by Josh A. Goodman
This year's college freshmen start soon, and those living away from home will receive roommate assignments shortly if they haven't already. While first-years may have a roommate of a different race or religion, from a different socioeconomic background, or from another part of the country, their roommate will almost universally be someone of the same sex.
Though separating students by gender and sex sounds benign enough, same-gender only housing policies perpetuate problematic gender and sex norms and cause discomfort for some students. A handful of colleges, such as U.C. Berkeley and Penn, offer gender- and sex-neutral housing to incoming students, and over 50 offer it to upperclass students. Students at other schools would benefit if their colleges followed suit; here's why:
1. Same-gender only housing is heteronormative
2. Gender-neutral housing offers a safe option to students outside traditional gender and sex boxes
3. Gender-neutral housing makes gender less significant