Students at Russell Sage College, a women’s college located in Troy, New York, have launched a topless protest in reaction to a Sunday incident involving a police officer who students believe acted discriminatorily towards a student who identifies as androgynous.
According to the Times Union, a security officer approached a student who was sunbathing topless in a public park adjacent to campus. The officer reportedly asked the student, “Are you a boy or a girl?” to which the student replied, “Neither. I’m androgynous.”
From the Times Union:
What followed, according to Brock and others at the campus, was a Sage Park standoff that soon involved Troy police, who insisted that Brock put on a shirt and repeatedly told the student that city law forbids women from going topless in public.
“They told me, ‘You’re in public,’” Brock said Tuesday. “They said, ‘This isn’t what normal people do.’”
Troy police arrived shortly after the initial contact with the Sage officer. Brock initially refused to cover up, but eventually complied after about 10 minutes of back and forth.
“I felt forced to put a shirt back on,” Brock said. “I was scared.”
Emily Taylor, a Sage student, told the Times Union that “nobody who was in the park was bothered (by the toplessness)”; New York state law allows public toplessness except for commercial use, the Times Union reports.
A student protest of sorts is underway, of the very, very peaceful variety:
Susan Scrimshaw, the president of Sage Colleges, told the Times Union that the school is investigating the incident, and that “We have a little work to do with training” to catch school employees up on “a rapidly changing culture.” In a post on the college’s Facebook page, Scrimshaw wrote:
Because of our rapidly changing culture we need to ensure respectful treatment of transgender, androgynous and people dealing with the discovery that their birth gender is not what feels right to them. We plan to use what we learn from this experience to continue educating our campus communities about cultural sensitivity, diversity, and inclusion for members of our Sage community.