Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.03.22
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
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
1. ASU Web Devil - Lesbian sorority provides support
2. The Gainesville Sun - Amendment could galvanize students
3. San Francisco State University News - Marriage's effect on lesbian and gay couples studied
4. Northern Star Online, Northern Illinois University - NIU questions Illinois Safe Schools Alliance's failed evaluation of university
5. Navy Times - West Point grads form gay support group
6. Ithaca College - Homosexuality In Orthodox Judaism Is Subject Of Rabbi's Talk At Ithaca College
7. Inside Higher Ed - Win for Anti-Bias Rules
8. The Spartan Daily, San Jose State University - SJSU counselor goes the extra mile for gay and lesbian rights
9. The Daily Star - Writer on gay issues to speak
10. The Wichita Eagle, KansasCity.com - Wichita man gives collection of gay historical documents to KU
11. The Collegian, University of Richmond - NYU professor and “Covering” author speaks on campus
12. The Times Leader - Martino won’t meet with Misericordia
13. PrideSource.com - Boston students go the distance for Triangle Foundation
1. ASU Web Devil, March 16, 2009
950 S Cady Mall, Tempe, AZ 85287-1502
Lesbian sorority provides support
By Kasey Washburn
Oversized bags sporting Greek letters stick out all over ASU’s campuses, each representing a specific sisterhood.
And now, one ASU sorority caters to the lesbian community.
Gamma Rho Lambda is a national sorority that recognizes the specific challenges that lesbian, bisexual and transgender people face in their development, said Cindy Brown, vice president of communications for the group.
Not only do members of Gamma Rho Lambda encourage acceptance, but they were also accepted with open arms by ASU, which helped them to establish their Alpha Chapter three years ago as the Panhellenic Council, a national organization of sororities and fraternities, and this past semester into the Multicultural Greek Council.
What makes Gamma Rho Lambda unique is that it focuses on welcoming women of all types, Brown said.
“We offer a support system and safe place for women to grow,” Brown said, “Our individual members face homophobia within their own families, work environments and classrooms every day, and our goal is to support our members in the face of these intolerances.”
This support system has benefited members of Gamma Rho Lambda, including Chey Mayer, a business communication sophomore and member of Gamma Rho Lambda.
“Gamma Rho Lambda is proof that there is a place for girls of all kinds to feel safe at ASU,” Mayer said, “We are the sorority for girls who could have never imagined themselves being in one, and a way for those girls to get involved.”
To promote cultural diversity and acceptance, Gamma Rho Lambda chapters are involved in local events, including cross-organizational projects with other multicultural groups on campus and community-service projects.
“Gamma Rho Lambda has always been a part of the Greek system, however untraditional we may be,” Mayer said, “Up until this semester, we were a part of the Panhellenic Council, but given our small size and differences, it was sometimes difficult to interact. But our switch to the Multicultural Greek Council has made us feel nothing but welcome.”
Gamma Rho Lambda holds athletic events, bowling nights, barbecues, movie nights, annual banquets, alumni events and camping trips, Brown said.
Gamma Rho Lambda does not participate in formal rushes, but they do hold their own private rush events. Even though their numbers are small, the turnout for these events has proved to be successful, Mayer said.
Mayer said she believes there are always biases toward anyone or anything queer-friendly.
“But rather then letting them get us down, we use them as an opportunity to embrace our differences and prove ourselves,” she said.
Any misconceptions about this sorority and its place within ASU’s Greek life have not stopped Gamma Rho Lambda from growing and prevailing in promoting a well-rounded college experience.
Just like any other sorority around campus, Gamma Rho Lambda members form lifelong friendships and the group offers professional growth, said Brown.
“I hope to see Gamma Rho Lambda more well-known in the future,” Mayer said, “I’d like our name to get out there more, so that we can make a bigger impact and more of a difference in someone else’s life.”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com.
2. The Gainesville Sun, March 16, 2009
P.O. Box 147147, Gainesville, FL 32614-7147
Amendment could galvanize students
By Nathan Crabbe
While University of Florida students typically vote in low numbers for city elections, some say Charter Amendment 1 might cause a higher turnout.
"When students learn about it, they're really standing up against it," said Garrett Garner, a UF student who is part of campus and city groups against the measure.
The amendment would repeal the city's new protections for the rights of transgender individuals as well as rights previously guaranteed to gay, lesbian and bisexual residents. Early voting begins today in advance of the March 24 election.
In the past two elections in which only city issues and candidates have appeared on the ballot, turnout at the four biggest precincts for UF students never surpassed 6 percent.
By comparison, more than three-quarters of voters in those precincts turned out for the 2008 presidential election.
Both UF's Student Government and Faculty Senate have taken positions against the amendment, as has UF's most prominent official.
UF President Bernie Machen and his wife, Chris, wrote that they opposed the amendment in a letter printed last week in The Sun.
"While we agree the current regulation is not perfect, voting it down amounts to a gross overreaction that sends the wrong message about our community," they wrote.
"This does each of us a disservice. It's also harmful to Gainesville, economically and culturally."
Others on campus support the measure. UF College Republican President Bryan Griffin said city commissioners overstepped their bounds with an ordinance to extend the city's anti-discrimination laws to cover transgender individuals.
He said the ordinance, which the amendment would repeal, gave the commission unlimited power to force businesses to take steps such as adding bathrooms.
"We believe that the way the ordinance was passed was more discriminatory than not having it," he said.
But some UF faculty members say the amendment flies in the face of UF's efforts for its employees.
In 2003, UF added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy. In 2006, the university approved health care coverage for the domestic partners of employees.
UF political science professor Dan Smith said the measure would hamper the university's ability to be a leader on such issues.
"I think it would have a chilling effect on UF's ability to be inclusive," he said.
Garrett and other students are using the framework of a student group that campaigned for Obama to rally against the measure. He's president of the group, renamed Students for Change, which he said would use similar efforts to inform students and get them to the polls.
He's confident that students will have the same enthusiasm to work to prevent the amendment from passing.
"I think UF students aren't going to let that happen," he said.
3. San Francisco State University News, March 16, 2009
Marriage's effect on lesbian and gay couples studied
By Denize Springer
Legal recognition of same-sex relationships, including marriage, influences how gay and lesbian baby boomers prepare for late life and end of life issues. Unmarried same-sex couples may suffer greater fear and anxiety around end of life issues than those in state-sanctioned unions, according to a new study published today by the journal Sexuality Research and Social Policy.
"We are just beginning to explore the effects of legal recognition of relationships among lesbian and gay adults," said Brian deVries, professor of gerontology and lead author of the study.
According to deVries, lesbian and gay baby boomers who live in states that do not legally recognize same-sex couples are more likely to have prepared for the end of life by completing such documents as living wills than those who live in states that do recognize their relationships. At the same time, these lesbian and gay people, single or part of a couple, are more likely to have greater fears and anxieties about end of life and later life issues.
"The bottom line is that those who reside in states that do not recognize relationships or sanctioned marriages between same-sex couples feel less cared for and less cared about and must take extra legal steps to prepare for their later years," deVries said. "The absence of recognition of same-sex relationships conveys a sense of second-class citizenship and a stress associated with such unwelcome status."
Brian deVries and his colleagues, Jean Quam, University of Minnesota; Kimberly Acquaviva, The George Washington University and Anne M. Mason, a graduate student and research assistant at SF State, based their findings on responses to a survey in which 797 gay and lesbian boomers were questioned about their fears regarding end of life issues and preparations for later life. Those queried were women and men, both single and couples, living in states that did and did not legally recognize marriage between same-sex partners.
The paper, "State Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships and Preparations for End of Life Among Lesbian and Gay Boomers," was published in Sexuality Research and Social Policy, the journal of the National Sexuality Resource Center (NSRC), and is available online at: http://www.nsrc.sfsu.edu/sexuality_research_social_policy
4. Northern Star Online, Northern Illinois University, March 16, 2009
Campus Life Building, Suite 130, DeKalb, IL 60115
NIU questions Illinois Safe Schools Alliance's failed evaluation of university
By Giles Bruce
Nobody likes getting an F, especially when they think it’s undeserved.
That’s how some NIU faculty members feel after the university received a failing grade in a recently released report by the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, a group dedicated to the safety and development of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in Illinois.
The report, determined by looking at schools’ Web sites, graded the 57 Illinois universities with teacher education programs on the ways visible LGBTQ issues are approached in those programs and if sexual orientation and gender identity are mentioned in the institutions’ policies and teacher education programs’ conceptual frameworks.
The report’s intent is to shed light on the perceived inabilities of K-12 teachers to deal with the harassment of LGBTQ students. It comes in the wake of NIU being named one of the top 100 universities for LGBT students in 2006 by The Advocate, an LGBT magazine.
“I think it’s good that this organization that did the report is trying to build awareness about the need for the colleges to be preparing future teachers to deal with diversity in their classrooms,” said Margie Cook, director of the LGBT Resource Center. “At the same time, I think the report is flawed. It’s hard to tell if it’s an accurate reflection of what’s going on college campuses because all they did was look at Web sites.”
NIU shouldn’t feel too bad as 72 percent (41 out of 57) of the universities in the report failed. Only one, University of Illinois at Chicago, got an A while one received a B, eight earned C’s and six were given D’s.
NIU failed the report in part for not including the term “gender identity” in its university policies or student rights and responsibilities documents. “I definitely think this is an evolving area: How well institutions are prepared to deal with gender identity issues,” Cook said. “On campus, that’s an ongoing effort right now.”
The report didn’t acknowledge that NIU has an LGBT studies program, said Cook and Diana Swanson, associate professor of English in the women’s studies program and coordinator of the LGBT studies program. “In terms of the academic programs, they just looked at teacher preparation,” Swanson said. She agrees with Cook that the report addresses an important issue, but that it is “limited and flawed.”
Swanson noted that, by her count, NIU is the only university in Illinois with a LGBT studies program. Three in Illinois have a LGBT focus in their gender studies program, and 26 universities across the nation have at least an LGBT focus. Cook pointed out that only 125 out of 3,000 universities nationwide have an LGBT resource center.
Kevin Prost, sophomore environmental geosciences major, said he has noticed the “visibility” of LGBT issues being addressed at NIU. “Yeah, I’ve definitely seen it around,” he said. “The support’s there.”
5. Navy Times, March 18, 2009
Army Times Publishing Company, 6883 Commercial Dr., Springfield, Va. 22159-0500
West Point grads form gay support group
By William H. McMichael
Thirty-eight graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., came out of the closet Monday with an offer to help their alma mater educate future Army leaders on the need to accept and honor the sacrifices of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops.
“Knights Out” wants to serve as a connection between gay troops and Army administrators, particularly at West Point, to provide an “open forum” for communication between gay West Point graduates and their fellow alumni and to serve in an advisory role for West Point leaders in the eventuality — which the group believes is both “imminent and inevitable” — that the law and policy collectively known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” are repealed by Congress.
“We’re publicly announcing our sexuality, our orientation,” said 1st Lt. Dan Choi, a National Guardsman with the 1st Bn., 69th Infantry, based in Manhattan. “It’s just one part of who we are in saying that we are standing to be counted.”
In forming Knights Out, its 38 members are following the example of similar support and education groups formed by graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Air Force Academy, known respectively as USNA Out and Blue Alliance. Most if not all of these groups’ members also belong to the Service Academy Gay and Lesbian Alumni social network, a group that Knights Out claims includes some active-duty commanders serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Choi, a Korean by descent, is a combat veteran of Iraq who graduated from West Point in 2003 with a degree in Arabic language. He said his unit is aware that he’s a homosexual and added, “I’m very comfortable with all the repercussions right now. To me, it’s about doing the right thing, not about trying to fit into the process that gets you the rank or prevents you from getting a discharge.
“If that’s the repercussion, I’m ready to take it,” he said. “I think it’s more important that I let everybody know that … it is a wrong policy.”
Choi said the group has contacted West Point leadership and gotten “a very warm response.” An academy spokesman couldn’t confirm that assertion, noting that today was the first day of West Point’s spring break and that the campus was nearly empty.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” was implemented by Congress in 1993 and signed by President Bill Clinton. The law prescribes discharge as the remedy for gay service members who do not remain quiet about their sexuality or do not remain celibate.
Groups such as the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network actively lobby for its repeal, saying the policy is discriminatory and robs the military of critical skills. The Center for Military Readiness just as actively lobbies to keep the policy intact, arguing that a reversal “would impose new, unneeded burdens of sexual tension” on the military.
SLDN says that more than 12,500 men and women have been discharged under the policy since its implementation in 1994.
During the election campaign, President Barack Obama said he would work to end the law. In January, presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs confirmed that Obama wants to do so but indicated any such effort will take a back seat to the struggling economy and other issues.
Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., recently introduced legislation in Congress that would repeal the law. The next day, White House Spokesman Tommy Vietor said the president has begun consulting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen “so that this change is done in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and national security.”
Another Democrat, Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia, has asked the military for a monthly report on don’t ask, don’t tell discharges. Moran announced Monday that the Army discharged 11 gay soldiers in January.
“At a time when our military’s readiness is strained to the breaking point from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the armed forces continue to discharge vital service members under the outdated, outmoded don’t ask, don’t tell policy,” Moran said. “Our allies have overcome this issue, facing no adverse consequences from lifting bans focused on soldiers’ sexual orientation.
“Polls show the American people overwhelmingly support repealing this policy,” Moran continued. “Yet, how many more good soldiers are we willing to lose due to a bad policy that makes us less safe and secure?”
In January, among the fired were one human intelligence collector, one military police officer, four infantrymen, one health care specialist, one motor transport operator and one water treatment specialist, he said.
Moran, a long-time opponent of the military gay ban, is a co-sponsor of Tauscher’s Military Readiness Enhancement Act (HR 1283).
6. Ithaca College Office of Media Relations, March 17, 2009
Office of Media Relations, Ithaca College, 219 Alumni Hall, Ithaca, NY 14850-7044
Homosexuality In Orthodox Judaism Is Subject Of Rabbi's Talk At Ithaca College
Contact: Dave Maley, Office: (607) 274-1440, firstname.lastname@example.org, Reference: 3-17-09-67
ITHACA, NY — Rabbi Steven Greenberg, the first openly gay Orthodox rabbi, will discuss “Gayness and God” at Ithaca College on Monday, March 23. His talk, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Clark Lounge, Egbert Hall.
A senior teaching fellow at CLAL: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, Greenberg is the author of “Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition.” He has spoken widely at college campuses, Jewish community centers and synagogues on issues of faith, sexuality and tradition and helped organize the first Orthodox Mental Health Conference on homosexuality. He is a founding member of Open House Jerusalem, an organization that advances the cause of social tolerance in Israel.
The assumption — which often becomes the reality — is that there is incompatibility or even hostility between traditionally religious people and gay or lesbian people. Greenberg’s perspective provides a way to bridge this gap through the examination and reinterpretation of traditional texts often used to exclude gays and lesbians from particular religious communities. He will share his radical and pragmatic solutions to the conflict between traditional religion, Judaism in particular, and homosexuality. All are welcome to join him in an honest conversation about what it means to be gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgender while also being religious.
Sponsored by the Jewish studies program and the Center for LGBT Education, Outreach, and Services, Greenberg’s visit is also supported by the School of Humanities and Sciences Educational Grants Initiative, Hillel and the Muller Chapel Interfaith Programs fund.
For more information, contact Rebecca Lesses, coordinator of the Jewish studies program, at 607-274-3556 or email@example.com.
7. Inside Higher Ed, March 18, 2009
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
Win for Anti-Bias Rules
By Scott Jaschik
A federal appeals court on Tuesday gave a major win to public universities and advocates for gay rights who have wanted to preserve in full the institutional anti-bias policies that bar discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled -- in a two-sentence decision -- that the Hastings College of Law of the University of California was within its rights to deny recognition to a branch of the Christian Legal Society. Hastings said that the student group's ban on members who engage in "unrepentant homosexual conduct" violated the law school's anti-bias policies. In turn, the Christian Legal Society argued that its First Amendment rights were being violated by the law school in that it was forcing the law students in the society to abandon their religious beliefs in return for recognition.
The appeals court's decision said simply this: "The parties stipulate that Hastings imposes an open membership rule on all student groups — all groups must accept all comers as voting members even if those individuals disagree with the mission of the group. The conditions on recognition are therefore viewpoint neutral and reasonable."
The court cited a ruling it issued last year upholding the right of a public school district in Washington State to deny recognition to a Bible study group whose members were required to hold certain beliefs. The student group sued, charging a denial of its religious rights. But the appeals court found that because the school district had blanket rules about discrimination -- and was not applying them in any different way to the Bible group -- the regulations were legitimate.
The Ninth Circuit's rulings -- in the Hastings case and the public school case -- may set the stage for the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the issues of public universities' right to bar discrimination and religious students' right to practice their beliefs. Advocates for gay rights have had high hopes for the Hastings case -- especially since they won the first round with a federal judge's ruling in 2006 in favor of the law school. Other courts have ruled in favor of the Christian groups on other campuses. In a case that is cited by supporters of the Christian Legal Society, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2005 ordered Southern Illinois University to recognize a chapter of the Christian Legal Society.
Based on the Southern Illinois case and other rulings involving Christian fraternities seeking recognition, several public universities have settled lawsuits (or avoided them) by exempting religious groups from some parts of anti-bias policies. As a result, the decision by Hastings to fight to defend its policies was praised by gay rights groups. Supporters of anti-bias policies have noted that being denied recognition may limit some access to college funds, but typically does not stop groups from organizing or meeting.
Some legal experts have predicted that this issue would reach the Supreme Court as soon as appeals courts started to rule in different ways on the issue -- a milestone that may be reached with the Ninth Circuit's decision. The Supreme Court may also end up addressing these issues in the Washington State school case, Truth v. Kent School District. The Alliance Defense Fund, which supports Christian groups seeking recognition in such cases, last week asked the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of the school case.
In comments to the San Francisco Chronicle, lawyers on both sides of the Hastings case seemed determined to carry on the fight. Jeremy Tedesco of the Alliance Defense Fund, told the newspaper that the decision would "require religious organizations to include people in their groups who disagree with what the religious groups believe," calling such a move "a violation of the First Amendment, free speech and freedom of religion."
But Ethan Schulman, a lawyer for Hastings, said that the Christian Legal Society was trying to "carve a gaping loophole in those nondiscrimination policies" and "force the law school to subsidize discriminatory groups."
8. The Spartan Daily, San Jose State University, March 19, 2009
One Washington Square, Dwight Bentel Hall Room 209, San Jose, CA 95112-01493
SJSU counselor goes the extra mile for gay and lesbian rights
By Hank Drew
Wiggsy Sivertsen, open and honest almost to a fault, refuses to answer only one personal question: What's her birth name?
"My sister used to say, 'She wiggles. She wiggles,' which came out as Wiggsy," Sivertsen said.
She was nicknamed "Wiggsy" by her older sister due to her hyperactive nature.
She was shipped off to a women's finishing school as part of her mother's desire to transform her into a lady, she said.
"We can see that was a failure," Sivertsen said, as she warmed her hands inside her fleece sweater.
Wiggsy Sivertsen, a faculty counselor, is considered, by those who know her, a boisterous cultural agitator with 41 years of service to the SJSU community and whose influence reaches beyond the SJSU's gay community.
Bonnie Sugiyama, the assistant director of SJSU's LGBT Resource Center, said she has worked with Sivertsen over the past six months.
She said Sivertsen has a strong personality and is able to easily disarm negative reactions to her brash nature.
"She can use the 'f' word and still get her point across," she said.
Sivertsen said she used her personality to force her way through the SJSU system. Her father decided she should attend San Jose State University to finish her education and be a heterosexual, she said.
Sivertsen's eyes brightened as she said, "You could say that was a failure."
She said her family lived a very connected life in Southern California and had friends in the movie industry, so she said she was aware that homosexuality existed.
Sivertsen said she knew she was a lesbian very early in her life.
Her older sister was "the quintessential heterosexual woman," and this helped her realize she was different.
"It was very clear - she is 13 months older than I am - that I was not like her at all," she said.
Her educational career started out rocky as she worried more about optimizing her ski time than studying, she said.
"My idea of school was set your classes up for Tuesdays and Thursdays and then leave Thursday to go skiing and come back late Monday night," she said. "I was never a great student."
Sivertsen said she originally wanted to be a surgeon, but eventually decided to study social work because her counselor suggested it.
She said she decided she would need recommendations if she had any chance of being accepted into graduate school, so she began working for a Palo Alto agency where she had been a volunteer.
Sivertsen said she was still in the closet at this time and the parents of her girlfriend complained to the agency's board of directors when they discovered the nature of their daughter's relationship.
"She, believing that her parents being these limousine liberals in Palo Alto, were fine with it and they weren't," she said.
GETTING FIRED UP
This was the early '60s, when gays and lesbians had no job protection, she said. She said the agency was crystal clear. They were firing her for being a lesbian and were trying to silence her.
"I looked at them and thought, 'The cat's out of the bag. You're dead. I'm telling everybody why you're firing me,'" Sivertsen said.
Sivertsen's discussion of her firing led to boycotts of the agency, which she no longer mentions by name because the process helped the agency make internal changes.
"They have actually turned the corner and have done some wonderful things in terms of their policies," Sivertsen said.
The agency's loss would be SJSU's gain as Sivertsen moved into a full-time position at the university.
"When I came back in 1968, I was out," she said. "I was not going to live in the closet again."
"I went to President Clark, who was a wonderful man, and I said, 'I don't want this happen to me again. I want you to know,'" she said.
She said Robert Clark, who was president in the '60s, looked at her and said, "I don't care. Do your job."
Sivertsen said she was the only openly lesbian person on campus and it was lonely at times.
"I didn't care," she said. "I worked with the students and it was during the anti-war days and the black student movement days. There was a lot of stuff to do with the students."
She said she was very active with the black student movement and the women's movements on campus in the late '60s. She said she moderated encounter groups for African-American students.
"Our two guys out there with the statues," Sivertsen said, "I knew those guys."
Paul Wysocki, interim director of the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center, said San Jose has always existed in the shadow of San Francisco and needed a strong person to draw attention to issues.
He said this person is Wiggsy Sivertsen.
"She can fire up a crowd like nobody's business," Wysocki said. "She's the impassioned orator that we've always needed."
He said Sivertsen charges into a situation and stirs everyone up.
"We come in behind her and fill in the details," he said.
Wysocki, who helped Sivertsen create the first gay support group on campus, said working with her was a joy.
"Doing anything with Wiggsy is amazing because she is such an intense woman," he said.
"Wiggsy is so passionate about the rights of people, especially about the rights of people who have been marginalized."
He added, "She will not let anything get in the way."
BREAKING THE SILENCE
Sivertsen said that SJSU, during the black student movement and the women's movement, was "a tumultuous boiling cauldron of different activities" when she was first hired.
"Over the years, it has settled. Sometimes I think it's too settled. It's way too quiet," she said. "There are things that people let go too much of in terms of human rights and civil rights."
Sivertsen said she fears that students' current fascination with cell phones and MP3 players is leading to social separation on campus.
"I tell my students at the beginning of the semester, I see it, I hear it, I own it," she said.
She said students start dialing as soon as class ends to tell people they are out of class.
"It is like you and I are walking together," she said. "But we are on the phone talking to someone else."
HOW MAY I HELP YOU?
Asher Moody, a senior computer engineering major, said he would like to see Sivertsen celebrated by the SJSU community.
"There should be a freaking statue of her in the middle of campus," he said. "I wish more people knew her and knew that she was an amazing person who can be an advocate for you."
Moody, a member of the Peers in Pride mentoring program, said he learned of Sivertsen from his mother, who has worked for the city of San Jose for many years. Sivertsen had been called in by the chief of police to consult on the case of a transgender police officer.
He said he contacted Sivertsen to help arrange for gender neutral bathrooms on campus and she worked with administration to find 15 bathrooms that could be easily converted.
"The budget people went a little crazy and she said, 'It's just a sign, the cheapest retrofit possible,'" he said.
AGREE TO DISAGREE
She said she feels it is important that we all learn to connect with each other and learn to respect our differences without hurting each other.
"After September 11, I thought, 'Oh shit, why are these people so angry with us?'" she said.
She said she thought we should sit down with them and try to learn exactly why they were so angry.
"You would have thought I had flown one of the planes into the buildings myself," she said. "People were so upset at that notion."
Sivertsen said she feels that this sort of conversation should extend to groups who do not support
gay rights. She recalls spending time with Peter Wilkes, who was the pastor of South Hills Community Church in San Jose while the board of supervisors was deliberating domestic partner rights.
"His people were really terrible, calling us dogs," she said. "He was upset by it and scolded the Christian community because of it."
Sivertsen said she disagreed with his opinion that homosexuals are sinners.
"By the same token, I appreciated him for being a really nice guy," she said. "He and I went to the next board of supervisors meeting together with and understanding that we both diametrically disagreed on the issue, but that we also had a strong feeling that we needed to have public discourse that was constructive."
Sivertsen said she thinks that the gay community should reach out to people who are anti-gay.
Some members of the gay community were upset when Melissa Etheridge met with Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church who once compared homosexuality to bestiality, to discuss their differences.
"When Melissa met with Rick Warren, I thought, 'Yeah, I'd meet with Rick Warren,'" she said. "I wouldn't meet with Phelps. Someone needs to get him back on Prozac."
IT'S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS
Sivertsen said her 41 years at SJSU have a pleasure because of her students.
"I was telling my partner the other night that it has been one heck of a ride," she said.
"The students are wonderful. I have so much admiration for students. They are so gutsy and courageous and resilient."
"They are a pain in the ass and all kinds of things," she added.
These same students also provided her with lasting memories and emotional gifts.
Sivertsen remembers one particular furious student thundering into the counseling offices yelling, "Wiggsy!"
She said the student had been walking to class through Fourth and San Carlos, and had been accused of being a prostitute by an SJPD officer.
"She was so angry, and rightfully so," Sivertsen said.
She and this student would go to a local coffee shop to talk and during one of these talks, the student revealed something deeply personal, she said.
"She said, "I am not a cheap street walker. I charge $500 a night and I have been with every big name in the Valley."
Sivertsen said she was touched that the student trusted her enough for this personal revelation.
Years later, while shopping at Valley Fair, she encountered this student.
"This person came and tapped me on the back and said, 'Wiggsy?'" Sivertsen said. "She said she wanted to introduce me to her husband and her 13-year-old son."
"Why would anybody work anywhere else when you can get that kind of gift from somebody?" she said.
This type of story is not uncommon to those who have been counseled by Sivertsen.
Elaine Davis, a junior health science major, said she wanted to see a lesbian counselor when she first came to SJSU because she had always worked with lesbian counselors in the past.
"I had a counseling appointment with Wiggsy and she was great, and really funny," she said.
She said Sivertsen helped direct her to a San Jose therapist who was familiar with gay issues.
"She's just very aware of how complicated life is and how coming out issues and queer issues can complicate therapy," Davis said.
She said Sivertsen makes her life as an out student more comfortable.
"You feel like she is a force that is on your side, so you do not feel powerless," she added.
9. The Daily Star, March 19, 2009
PO Box 250, 102 Chestnut Street, Oneonta, NY 13820
Writer on gay issues to speak
ONEONTA _ Leslea Newman, author of over 50 books including “Heather Has Two Mommies” and the short story “A Letter To Harvey Milk,” will speak at 9 p.m. Tuesday at the State University College at Oneonta.
She will give a presentation titled “You Can’t Be a Lesbian _ You’re Jewish” in the Center for Multicultural Experiences in Lee Hall.
Newman, a faculty member in the creative writing program at the University of Southern Maine, is best known for “Heather Has Two Mommies,” the first children’s book to portray lesbian families in a positive way.
Her other children’s books include “Gloria Goes To Gay Pride,” “Belinda’s Bouquet,” “Too Far Away to Touch,” and “Saturday Is Pattyday.”
Her writing for adult readers centers on lesbian identity, Jewish identity, and the intersection and collision between the two. “A Letter To Harvey Milk” has been made into a film and adapted for the stage. Newman’s other works include “Writing From The Heart,” “In Every Laugh a Tear,” “The Femme Mystique,” “Still Life with Buddy,” “Fat Chance” and “Out of the Closet and Nothing to Wear.”
Newman has received many literary awards including poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Fellowship Foundation, the Highlights for Children Fiction Writing Award, the James Baldwin Award for Cultural Achievement, and two Pushcart Prize Nominations. Nine of her books have been Lambda Literary Award finalists.
She will appear at SUNY Oneonta as part of Pride Week, which is sponsored by Open Minded Unity and the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at the College.
Her appearance is sponsored by the College Union Activities Council, Hillel, Open Minded Unity, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, Office of Student Development, Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, Center for Multicultural Experiences, and Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.
10. The Wichita Eagle, KansasCity.com, March 19, 2009
1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108
Wichita man gives collection of gay historical documents to KU
By Beccy Tanner
Bruce McKinney, who for more than 35 years collected magazines, pamphlets and underground newsletters on alternative lifestyles, has donated his collection to the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas.
Library officials say the collection, documenting the history of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals in the Midwest, gives insight into the experiences of the gays in the Midwest.
"This addition could potentially put us on the map for GLBT materials in the Midwest," said Tami Albin, undergraduate instruction and outreach librarian at KU.
Sherry Williams, Spencer Research Library curator, said the library's Kansas Collection covers Kansas history from statehood to present time.
McKinney's collection of more than 160 boxes strengthens the holdings the library already maintains, Williams said.
"It is also one of the largest gifts of its kind we've ever received," she said. "Bruce has really done a lot for researchers by handing this over to our university."
McKinney, of Wichita, chose the library because of Lawrence's history. The town was the first in Kansas to have a gay organization.
McKinney's collection is currently in storage at KU until cataloging is complete.
11. The Collegian, University of Richmond, March 19, 2009
North Court Basement, Room B2, 40 Westhampton Way, University of Richmond, Va. 23173
NYU professor and “Covering” author speaks on campus
By Jimmy Young
A New York University law school professor and author spoke before a crowd of students, staff and the public Wednesday evening about how society forces members of the GLBTQ community and all minority groups to “cover” distinguishing personal qualities that set them apart.
Kenji Yoshino, who wrote “Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights” and is involved in a variety of social issues, said assimilation into society for someone who is different from the mainstream isn’t always ideal and often requires those who are different to hide that which distinguishes them.
Yoshino said that President Franklin Roosevelt frequently covered because he often sat behind a table and attempted to hide his physical disability, even through everyone knew he was confined to a wheelchair. Instead of publicly acknowledging his disability, Roosevelt chose to cover it and brought more conventional presidential qualities to the forefront, Yoshino said.
Yoshino described the three phases that members of minority groups must traverse through: conversion, which involves attempts at assimilation, passing, which entails stifling one’s true identity, and covering, which involves acknowledging one’s differences but minimizing them to achieve a level of conformity.
Yoshino addressed the recent dialogue that has taken place on campus regarding the struggles GLBTQ students face. He said that the greatest fear closeted students face is the fear of the unknown, and each student must make a decision that is distinct to him or her.
“You don’t know what’s on the other side of the closet door,” he said. “Anyone that says it will be a smooth ride is not being fully responsive to the myriad of reactions people can have to the coming-out process.”
Yoshino described his own experiences and the path he took toward becoming comfortable with his homosexuality. In retrospect, Yoshino is ashamed of the man who once prayed that he could become heterosexual during his time at the University of Oxford.
“I willed the annihilation of the person I was,” he said.
After coming out, Yoshino felt much more powerful and authentic, he said. Yoshino acknowledged, though, that his experience is particular to him and may not apply to others.
After he came out, a colleague told Yoshino that he would succeed better as a “homosexual professional” than as a “professional homosexual,” meaning that he felt Yoshino should downplay his homosexuality and not openly advocate for the gay community. His colleague encouraged Yoshino to cover, not convert or pass. Yoshino said being homosexual is a part of his identity, though, and that he would rather be rejected for who he was than accepted for who he wasn’t.
Society is constantly evolving, as exemplified by the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” mindset of the 90s, which reflected a “passing” mentality and the recent debate over gay marriage, which reflects a “covering” mentality, Yoshino said. Some opponents of gay marriage say they accepted homosexual people, but prefer they not publically display who they are, he said.
The recent trend toward covering is hoisted upon all minority groups, Yoshino said. He hopes that society will eventually not impart people to cover their identities.
The program was part of the “One Book, One Campus: Dialogues in Social Justice” series, sponsored by the Office of the Chaplaincy.
Contact reporter Jimmy Young at firstname.lastname@example.org
12. The Times Leader, March 19, 2009
15 N. Main Street Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711
Martino won’t meet with Misericordia
By Mark Guydish
SCRANTON – Diocese of Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino rejected calls for a meeting with Misericordia University officials to settle an ongoing dispute about the school’s Diversity Institute and its mission as a Catholic institution.
In a statement released Wednesday, Martino said no meeting will take place until Misericordia shows how it “teaches Catholic morality regarding sexuality and homosexuality.”
The university responded even more succinctly than the one- or two-sentence replies given the last two times Martino issued statements on the topic: “No comment.”
The diocesan statement rewound the whole issue, which began Feb. 17 when the university’s “Diversity Institute” hosted Keith Boykin, an author and gay rights activist. The day before Boykin’s campus appearance, Martino issued a statement noting Boykin’s stance on same-sex marriage is “disturbingly opposed to Catholic teaching” and advising that the school “in this instance is seriously failing in maintaining its Catholic identity.”
The university responded it is committed to its Catholic mission, but on Feb. 24 the diocese issued a new statement challenging the school essentially to prove it by releasing “specific” information on how it teaches Catholic morality. Misericordia then offered to meet with Martino and his staff to iron out the dispute.
In Wednesday’s statement the diocese ramped up the rhetoric in rejecting a private meeting. “The scandal that led to the bishop’s request was a public matter. Therefore, no meeting will be held unless Misericordia complies with the request for a public release of information.”
It was the first time the diocese has referred to the issue as a “scandal.”
“Bishop Martino believes the kind of information he is seeking should be easy to compile and readily available,” the statement continued, adding that, under the Catholic Church Code of Canon Law, Martino has a “responsibility to evaluate and judge how all Catholic institutions in his diocese are upholding the principles of authentic Catholic identity.”
13. PrideSource.com, March 19, 2009
11920 Farmington, Livonia, MI 48150
Boston students go the distance for Triangle Foundation
By Crystal A. Proxmire
DETROIT - A dozen Boston University students plus one chaperone traded in traditional spring break fun for a week's worth of community service at the Detroit-based Triangle Foundation. They were part of Alternative Spring Break, a program that gives students the opportunity to go places and gain experience working in a number of different non-profit areas.
This is the first year that students have come from out of state to participate in ASB at Triangle. The students from Boston University faced a 14-hour ride in a cramped van to make it to Detroit. In the coming weeks, another group will arrive from The University of Florida Miami. Triangle Foundation has hosted groups from The University of Michigan several times in the past, including a group that came in February.
Finance and Marketing major Anne Hetherington is the program manager for ASB at Boston University, organizing 32 trips around the country for groups of students hoping to help out with such great causes as HIV/AIDS awareness, animal rescue, homelessness, health and LGBT issues.
"People were camped out over 30 hours before registration began to get the trips they wanted," Hetherington said. "This was my first choice, and I'm so happy I got to (work with) Triangle. Being able to lobby for a bill was a great experience I wouldn't have gotten on any of the other trips. Plus I didn't realize the high instance of hate and crime against GLBT people here, and how different things are. Here we have to come to work in an unmarked building, and I've met so many people that say they can't even hold hands in public. I didn't expect that in a big city like Detroit. It's nothing like that in Boston."
According to Triangle Foundation's Youth Initiatives Coordinator Brett Beckerson, ASB activities are set up to show students the difference between the atmosphere on most college campuses and the prejudices and ignorance that trouble gays in mainstream society. "Students get the impression that there is a lot of knowledge and acceptance because most college campuses have a strong community presence," he said. "We send students out into the areas off campus to do surveys about LGBT issues so they can see how little most people really know or understand."
In addition to surveys, the students spent their week doing other community service activities. On Monday, they had an orientation and focused on doing basic office tasks. On Tuesday, they traveled to Lansing to meet with representatives and to get a tour of the capital from Governor Jennifer Granholm's assistant Lindsay Huddleston. They also handed out information about Matt's Safe Schools Law, which Triangle and other organizations are lobbying to have passed so that children can be free to go to classes without fear.
On Wednesday they learned the art of cold calling for donations. They also organized the resource area of the office, made booklets about hate crimes, and went for breakfast at Avalon Bakery to meet the lesbian owners and learn what it is like doing business as a lesbian couple in the Detroit area.
Then it was off for sightseeing in the city along with some community surveying on Thursday and a day at Affirmations Community Center in Ferndale on Friday spent interacting with LGBT youth.
The trip ended Saturday night with the students helping to set up for the Michigan Lesbian and Gay Comedy Fest in Dearborn, and getting to see the show. Then they piled into their tight-packed van, much closer now as friends and advocates, and drove off into the night to bring tales of Michigan pride and struggle back to Boston.
"I'm so glad I came to Triangle. It's very different than other ASB trips," said Electrical Engineering major Elena Pliakas. "Other trips were more tangible, like building houses or doing tasks for people that need help. This was more about learning how to educate others and taking our experience back with us. We got to see how much legislation needs to be passed for things that seem like common sense, and to know that we still have a lot more we need to work for."
For more information on Triangle Foundation visit www.tri.org
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