During a periodic training on the university’s harassment policies today, I learned that my institution has added “genetic information” to the list of characteristics against which one cannot be discriminated. When one of my colleagues asked, “Do you have an example of that,” the presenter stumbled. After a few beats she said if someone had a gene for a disease but did not have any symptoms of that yet or an evident physical disability.
The policy change likely follows from the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act that protects some medical information. Genetic information cannot be used to make insurance and employment decisions. But the law is limited and has been criticized as being unenforceable.
I then raised the question, “So, if a female athlete is found to have XY chromosomes, then we could not discriminate by saying she could not play on the women’s team?” In some cases, this is androgen insensitivity syndrome, when a phenotypically female is genetically male but because her cells do not react to testosterone (and since the embryological default is female),...