Lehigh’s Pride Center serves as a resource on campus for LGBT+ community members. The Pride Center is one of the many organizations that contributed to creating new policies for chosen names and gender identities. (Adele Hancock/ BW Staff)

Lehigh introduces new policies on chosen names and gender identities 

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On Thursday, Feb. 4, Provost Nathan Urban announced two new policies that will allow students, faculty, staff and alumni to identify their chosen name and gender identity in university systems. 

The Chosen Name and Gender Identity Policies will enable Lehigh community members to update their name and gender identity across all Banner applications. This includes CourseSite, Portal, LINC, and other apps.

The committee tasked with creating these policies consisted of members from the Provost’s Office, LTS, General Counsel, Human Resources, and the Pride Center for Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. In his email to the community, Urban said the next steps will be to implement these policies across all university databases.

Scott Burden, interim director of The Pride Center for Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, is one of the committee members. He said this effort began in 2016 and has only grown since then.

Burden said the real catalyst was Jennifer O’Brien-Knotts, the assistant vice provost for Enrollment Services. 

“She was working with a graduate student whose name was different from their legal name and they identified themselves as transgender,” Burden said. 

After working with this graduate student, O’Brien-Knotts wanted to put together a team to help with name display online.

The first stages of policy-making took about two years due to technology and policy development. 

While Burden is optimistic about these new policies, he admits there is still significant work to be done. He said the committee is unsure about which Banner applications will be able collect chosen names, but he is positive that the implementation phase will go smoothly. 

These new policies will impact the Lehigh transgender community, faculty members, and international students. 

“I’m proud,” Burden said. “I think it is exciting that we have this formal policy, and there is still work to be done that we (the committee) will be turning to this spring.”

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