In order to support and meet the needs of all of our students, the Office of Residence Life (ORL) offers gender-inclusive housing in university-owned housing. While not limited to any specific student population, our intention is to provide a more welcoming and inclusive environment for our transgender, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming students.

Gender Inclusive Housing Program

JMU’s gender-inclusive housing option acknowledges the diverse needs of the student body and underscores the importance of community. Gender-inclusive housing helps further a residential climate that is positive, respectful, and inclusive for all residents. Living in gender-inclusive housing is completely voluntary.

Many schools across the country offer gender-inclusive/neutral housing. Currently, the Campus Pride organization (stewards of the Campus Pride Index) lists over 260 colleges and universities that offer this option ( 

Definition of terms*:

Sex/Sex at Birth: Typically defined as one’s biological sex based on anatomical differences.

Gender Identity: The personal sense of one's own gender. Gender identity can correlate with assigned sex at birth, or can differ from it.

Gender Inclusive Housing: On-campus housing that allows students of different sexes, genders, or gender identities to live together in the same residence hall room

Gender Nonconforming: A person whose behavior or appearance does not conform to prevailing cultural and social expectations about what is appropriate to their gender.

Transgender: A person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.

Mutual Roommate Request: A housing situation in which all potential occupants of a room or apartment have requested to be housed together. This differs from a “random roommate” situation in which the Office of Residence Life assigns roommates based on the housing questionnaire. A mutual roommate request is required in order to participate in the gender-inclusive program.

*This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of terms having to do with gender nor is it meant to represent the sole definition of these terms. It is intended only to help understand the description of the gender-inclusive housing option at JMU.

What is gender-inclusive housing? How do we define gender-inclusive housing in the residence halls?

Gender-inclusive housing allows students of different sexes, genders, or gender identities to live together in the same residence hall room. Students living in this option must opt-in and have a mutual roommate request.

Gender-inclusive housing is located primarily in Paul Jennings Hall and the Apartments on Grace (for upper class and transfer students). Paul Jennings Hall has lockable bathroom pods that have a mirror, sink, toilet, and shower and are designed for individual students to have a private bathroom experience. Students of any gender or gender identity could use any of the bathrooms on the floor. The bathrooms in the Apartments on Grace are all private bathrooms contained within the individual apartments. 

Who can take advantage of this living option?

This program is intended for students who wish to share a room with friends of a different gender or biological sex. As with any on-campus option, it is not intended for romantic couples. We strongly discourage students of any sexual orientation from living with someone with whom they are in a romantic relationship. Research has shown that most students who chose to live in gender-inclusive housing do so with friends and not with those whom they are dating.

Gender-inclusive housing offers a safe and inclusive housing opportunity for students who identify as transgender or gender nonconforming as well as for any student who prefers to live with students of a different gender or biological sex than their own. Returning students, who would like to live in Gender Inclusive Housing, will self-select this option through the Online Room Selection process. New students should contact the Assistant Director of Housing for more information.

How does the program work?

Returning students, who would like to live in Gender Inclusive Housing, will self-select this option through the Online Room Selection process. New students should contact Dawn Ohanessian, Associate Director of Housing, for more information. 

Will random roommates be assigned in gender-inclusive rooms?

No. Gender-inclusive housing is voluntary; no student will be assigned to gender-inclusive housing unless they have opted in. Students will not be matched with random opposite-gender roommates through the housing process. Please contact the Assistant Director of Housing in ORL if you are interested in gender-inclusive housing but do not have a requested roommate.

What if one of the roommates wants to change rooms, cancels their assignment, or leaves mid-year?

Residents participating in gender-inclusive housing can participate in the room change process. However, if one resident cancels or leaves during the year, the remaining resident:

  1. Can request another roommate (preferred),
  2. Move to a new location,
  3. Or the entire space can revert to single-sex (based on the remaining student’s gender as listed on their official university record).

If a vacancy arises, the first opportunity is given to the remaining student residing in the room to identify a new student with whom they wish to live. If the resident is unable to find a new roommate, then the resident will be given the opportunity to move to a new location or the room will revert back to single gender.

Roommate Conflicts

If a student has a conflict with their roommate for any reason, they should talk to their Resident Adviser, Hall Director, or Area Director. 

Will gender-inclusive housing cost more?

No, the cost will be based on the room and board rates of the university.

Communication with family and/or others about housing decision

It is the student’s choice to communicate with parents, family members, and/or others about the decision to live in a gender-inclusive housing option. ORL encourages this conversation about the housing choice so that they can be in support of the student’s decision.

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