New gender-inclusive housing at SIU - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

New gender-inclusive housing at SIU

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - Thousands of students made their way into Carbondale last week for the start of the new school year at Southern Illinois University.

SIU is making sure every student feels welcome in their new home.

For the first time -the university is offering a gender-inclusive residence hall for students to live on campus without disclosing their gender or sexual orientation.

The new option for students is located on a floor one of the residence halls.

For the students who live there now, it's a way to avoid awkward situations and feel at home.

Lauren Hosty's best friend is a transgender.

She says she saw the struggles he went through his freshman year at SIU.

"He was assigned a female roommate even though he said he was Trans, and it made it kind of weird," she said.

Hosty says her friend couldn't be himself.

"As a friend you want to be able to say, ‘treat him right, this is who he is!' It was weird to finally have this opportunity to be who you want to be and still have this system in place that still doesn't allow you to do that," says Hosty.

She shared his story with the University Hall Association to help bring a gender-inclusive hall to SIU.

Justin Schuch with University Housing says in its first year, the new residence hall is full.

He hopes the university recognizes the need and expands for future students.

"SIU has a really strong history supporting the LGBTQ so we know that students will benefit and enjoy this community," says Scuch.

A community some students say they happy to be a part of.

"That's awesome of a college to do to help folks be more comfortable and make a better learning environment," says a freshman student.

"I think it is a great opportunity for people to actually get to know each other," says a freshman student.

Giving future students another reason to call SIU home.

“We've definitely taken some steps forward and I am certainly proud to be a Saluki,” said Hosty.

University housing says this also helps prevent bullying.

Copyright 2014 KFVS. All rights reserved.
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