty that were interested,” Anschutz said. “We actually had to change the wording of the petition from ‘We the students…’ to include faculty.”

Anschutz and the rest of the club hope to get several hundred signatures in order to show the university that there is a legitimate interest in this movement on campus. Even in the event that the petition does not succeed this year, the group aims to spark conversations about what it means to identify as a non-binary person. 

“Even if we fail, I would be alright with that,” Anschutz said. “Because at least we started the process and got the information out to the public. Many issues in queer rights take years and years to happen, but someone has to start demanding equal treatment in order to get anywhere.”

Queers & Allies is encouraging Washburn to be more proactively accepting of nontraditional gender identities. The university has an extensive inclusivity policy on discrimination, but McGuire still feels that Washburn is behind in the times. She believes that it should follow the lead of other universities and become actively inclusive by opening up official forms to people of all gender identities.

Anschutz believes that raising awareness and making the university more inclusive would be beneficial to the Washburn community.

“Logistically speaking, this university survives on students attending, paying tuition and paying to live in the residence halls,” Anschutz said. “It doesn’t do them any good to scare away potential students.”

For anyone who is interested in supporting this petition, Queers & Allies is planning to start collecting signatures in November in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance occurring annually Nov. 20. 

Queers & Allies is accepting of all persons who are passionate about queer rights. They would like to invite anyone interested in the club and its activities to come to the next general meeting 7 p.m. Nov. 14 in Mabee Library, Room 105. For any additional questions, please contact Anschutz at [email protected].