Creating a more inclusive environment in F&ES: Changing the application to include non-binary gender options

Creating a more inclusive environment in F&ES: Changing the application to include non-binary gender options

This coming application cycle, The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies has decided to make a small but significant change to the application. This year, applicants to F&ES who do not identify as either male or female (or who might identify as both) will have the opportunity to apply as their preferred gender identity.

Danielle Curtis Dailey, F&ES’s Director of Enrollment Management, comments on the change:  “We believe that it is essential that F&ES builds a diverse student body, in order to train leaders who will tackle the world’s toughest environmental problems. When we think about diversity, it is in the greatest sense of the word – race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, region of origin, interests, and so much more. We constantly strive to make sure that we are being as inclusive as possible. The Yale Student Information System only allows for a male/female designation in the category “sex” but we found that this is extremely limiting for our students. Adding an gender question in our application that includes options like male, female, transgender and a fill-in-the-blank helps ensure that all students will feel welcomed both in the admission process and during their time as a student. We are excited about this addition for next year’s application, and have already heard appreciation from students!”

Jessie Shoemaker, a current second-year at F&ES, says that their experience at F&ES, so far, has been an inclusive and open-minded one. They point to the restrooms in Kroon Hall to be an example of F&ES’s general acceptance of people who might not conform to binary genders. “There are sinks in each stall!” Jessie excitedly explained to me as we spoke, “Anywhere else on campus, a non-binary conforming student might be uneasy about the exchange of looks that happens at the sinks, but that’s not something you have to worry about in Kroon. It’s a relief.” Jessie also articulated their positive experience when they asked professors to de-gender their speech (make pronouns gender-neutral) during class lectures. “You can speak up and you won’t be ostracized in this environment.”

F&ES is a community in and of itself within the greater Yale University, and the hope is that everyone who comes here will feel accepted and included while conducting their studies. Out in the Woods, the LGBTQA social student interest group at F&ES, also welcomes any non-binary conforming folks to join them for meetings and events they host on and off campus. Members of the group are excited to meet the incoming class of 2017 at admitted students weekend in April.

If any prospective students would like to contact Jessie, please email me, and I will put you in contact. Jessie would love to speak to you more about their experience here at F&ES.


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