Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.04.05
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. Inside Higher Ed - Trans-Ition
2. The Independent Collegian (University of Toledo) - Graduates offer LGBT assessment
3. Tufts Daily - Senior Sofia Nelson makes LGBT reforms a reality on campus
4. The Journal News - West Pt. alumni fight "Don't ask, don't tell"
5. TCU Daily Skiff - LGBT-themed campus living community to debut in the fall
6. Wasau Daily Herald - Inclusiveness, safety goals of gay UWMC students
7. The News Record - Community responds to gay bashing near campus
8. TCU Daily Skiff - Advocates propose LGBTQ resources
9. The Bloomington Alternative - OUT IN BLOOMINGTON: Spring means Miss Gay IU
10. Daily Record - Message at gay marriage rally: 'Separate is never equal'
1. Inside Higher Ed, March 30, 2009
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
By Jack Stripling
Andre Wilson considers himself one of the luckier ones. When he decided to undergo sexual reassignment surgery as a graduate student at the University of Michigan, Wilson had the financial and emotional support of his family. While student health insurance didn’t cover the procedure at the time, Wilson still had the wherewithal to make the change from female to male that he now says saved his life.
“For people to only be able to access these services because they have privilege is unconscionable,” said Wilson, who is pursuing a master’s degree in social work at Michigan.
Wilson was the lead negotiator for Michigan’s Graduate Employees’ Organization in 2005, when the union successfully fought to have sexual reassignment surgery covered by the university’s graduate student health insurance.
While still relatively uncommon, there is a fledgling movement across higher education to expand health care benefits as Michigan has done. In the University of California's 10-campus system, seven campuses have such benefits for students or will offer them next year, and two more are formally negotiating to include them. Faculty and staff across the entire California system already have transition-related care covered, but each campus has to independently approve the expansion for students.
“Quite honestly, this is where it should be for all plans,” Wilson said. “These are medically necessary procedures. These are lifesaving procedures. …
“If you can’t have these services, it’s devastating. People end their lives [without these procedures], but people who don’t end their lives live with a great deal of suffering.”
Wilson’s view is increasingly shared by the medical establishment. In 2008, the American Medical Association passed a resolution opposing any exclusion of insurance coverage for gender identity disorder treatments when prescribed by a physician. Failure to provide such treatment can have deleterious consequences, including "stress-related physical illness, depression, and substance abuse problems," according to the AMA.
The AMA drew upon the recommendations of the World Professional Organization for Transgender Health, which has rejected notions that surgeries for transgender patients are “cosmetic” or “experimental.”
It’s difficult to discern how many colleges have expanded insurance policies to accommodate transgender students and employees, in part because some universities may have made the change with little fanfare. The Transgender Law & Policy Institute,, however, has done some tracking of the trend. In addition to Michigan and campuses in the California system, the institute lists the University of Vermont and Emerson College among the growing number of colleges that cover reassignment surgery.
American University expanded coverage for faculty and staff in November of 2008, although the push began well before that time.
“It took a solid four years to really get this conversation started,” said Sara Bendoraitis, director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally Resource Center at American.
As with other colleges and universities that have expanded coverage, officials at American saw the move as a logical extension of an action they took in 2002, when the university added gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy.
In order to provide coverage to transgender employees, American had to negotiate with its carrier to remove language that specifically exempted procedures that fall under the umbrella of “transition-related” care. The university negotiated this, in addition to expanding coverage for several services unrelated to transition. A total of seven new procedures were added to its coverage, and the university found minimal change in premiums, according to Bendoraitis.
“It ended up being less than 1 percent increase for everybody across the board,” she said. “You’re talking a couple of bucks – one or two dollars per person.”
American officials hope to expand student health care to include the same services now offered to employees, Bendoraitis said.
Cost Increases Minimal, Proponents Say
When calculating the potential cost impact of expansion, universities have frequently turned to the data compiled by the City and County of San Francisco – the first U.S. municipality to remove exclusions for transgender-related services in its health plan. The City projected that it would need to collect an additional $1.70 per month from its 100,000 members in order to meet projected cost increases. It turned out, however, that the city had overestimated what would be required. Between 2001 and 2004, the City collected about $4.3 million specifically to cover the transgender benefit, but it only paid out $156,000 on seven claims for surgery during that period, according to a report compiled by the mayor.
Universities and other employers that are considering expanding benefits are often deterred by a “myth” that the change will dramatically increase premiums, according to Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.
“It just isn’t that expensive,” she said. “It’s partially this myth that all trans people get and need the exact same care.”
There are a variety of medical services prescribed to transgender patients, and many fall short of surgery. Hormone therapy and mental health treatment, for instance, are nonsurgical treatments that are typically covered by insurance policies for all but transgendered patients. The fact that some services would be provided to one part of the covered population and not another has given rise to criticism that universities may be in violation of their own nondiscrimination policies by not expanding coverage.
Erin Cross, associate director of LGBT Center at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that Penn’s lack of coverage for reassignment surgery constitutes a violation of its nondiscrimination policy. The university added gender identity to its policy in 2003, and in so doing created a “different level of obligation” for insurance coverage that it has yet to meet, Cross says.
“I think we do need to set an example as one of the Ivy League institutions that many folks look toward as an example,” she said. “We can really be groundbreaking on this, and I think Penn should really do so and has an obligation to do so.”
Ronald Ozio, a spokesman for Pennsylvania, said in an e-mail Friday that the university is “currently reviewing [its coverage], a process that will require time.”
Sheldon Steinbach, a lawyer based in Washington, D.C. who specializes in higher education, says he’s unsurprised some universities are expanding converge, because academic institutions often lead the way in reform. At the same time, however, Steinbach says he’s unconvinced universities’ nondiscrimination policies create new legal obligations.
“It’s a potential argument, but medical services of one kind or another are oftentimes either gender specific [or] illness specific, and as such there is a total potpourri of health benefits that may have a greater impact on one group than another,” he said. “The choice for the institutions is what best serves their community as they see it.”
Stacey Jackson, a staff member at American University’s law school, may be one of the early beneficiaries of the expanded coverage at her institution. Jackson is pursuing reassignment surgery, and says the university’s efforts to accommodate transgender employees were part of what drew her to work there in the first place.
“It was tremendously reassuring,” Jackson said, “that I’m with an employer that sees this as a social justice issue and an equality issue.”
2. The Independent Collegian (University of Toledo), March 30, 2009
2132 Middlesex Dr., Toledo, Ohio 43606
Graduates offer LGBT assessment
By Melinda Price
Students in UT’s higher education master’s program delivered a presentation Thursday about the issues in the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Initiatives and offered suggestions on how to better reach UT students.
The students presenting the information were Tyree Pollard, Joshua Drahos, Katherine Ott and Rachel Schipull, all second-year graduate students in higher education.
The group researched different schools with LGBT programs, compared them to UT’s program and determined Eastern Michigan University is the school most similar to UT.
“We came up with Eastern Michigan [because] the enrollment numbers are similar, they are four-year public institutions, the in-state students are kind of close, the racial demographics are kind of similar,” Ott said.
However, there is a large difference in the LGBT programs, Ott said. Though UT can be seen as the same type of college, EMU was already named one of the top schools in the nation for LGBT programming, and UT’s program is just getting started.
“The LGBT center budget is clearly different because we are just getting off the ground, but the budget at Eastern Michigan is $25,000 while UT’s is 3,000,” Ott said. “That number doesn’t include salaries for the professional staff; it doesn’t include the salaries for the graduate students or the work study students and the conference budget, so the difference is a great deal higher.”
Another program the group mentioned was the Baldwin-Wallace College LGBT host program for prospective students.
“The prospective students come on campus, and they offer to show them around,” Drahos said. “It’s a lot like campus tours but pay specific attention to them. It just builds the sense of, ‘Hey, when you come in, we want you to feel comfortable with coming here and we are going to do everything to help you out.’”
A program at Oberlin College focuses on training and awareness programs for students, faculty and staff, as well as the community, Drahos said.
Another close-to-home program is the online “OUT” at BGSU, he said. The program includes chats, instant messenger, texting and blogs.
After discussing the LGBT programs at other schools, the graduate students presented a list of recommendations for UT’s office and the university as a whole.
The first recommendation was an anonymous student survey for the UT population. Anthony Kapp, project manager for the Office of the Dean of Students, said he liked the idea and it is a need for students on campus.
“They really hit the mark with the need for a survey for the students,” Kapp said. “I think it’s really important that we do that very soon in order to gauge the level of interest in the office of LGBT initiatives and the need among the student body in terms of advocacy and just general services that are needed. We really don’t have a good gauge on the numbers at this point, so I think the survey piece is very important.”
The second recommendation was for the creation of programs for incoming LGBT students. This recommendation had not been taken into account prior to the presentation, Kapp said.
“One of the new ideas that we haven’t discussed within the office here or on the advisory board was a transitional piece of students coming out of high school into college looking for services that would be provided by the office of LGBT initiatives,” he said. “I thought that was an important piece that, until [the presentation], I had not given that much thought to.”
Pollard supported his group’s recommendation and said transitional programs for high school students would be a draw to come to UT and be already accepted by their peers.
“[We should] bridge a gap with them now so that, as they come up, it would make it an easier transition into UT and help them become a part of our LGBT center,” Pollard said. “Make them feel comfortable so that it is a smooth transition.”
Another recommendation of the presentation was to increase the current funding of the office of LGBT initiatives, nearer to the amount allotted at EMU.
“Unfortunately, I think Anthony is kind of limited in what he can do because of the small amount of budget [compared to EMU],” Ott said.
Kapp said he agreed that, for the size of UT, the office is severely underfunded.
“In order to truly provide the services and support that students need, there needs to be additional support from the administration in terms of budget,” Kapp said. “For us to be as successful as we need to be, I think it’s important that we try to identify additional funding in the future.”
Other recommendations that the graduate students brought up are already planned in the office and the programs within the office.
“Other things they discussed were things we have discussed on the advisory board but haven’t had the time or the resources to implement at this time,” Kapp said. “But it was a good reinforcement of the things we are talking about doing.”
Kapp said a program the office would like to create is for the heterosexual students to educate them on the LGBT issues as a way of creating a more inclusive student body.
“A lot of our students are coming from rural areas of Ohio where they haven’t been exposed to gay or lesbian people,” Kapp said. “There’s just an overall lack of education about LGBT people, and obviously that’s what we need to be working on.”
Educating heterosexual students would also help create a safer, welcoming environment for LGBT students on campus, Kapp said.
Another way UT students and faculty could show support for LGBT issues is by getting involved with the programs on campus, Kapp said.
“We need more faculty and staff and student leaders who are willing to take LGBT issues and talk about them out there in the public, on the board of trustees, out in the community, in the classroom,” Kapp said. “I think these issues need to become part of the discussions that we’re having across campus.”
3. The Tufts Daily, March 31, 2009
474 Boston Avenue, Medford, MA 02155
Senior Sofia Nelson makes LGBT reforms a reality on campus
By Julia Zinberg
This is the first article in a two-part series addressing LGBT issues and the work that senior Sofia Nelson has done to eliminate biases. The first installment will focus on Nelson’s work at Tufts. The second article, which will be printed in Thursday’s paper, will focus on her work at the state and community levels.
Growing up in a small agricultural town in a conservative, religious part of Michigan, being a member of the queer community was not easy for senior Sofia Nelson. While living in this area, which was frequented by violence directed against gays, she developed a strong desire to fight for reform in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Now an established member of Tufts community, Nelson has worked relentlessly to achieve these goals.
“I appreciate my hometown, but I was very excited to come to Tufts and have the opportunity to be who I am — I didn’t feel safe to be back at home,” she said. Tufts’ commitment to the gay movement, small classes and friendly professors appealed to her.
But while she loves Tufts and the opportunities it has afforded her, she recognizes that the university is not perfect.
“When I think Tufts is doing something wrong, I usually have not kept quiet … but I would not spend so much time trying to change Tufts if I did not really care about Tufts, she said. “Like any place, it can do better.”
Nelson has worked at Tufts LGBT Center since her freshman year. She has become involved with coordinating various programming events as well as creating and implementing policies.
In 2004, the Tufts administration added gender identity and expression to its non-discrimination clause. Since arriving at Tufts, Nelson has worked to ensure that this policy is integrated seamlessly into the community.
“I wasn’t part of [the creation of the policy] because I was still in high school, but since then there have been efforts to make sure we stick with that non-discrimination policy,” she said. “Just writing it down is not enough; we need to implement it. Everyone from human resources to professors needs to understand what that means and how their actions need to be augmented in accordance with that.”
Nelson is particularly interested in transgender issues. At Tufts, she has worked on the labeling of single stall bathrooms on campus. As a result of her efforts, the two single-stall bathrooms in the reading room of Tisch Library, which just a few years ago were labeled male and female, are now labeled gender-neutral or unisex.
“I’ve worked on making sure that all single-stall bathrooms are gender neutral, to allow gender nonconforming students a space to feel safe when using the restroom,” she said.
Nelson also focuses some of her efforts on increasing awareness of and support for the transgender community.
“I have worked to make sure programming around campus involving queer issues brings in more transgender speakers focusing on the transgender community,” she said. “I think having conversations with the administration about broader transgender issues is important in order to educate people. Lots of people haven’t heard the term or don’t know what it means. There is a lot of education that needs to be done around these issues to make sure that people aren’t acting in a way that hurts other people without even knowing it. This is the first step to creating change.”
In her efforts to bring change to the Hill, Nelson has been involved in LGBT awareness events like Coming Out Day and Day of Silence and has helped bring in speakers like Staceyann Chin, a poet and artist who speaks about the intersection of gender, class, race, sexuality, and nationality.
One LGBT project sticks out to Nelson as her one of her proudest accomplishments at Tufts: the Open Letter Coalition.
“Basically, a bunch of students were hurt by various events on campus — incidents involving the Primary Source, the university’s response to those incidents, the lack of diversity training for students and faculty, the lack of faculty of color, the low retention rates of students of color,” she said. “So we wrote a letter/ad that appeared in the Daily and got many signatures directed to the administration about changes we felt were necessary in relation to issues of diversity at Tufts.”
The open letter was a collaborative process; students from all types of groups on campus, from the Muslim Students Association to the Africana Center to the Asian American Center to the LGBT Center participated. According to Nelson, at least ten students contributed pieces of writing to the open letter, and it was coalesced into one document.
“I think that that collaboration is really important — students from all these groups coming together to talk about issues of class, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity … to have these kinds of conversations,” she said.
Nelson feels that the open letter has been successful at creating a dialogue between the administration and students and in helping the administration understand student concerns and students understand the constraints the university is under.
“We’ve had conversations with many administrative officials about student concerns, and the administration has been very cooperative. Groups of students [and I] have met with a trustee, the provost and others to talk about what we can do to make things better for minority groups on campus,” she said.
Nelson is proud that she is using her education to create positive change in the community.
“I feel like I’m putting my academic understanding of intersexual impression into practice in collaborative work environments with other students to create the change we felt was necessary, to begin the process to create that change.”
4. The Journal News, March 31, 2009
One Gannett Drive, White Plains, NY 10604
West Pt. alumni fight "Don't ask, don't tell"
By Ben Rubin
WEST POINT - Twice while she was a cadet at West Point, Becky Kanis was investigated for being a lesbian. She was asked point-blank if she was, she said, "and I lied."
Kanis said she was among a small group of lesbian cadets who secretly supported one another during the late 1980s and early '90s. She was always uncertain of coming out to new people, she added, from fear of being kicked out of the military.
After graduating, Kanis, a 39-year-old Brooklyn resident and Kansas native, served in the Army's Signal Corps for nine years and is now a director at Common Ground, a New York City nonprofit working to end homelessness.
A few weeks ago, she became the chairwoman of Knights Out, a new advocacy group of about 50 gay and lesbian West Point alumni who want to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" and work with the academy to educate cadets in diversity issues.
Because of the current policy, West Point and its alumni association said they would not partner with Knights Out.
"No one should have to tell that lie; it's ridiculous," Kanis said. "Good leaders don't put people in that situation. The fear of it always loomed over our heads."
Organized on March 16, the 207th anniversary of West Point's founding, Knights Out became the newest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group for military academy alumni. Navy and Air Force academy graduates have already created similar organizations, which all exist under the Service Academy Gay and Lesbian Alumni Network.
Replacing an outright ban on gay people serving in the military, "don't ask, don't tell" became law in 1993 and prohibited openly gay service members from being in the military.
Researchers estimate there are roughly 65,000 gay people serving in the military.
Since the policy's adoption, 12,500 gay people have been kicked out of the armed forces, including 800 people deemed "mission critical," researcher Nathaniel Frank said.
Frank, author of "Unfriendly Fire," a history of "don't ask, don't tell," said common defenses for the policy, such as unit cohesion or morale, have no factual backing.
"There's no research ever showing that open gay service harms the military," said Frank, a New York University adjunct professor and senior research fellow at the Palm Center, where he's studied the policy for 10 years.
With President Barack Obama stating he would repeal the policy, yet giving no timetable for doing so, Frank said there has been renewed momentum toward ending "don't ask, don't tell."
"I think it's great what the alumni groups are doing because the debate in the '90s was lacking the faces of gays in the military," he said.
Kim McDermott, director of communications for the West Point Association of Graduates, said her organization can't go against military and West Point policy to partner with an openly gay group like Knights Out.
"Until the time that's revoked, we can't do anything formal with them," she said, regarding "don't ask, don't tell."
She added that the association welcomed all of Knights Out's individual members and said they were entitled to all the association's alumni benefits.
The academy only has relationships with graduate groups through the alumni association, so as long as the association can't formally work with Knights Out, neither will the school, West Point spokesman Francis DeMaro said.
National spokesmen for the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars said they would welcome working with a group such as Knights Out as long as it pertained to nonpolitical activities, such as volunteer work or community projects.
"The VFW has no problem working with other organizations" regardless of "race, creed, nationality, religion or sexual persuasion," said Joe Davis, VFW national spokesman.
He added that the VFW officially is against repealing "don't ask, don't tell" and, as an apolitical nonprofit, would not assist in political advocacy work with Knights Out or any other organization.
Craig Roberts, the American Legion's national media relations manager, said his organization has no stance on "don't ask, don't tell," saying further research was needed on the issue.
Dan Choi, 28, of Orange County, Calif., is an Arab linguist, Iraq war veteran and 2003 West Point graduate.
He said he left active duty last year after he fell in love and wanted to stop hiding his sexual orientation. He is now serving in the National Guard while back in college.
Choi, one of the founders of Knights Out, said he was using the tenets he learned at West Point to fight against a policy he saw as immoral and unjust.
"The West Point honor code is not just for straight cadets," Choi said. "It's a conflict at the very core of what the honor code really stands for."
Knights Out was greeted with warmth and professionalism when it contacted West Point, Choi said, though he added that he knew it could be a long time before a partnership could be made with the academy.
"We want to partner 100 percent with them when the day comes," he said. "We're not demanding anything of them right now."
5. TCU Daily Skiff, April 1, 2009
Box 298050, Fort Worth, Texas 76129
LGBT-themed campus living community to debut in the fall
By Curtis Burrhus-Clay
The Office of Residential Services and Living Learning Communities will start a new program this fall designed by a group of students to help strengthen the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender student body as well as educate others on campus, a university official said.
David Cooper, associate director of Residence Life, said the new DiversCity Q community will be implemented as part of LLCs' initiative to get students to create their own program. Cooper said DiversCity Q was selected out of several other student-generated ideas because Residential Services liked the idea of a LGBT support group and because the group's proposal was well developed.
"After we reviewed the application, we had a one-on-one meeting with the group," Cooper said. "We wanted to see their plans and if they were really committed, and they passed with flying colors."
Shelly Newkirk, a sophomore social work major, said she decided to apply for the program after her friend, junior social work major Su Harz, told her about a LLC e-mail calling for program proposals. Newkirk, who is also the vice president of TCU's Gay-Straight Alliance, said she saw it as a chance to offer students a place to live where they can build relationships and learn more about the LGBT community.
Cooper said DiversCity Q members will be housed in the Tom Brown-Pete Wright apartments, but participants will still be required to meet the university criteria of 54 credit hours in order to live there.
Newkirk said because of the credit requirement, DiversCity Q won't have as many members as originally expected.
"Our number is at eight right now," Newkirk said. "We were at 16 but a lot of them will only be sophomores, so we lost them."
LLCs usually house groups of 25 to 40 members, but Newkirk said Residential Services was flexible with the new program. She said the extra space was opened up to students outside the community but there is room for the group to grow in the future.
"I think it will become bigger once people learn about it and want to get involved," Newkirk said.
Cooper said DiversCity Q will be a great addition to the LLCs program because it is yet another community where students with similar interests to live together. Other LLCs like Green House, Health and Wellness, and Strengths and Leadership group students together who are focused on preserving the environment, staying healthy or helping the community, Cooper said.
"It's a more enriching experience to look forward to," Cooper said. "For students who aren't athletes, for students who aren't in Greek, this is an avenue for them to make a connection."
Cooper said like all LLCs, DiversCity Q members will plan and coordinate events throughout the school year intended to inform others about their particular theme.
The LLC program began in the 2008-2009 academic year, with themed living communities occupying wings in Samuelson and Carter halls. The living communities are expanding to the Tom Brown-Pete Wright apartments next academic year.
Harz said DiversCity Q, along with the Gay-Straight Alliance, has plans to host activities that will address LGBT programming concerns in an attempt to increase awareness on campus.
Harz said many students live in their own world and a program like DiversCity Q will educate them about issues outside their comfort zone.
"TCU is very traditional," Harz said. "We're trying to expose students to the different types of diversities that are out there,"
Harz said she is excited for DiversCity Q because it will give LGBT students a voice and an arena to spread their message.
"For the LGBT community and its allies, it shows them that they actually have support on campus and a safe place to live," Harz said.
6. Wasau Daily Herald, April 1, 2009
800 Scott Street, Wausau, WI 54403
Inclusiveness, safety goals of gay UWMC students
By Charles Menchaca
University of Wisconsin faculty members and students on Tuesday took steps to make the Marathon County campus more inclusive of the gay and lesbian community.
About 30 people attended a Safe Zone training program that explored gender issues and how to make communities safe for people regardless of background.
The program was run by two members of the advocacy group United Council of UW Students. They will hold sessions later this year at four other schools, including UW-Stevens Point.
Students and faculty have requested these sessions in the past at various campuses when there were issues of written or verbal harassment oncampus, said Chris Daniels, United Council's director of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues.
The same held true for UWMC, whose Gay Straight Alliance group had its posters torn down or defaced five times last semester. Alliance president Autumn Prazuch said the 25-member group does not always meet on campus because it doesn't feel comfortable there.
"We need representation and a safe space," Prazuch, 19, said.
Prazuch said she is not fazed when she receives anonymous phone calls and e-mails that call for the group to be abolished. She said it's important for the group to be visible so that students do not feel forced to hide their sexuality.
Program participants completed activities that showed them what life could be like for a person who identifies as gay or lesbian. They had to pretend to end friendships or avoid a public area because they were gay.
Dave Dettman, the college's director of library and technology, said he learned that same-sex couples might encounter challenges to everyday events such as holding hands in public.
The workshop served as a reminder that employees must be nonjudgmental when dealing with student issues, Dettman said.
Daniels said the training sessions are the first steps in making a campus inclusive. He encouraged audience members to share something they will do to complete that goal.
Dettman said he will make a list of gay and lesbian resources given to the training participants available through library services. Prazuch said she will recruit a strong leader to take over the alliance before she graduates this spring.
"You can be an ally to the lesbian and gay community in your everyday life," Daniels said.
7. The News Record, April 1, 2009
Community responds to gay bashing near campus
By Taylor Dungjen
The two men charged in the gay bashing of two University of Cincinnati students near the Main Campus will each reappear before a judge within the next week.
Ethan Kirkwood, 20, of Meadow Creek Drive in Anderson Township, and Matthew Kafagolis, 20, of Ramundo Court in Anderson Township, were arrested on two counts of felonious assault and released on bond. Since the arrest, the charges have been dropped to two counts of misdemeanor assault, according to the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Web site. The charges were lowered on March 20 and March 19, respectively.
The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor assault charge is less than one year in jail.
Kirkwood will appear before a judge Thursday, April 2, and Kafagolis will be in court again Wednesday, April 8. Neither Kirkwood nor Kafagolis are UC students.
The two men are being charged with allegedly assaulting two men – both are UC students – after the men found out one of the victims was gay, around 4 a.m., Friday, March 6, in the 2500 block of Clifton Avenue.
The gay man was knocked to the ground, kicked and punched after the assailants found out he was gay, according to court records. The other victim was attempting to defend his friend when he was also beaten.
Both students are recovering and doing well, according to Cody Globig, a first-year English student, and student activist for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender community.
“[The attack] definitely shook us up a little bit,” Globig said. However, safety is an ongoing concern.
While Ohio and Cincinnati do not include sexual orientation or gender identity qualifiers in their hate crime legislation, the March 6 gay bashing is being considered a hate crime by UC students and supervisors like Barb Rinto, director of the Women’s Center.
The UC student who identified himself as a gay man was called a “faggot and gay,” according to court records.
Hate crimes tend to be underreported because victims do not want to relive what happened, Rinto said.
Of the reported hate crimes, 11 percent take place at schools and colleges, and in 1994, people under the age of 20 carried out half of all committed hate crimes, according to Partners Against Hate, which is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Education.
In a Gallup Poll conducted in 2007, 68 percent of Americans favored expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Though Ohio does not include sexual orientation or gender identity in its hate crime legislation, Kentucky hate crime laws do include sexual orientation. Legislation in 11 states includes both sexual orientation and gender identity.
The LGBT community at UC has asked the university for a full-time coordinator and a meeting space. This year, the group was given a space in Steger Student Life Center for meetings, but has not yet received a full-time coordinator, something students say most universities have for the LGBT community.
Though the university recognizes the need for the position, budget cuts and limitations make funding the position difficult, according to Mitch Livingston, the chief diversity officer.
“There is a part-time individual who provides support and we’re discussing ways to beef that up,” Livingston said. “We’re in the midst of budget environment that could mean cutting 11 positions so we can’t make the commitment right now for a full-time staff person. We have already committed to keep the part-time individual.”
The UC Police Department sent an e-mail to students informing them of the gay bashing on March 18. Cincinnati Police were called to the scene and did not alert UCPD which caused a delay in information. It was not until Globig and Blake Jelley, a first-year political science student, brought the assault to UCPD’s attention.
“We had a response from UCPD within 10 minutes,” Globig said. Globig credits UCPD with contacting Cincinnati Police quickly to get information concerning the assault to alert students.
Once the university community was alerted, students and Cincinnati community members rallied together in a peaceful march from the corner of Calhoun Avenue and Clifton Avenue to Martin Luther King Boulevard. Approximately 150 people – with representatives from area universities, the LGBT community and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – were in attendance, including Livingston and Greg Hand, UC spokesman. Hand was at the front of the march helping to carry a rainbow flag.
Another rally is scheduled for 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 7, on McMicken Commons, in support of a full-time LGBT staff person and center.
Judy Shepard, whose son – Matthew Shepard – was murdered for being gay, is scheduled to speak at UC, 7 p.m., Monday, April 6, at Tangeman University Center’s Great Hall.
8. TCU Daily Skiff, April 3, 2009
Box 298050, Fort Worth, Texas 76129
Advocates propose LGBTQ resources
By Maricruz Salinas
TCU Allies, a group of faculty and staff in support of LGBTQ issues, is writing a document proposing improvements toward LGBTQ awareness and concerns on campus and will present it to the administration for review.
Jeremy Albers, associate chaplain, said the document will outline the current climate toward the LGBTQ community on campus and the possibilities of a future LGBTQ resource center for students with a full-time staff position.
LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning. Within the community, "queer" is generally accepted as anyone who may not identify with society's accepted labels of sexual or gender identity and is also used as an umbrella term for sexual minorities, Albers said. Those "questioning" are people who are struggling to define their sexuality and understand their emotions, he said.
Daniel Terry, director of women's and men's programs and facilitator of the committee, said there are students who are "out" or uncertain of their orientation who do not feel comfortable on campus and fear what will be said or how they will be treated in the classroom.
Chuck Dunning, director of TCU Transitions, said the document is very much a work in progress, with the first draft expected to be completed within six weeks and the final document ready for publication by the end of May. Once completed, Allies and administration will work together to address the issues presented, he said.
Dunning said a resource center would provide a central location for concerned students or those in need of counseling as well as offer books, hold meetings and allow students to interact with supportive faculty and staff.
"It provides a physical manifestation of the university's commitment to the students who have concerns with LGBTQ issues," Dunning said. "We're also talking about student allies who identify themselves as straight but still want to be advocates or sources of support for students who aren't straight."
Terry said that as students graduate, the level of activism fluctuates too much to maintain inertia. Creating a more welcoming atmosphere on campus depends on appointing a full-time director for LGBTQ matters, especially someone trained in counseling and organizing for the college community, he said.
Albers said some of the speculations for improvement include the addition of unisex bathrooms for those undergoing gender identity transformations, efforts to include sexual orientation and gender identity training at orientation and dealing with diversity in the workplace.
"We're not trying to brainwash everyone into believing a certain thing, but we are asking for a cultural sensitivity," Albers said.
Demand or expenses shouldn't be a factor because one can't name the magical number that warrants attention, Albers said.
"If we're really going to value diversity, we need to lift up and recognize the smaller and larger minorities," he said.
Dunning said he wants to create networks between local and national organizations, such as the Fort Worth chapter of Parents, Family, Friends of Lesbians and Gays and the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals, a national organization that supports and develops programs and policy changes in support of LGBTQ issues on college campuses.
Dunning said the idea of writing a formal document came about after a meeting Allies held with Don Mills, vice chancellor for student affairs.
Mills said the university wants a safe and welcoming environment for all faculty, staff and students and that it's doing the right thing.
"As you look into a situation, there are things that you do that you don't realize are causing a challenge to others," Mills said.
Mills said everything presented in the document will be given careful consideration, though adding a full-time staff position for the LGBTQ community would be a challenge.
Allies has 70 members enrolled and 30 active members, Terry said. The committee in charge of writing the document has 12 members including professors, residential staff, two alumni and two students in order to provide a broader perspective about the campus, he said.
Terry said the difficulty in determining the demand lies in the inability to assess the number of LGBTQ students on campus, especially because if a survey is conducted, it assumes everyone will be truthful about their sexual orientation or that everyone understands how to identify themselves. The rule of thumb within society is that 10 percent can be considered part of the LGBTQ population, Terry said.
Albers said the estimated number of LGBTQ students on campus could be approximately 400 students out of the estimated 8,000 total, if not higher.
Past aggression from the church has made the LGBTQ community wary of schools affiliated with the name "Christian," Albers said. The percentage of LGBTQ people at the university is lower because it probably wouldn't be the first choice of those students, he said.
"It's not an oxymoron to be an LGBTQ student and a Christian or from another faith tradition," Albers said. "The idea has been that religion has been one of the main proponents for oppression of LGBTQ students, but there's also a message of love and acceptance."
9. Bloomington Alternative, April 5, 2009
P.O. Box 3523, Bloomington, IN 47402
OUT IN BLOOMINGTON: Spring means Miss Gay IU
By Helen Harrell with Carol Fischer
Ah, spring is in the air, and we are slowly emerging from our somewhat self-imposed winter hibernation. Indiana weather being what it is, with its taunting hints of warmth interspersed with chilly, dank and even snowy days, we have ultimate respect for the brave little flowers and buds that pop up to face whatever the elements toss their way.
Those of us who are in some way affiliated with the academic community know that the pace on campus picks up rapidly in March and that April ranks as probably the busiest time. Coincident with the energy of spring, there are final reports due, frantic test taking, grades to determine, award ceremonies and receptions, graduation parties, last-minute parties and nights out on the town, and parents and families on campus.
Obviously there are many events competing for attention, and it’s difficult to attend all of them, but we want to call your attention to an annual event that is special in that it is fun, historic in its very existence and longevity and famous on a national level.
The annual Miss Gay Indiana University pageant is held each spring, produced and sponsored by IU’s undergraduate LGBT Student Union OUT.
OUT was founded over 25 years ago and not only is it the oldest LGBT student group on campus, it was one of the first such organizations on any university campus in the country. And if that isn’t impressive enough, Miss Gay IU was the first student-sponsored drag competition held on a campus anywhere and has been a tradition in Bloomington for nearly 18 years. What began as a small show in the Frangipani room in the Indiana Memorial Union has grown into one of the nation’s largest and most well-attended drag pageants for female impersonators.
Now, we are well aware that some of our readers aren’t particularly fond of or receptive to drag pageants and question their relevance to an educational environment. We, of course, disagree with their assessment. What better way to reflect IU’s and Bloomington’s oft-touted principles of acceptance, tolerance and diversity than by supporting a successful student effort that represents and promotes those very values?
"Miss Gay IU was the first student-sponsored drag competition held on a campus anywhere."
Miss Gay IU is a unique experience and provides insight into a world frequently hidden from view. And while some think it should remain so, the drag queens and culture are indeed a part of the performing arts and have helped shape cinema and theater as we know it today. From the many personas of Milton Berle to the characters of Flip Wilson and current comics and performers, their influence is noticeable. Female impersonation has been a part of show business and theater for thousands of years, viewed as legitimate performance in some countries and remains popular worldwide.
We recognize that drag may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but IU offers so many different types of entertainment from musical productions, including opera, rock and orchestral arrangements, to comedy and noted speakers that we think there is something for everyone, and folks should attend what they enjoy and ignore what they don’t.
Moralizing about what someone else defines as “real” art or performance is a waste of time because we all have our own preference when it comes to entertainment. And, if the overall goal of an educational environment is indeed education, then we should be open to new experiences. We ask, should someone judge without being informed? And, once informed, should their approval or disapproval determine the rights of others?
You know we are going to say emphatically “No!” to these questions. And perhaps even more significant is the support of student efforts and quest for knowledge and experience that is anticipated from adult mentors and leaders. Aren’t those relationships and expectations among the factors inherent in the mission of education as well?
The OUT students put much energy into producing this major pageant each year, and we believe their efforts should be supported by both the IU and Bloomington communities. Not only is OUT made up of some of our most promising future leaders, they are top-notch students academically, well-adjusted in the face of discrimination, and they have the energy to work with the performance world of drag in creating a major production each year.
Their efforts should not go unrewarded, and their commendable pursuit of educational outreach should not be demeaned.
Each year, among the excitement and flurry that surrounds a typical pageant, are the harassers that pop up as reliably as those spring flowers. There are those who think the pageant should not be held at all because it misrepresents the queer community. We say how so? It’s entertaining theater with music, singing and dancing. And yes, it’s about gender representation too, but that’s pretty obvious and there is nothing secretive or subversive.
Then there are those who wish to censor the freedom of artistic expression. Well, ribald humor is not for everyone, and this pageant offers a glimpse of what might be experienced in a night club setting.
"OUT was founded over 25 years ago and not only is it the oldest LGBT student group on campus."
Another frequent complaint is that Miss Gay IU requires the contestants be born males, based upon the regulations set forth by the drag queens themselves. Some feel that the transgender community is being discriminated against, and while this is an important issue the organizers feel their complaints are unwarranted.
OUT does sponsor a male impersonation (by born females) pageant each fall and encourages those who want to organize a pageant for those who have transitioned from female to male or male to female to do so.
And then, some lesbians and feminists feel that drag makes fun of women. Here again, we, as lesbians and ardent feminists ourselves, disagree. We consider many queens to be among our personal friends, and we have experienced no sense of animosity toward us or other women and lesbians. In fact they admit to a great love and respect for women and believe they are honoring women, albeit in a caricature form. Geez, isn’t this all just so confusing? Complicated too!
Maybe readers can see how this works now: Miss Gay IU is controversial. Controversy leads to discussion, and discussion in turn leads to information and education.
Voila!! OUT is a valuable campus institution that contributes to the educational climate by producing Miss Gay IU. For those who haven’t had the experience, give it a try. If you did and didn’t enjoy it, well, we won’t force you to attend again. Just don’t deny others the opportunity.
Helen Harrell can be reached at email@example.com.
10. Daily Record, April 5, 2009
800 Jefferson Road, Parsippany, N.J. 07054
Message at gay marriage rally: 'Separate is never equal'
More than 100 gather for event at Drew University
By Katelyn Farago
MADISON -- Ed Mather and the Rev. Robert O. Kriesat have been committed to one another for 40 years, sharing a domestic partnership, and most recently a civil union.
But they cannot marry in the state of New Jersey -- something they would like to change.
"We've done everything the government says we can do, except the one thing we want to do," said Kriesat, a retired Lutheran pastor.
The pair shared their story at a rally at Drew University Saturday, joining close to 100 others in calling for marriage rights for same-sex couples. Organized by the gay-straight alliances at Drew University and Montclair State University, the rally featured a number of speakers who said civil unions are not providing gay couples the same rights offered in traditional marriages.
"It just goes back to separate is never equal," said rally organizer Jen Dugan, a Drew University alumna. "Giving us a separate title, it's saying that our love is different."
Mather and Kriesat, who are supporters of a same-sex marriage bill proposed in the state Legislature last summer, said they would like the bill to pass while they are still alive. Mather said he wouldn't be so worried if he was still 25, but as he grows older, he wants to make sure he has the opportunity to marry his partner.
The couple said they have heard stories about partners unable to see one another in emergency rooms, because hospital personnel were unaware of the rights provided under a civil union. Similar stories were told by other speakers.
Everyone knows what a marriage is, Kriesat said, but being in a civil union means constantly explaining your rights.
A number of organizations had representatives at the rally, including the Gay Activist Alliance in Morris County; Garden State Equality; the Greater New York Human Rights Campaign; the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship; Morris County National Organization for Women' the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; and Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Parsippany resident Ken Kaplan, a member of the steering committee for the state's Libertarian party and the father of a gay son, spoke in favor of equal marriage rights. Kaplan described civil unions as "second class" and said he wants his son to have the opportunity to marry.
Describing gay marriage as a "civil rights issue," Janice Urbsaitis of Lakewood, whose son is gay, said it is not OK just to be tolerant today. She said people must be accepting, as well.
"It's not enough to have a place at the straight table anymore," Urbsaitis said, adding that straight people should reach out to the gay community.
One speaker mentioned alleged bias incidents at her school, Montclair State University.
Tricia Somma, a student and the president of Spectrums, the gay-straight alliance there, said that an anti-gay letter recently was slipped under the door of the Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender Center. Two other incidents involved graffiti using a derogatory term for gay people, she said. All three incidents were reported to police, she said.
Despite recent events on her campus, Somma said the rally was "empowering."
"Giving marriage equality puts everyone on the same level," she said.
Katelyn Farago can be reached at (973) 428-6630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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