Post submitted by Paul Guequierre, HRC Deputy Communications Director
HRC is calling on leaders at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) in Charlotte, N.C., to implement an action plan after a disturbing incident of harassment and discrimination against Andraya Williams, a transgender student. CPCC suspended Williams after a campus safety officer allegedly detained, questioned and harassed her as she was leaving a women’s restroom. Although Williams produced her ID after the security officer asked for it, she was suspended for failing to show her ID to the officer and was told she would only be allowed back on campus if she used one of three gender-neutral restrooms on campus – despite the fact that she regularly uses the female restrooms on campus.
“Andraya Williams was detained and harassed for nothing more than being transgender,” said Sultan Shakir, director of the HRC Youth and Campus Engagement Program. “The callousness of this campus safety officer and outright harassment of a transgender student demonstrates the need for a concrete non-discrimination policy on campus and for dialog and training for faculty, students and staff on LGBT awareness.”
Shakir added, “After talking to Andraya and her lawyer, it’s clear Andraya possesses more strength and grace than many adults. As a group of security personnel mocked her, she calmly did everything they asked while keeping her lawyer on the phone. And because she was told she was suspended and not allowed to return to campus, she’s now at risk for failing one of her courses because she missed a critical class. Despite all of this, Andraya simply wants to get back to being a student and the college should make every effort to help her.”
Today, HRC sent a letter to Central Piedmont Community College President Dr. Tony Zeiss, offering organizational support in dealing with the recent detainment and harassment of Andraya Williams. In the letter, HRC calls on the university to act swiftly and deliberately in addressing the situation, starting with apologizing to Andraya and implementing a non-discrimination policy which includes protections based on gender identity, as well as training for security and other personnel.
Williams is represented by the Freedom Center for Social Justice’s LGBTQ Law Center in Charlotte. Campus Pride is also calling on the school to take action. Read the full letter from HRC here.