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Gender Inclusive Housing

Welcome to Penn State!

Penn State strives to provide a safe, inclusive, comfortable, and supportive living environment for all students residing on campus.

The University is proud to offer gender inclusive housing options for students who identify as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and ally students community. In addition to the Ally House Living Learning Community, the University offers other gender inclusive housing options across campus to meet the needs of our sexual and gender diverse students. Staff members are available to work with students in a one-on-one setting to identify the most appropriate room assignment. Upperclass students may also utilize the Open Housing option where students of any gender may live together in a space. 

Learn more about these options below, including the Frequently Asked Questions section near the bottom of the page, or feel free to reach out to our staff listed below for assistance.

Ally House

Location: West Housing Area

ALLY House provides an open, safe, and inclusive living environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and ally students. This living environment is a collaboration between the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity  and the Sexuality and Gender Studies minor that is offered by the College of Liberal Arts. ALLY House fosters a community dedicated to knowledge and understanding of sexuality and gender issues. Student programs and academic opportunities support these goals.

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ALLY House

Gender Inclusive Housing

For any student interested in a gender inclusive room assignment, our staff will work with you in a personal and confidential manner to discuss what housing options  are available. It is important to contact us early in the process so that we may offer the widest range of housing options. There is no guarantee that a particular space will be available.

Gender Inclusive Housing options a student may be assigned to include:

  • single- or double-occupancy room with private in-room bath in a traditional residence hall (these room types are very limited in availability)
  • single- or double-occupancy room with a gender neutral bathroom in close proximity (individual, private-use bathrooms shared by residents on the floor - similar to a bathroom in a home) in a traditional or renovated residence hall
  • single- or double-occupancy room with attached semi-private bathroom shared with another single- or double-occupancy room (roommate and/or suitemates) in a suite-style building in North Halls

Open Housing

Upper-class students may request Open Housing, which is where students are assigned to a room with no regard to roommate(s) gender, in any of the housing options offered on campus.

Students interested in Open Housing should follow these steps:

  1. All students in the group must have accepted a HFS Contract for the same type of housing option
  2. Each student will need to review and submit the Open Housing Agreement online form
  3. A staff member from the Housing Assignment Office will be in touch with the group to discuss room options and to confirm placement
  4. Students understand that the group is responsible for filling the entire unit on their own, as the Housing Assignment Office does not provide open housing roommate matching. 

The recommended submittal date to request Open Housing for the 2023-2024 academic year is April 4 - the same deadline as contract preference modifications. Requests for Open Housing may be submitted after this suggested date, however, space available will become increasingly limited as room assignments are processed.

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Contact Us

We want to make sure that you feel safe and comfortable with your room assignment. Please feel free to contact one of our staff members listed below to discuss your interest and options available, as we want to work with you in an individual and confidential manner. 

Additional resources are available for gender-neutral students through the University's Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity.

*Definitions

*Definitions:

For the purpose of gender-neutral housing, gender non-conforming is a term for individuals whose gender expression is different from social expectations related to gender. Gender expression is the external manifestation of one's gender identity, usually expressed through "masculine", "feminine", or gender variant behavior, clothing, haircut, voice, or body characteristics. Transgender is a term for people whose gender identity, expression, or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth, including but not limited to transsexuals, cross-dressers, androgynous people, genderqueers, and gender non-conforming people.

Definition Source: National Center for Transgender Equality; Mara Keisling, Executive Director http://transequality.org.

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FAQs for Gender Inclusive Housing

Gender-Inclusive Housing

General

What is Gender Inclusive Housing?

The University is proud to offer students who identify as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and ally students community. In addition to the Ally House Living Learning Community which is available to any student, the University offers several Gender Inclusive Housing options across campus to meet the individual needs of a student and where a staff member will work with a student one-on-one to identify the most appropriate room assignment. Upper-class students may also utilize the Open Housing option, where students of any gender may live together in a space. 

Where is Ally house located, and what room types are offered?

Ally House is located in West Housing Area in a traditional residence hall. Room types offered include single-, double-, and triple-occupancy rooms. Ally House accommodates both first-year and upper class students.  First-year students are assigned with other first-year students, and upper class students are assigned with other upper class students. There are several communal bathrooms available, with no gender designation.

Am I guaranteed gender inclusive housing each year?

The University will work with students who are interested in either gender-inclusive housing, open housing, or assignment to the Ally House for every year that the student remains in on-campus housing.

Students interested in gender-inclusive housing:

  • Incoming first-year students can indicate Gender Inclusive Housing as a Living Learning Community preference on their HFS Contract. A staff member from the Housing Assignment Office will reach out to the student to work with them directly to ensure that a room assignment is processed that will make the student feel safe and secure living on campus.
  • Current students who are interested in returning to on-campus housing will need to Request Housing during the housing process. All students who Request Housing will receive an invitation to live on campus. The student can select a housing option and accept a HFS Contract. Once a student has accepted a HFS Contract, the Housing Assignment Office will work with the student to ensure that a room assignment is processed that will make the student feel safe and secure living on campus.

Students who are interested in the Ally House:

  • incoming first-year students can indicate Ally House as a Living Learning Community preference on their HFS Contract
  • current students assigned to Ally House have the option to return to the living environment; they must Request Housing and then will receive a direct HFS Contract offer for Ally House
  • current students who are not a part of Ally House but interested in living in the environment can indicate their interest by adding their name to the Ally House Waitlist after they've accepted a HFS Contract

As a first-year student, what are my gender inclusive housing options if I'm not interested in Ally House?

The University will work one-on-one with a student who is interested in a gender inclusive room assignment. To facilitate this assignment, the student needs to contact staff earlier in the process to have a confidential consultation and discuss available housing options.  

Gender Inclusive Housing options a student may be assigned to include:

  1. single- or double-occupancy room with private in-room bath in a traditional residence hall (these room types are very limited in availability)
  2. single- or double-occupancy room with a gender neutral bathroom in close proximity (individual, private-use bathrooms shared by residents on the floor - similar to a bathroom in a home) in a traditional or renovated residence hall
  3. single- or double-occupancy room with attached semi-private bathroom shared with another single- or double-occupancy room (roommate and/or suitemates) in a suite-style building in North Halls

As a parent paying the bill, what if I do not want my student to live in gender inclusive housing?

The HFS Contract is between Penn State and the student, and as an adult, the student holds the decision making rights. The University encourages parents and students to communicate about gender inclusive housing and the needs of the student.

The University is required to follow FERPA guidelines and is not able to disclose details about a student's account or room assignment, despite who may be paying the bill, providing confidentiality for the student.

Can a student be assigned to gender inclusive housing without requesting it?

Gender inclusive housing is available throughout campus in a variety of housing options. A student could be assigned to a space that meets their personal needs, but they may not have specifically requested gender inclusive housing or disclosed their personal situation to the University. Therefore, a student could be assigned with a roommate who may identify differently from themselves, if that student did not request gender inclusive housing or a specific roommate.

Upper-class students interested in Open Housing will submit the Open Housing Agreement form for consideration.

Can I live as a couple with my significant other?

Gender inclusive housing is not intended for students who are in a romantic relationship. Students who are married, have a partner, and/or dependents are be eligible to live in Graduate & Family Housing, located in White Course Apartments.

Do you offer roommate matching in gender inclusive housing?

Although the University does not offer roommate matching service, students who are interested in gender inclusive housing can discuss options that may be available for a room assignment that includes a roommate. Learn more about gender inclusive housing

Does gender inclusive housing come with an additional cost?

There is no additional fee to be assigned to a gender inclusive housing option, the student will be charged the applicable room rate for the space.

What happens if a vacancy occurs in my gender inclusive housing assignment?

Upperclass students will complete the "Open Housing Agreement" form so that there is an understanding of what happens if a roommate drops out of the room assignment. The student(s) remaining in the space will have the opportunity to request another roommate who agrees to the open housing conditions. If another roommate is not able to be identified, the room will be converted to a single gender room, and another roommate of the same gender will be assigned by the Housing Assignment Office.

Learn more about Gender Inclusive Housing.

Why did Penn State introduce gender inclusive housing?

The Association of Residence Hall Students (ARHS) drafted a proposal to offer gender-neutral housing beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year.  ARHS believed that offering gender-neutral housing would provide an environment where all students could feel comfortable and safe. The University piloted the program, and based on the response, decided to continue to offer the option for upper-class students. 

UPDATE April 2018: a review of the gender-neutral housing process was conducted by the Housing Assignment Office and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Ally (LGBTQA) Student Resource Center, and a decision was made to change the name to "gender inclusive housing". For upper-class students, housing will be referred to as "Open Housing", since the University is able to accommodate gender inclusive housing is almost every housing option offered to upper-class students.