IN ADDRESSING gender discrimination issues, Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) heeded the call among all universities across the country to promote gender equality for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community through the setting up of an “all gender” restroom in the campus.

This was a mandate from ADDU president Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, after a series of dialogues with the LGBT community in the university under the Memorandum 2016-96 issued on Wednesday, September 7.

“ADDU is required to increase understanding and respect for the human needs and sensitivities of all. This would include administrators, teachers, students and staff on all levels,” Tabora stated in the memo.

The university, he added is “committed to cultural transformation in favor of a society that is more deeply accepting of diversity, including gender diversity, based on a fundamental recognition of the dignity of all.”

This action is also in response to the growing concern raised by LGBT community in the campus.

Tabora also encouraged a dialogue initially among the members of the tertiary-level community, beginning with the faculty by inviting Dr. Denden Ferolin, president of the Faculty Club at ADDU to initiate the discussion.

“The dialogue, I pray, shall foster greater insight into and understanding of the LGBT community and the needs of other who interact with it, even as I already initiate certain changes in the management of our physical plant,” Tabora said.

Tabora said all single Comfort Rooms (CRs) at ADDU will now be designated as "all gender."

This move for change by the academe was commended by the members of the LGBT community.

According to Center of Psychological Extension and Research Services, assistant director for external affairs and lead antidiscrimination ordinance advocate Hadji Balajadia, this was the result of their long-sought effort to uphold their rights and avert from unjustified discrimination in terms of sexual orientation.

“This gender sensitive initiative of ADDU is born out of reflection of our collective experiences as LGBT in the campus. The academe as such has always been heteronormative and even with the presence of visible and hypervocal LGBT activists in Addu,” Balajadia said in a Facebook chat on Thursday, September 8.

Certainly, some sensibilities and conservative quarters in the university will raise eyebrows, but they welcome this move to spark robust discourses and conversations toward a more inclusive picture of a university, Balajadia said.

He urged other universities and schools to follow the move undertaken by ADDU and hoped that this all gender comfort room will reorient values, practices, attitudes and norms of the heterosexuals toward the LGBT community.