For the first time in the history of the Rainbow Floor – a special-interest community in Century Apartments for lesbian gay bisexual transgender (LGBT) students and their allies – the wing will include two gender-inclusive apartments to accommodate transgender residents during the 2012-13 academic year.
Gender-inclusive housing still requires two students of the same sex to sleep in the same room, but within the apartment, students can live with members who identify with the opposite gender.
“We want all of our transgender students to feel just as safe as our other students,” said Vincent Vigil, director of the LGBT Resource Center. “Having a gender-inclusive living situation ensures that we are achieving that while also abiding by university housing policies.”
The new residential option was largely a response to the recent rise in the number of transgender students within USC’s LGBT community. During this past year, as many as 12 transgender students participated in LGBT programs – the most Vigil has seen during his 10 years at USC.
“Several of our students, as well as the floor’s resident adviser, wondered why other schools with rainbow floors included gender-inclusive or gender-neutral housing options, but USC’s did not,” Vigil said.
Determined to change this, members of the LGBT community and the Trojans for Equality organization spent two years researching, planning, consulting other universities and writing a proposal for gender-inclusive housing at USC. Their work paid off, resulting in a pilot program that will launch this fall.
While the trial run only will feature two gender-inclusive apartments, it’s a step in the right direction for the Rainbow Floor, the LGBT community and the university. The next step would be to allow gender-neutral housing, where students of opposite sexes live in the same room.
“Our students would love to one day have gender-neutral housing on the Rainbow Floor, but it’s about making progress, and the addition of gender-inclusive apartments to the Rainbow Floor is certainly progress,” Vigil said. “It makes this university and our LGBT community a very attractive place for prospective students.”
The Rainbow Floor is open to all undergraduates, though gender-inclusive housing options only will be available to upper-class students. To apply or learn more about the Rainbow Floor, visit sait.usc.edu/lgbt/signature-programs/rainbow-floor.aspx