Leaders of national sororities delayed a vote last week on whether to allow their organizations to change their definitions of “women” in order to be more inclusive of nonbinary members, according to a statement from Dani Weatherford, CEO of the National Panhellenic Conference, an umbrella organization that governs the policies and practices of 26 national and international sororities.
The vote was seen as a potential turning point for the organizations, which have historically been women-only groups and criticized by some as unwelcoming to LGBTQ people. But Weatherford said there is “a need for further consideration and research to ensure that all members have an understanding of the implications of any potential changes.”
“The current policy, which was adopted specifically to ensure that transgender women were eligible for recruitment, remains in effect, and NPC staff will continue to engage campus-based partners in the months ahead to provide additional clarity when and if questions arise about recruitment eligibility,” Weatherford’s statement said.
Nicole DeFeo, international executive director of Delta Phi Epsilon, a sorority that has been pushing for the policy change, said the vote delay was shocking and disappointing. She said the sorority is determining when to bring the change to a vote again at an upcoming conference meeting.
“We saw this as an opportunity for our voice, and voice of other groups who are interested in extending membership to other individuals, to be heard,” DeFeo said. “This was our chance to celebrate this. To hear it wasn’t ready was disappointing.”
“We’re not going to give up on it,” she said.