Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 02.01.2009
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to firstname.lastname@example.org
Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
1. University of Chicago Chronicle (Chicago, IL) - University leaders receive awards for supporting diversity
2. Journal Star (Lincoln, NE) - Opinion: Ignoring injustice just helps it along
3. The Tower (Catholic University of America, Washington DC) - Catholic University Bans Pro-Life Gay Org. From Sponsoring Students for Life Conference
4. The Dartmouth (Hanover, NH) - Profs., alumni consider gay rights, civil rights
5. New University (University of California - Irvine, CA) - A Month To Stop Stalking
6. The Parthenon (Marshall University, Huntington, WV) - Organization seeks to spread social justice
7. The Concordian (Concordia University, Moorehead, MN) - Concordia's SAGA to attend nation-wide conference
8. The Minaret (University of Tampa, FL) - UT Offers Domestic Partner Benefits, Ending Long Struggle
9. The Santa Clara (Santa Clara University, CA) - Speaking up about coming out
10. The Daily Pennsylvanian (UPenn, Philadelphia, PA) - Members of LGBT community question U. insurance plan: Many say current policy discriminates against transgendered employees
11. The Saginaw News (Saginaw, MI) - Saginaw Valley State University hosts gay marriage debate
12. Greeley Tribune (Greeley, Colorado) - Bisexual activist to speak at UNC (University of Northern Colorado)
1. University of Chicago Chronicle, January 26, 2009
5801 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60637
University leaders receive awards for supporting diversity
By Julia Morse
During his remarks at the commencement of Martin Luther King Jr. Week, President Zimmer announced the inaugural recipients of the University's Diversity Leadership Awards.
The Diversity Leadership Council chose the winners, which included a University staff member and two alumni whose work, Zimmer said, "has embodied Dr. King's values."
Larry Hawkins, Director of Special Programs and College Preparation, won the 2009 Diversity Leadership Staff Award. James Hormel (J.D., '58) and Hedy Ratner (A.M., '74) shared the 2009 Diversity Leadership Alumni Award.
"In 2007, I appointed the Diversity Leadership Council as a steward of the University's mission to support diversity on campus and in our relationships with the surrounding neighborhoods and with our business partners," Zimmer said. "Part of the council's role is to recognize University staff members who have been exemplary leaders in our efforts to support diversity. The council, along with the University's Alumni Board of Governors, also recognizes University alumni who display extraordinary leadership in advancing social justice and equality."
The Diversity Leadership Awards were conferred Thursday, Jan. 15 at an afternoon reception in the Quad Club. The co-chairs of the Diversity Leadership Council—Julie Peterson, Vice President for Communications, and Kenneth Warren, Deputy Provost for Research & Minority Issues— introduced the recipients.
The University recruited Hawkins in 1968 for a new position that would create an educational outreach program for talented minority students who come from lower-income families.
"Throughout his life, Larry Hawkins has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to opportunity for Chicago youth, particularly those from minority communities," Peterson said. "As Director of Special Programs and College Preparation, he has helped generations of students discover their talents and go on to succeed in college and in life."
Hormel was the first openly gay man to represent the United States as an ambassador; President Bill Clinton appointed him the U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg in 1999. Hormel's personal and professional lives have been devoted to human rights and gay and lesbian scholarship and culture, including the establishment of the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center in San Francisco. He also served as Assistant Dean and Dean of Students of the Law School from 1961 to 1967.
"James Hormel is a pioneer," Warren said. "He has been a resolute pioneer for gay and lesbian scholarship and culture. In fact, he has devoted his life to the support of human rights."
Ratner has made it her life's work to support and impact women's rights. She is the co-founder and co-president of the Women's Business Development Center, the country's largest, oldest and most comprehensive women's business assistance center.
"Visionary. Indefatigable. Inspired and inspiring. Hedy Ratner is all of these," Warren said. "Her tireless efforts to achieve a better society have a national impact in advancing opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses. An activist for women's issues for more than 30 years, Hedy has long been involved in spearheading initiatives to enhance women's economic power."
2. Journal Star, January 24, 2009
926 P Street, Lincoln, NE 68508
Opinion: Ignoring injustice just helps it along
By Lisa PytlikZillig
"Where are those who feel called to 'stand up' for persons who are unlike themselves, but whose humanity is as precious as theirs?"
-Gilbert Haven Caldwell, an African-American and pro-gay minister
What an inspiring question. A question that is especially inspiring when asked at the end of a week that celebrated both Martin Luther King Day and the inauguration of America's first black president. Neither MLK day nor Obama's inauguration would be a part of today's culture if the only advocates had been African-Americans.
So this week was also a week celebrating and testifying to the powerful changes that can occur when members of the majority finally stand with minority members to recognize their common humanity.
My name is Lisa, and I am here to recruit you.
Before his 1978 assassination, Harvey Milk used similar words to recruit GLBT (gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender) minorities to "come out" and let those around them know who they were. I, however, want to recruit those who recognize that GLBT people are humans worthy of dignity and respect and empathize with the trials created for them by current culture. We, too, need to "come out" and let the world know we are here.
In spite of varied religious and political beliefs, those of us who empathize with GLBT sufferings agree on the fundamental value of human dignity. We are repulsed by heinous acts, such as the murders of Matthew Shepard or Lincoln's own Brandon Teena, that were committed against GLBTs.
We who empathize with GLBT struggles are America's majority. Nebraska, like most other states, has legislation prohibiting hate crimes based on sexual orientation. In 2003, 88 percent of Americans believed homosexuals should have equal job opportunities. In 2007, only 28 percent of Americans felt it was right to fire a teacher based on sexual orientation.
Why then, does discrimination against GLBTs continue? I believe it is because too many of us do not "come out" about our beliefs. Our empathy is too apathetic, too inert, to be effective.
Empathy is not enough. To effect change, we must tell our family and friends about our views, testify to the unjust discrimination we have witnessed, and work with our GLBT brothers and sisters to find solutions.
I know both personally and professionally how difficult such "coming out" is. On a personal level, though I am not straight, I did not "come out" about either my orientation or my feelings about GLBT injustice until I saw the effects of prejudice in my own family.
In my lifetime, my attractions have included both genders. However, because my lifemate is male, it was simple to remain invisible until one painful day when a close family member commented that gays suffering at the hands of culture "get what they deserve." That stark example of GLBT dehumanization, coming from so close to home, woke me up to the way my invisibility helps allow the harmful effects of prejudice to continue.
On a professional level, as a psychologist who studies motivation, I understand how hard it is for those apparently not directly affected to join in the discussion of, let alone the fight for, GLBT dignity and respect, especially given various examples of GLBT-ally persecution.
In spite of the difficulty, we need to engage in dialogue and problem-solving. Inactive empathy is, to use the words of Martin Luther King, "the great stumbling block on the stride toward freedom" for the oppressed. In his struggle for civil rights, King noted that perhaps an even greater obstacle than the white supremacist was "the white moderate who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice."
Our presence as inactive bystanders is a powerful force that, like inertia, prevents movement toward solutions that could dramatically reduce injustice. In psychology, it is a well-known phenomenon ("the bystander effect") that being surrounded by others who are not helping strongly reduces the likelihood an individual will help someone in need.
We need to take a stand because to ignore injustice is to promote a dangerous world. As former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin noted, "When there is violence against any person in society because he or she is different, it threatens us all. Only by speaking out are any of us safe."
Though it is difficult to "come out," it may not be as difficult as you think. Joining groups such as PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) or Straight for Equality can be effective; but even small coming out actions could have tremendous impacts.
Imagine if all those aware of GLBT injustice simply wore a rainbow ribbon or sticker that says, "I care." Consider the additional impact if, when opportunities arose, we spoke against prejudice and began having respectful dialogue about the extent of, impact of, and solutions for GLBT prejudice and discrimination.
My name is Lisa, and I support the dignity and humanity of all people, including GLBTs. Join me. Together we have the power, by "coming out" in our families, neighborhoods and pews, to stop being stumbling blocks and start being catalysts for positive change.
Lisa PytlikZillig is a researcher at the University of Nebraska.
3. The Tower (Catholic University of America, Washington DC), January 25, 2009
127 Pryzbyla Center, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC
Catholic University Bans Pro-Life Gay Org. From Sponsoring Students for Life Conference
By Ben Newell
A group of anti-abortion gays and lesbians who had planned to sponsor and attend the pro-life conference at the University this weekend said they were denied the privilege to sponsor the event, according to the group's president.
Students for Life, which organizes the conference, said that an unidentified University representative told her that the group's mission statement, "goes against the teachings of the Catholic Church."
The Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL) sponsored the same event at the University last year, however this year they were not allowed to financially support the event, or have an information booth. Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director of Students for Life declined to comment on the University's decision.
Usually held on the third floor of the Pryzbyla center, the conference has sold out already.
Victor Nakas, Director of Public Affairs for the University was unavailable this week and his office declined to comment.
"Of course I'm frustrated," said Cecilia Brown, president of PLAGAL in an interview with The Tower, "I'm tired of being treated like this by Christians…even when we agree on the issue of protecting the unborn."
Brown, who is raising her three year old grandson after her daughter initially considered aborting him, attended the March for Life, held yesterday on the National Mall and brought her grandson.
Members of PLAGAL are allowed to attend the conference, but cannot officially sponsor it. "We've been there before, so it just doesn't make sense," said Brown.
Despite their stated non violent principles, PLAGAL has a history of inciting controversy. In 2007, The Washington Post reported that members were arrested during the March for Life while they carried signs which stated their mission of ending abortion.
"Our goal is to educate pro-lifers on how to deal with non-religious or Eastern Religious backgrounds and convince them that abortion is a human rights issue, not a religious one."
Hawkins, speaking broadly about the march itself echoed her statement. "We plan on working directly with democrats [in the new administration] and make it clear that this issue is a human rights issue."
Their philosophy represents a shift in the anti-abortion movement as a whole, which has scaled back on the religious rhetoric in favor of appealing broadly to those who may not have religious backgrounds, but believe in human rights as a principle.
PLAGAL's website outlines several instances in which members were arrested during anti-abortion protests, or accused of being spies and traitors for pro-abortion groups.
Part of their mission statement says "Our membership includes women and men of various sexual orientations, political affiliations, and geographic locations — all committed to raising awareness of the pro-life ethic as consistent with the gay and lesbian struggle for human rights." University representatives were unable to identify which part was inconsistent with Catholic teaching.
"This start to the trip has me worried, will I get arrested again?" said Brown. "I've got my grandson here and I can't have that happen again with him here."
Ryan J. Reilly contributed to this story.
4. The Dartmouth, January 26, 2009
6175 Robinson Hall, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755
Profs., alumni consider gay rights, civil rights
By Jamila Ma
Marriage is a fundamental civil right, panelists said in discussion about "Gay Rights as Civil Rights" held in East Wheelock Cluster on Friday afternoon.
English professor Martin Favor, one of four panelists, opened the discussion by addressing the title of the panel. He said the title implies that civil rights refers to racial issues, while gay rights remain a separate entity.
"If injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, why do we get caught up in distinguishing between civil rights and gay rights?" Favor asked. "Why is there resistance to seeing gay rights as civil rights?"
The other panelists — history professor Annelise Orleck, Beth Robinson '86 and Jamal Brown '08 — spoke about the role of gay rights in the 2008 presidential election.
Several members of the panel shared personal stories about their experiences on election night, highlighting their conflicting emotions: their celebration of President Barack Obama's victory was tainted by the passage of legislation in various states opposing same-sex marriage, they said.
Orleck also said she remembers standing in front of the television that night and crying when it became clear that anti-gay rights legislation was going to pass across the country.
"The same people that voted for Obama had also voted to strip away rights for gays to get married, to adopt children," she said.
Brown also spoke about his experience on election night, focusing primarily on his reaction to the passing of California's Proposition 8, which defined marriage as the union between a man and a woman. As a California native, he said, the issue affected him deeply. He said he remembers watching as the votes came in for both Obama and Proposition 8, not knowing whether he should be happy.
Brown, a legal assistant at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders in Boston, said opponents of Proposition 8 had not made sufficient efforts to convince minorities to vote against the legislation. Yet after the measure passed, opponents of Proposition 8 labeled black voters as homophobic, Brown said.
"There was a lack of outreach to the African American community, but then a blame on the community for the results," he said.
Despite apparent opposition to same-sex marriage among black voters, Brown argued that the Congressional Black Caucus is more supportive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues than any other group in Congress.
Orleck also said conflict over anti-gay initiatives can lead to escalating violence against gay people, with transgendered people bearing the brunt of unrest.
"The correlation is undisputed at this point," she said. "If you preach hatred, you sow violence."
Robinson, a lawyer, offered her views on the issue from a legal perspective, and said she was disappointed by the legislation passed on election night.
"During my lifetime, I've certainly seen our efforts to be frustrating, but I've never seen backsliding," Robinson said. "It was a slap in the face, and a reminder that time alone will not lead us to the expansion of gay rights."
Robinson, who led the lobbying effort for Vermont's civil union law, said separating the right to marriage from other equally vital civil rights diminishes the status of same-sex couples before the law.
"We sometimes isolate the right to marry from other civil rights issues, but these struggles are all interconnected," she said. "We can't win any of the battles without winning all of the battles."
Several audience members expressed their support of gay rights during a question period following the discussion. They said most young voters, who overwhelmingly supported Obama, also voted against Proposition 8.
While Robinson agreed, she cautioned against relying on generational change alone to increase gay rights. Panelists pointed to violent crimes against gays and lesbians, which she said are typically perpetrated by young white males, as evidence that more positive action is needed.
"Nothing is inevitable about progress," Robinson said. "Nothing is inevitable about the expansion of civil rights. It takes work."
The discussion was part of a two-week-long celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., "Getting to the Mountaintop: Working through Conflict toward Reconciliation."
5. New University (UC-Irvine), January 26, 2009
3100 Gateway Commons, Irvine, CA 92697-4250
A Month To Stop Stalking
By Maxine Wally
With over 1.4 million people stalked every year in the United States and an increasing number of UC Irvine students seeking service for stalking-related incidents, UCI groups are participating in a nationwide, month-long event to educate students about the dangers of stalking and how to prevent it.
January marks National Stalking Awareness Month. According to Cindy Dyer, director of the U.S. Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), their office teamed up with the National Center for Victims of Crime to launch the 2009 campaign under the slogan, "Know it. Name it. Stop it." At UCI, Campus Assault Resources and Education (CARE), has adopted this month's theme and plans to inform and educate the student body of the critical nature of the subject.
"While legal definitions of stalking vary from one jurisdiction to another, a good working definition of stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear," said Robert Buelow, Violence Prevention Coordinator of CARE. "This is the first year we have campaigned for awareness of stalking during the month of January."
In an anonymous study conducted by CARE in the spring of 2008, 18.5 percent of UCI students reported that at least once, someone has "undesirably and obsessively pursued [them] by following [them] around." Furthermore, 19.7 percent of UCI students stated that they have been "undesirably and obsessively pursued by being watched," while 15.5 percent of UCI students said that someone has "undesirably and obsessively pursed [them] by monitoring [them] and/or [their] behavior by calling at all hours to check on whereabouts, checking up through mutual friends etc."
These alarming numbers show the small but still significant prevalence of stalking on campus, and have compelled CARE and its constituents to pursue a different course of action this year.
In addition to distributing informational pamphlets about stalking behaviors, common myths about stalking and resources available to almost 30 campus departments, CARE, in conjunction with the UCI Police Department, has created a support group for UCI students.
"CARE has also increased the amount of outreach and awareness efforts to the campus this year … we are encouraging staff and faculty to have discussions with their colleagues and students about stalking and the services available on campus," Buelow said.
CARE and the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center (LGBT) also plan to put on a number of events; this past Tuesday a movie entitled "Boys Don't Cry," starring Hillary Swank, was screened at the Cross-Cultural Center. Swank won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1999 for her performance.
The film is based on a true story about a biologically born female who identifies as a man. After moving away from his small town, he gets close with a girl that is involved with another young man who feels like he owns the girl and will do anything to keep her.
"CARE sponsored this movie because there is a lot of assault that occurs in it as a result of gender bias, small town hostility and rape," said LGBT Resource Center Director David Bishop. "The movie also has a lot of marginalization of women, men feeling entitled, possessive, and controlling women and how they love."
"Boys Don't Cry" is only the first of many events to come. Affiliates of CARE, the LGBT Resource Center and their respective supporters plan on working together to leave a lasting impression on campus and become a more unified power player.
"National Stalking Awareness Month is incredibly important to CARE and the UCI community," Buelow said. "Stalking is much more than an annoyance — it is a crime. A lot of people may experience behaviors that make them uncomfortable or afraid, but they may not realize that there are things they can do about it."
6. The Parthenon (Marshall University), January 27, 2009
Communications Building 109, 1 John Marshall Drive, Huntington, WV 25755
Organization seeks to spread social justice
By Shannon Miller
People Reaching Out With Love, a Christian organization at Marshall University, continues the Civil Rights legacy by bringing social justice awareness to the Marshall community.
At Tuesday's meeting, PROWL plans to evaluate their progress and decide their next steps toward social justice awareness. At the beginning of this semester, they hosted a meeting to begin networking with other groups on campus that also strive for social justice.
Approximately 30 people attended the meeting, including representatives from the Sierra Student Coalition, Multicultural Ambassadors, Save Darfur, and the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender Outreach.
The goal is to raise awareness of the hardships faced by different social, ethnic, racial and religious groups at Marshall University. One example of this is people who are handicapped and in need of wheelchair accessibility.
Dana Sutton, Presbyterian campus minister and leader of PROWL, said that showing God's love to everyone is central to their faith.
"When you see people who aren't treated equally in society, we have an extra responsibility to help them," Sutton said.
Laura Mitchell, senior psychology major from Rock Hill, S.C., said PROWL hopes to let others know that their struggles are part of humanity's struggles as a whole. Mitchell said that social justice isn't a cause that just specifically concerns Christians, but involves everyone.
Social justice is something that PROWL has been interested in all along, but by attending a conference for college students during Christmas break they have been inspired to do more to achieve social justice. They felt that they had become complacent by staying among their group and wanted to put their faith into action, she said.
"It's personally important to me because I feel it's the way of mending the ills of the world. It will create more understanding about each other and our different struggles," Mitchell said.
Miranda Hogsett, first-year graduate student from Barboursville, W.Va. and PROWL member, said what she wants most is for love to exist in everyone's life, and said she thinks that this could be accomplished through social justice.
"Diversity in this area has caused so much unrest between different groups and people," Hogsett said. "Why should our differences really matter that much?"
PROWL meets at 9:15 p.m. every Tuesday in the Campus Christian Center. Anyone with questions or interest in being part of PROWL's networking efforts can contact Dana Sutton at 304-696-3052.
Shannon Miller can be contacted at email@example.com.
7. The Concordian, January 28, 2009
FPO 104, 901 8th St S, Moorhead, Minnesota 56562
Concordia's SAGA to attend nation-wide conference
By Amanda Matchett
On Friday, Feb. 13, superstitions will not prevent Concordia's Straight and Gay Alliance when they partake in the lengthy 14-hour van ride to go to the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference at Indiana University.
Concordia's SAGA chapter has recently started back up this year after a number of students requested for the group to be re-born. With the help of Lindsay Playle '09 who is now the president of this student organization, SAGA came back to life at the beginning of the fall semester. Playle said that starting up a student organization on campus has presented some challenges.
"You always have expectations of doing great things, but I have come to the realization after one semester has gone already that we can't do everything that we had necessarily wanted to do at the beginning of the year," Playle said.
Concordia's SAGA group has steadily built a stronger foundation for students on campus with 10-15 people regularly attending meetings every Wednesday at 9 p.m. in the Anderson faculty lounge, and 92 members being a part of Concordia's SAGA Facebook group. SAGA's attendance at MBLGTACC this year registers among the largest events in the organization's history. Events like this help the student organization to grow even more, said Playle.
"This is a big thing, because it involves us with the larger community of universities and colleges across the nation," Playle said. "Ten of our SAGA members are going on this trip to participate in this nationwide three day event in Bloomington, Ind."
SAGA member Eric Wheeler'09 is excited about the conference, even though it will be a long excursion to get there.
"Once we arrive it will be fun meeting a variety of people from all different backgrounds," Wheeler said. "But getting there will most likely be somewhat strenuous, since the fourteen-hour drive is about as long as the conference title."
MBLGTACC started having annual conferences in 1991, originating in Des Moines, Iowa. Founded by Ian Kenny, MBLGTACC is the largest and oldest regional homosexual conference in North America. The mission statement of this year's conference is, "to engage students, faculty, and staff of the regional Midwest in issues relevant to the BLGTA community. We encourage activism and networking to inspire members of our community to promote diversity, equality, and social justice. We hope to empower all BLGTA individuals with the means to truly live out loud."
Co-chair Julie Napolitano, says that this conference helps bring people together all across the country. They are hoping to get up to 1,500 participants at this conference. Students attending will get to choose five different workshops out of a possible 20 to participate in. The workshops offer a variety of different topics such as safe sex, coming out in the work place, and religion and sexuality. There will also be three guest speakers, columnist for ESPN L.Z. Granderson, professor Kand McQueen of Indiana State University, and Rose Troche who is one of the writers, directors and the co-executive producer of the popular television series "The L Word." There will also be a dance held on Valentine's Day for all of the participants.
Napolitano is thrilled to be a part of the conference. She says that this year's theme is "Living out loud" which is perfect because participants are encouraged to examine the past history of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people to enhance the future of GLBT rights.
"I just see GLBT rights as one of the cores of humanity, the right to love and be who you are, are some of the key components to living," Napolitano said. "This conference is meant to empower people, educate people, bring people together and above all provide a safe network for people to meet."
MBLGTACC is not the only event that SAGA is planning this year. On April 16, there is a planned panel discussion on the Concordia College campus with various speakers, monologues, and skits. The goal is to provide Concordia's students with a better understanding of GLBT issues.
"Getting awareness on campus of GLBT issues is one of the main reasons we are having this panel discussion," Playle said. "By actually having people that people see on a regular basis up on the panel will hopefully help us with this goal."
8. The Minaret (University of Tampa, FL), January 28, 2009
401 W Kennedy Blvd., BOX P, Tampa, FL 33606
UT Offers Domestic Partner Benefits, Ending Long Struggle
A week after Hillsborough County commissioners shot down a similar idea and two months after Florida voters rejected gay marriage, the University of Tampa agreed Wednesday to begin offering domestic partner benefits for homosexual couples.
Beginning April 1, UT will allow same-sex domestic partners to secure health insurance and other employee benefits. The offer does not apply to heterosexual domestic partnerships because those couples are allowed to marry under state law.
"It's about time," said Matt Gould, president of the Gay Lesbian Transgender Straight Bisexual Alliance, a UT student group. "I think it's great that UT is implementing [benefits], but I think it's wrong that the entire county won't."
Last week, Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner asked his colleagues to consider having the county offer domestic partner benefits. His request was rejected 5-2, and commissioners declined to even allow county staff to study the issue further. In 2004, commissioners also declined to offer benefits to gay couples.
In December 2007, The Minaret reported faculty dissatisfaction with the lack of benefits at UT, characterizing the quest for same-sex benefits as "a 15-year administrative shell game in which the biggest losers are progress, equal rights and the university's reputation."
Faculty voted twice in four years to endorse the benefits but claimed their requests were being ignored by President Ronald L. Vaughn.
UT's new benefit plan was announced Wednesday in an e-mail to faculty members:
"The decision to offer same-sex domestic partner benefits was made after a lengthy, thorough and deliberate analysis. In 2008, the University hired an independent consulting firm, Sibson Consulting, to analyze issues and assess the feasibility of offering benefits to domestic partners."
The plan listed four requirements:
-Be made available to employees who are in long-term, committed relationships and cannot marry according to Florida state laws;
-Offer equity with married employees to the extent permitted by federal laws;
-Be financially responsible; and
-Not jeopardize the tax-favored status of any of UT's programs.
"Because of the first condition, Sibson's study focused on the potential design and implementation of a same-sex domestic partner (SSDP) benefit program," the email continued. "Their research and recent presentation of findings helped us determine that offering same-sex domestic partner benefits is feasible and beneficial to the UT community.
Officials said more details would be available soon on the school's employee Web site.
Reaction on campus was mixed.
Michael Burns, a Spartan Club employee, called the vote "a good thing. I think people that have been together so long, they deserve it."
"I don't think (homosexual employees) should get special treatment," said Shanney Myers, a sophomore criminology major. "Benefits are given to a husband or wife when their husband or wife work here. This is not a good thing."
Linda LaComb-Williams, who teaches a nursing lab, disagreed.
"It's a progressive step in taking the stigma away from people who need equal rights," she said.
Gould also thinks UT's decision is a positive change – especially in a state where 62 percent of voters amended the constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
"It's not like people in gay relationships are going around trying to convert their heterosexual friends," said the sophomore English major.
Other private universities, including Lynn, Nova Southeastern and the University of Miami, offer domestic partner benefits, as do approximately 80 percent of U.S. News & World Report's top 50 colleges and more than half of Fortune 500 companies, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
UT is not alone in the benefits debate that has been brought up in recent news. The University of New Hampshire has already gone through this process, and by law in New Hampshire, a civil union must be forged in order to share benefits. The University System of New Hampshire has just ruled that same-sex partners will lose their health benefits unless they are legally in a civil union by July.
In Texas, state-funded schools are prohibited by the state from offering benefits to same-sex couples. Texas Christian University, a private school, has offered benefits to homosexual couples since 2005. According to the university, each party must sign a domestic partnership affidavit and submit it to Human Resources for it to be a considered for domestic partnership benefits. This year, a bill is to be addressed that will overturn laws preventing the University of Texas-Austin from extending benefits to homosexual employees.
9. The Santa Clara (Santa Clara University, CA), January 29, 2009
Benson Memorial Center room 13, mailed to Box 3190, Santa Clara, CA 95053
Speaking up about coming out
Alums and current students describe lack of gay culture at Santa Clara
By Katie Powers
When alumna Jennifer Jigour walked up to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance table at her first club fair, it was the first time she could look at someone and know they were gay, too.
Upon joining the group, she imagined a sea of gay and lesbian people where she could find both support and dates. Though the dating option wasn't quite what she had imagined, she did find that support.
Jigour, a panelist at Wednesday's "Coming out and coming back" panel, was one of five alumni who are out who came back to share their experiences of being gay, lesbian and bisexual at Santa Clara.
Each alumnus had a different story to share with the audience in the St. Clare room, with subjects ranging from making the classroom more inclusive to when they felt most threatened on campus.
Juan Carlos Guzman, a 2004 graduate, said about staying in the closet, "I wouldn't want anyone here to do the same thing I did. It's dangerous. When you isolate yourself and internalize those feelings, it's damaging."
Kelli Dragovich didn't come out until after she graduated in 2000. During her time here she was busy playing a sport and in a relationship with a man. Her senior year she had a secret relationship with a female friend.
"It was a secret that still haunts me. I just don't think that it's fair," she said. "That's part of the reason why I'm here is to come to peace with that. You can't turn back the clock, but you can help others."
For the most part, the panelists agreed that they were safe at Santa Clara. Most of the struggle was internal, some said.
Amber Cameron, a 2005 graduate, said at Santa Clara she felt safe, but at the same time was uncomfortable. She said when she began dating a woman her sophomore year, she felt isolated from her friends.
"It's not something to talk about or be open about. I felt pretty uncomfortable being here," she said.
Manuel Perez, class of 2004, described the one time he felt unsafe on campus. His senior year, five students, all of whom were gay and Latino, received hateful e-mails with homophobic and racial remarks.
"For the first time, I realized I'm not as safe as I thought," he said.
The panel, hosted by resident director David Daniels, began as a training workshop for community facilitators. However, upon receiving positive feedback, Daniels decided to open another panel session to the rest of campus.
Santa Clara students are still dealing with the same issues of coming out and being open in such a small community. Some of the issues the panelists described to an audience of about 60 members still face gay, lesbian and bisexual students.
What dating scene?
When Nick Sanchez logged onto Facebook one day, he found a friendship request from a male student he didn't know. Intrigued, he accepted. A few weeks later, the student sent him a message explaining why he requested Sanchez's friendship without meeting him.
It read, "Oh hey, sorry about the random add. You probably don't know who I am, but I thought you might beâ?¦" Sanchez knew the missing word from that messageÂ -- gay. The sender wrote that maybe Sanchez wanted to hang out.
Sanchez was impressed with the courage this student had to take the initiative. He responded that he would love to hang out, including, "Yes, I am gay. I am assuming you are as well? Either way, that's fine too."
A few weeks passed without a reply. When a response came, the tone had changed. He wasn't really into labels, he wrote, adding a vague remark about maybe seeing Sanchez around.
Recalling the situation, Sanchez's brown eyes shift. "I don't want to say he chickened out," he says, "But (he) recoiled."
At a school just 40 minutes away from one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world, being gay is tolerated, but some lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) students feel it could be better.
The university promotes increasing ethnic and cultural diversity, but the LGBT community at Santa Clara is an often-neglected minority group looking for acceptance.
Staff psychologist Don Capone said there are reasons to be optimistic.
"The campus seems to be increasingly receptive and hospitable to discussion about same-sex attraction and about people who are in same-sex relationships," he said.
But even the active participants in the LGBT community are unsure. Aaron Cator, a youthful and earnest junior, sits across from me on a couch, his blue eyes bloodshot from a night of late studying, expressing frustration as a gay student.
"Although Santa Clara preaches itself as an intellectual progressive community, I think in some ways, it's very backward," he says. "It preaches this notion of a compassionate community where we're diverse in race, gender and sexual orientation, but I feel like this school really struggles in that."
Cator winced as the baseball whizzed by, just missing his face.
Last winter, Cator was walking to Domicilio apartments along the sidewalk by the baseball stadium with two friends when a baseball was thrown at him from a moving car. A group of male students driving by had thrown it. Bewildered, Cator turned around and saw the car screech on its breaks, turn around and drive back by him. They yelled "faggot" one more time before speeding away in their sedan.
The three friends stood in shock. "It's like, oh my god, we're in the Bay Area," says Cator. "This shouldn't be happening."
It was one of those moments, Cator said, when he knew being gay wasn't accepted here.
"There's homophobia everywhere. Why would we be immune?" said Professor Linda Garber, director of the women and gender studies department. "Homophobia is very real, and it's still happening."
Capone said homophobia can be clear and hurtful. Using the word "gay" as a synonym for dumb, Capone says, can be equally if not more damaging than language like "fag" or "dyke" because it sends a message that some groups should be seen as inferior.
Another aspect Capone mentioned was the suspicion that people are gay. "When students are suspected for being gay, they might feel an increased sense of isolation," he said. It's not saying cruel things, but being set apart from the dominant group in an obvious way, that affects these students.
Stepping out of the closet
"When you're in the closet, you feel inferior. You feel like it's not your place and you don't deserve to be out and treated equally with straight people," Sanchez says. "We'll always be sort of second class."
In 9th grade, Ricky Alexander realized that he was gay and not a one-of-a-kind abnormality. But he was terrified. He closed himself off from the world. He had no close friends, because he figured they would ask which girls he liked. The thought of that mortified him.
When Alexander arrived Santa Clara, he again isolated himself. He didn't develop any close friendships and spent most of his time in his room. He was gaining weight, and subconsciously, he knew he was doing it to push people away.
In his junior year, Alexander studied abroad on the Scholarship, a ship that took about 200 international students around the world. For the first time, he felt liberated. In a mixture of tears and laughter, he came out to a friend in the program.
The psychology of being in the closet is hard for heterosexuals to fathom. The fear of losing the perception of belonging to the majority group can be one of the biggest fears, said Capone.
But the list of fears doesn't stop there: There's the fear of rejection, the fear of loss of admiration, the fear of abandonment and rejection from friends and family.
"There can be feelings of guilt, because essentially we're all programmed from an early age to sort of try to meet society and our families' expectations," said Capone.
"It really just depends on what the level of trust and safety in particular relationships, particular environments," Capone said, "because we're not in a world where it is safe to be out no matter where you are ."
The first week back at Santa Clara, Alexander knew he would have to change people's perceptions of him. At first, it was difficult, but then he started to get the hang of reaching out. He joined Fine by Me and GASPED.
Now you would never believe Alexander was the same, reclusive person he portrays himself as before going on the ship. Extremely chatty, warm and endearingly sincere, Alexander transformed after coming out. It changed his life.
Ricky says he sees people around campus who are going through the same thing he did. It's hard, he says, because he can't just grab people he knows and talk to them, because if someone had done that to him, it would have been the worst thing ever.
"There are definitely a lot of people in closet who are on their own journeys," he says. "I want to be available for people so they know they can talk to me and come out to me."
And you don't even have to talk -- these days, Ricky is always up for singing to the Spice Girls.
"I missed all those years in high school. I missed friends in general," he says. "Every once in awhile I remind myself I can be totally goofy. Now it's like, I can listen to the Spice Girls, and I just want to dance to it!"
In a relationship
People were playing beer pong in the corner. Music was playing loudly. It was a party. Kristen Fry* and Samira Howard* were dancing and kissing like any normal couple. But a guy wouldn't leave them alone.
"Two drunk girls making out! Can I join?" he spatters.
It's not exactly like that.
The two women have been in a relationship since their freshmen year, but when they are out at night, they are often mistaken for drunk girls kissing for attention.
"If we go out to a party, guys definitely assume we're on display, and they don't take us seriously at all. We don't get the same respect that any other heterosexual couple would," said Fry.
At a table at Frozo's, Fry brushes her curly brown side-ponytail that sweeps over her shoulder and leans against the bland white wall. Sitting beside her is Howard. They fondly recall when it all started.
"It started as random attractions that we didn't really know what to do with," Howard explains. "We started joking with 'Oh my god we're soul mates, too bad we're not attracted to each other.'"
Fry affectionately brushes Howard's shoulder.
"After a few months of hardcore denial, and then after a while, it gets to the point where you can't really deny it anymore. You have to address it," Howard says.
Even after they first kissed, neither wanted to admit it meant anything more than frustration with the opposite sex.
Fry says, "We were like, 'Oh, we're just bored, but then we'd go into our own rooms and think 'I'm attracted. Is she attracted back?'"
Once they grappled with their feelings, they only acted like a couple behind a closed door. "It put so much pressure on our relationship," Howard says.
Fry agrees. "It was really isolating."
It took a few months after the pair had made their relationship official before they had the courage to tell their friends.
Their friends had mostly good reactions, except for one. "She was very religious, very conservative," Fry says. "She basically told us we were going to hell, but she was still super nice to us. She was more worried, out of concern."
A minority on campus
When Paul Whaley walks in on Thursday nights for the Fine by Me Meetings, it's the one time a week where he can guarantee he won't be the only gay person in a room.
Not that this is a problem -- it's just a fact. In his freshman year, he was the only out gay man in his residence hall. He was the first gay friend for a lot of his Santa Clara friends.
It's OK to be gay here, Whaley says, but no one actually is.
He doesn't mean this literally, of course. But he sees a discrepancy between the number of people who are out and open with their sexuality and those who probably would identify as he does.
"Obviously you can't admit more homosexuals because that's a box you check or anything you'd want to check," says Cator, "but I wish there was a more prevalent gay community."
The number of LGBT students at Santa Clara is impossible to quantify, but National Gay and Lesbian National Task Force estimates that 3 to 5 percent of the U.S. population identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
There are groups for LBGT students. There is GASPED, GALA (also known as Fine By Me) and Spectrum, a support group that meets weekly. But over the years, the popularity of these groups fluctuates. The small size of the community affects other parts of college life. For one thing, the dating options are scant, to be sure.
Fry thinks the LGBT community here is fairly invisible.
"I don't think most people have any idea how prevalent it is," she said. "When they're walking to class they don't think about it. But there is a good number of people they walk by everyday that are in same-sex relationships or have those attractions."
When I ask Sanchez about the gay dating scene here, he laughs.
"What gay dating scene?"
Sanchez tells me a story from his freshman year. He met a guy at a Halloween party. They were hanging out, talking, drinking and dancing. By the end of the night, they had kissed.
But afterward, he grabbed Sanchez and said, "You better not tell anyone about this."
Gay students at Santa Clara feel more invisible here than in the world outside of Santa Clara.
"I feel like part of the college experience is preparing yourself for the real world," Cator says, "and I feel like homosexuality in today's world is such an issue and is going to continue to be an issue."
He pauses, "I think it's a shame we don't reflect today's contemporary society in a more true fashion."
*Editor's note: Two of the names in this story have been changed to maintain the students' privacy.
Contact Katie Powers at (408) 554-4546 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. The Daily Pennsylvanian (UPenn, Philadelphia, PA), January 30, 2009
4015 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6198
Members of LGBT community question U. insurance plan: Many say current policy discriminates against transgendered employees
By Abby Johnston
The University's health-insurance policy may be in violation of its nondiscrimination policy, many members of the Penn community say.
Currently, the University employee-benefits program does not cover sexual reassignment surgery, but it is in direct violation of its nondiscrimination policy by not covering these procedures, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center associate director Erin Cross wrote in an e-mail.
She likened it to not covering treatment for race-specific diseases.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, emphasized that gender reassignment amounts to far more than merely one surgery.
Rather, the process includes hormone injections and lab tests, and sometimes prosthetics, hair removal and mental-health services.
Each of these individual procedures falls under the term "transition-related care" and may be covered by health insurance, but not when one - supposedly transgendered - person requires all at once, she said.
"Because of the way exceptions are written, very often trans people get excluded from gender-specific care," Keisling added.
For example, she said, some transgendered people may at times require both a mammogram and a prostate exam. Their policies, which would normally cover each procedure on its own, claim these exams are "transgender related," and thus they refuse to cover either.
Lambda Alliance chairman and College junior Dennie Zastrow called failing to cover the costs of the procedure "a perfect example of the discrimination the community still faces."
But Division of Human Resources spokeswoman Terri Ryan disagreed that the policy was discriminatory.
She wrote in an e-mail that, because the procedure is denied to all plan participants, it is not in violation of the nondiscrimination policy, which guarantees the same coverage "regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability or [veteran status]."
She added that through a survey, Penn determined that few other Ivy League universities cover the surgery.
Mercer, one of Penn's consulting firms, estimated that only about 2.3 percent of employers cover the procedure, based on data collected in October and November 2007 by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
Still, Ryan said Penn must strike a balance between the most extensive coverage possible and the need to control costs. She added that the cost of including reassignment surgery in the current insurance plan would be substantial.
Cross disagreed. She said the cost of treating the severe depression or suicidal tendencies associated with some patients amounts to more than that of the procedure.
Although Lambda has no concrete plans in place to address the issue, Zastrow said the group has discussed bringing the greater issue of campus climate to the Undergraduate Assembly and intends to focus largely on transgender-related issues throughout the semester.
"It is a critical time in our country for individuals in need of health insurance coverage," said School of Law lecturer Stacey Sobel. "Transgender people deserve the same access to ensure that their health care needs are covered as any other employee."
11. The Saginaw News, January 31, 2009
203 S. Washington Avenue, Saginaw, MI 48607
Saginaw Valley State University hosts gay marriage debate
By The Saginaw News
Two friends with different viewpoints will square off in a public debate about gay marriage Tuesday.
John Corvino and Glenn T. Stanton plan to appear at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3, at SVSU's Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. Admission is free.
Corvino has traveled more than 15 years, talking about gay rights. He has written more than 100 articles and opinion pieces and his column, "The Gay Moralist," appears on LOGO Online's www.365gay.com.
Corvino, who has a Ph.D. in philosophy, works as an associate professor of philosophy at Wayne State University.
Stanton has had presentations featured on C-SPAN's "BookTV" and the PBS documentary "Affluenza."
He is the director of re-search for the Global Family Formation and is the senior analyst for marriage and sexuality at Focus on the Family, a faith-based organization headquartered in Colorado Springs.
The two travel together, consider each other friends and host gay marriage panels across the nation.
Tuesday's discussion, titled "Same-Sex Marriage: A Civil Debate," calls for an hour-long debate followed by a question and answer session.
12. Greeley Tribune (Greeley, Colorado), January 31, 2009
501 8th Ave, Greeley, CO 80634
Bisexual activist to speak at UNC (University of Northern Colorado)
Robyn Ochs, an author and bisexual activist, will speak at the University of Northern Colorado on Wednesday.
She will give her free presentation, "Beyond Binaries — Identity and the Sexuality Spectrum" — at 7 p.m. in the University Center Panorama Room. The University Center, 11th Avenue and 20th Street.
Ochs has been a bisexual activist since 1983 when she was involved with the founding of the Boston Bisexual Network. She is the editor of the "Bisexual Resource Guide" and "Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World," an international anthology with authors from 32 countries.
Her appearance is sponsored by UNC's Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender and Allies Resource Office and the Women's Resource Center.
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