The New York State Capitol building in Albany, N.Y.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The New York State Capitol building in Albany, N.Y.

November 25, 2018

Cornell Students to Lobby State Legislature in Support of Anti-Gender Indentity Discrimination Law

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Cornell’s LGBTQ+ student union and the Student Assembly are currently organizing a lobbying trip in late January to the New York State Senate in Albany to voice support for the proposed Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act.

First introduced in the assembly and the senate in 2003 but never voted on in the upper house, if passed, GENDA will add gender identity and gender expression as a protected class in human rights and hate crimes laws.

With logistical support from the University’s lobbying arm, the student leaders behind the trip will meet with several state legislators to rally support for the bill. The planned advocacy effort follows an outpouring of community support for trans people at Cornell following policy proposals by President Donald Trump that many saw will erode protection for gender minorities.

After Trump announced his policy proposal, the University’s Title IX coordinator Chantelle Cleary confirmed to The Sun that existing protection for trans individuals will remain regardless of changes in federal regulation, citing state and University policy regarding the matter.

Despite the coordinator’s claim, however, the N.Y. state government has yet to implement the same protections offered to Cornellians by the University’s Title IX policy, which explicitly notes that “sexual assault and sexual harassment are forms of sex discrimination.”

The bill was first introduced to the N.Y. senate in 2009 and has been introduced to the senate five times since then, including the one in 2018. It was defeated during the final vote for four times and did not receive a final vote for three years.

Haven — the LGBTQ+ student union at Cornell — and the S.A. are in the process of confirming transportation as well as other logistics for the trip, according to Joseph Anderson ’20, Haven president and S.A. executive vice president.

In addition, the university will help provide additional logistics and connections to state legislators. Anderson said that Cornell’s state relations team will assist in setting up and guiding student meetings with state legislators.

“Lobbying has always been something that I wanted to do to advance issues important to the student body,” Anderson told The Sun. “With the proposed changes to Title IX and with GENDA being stalled in Albany this was a necessary time to act.”

Barring logistical complications and issues with weather, the lobbying will be on January 28, and a form will soon be sent out to students for signup, Anderson said.