By Lauren Foote
Fraternities are for guys, sororities for girls, but where do transgendered students fit into Greek life?
Campuspride.org is an organization that analyzes college campus cultures in relation to LGBTQIA issues. The website explains that in the event that Greek organizations do refuse entry to transgendered persons on the grounds of their gender, they claim protection under Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972.
Title IX, simply put, is a clause of the Education Amendment of 1972 ensuring that no one is denied the benefits of a federally-funded educational program due to their gender. Some national Greek life organizations have interpreted Title IX as a requirement that they remain single-sex and that they take a strong stance against inclusion of anyone who may potentially violate their single-sex status.
Congress specifically designed Title IX to ensure gender equality at universities, but Greek organizations are not covered by the clause. Under the language of Title IX, to retain federal funding, a university must recognize only social fraternities and sororities that have a membership primarily of students attending an “institution of higher education.” Title IX’s language says nothing about fraternal organizations and their single-sex status. It does not impose any requirement on fraternities and sororities to remain single-sex.
While Greek organizations are allowed to reject members for not meshing well with the culture of the frat, leaders of Youngstown State University’s Greek organizations have asserted they will give transgendered or intersex individuals the same consideration as any other student.
Matt Jaskiewicz, YSU Inter-Fraternity Council president, said he believes that while Greek life is willing to accept transgendered students, transgendered students haven’t shown particular interest in Greek life.
“As of now, there have been no known interests from the transgender community, but they are encouraged to pursue this opportunity if they wish. We would love to include members that hold our values and include them into our brotherhood,” Jaskiewicz said.
Kari Hart, Panhellenic vice president of programs and an Alpha Xi Delta member, was concerned not with transgender students wanting to join Greek life, but rather with potential blowback from the YSU community if a transgender student did not get accepted into a Greek organization.
“We are people and students too, we are not just part of our own separate organizations — we are also part of YSU. We do not want to be segregated. But some people do not get in for different reasons other than their sexual orientation,” Hart said.
Katie Hersch, Delta Zeta risk manager, said she believes that everyone, regardless of gender or sexuality, should have the chance to go through the recruiting process and undergo a fair appraisal by the authority figures of their Greek organizations of their choosing.
“We want all students, be it people of color or different sexual orientation, to be a part of our community. However, if they choose to go through the process they will be evaluated like everybody else. No one gets special treatment,” Hersch said.
Gianna Marinucci, Panhellenic council president and a Zeta Tau Alpha member, encourages students to join the process with full knowledge that it is a process — a welcoming process — that all college students should consider.
“Joining a Greek organization is like joining any group, leadership organization, job or company. … It’s all a selection process based on academic merit, personal qualifications and also how well you mix with that organization,” Marinucci said.