Gender Inclusive Housing FAQs

What is gender inclusive housing?

Penn State strives to provide a safe, inclusive, comfortable, and supportive living environment for all students residing in University housing. Gender inclusive (also known as gender neutral) housing is an option for students who identify as a transgender and gender non-conforming to select a room assignment that meets individual needs or request a roommate of any gender.

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 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.

Is gender inclusive housing available for first-year students?

First-year students interested in a gender inclusive housing assignment have two options available:

  1. The Ally House Special Living Option (SLO): Ally House SLO is a collaboration between Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Ally (LGBTQA) Student Resource Center and the Sexuality and Gender Studies minor 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. The Ally House can be indicated as a preference on a student's Housing and Food Service Contract. 
  2. Although first-year students cannot generally request gender inclusive housing, staff will work one-on-one with a student who is interested in a gender inclusive 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. Staff will provide options to insure that the student is assigned to a room where he/she feels safe and secure.

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

Ally House is located in West Housing Area, in Watts Hall.  Watts Hall is a traditional residence hall and available room types are single rooms and double 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. 

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

Although first-year students cannot generally request gender inclusive housing, staff will work one-on-one with a student who is interested in a gender inclusive 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.  Housing space a student may be assigned to include: 

  1. Single or double room with private bath
  2. Single or double room with gender neutral bathroom in close proximity (individual, private bathrooms shared by residents on the floor - similar to a bathroom in a home)
  3. Single or double room with attached semi-private bathroom shared with another single or double room

What type of gender inclusive housing options are available for upper class students?

An upper-class student who accepts a Housing and Food Service (HFS) Contract will be eligible for gender inclusive housing. 

  1. The Ally House Special Living Option (SLO): Ally House SLO is a collaboration between Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Ally (LGBTQA) Student Resource Center and the Sexuality and Gender Studies minor 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. The Ally House can be indicated as a preference on a student's Housing and Food Service Contract. 
  2. All upper-class housing options offer gender inclusive housing as an assignment option. To be assigned in a gender inclusive housing assignment, each student in the group can list the others as a roommate preference. All students will then need to complete a "Gender-Neutral Housing Agreement" form.

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.

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.

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

A student must indicated interest in a gender inclusive housing assignment to be assigned. Upper-class students will need complete the "Gender Inclusive Housing Agreement" form before being assigned to gender inclusive housing.

Do you offer roommate matching in gender inclusive housing?

The University does not offer roommate matching service for any student population. The student will need to submit a roommate preference in order to be assigned to gender inclusive housing. The number of roommates depends upon the housing option selected.  For example, a double room accommodates only one roommate preference, while a four-bedroom apartment accommodates three roommate preferences.

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

Upper-class students complete the "Gender Inclusive Agreement" form so that there is an understanding of what happens when a roommate drops out of the assignment. The student(s) remaining in the space will have the opportunity to request another roommate who agrees to the gender inclusive 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 Assignment Office.

What happens if I choose to be reassigned from my gender inclusive housing assignment to another room, or if I am reassigned for administrative purposes?

There may no longer be an option to offer gender inclusive housing.  The student has the option to be reassigned to a single occupancy room, if available. 

Am I guaranteed gender inclusive housing each year?

Students are not guaranteed housing and will need to participate in the housing lottery process to return to on-campus housing. Once a student has accepted a HFS Contract, the Assignment Office will work with the student to insure that a room assignment is processed that will make the student feel safe and secure.

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 may be eligible to live in White Course Apartments.