Post submitted by Sultan Shakir, Former HRC Director of Youth and Campus Engagement Program
Today, students at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) in Charlotte, NC organized a rally in support of fellow student Andraya Williams, who was detained and harassed by campus police on March 18th while exiting a gender appropriate restroom. Andraya, a transgender student at CPCC, said that officers asked for her ID after she left a women’s restroom and, even after she presented her ID, was escorted off campus. CPCC has given no explanation for why she was escorted off campus. CPCC has said they are investing the matter.
Additionally, Andraya was told that she would have to use a gender neutral restroom and would need to show medical documents if she wanted to use the female restroom in the future. “This isn’t the first time a transgender student has felt harassed or unsafe on this campus and on other campuses, so while this is very emotional for me, I’m glad my story can help highlight the need for campuses to do more to support transgender students. I just want what every other student wants, which is to learn in a space that respects and values me.” said Andraya.
“Andraya’s story is just one example of the need for campuses to implement inclusive non-discrimination policies, but policies alone are not enough,” said Sultan Shakir, HRC Director of Youth & Campus Engagement. “Without a clear message from campus administration that all students, including LGBT students, should be treated with dignity and respect, policies alone don’t go far enough to create an inclusive campus. Including LGBT awareness and sensitivity into existing or new student and staff conversations and trainings is a must.”
In response to this troubling incident, HRC sent a letter to CPCC President Zeiss asking for key changes to be implemented, and offered support in developing and implementing a plan to create a more inclusive campus. HRC also engaged a local organizer Constance Brooks to work with the Spectrum, the LGBT student group at CPCC. Brooks will work to help bolster a postcard campaign to demonstrate student support for treating Andraya fairly.
HRC board member Scott Bishop spoke at the rally to express HRC’s full support for asking CPCC to remedy this situation with an apology to Andraya, the implementation of non-discrimination policies that include gender identity and expression, sensitivity training for students, faculty and staff, and the facilitation of a dialog on campus to help create an inclusive and respectful climate for all.