Gender-Neutral Housing FAQs

What is gender-neutral housing?

Penn State strives to provide a safe, inclusive, comfortable, and supportive living environment for all students residing in University housing. 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-neutral 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. 

Is gender-neutral housing available for first-year students?

First-year students interested in a gender-neutral 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-neutral housing, staff will work one-on-one with a student who is interested in a gender-neutral assignment. To facilititate this assignment, the student needs to contact staff earlier in the process to have a confidential consultation and discuss available housing options.  

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 neutral housing options if I'm not interested in Ally House?

Although first-year students cannot generally request gender-neutral housing, staff will work one-on-one with a student who is interested in a gender-neutral assignment. To facilititate 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
  3. Single or double room with attached semi-private bathroom shared with another single or double room

What type of gender-neutral 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-neutral 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-neutral housing as an assignment option. To be assigned in a gender-neutral 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-neutral housing come with an additional cost?

There is no additional fee to be assigned to a gender-neutral 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-neutral 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-neutral housing and the needs of the student.

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

ANo - a student must complete the gender-neutral housing agreement before being assigned to gender-neutral housing.

Do you offer roommate matching in gender neutral 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 neutral 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-neutral housing assignment?

The student(s) remaining in the space will have the opportunity to request another roommate who agrees to the gender-neutral 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-neutral housing assignment to another room, or if I am reassigned for administrative purposes?

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

Am I guaranteed gender-neutral housing each year?

Students are not guaranteed housing and will need to participate in the housing lottery process to return to on-campus housing.

Can I live as a couple with my significant other?

Gender-neutral housing is not intended for students who are in a romantic relationship.