NY announces new policy to let students use chosen names, pronouns for college records, diplomas

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Students at State University of New York schools will be able to use their preferred names and pronouns on official campus records, including school profiles and even their diplomas as part of a new policy and requirement that will apply to all 64 SUNY schools no later than fall 2023.

The new policy is a directive of the SUNY Board of Trustees as part of their stated goal to be “the most inclusive State university system in the country,” which they announced in 2015 as part of their diversity, equity, and inclusion plan.

“An inclusive chosen name and pronoun policy doesn’t only help students feel safer on campus—it is also a matter of respect. This is the next concrete step toward ensuring SUNY’s current and future transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary students feel embraced and uplifted,” SUNY interim chancellor Deborah F. Stanley said in a statement. “To those students and families who are seeing an unprecedented effort to roll back LGBTQIA+ rights and opportunities in other states, we want you to know that New York State and SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities intend only to move forward.”

Under the new policy, SUNY schools will be required to use a student’s chosen name “in any instance consistent with federal law where a student is comfortable sharing such information.” This includes school email addresses, campus portals and profiles, class rosters, and diplomas.

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul touted the new policy as a step forward.

“Every person, regardless of their gender identity or the name they choose to go by, deserves to have identity documentation that reflects who they are,” Hochul said. “This historic change by the SUNY system is a victory in our ongoing fight to ensure that New York is a place of love and belonging. My administration remains committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure equality and respect for the LGBTQIA+ community.”

The State University of New York at Brockport 

The State University of New York at Brockport  (SUNY Brockport)

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In addition to the chosen name and pronoun policy, students will be allowed to choose “X” when SUNY schools ask for their gender. This policy, announced as New Yorkers are now able to choose “X” as their gender on their driver’s licenses, will be in effect at all SUNY schools by the end of 2022.

These are the latest in a series of gender-related SUNY policies. In 2021, SUNY passed a resolution for all single-occupancy restrooms on state-run campuses to be gender-neutral.