A little over two weeks ago, Zeta Phi Beta, a historically Black sorority, drew backlash across social media after the Washington Blade published an article about a recently adopted “diversity statement” which specified that “an individual must be a cisgender woman” to join the organization.
The release of the statement, which the Blade noted was adopted by the sororities International Executive Board on Jan. 12, drew some backlash, given that we are currently in a time when HBCUs such as Morehouse and Spelman, have opened their enrollment for trans students.
Early Sunday morning, the sorority, which will be celebrating its 100th year of existence next January, released an exclusive statement to ESSENCE, apologizing for the previous diversity statement, and emphasizing that there is no “ban.”
“Since our founding on January 16, 1920, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. has sought to create a sorority that embraces and values all of our members,” the statement read. “Sadly, a previous diversity statement made by our organization fell short of that goal and for that, we offer our deepest apologies.”
Zeta acknowledged that their current membership “already includes transgender women,” noting that “they have always been entitled to the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as any other member and shall retain the rights, privileges and responsibilities they were endowed with once they took the oath and became a member.”
“To be clear,” the organization wrote in the statement, “there is no ban.”
The sorority added that it was in the process of updating its membership guidelines in order to “provide additional guidance” to the organization.”
The statement added, “We have always aimed to foster an inclusive and diverse sisterhood and remain committed to being an organization that embraces scholarship, provides true service and sets the standard for sisterly love.”