A statement to the Rice Community

From the Executive Director for Institutional Equity, EO/AA and Title IX Coordinator


Last month, a coworker was kind enough to inform me that March 31 was the Transgender Day of Visibility. For those that do not know, in 2021, President Biden officially proclaimed that day and called for, "[All Americans to join in the fight for full equality for all transgender people and recognize, “the generations of struggle, activism, and courage that have brought our country closer to full equality for transgender and gender non-binary people..." This year, the Biden administration made a similar proclamation acknowledging, “the adversity and discrimination that the transgender community continues to face.”

As the Executive Director for Institutional Equity, I know that these proclamations are important because they remind us that we must make visible our policies that protect transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming students and employees. At Rice, those identities are protected under our Policy on Discrimination and Harassment (Policy 830) in the same way categories such as race and sex are considered. What that means is that no member of our community can be treated unfavorably or denied an educational or employment opportunity or subjected to harassment within any Rice affiliated program or activity because of their gender identity or other protected status, although we may sometimes disagree on the measures that it requires.

While this information regarding our anti-discrimination policies is not new, it’s important to make visible our support for all identities, including members from our LGBTQ+ community as well as our support for free speech. As an institution of higher education, we value our responsibility as a marketplace of ideas that protects and defends our right to freely express ideas and engage in discourse. This right is so fundamental, it is codified in Policy 830.

Rice is also a diverse community guided by the values of responsibility, integrity, community, and excellence and these values can only thrive in an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment. As stated in Policy 830, every member of our community is expected to: 1) Be inclusive and accepting of others who make up our diverse population; 2) Be respectful of everyone and demonstrate civility toward all; 3) Consider how our words and acts might injure others, and seek to eliminate personal biases, preferences, and preconceived stereotypes; and 4) Respect the freedom of expression ... of others.”

Luckily, a fellow Rice Owl was kind enough to share with me what they knew about this important day. I certainly value the courageous work, activism, and debate that will carry us to full equality for transgender nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people here where we live and work, and everywhere. I would hope that any of us would do the same and help spark the conversations that will enable us to fully live up to our values and aspirations.

Richard Anthony Baker, J.D., M.P.A., Ph.D. (he, him, his)

Executive Director for Institutional Equity, EO/AA and Title IX Coordinator

Rice University