The suicide of gay freshman Tyler Clementi spurs Rutgers to pilot gender-neutral dorms.
Can gender-neutral housing programs create a safer, more inclusive college experience for gay, lesbian, and transgender students? That's the hope of officials at New Jersey's largest university, Rutgers. Three dormitories are set to become gender neutral by Fall 2011, meaning that male students can choose a female roommate, and vice versa. What's spurring the decision? Last fall, eighteen-year-old Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi tragically committed suicide after his roommate secretly livestreamed his sexual encounter with another man onto the internet.
Gender-neutral housing is something gay students have requested—and been denied— for years. The school's Residence Life director, Joan Carbone, says that in the aftermath of Clementi's suicide, conversations with LBGTQ students led the school to take into consideration how tough it is to find an accepting roommate.