HCC Board of Trustees unanimously approves trans protections

The Houston Community College Board of Trustees unanimously approve trans protections during their regular meeting last week. The measure to include Gender Identity and Expression in the college’s system-wide nondiscrimination policy was voted on as part of a group of noncontroversial actions considered by the board.

Lou Weaver, president of the Transgender Foundation of America, attended the board meeting and said the vote happened so quickly, and with so little discussion, that he almost missed it. “As an HCC alumni, I can’t express how thankful I am to the HCC Board of Trustees for taking this step,” said Weaver. “I look forward to working with the school to insure that the new policy is fully implemented in a way that insures that members of the transgender community have the same educational opportunities as everyone else.”

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Victory in HCC trans discrimination case (sort of)

As previously reported by our friends over at the Dallas Voice, in September a Houston Community College teacher, Donny Leveston, led an in-class conversation about “Taboo: Incest and Homoeroticism” in which transgender people were referred to as “freaks” and “weirdos.” In an official response from the HCC Office of Institutional Equality the school admitted that the instructor acted insensitively and failed to show proper concern for a transgender student in the class who later withdrew from the school over the incident. Despite this, HCC found that Leveston did not violate the school’s policy against Discrimination and Harassment and will not be disciplined or required to attend training on transgender issues.

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Houston Community College teacher accused of referring to trans students as ‘freaks,’ ‘weirdos’

Donny Leveston, an English teacher at Houston Community College, is under fire for allegedly referring to transgender people as “freaks” and “weirdos.” The comments were made during an in-class student discussion of a paper written by the instructor entitled “Taboo: Incest and Homoeroticism.” According to a transgender student in the class, Leveston closed the discussion by saying, “I don’t care what those people do, as long as they keep it away from me.”

The student emailed Leveston and explained that his comments made her feel unwelcome in his class. Leveston responded that “everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion” and that the student should respect his right to feel uncomfortable with transgender people  “Everyone has the right to his or her own preference,” wrote Leveston, “just do not go trying to push your views on me. Case closed.”

Leveston didn’t  return calls seeking comment for this story.

Daniel Arguijo, chief communications officer for HCC, said the college is aware of the situation, and has reached out to both the student and Leveston to begin the process of addressing the allegations.

Lesa Spivey, director of public relations and media at HCC, said the school values diversity.

“We want all of our students and staff to feel comfortable in class,” she said.

HCC’s non-discrimination policy includes sexual orientation, but not gender identity and expression, but Spivey maintained that the inclusion of “sex” and “gender” in the policy covers the trans community.

“I can tell you for a fact that our policy includes transgender people,” Spivey said. “When we say sex and gender, for us, that’s all-inclusive.”

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