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In Support of Transgender Members of Our Community

President Valerie Smith sent the following message to the community on February 24, 2017.

To the Swarthmore Community,

In May 2016, the Departments of Education and Justice issued a joint letter, known as the Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students, which directed public schools and colleges to allow transgender students to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity.  Yesterday, this letter was withdrawn by the current presidential administration.

I know this announcement has created fear and uncertainty for members of our community. I want to assure you that we will honor the advice provided in the original Dear Colleague Letter of May 2016 and will continue to do everything we can to fully and holistically support transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming members of our community.

This decision is a significant blow to the ongoing efforts to ensure federal protections for the civil rights, privacy, and safety of transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people. However, as a community and as an institution, we are driven as much by our values as by federal guidance.  We are committed to being a college where all students, faculty, and staff can learn, live, and work in a safe and supportive environment.

As you continue to navigate the changing national landscape, I encourage you to reach out to appropriate support here at the College, including:

  • The Dean’s Office & Class Deans
  • The Intercultural Center (IC)
  • Title IX Office
  • The Women’s Resource Center (WRC)
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
  • Faculty and staff may contact Human Resources and Carebridge, Swarthmore’s confidential employee assistance program.  Employees can call 1(800) 437-0911 at anytime, 24 hours a day.

I also want to provide information about new resources and initiatives that are currently underway to support our LGBTQ+ community. We are grateful to the students, staff, and faculty that have shared feedback about areas where we need to grow and improve.  To date, we have:

  • Created an LGBTQ+ Fellow position in the Intercultural Center
  • Established a process for name changes in the Swarthmore College Data System
  • Negotiated Student College Health Plan coverage for hormone therapy
  • Provided employee medical health and prescription coverage for gender transition care

We recognize that important work remains to be done in order to realize a fully inclusive environment for our LGBTQ+ community. Guided by the Self-Study Action Committee and campus climate study, members of the community are currently in the process of:

  • Providing LGBTQ+ centric programming and education on gender identities and expressions for students, staff, and faculty
  • Reviewing name database protocols and developing a process to add pronouns to class lists
  • Building a digital LGBTQ+ resource website, which will launch after spring break
  • Creating an LGTBQ+ student advisory board

The Intercultural Center, the Title IX Office, the LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee, the Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Development, and the Equal Opportunity Office will continue to work collaboratively to ensure that we are creating an environment where all of our community members can thrive.


Valerie Smith