Missouri State University officials say new language protecting gender identity and gender expression in its non-discrimination policy better aligns with current practices.
Some members of the Board of Governors on Friday explained that language in the existing policy is antiquated. The motion passed 6-1 in favor of the three changes proposed by General Counsel Rachel Dockery.
Dockery proposed to add “pregnancy, marital and family status, gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation” to the existing sex discrimination provision.
The second change is to add genetic information as a prohibited ground for discrimination.
Additionally, Dockery emphasized that the university does not discriminate on any basis.
“This goes much further than what the federal law requires, and much further than Missouri State’s peer institutions,” Dockery said.
While there are precise language changes to the policy, there are no changes to the practice.
“I believe our current practice is consistent with the law,” Dockery said. “The goal is to make it consistent with some of the guidance we receive from OCR (Office for Civil Rights) and EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)… And hopefully alleviates any confusions or concerns members of our campus community might have.”
Board member Virginia Fry and Vice-Chair Joe Carmichael said they appreciated to the language clarification.
“I want to thank you for cleaning up what I thought was a very overbroad policy to begin with,” Fry said. “Changes that are made here are very helpful, and actually do make the policy more understandable.”
“It really makes our policy clear and understandable to our constituents, which is our faculty and students,” Carmichael said.
Board member Stephen Hoven voted against the proposal, citing that the changes are forms of substance of the existing practice, and therefore not needed.