Gender-inclusive and diverse housing

What it means: We offer a gender-inclusive housing option to all residents. This allows us to assign roommates to a suite that accommodates their sex, gender, gender identity and/or gender expression, with the intention of creating safe living spaces for every student. We are working to create a comfortable experience for all students in Residence while breaking down barriers that exist for students living on-campus at UNBC. 

What it looks like

Option  Means Could look like
I require gender-inclusive and diverse housing   Means that your comfort and well-being depend on having an environment that is inclusive and respectful of your gender identity/expression and that a range of genders, gender identities, and gender expressions will be allocated to live together.  Living with folks who have indicated their readiness to support and actively contribute to an an inclusive and respectful living environment, that could include those who identify as non-binary, and/or those who identify as binary. 
I am open to living in gender-inclusive and diverse housing   Means that you are open to living with a range of genders, gender identities, and gender expressions are allocated to live together, but it is not essential for your well-being. You will also be comfortable in a single-gender suite.  Living with folks who require gender inclusive housing, those who identify as the same gender, those who identify as a different or opposite gender and/or, co-ed housing. If you select this option you may also be placed in a single-gender suite.

Tips for rooming in gender-inclusive and diverse housing

When you move into Residence, you may have some anxiety about meeting your new roommate. You may be wondering if you will get along? Is my roommate messy? Do they prefer rap or country music?

You and your roommate may become great friends, or maybe you’ll go different ways at the end of the year. For many students, living in Residence may be the first time that you are living with anyone besides family, and you’re now expected to share a space with strangers. Perhaps you selected to live in gender-inclusive and diverse housing. Here are some tips to navigate your transition:

  1. Educate yourself: Take the time to learn about gender diversity and inclusivity. Understand different gender identities, terminologies, and experiences. This knowledge will help you create an inclusive and respectful environment. 
  2. Respect pronouns and use gender inclusive language: Use people's preferred pronouns and encourage others to do the same. Avoid making assumptions about someone's gender identity based on their appearance. Respect their self-identification. Use language such as, “everyone” and “folks” rather than “guys” or “ladies”. 
  3. Foster open communication: Asking questions is okay! By opening communication lines, you can learn more or gain a better understanding about your roommates and how to live together comfortably. If you have never lived with someone who identifies as a different gender than you, you may have questions for your roommates regarding their comfort or preferences. Building a relationship relies on open communication. Sometimes concerns arise, don’t be afraid to respectfully bring them up and ask questions that you may have so that you can figure out what to do about your concerns. Your Residence Assistant may be able to help you with these conversations. The Northern Pride Society is another campus resource that is available.  
  4. Make your roommate contract: Taking time now to discuss your living preferences and expectations will prevent problems from occurring throughout the year. Community living is a unique living experience and one where a little compromise and courtesy can go a long way. Consider including pronoun usage, privacy, bathroom usage, and respectful behaviour towards individuals of different gender identities. 
    • How will the bathroom work? Similar to the shared bathroom in all of our suites, the suites in Gender Inclusive and Diverse Housing are shared between all the roommates. This means that the bathroom will not be restricted to a specific gender. As you can see in our suite layout, there are two sinks, a separate shower room and a separate washroom. 
    • While living in gender-inclusive and diverse housing you may want to consider what your comfort levels are with bathroom etiquette, for example; is it okay to walk around in your towel? 
    • What about having guests over – make sure your roommates are comfortable with the guests who have over. It’s a great practice to communicate about your guests and when they may be coming over by discussing with your roommates first! 
  5. Be an ally: Support your fellow residents and be an advocate for gender diversity and inclusivity. Speak up against discrimination or disrespectful behaviour. Offer your assistance to those who may be facing challenges due to their gender identity. 
  6. Practice active listening: Be attentive and empathetic when others share their experiences or concerns. Listen without judgment and validate their feelings. This will help foster a supportive environment. 

Remember, creating a gender-inclusive and diverse housing environment is an ongoing process that requires collective effort. By being proactive and respectful, you can help foster a welcoming and inclusive living space for everyone. 

Coming out vs. inviting in 

“Coming out” refers to the process of 2SLGBTQIAP+ individuals letting one’s sexuality or gender identity be known both privately and publicly.

The narrative of “inviting in” challenges the concept of “coming out". “Inviting in” gives 2SLGBTQIAP+ individuals the power and choice to choose who they want to share their sexuality or gender identity with and supports the idea that sexuality and gender identity are yours to share if and when you’d like to. 

How to support someone who is “inviting you in” 

  • Listen – let the person speak without interruption. This is their moment. 
  • Respect – allow them to share what they are comfortable sharing without pressure. 
  • Validate – provide affirmation by saying their identity and feelings are valid.
  • Ask – If you are unclear as to what a term means, ask appropriate questions for clarification. Avoid asking invading questions. 
  • Support – thank them for sharing their identities and ask how you can help them in navigating their identity, then follow through.

UNBC gratefully acknowledges California State University, Fullerton’s Diversity Initiatives and Resource Centre’s team for sharing the above content related to supporting 2SLGBTQIAP+ students. 

Consent as an everyday practice

But are they interested in me?

When we make consent a part of our everyday interactions, it becomes easier to ask for and give consent in intimate or sexual interactions. It is important to ask whether a person is comfortable with things like: unmasking, sitting physically close, meeting up in person or touching one another first. For example, not everyone experiences a hug as a friendly hello or goodbye. If you want to hug someone, just ask! “Hey, can I give you a hug? ”Similarly, if you are interested in someone and you want to send them a sexy picture of yourself, you should check in and ask first. For example, "do you want to see a picture of me getting out of the shower?" Remember, silence, or the absence of no does not equal consent. You need a clear "yes" before sending. Keep in mind that there are power dynamics in our relationships with others that can make it hard for some people to freely consent and clearly say “yes” or “no”. We all need to be sensitive to non-verbal body language (e.g., moving away from a touch or embrace) or indirect communication (e.g., changing the subject or not answering directly). Being aware of all the ways people communicate their boundaries is the responsibility of the person wanting the physical and/or more intimate interaction.

Cues that there is no consent and you should stop

Verbal cues can sound like:

  • I don’t know. 
  • I’m not sure how I feel … 
  • I’ve never really done that … 
  • Ummm, maybe, ok I guess … 
  • I didn’t like that last time … 
  • NO, that’s not ok, not cool. 
  • Stop, quit, get off me, get out of here … 
  • I don’t want to do this any more. 
  • That hurts. 
  • I need a break. 

Non-verbal cues can look like:

  • Unresponsive or silent 
  • Seems distracted 
  • Becomes rigid or tenses up 
  • Sharp and sudden deep breath 
  • Sudden changes – no longer making eye contact 
  • Avoiding eye contacting or looking away 
  • Pushing someone away 
  • Avoiding touch or moving away 
  • Crying, looking sad/fearful, shaking head no 
  • Freezing, or just laying there 

Cues that you can keep going

Verbal cues can sound like: 

  • Yes!, I’m sure, I want to … 
  • I want you/to … 
  • That feels good. 
  • Keep going/doing that. 
  • I am so into you/that. 

Non-verbal cues can look like: 

  • Direct eye contact 
  • Reciprocal sexual acts, pulling someone closer 
  • Nodding yes 
  • Laughter or smiling paired with other cues 
  • Relaxed, open body language

UNBC gratefully acknowledges the University of Victoria’s Office of Equity and Human Rights team for sharing the above content related to consent and the prevention of sexualized violence.

What to do if you need to change your selection

  • Future applications: each application you make, you have a chance to re-select your roommate gender preference option. 
  • Current applications: If your offer has been accepted, please email the Housing Office. If you are under 19 years old and would like to change your roommate gender preferences, you’ll need a guardian to send an email to approve your selection. 

What to do if you aren’t happy with your roommates after move-in

  • Reach out to your RA for guidance and support. 
    • Neyoh: 250-961-8311 
    • Keyoh: 250-961-9266 

Avenues for support

Northern Pride Centre
Room 6-344 |  

Counselling Services
Room 5-196 | 250-960-6369 |