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Gender-Neutral Dorm Rooms

September 19, 2007

Universities are adding gender-neutral dorm rooms (and bathrooms) in which the norm for roommates is not presumed to be someone of the same sex.

Scott Jasckik recently reported at Inside Higher Ed that the momentum for gender neutrality seems to be increasing on campuses around the country.  One indication is the addition of gender-neutral bathrooms (see related CBMW blog post) Another indication is that this fall 30 colleges and universities “have created options for gender-neutral housing, in which the norm for roommates is not presumed to be someone of the same sex.” 

University of Pennsylvania adopted this policy in 2005, and the Daily Pennsylvanian reported that “Proponents of gender-neutral housing see the policy partly as a way to address the fact that gay students may feel more comfortable living with students of the opposite gender and that trans-gender students may feel uncomfortable with the system usually used to assign students housing.”

Such arrangements don't mean there aren't rules.  For example, in Connecticut College dorms, as in most nationwide, students are warned against underage drinking and taught honor codes that emphasize respect.

"I don't see why you have to separate the two sexes. [Co-ed] is great," says Rick Gabriele, a first-year student at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. "You get used to being around the opposite sex. I walk into the bathroom, and there'll be a girl brushing her teeth, and then I'll jump in the shower." But he adds that dating a girl on his floor would be "odd."

The Word of God is timeless and true.  Unless we are anchored to eternal truth, we will inevitably drift with the culture into foolishness.  While equal in value and dignity, men and women are distinct in roles and functions.  I would argue that this distinction should be maintained in dorm rooms and bathrooms.  More than “odd,” gender-neutral dorm rooms oppose in many ways God’s good design for men and women.

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