Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.04.12
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 email@example.com
1. Ypsilanti Courier - Student suing EMU for wrongful dismissal
2. Fort Worth Star-Telegram - TCU will set aside some apartments for gays, lesbians
3. Concord Monitor - College group hosts debate on gay marriage
4. Royal Purple News - Gay rights subject of heated debate outside University Center
5. Examiner.com - Gay students face additional challenge in college search process
6. The Murray State News - ‘Bible Belt’ issues explored
7. The Daily Iowan - ‘Feminists, Freaks, and Fairies’ explores gender, society
8. Yale Daily News - Beyond one in four
9. Fort Worth Star-Telegram – Editorial: Bold move or mistaken one at TCU?
1. Ypsilanti Courier, April 9, 2009
133 W Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti, MI 48197
Student suing EMU for wrongful dismissal
By Christine Laughren
A student attending Eastern Michigan is suing the university for reinstatement into its counseling program after she refused to affirm homosexuality as morally acceptable.
Attorneys representing Julea Ward, of Belleville, filed a lawsuit last Thursday against EMU's Board of Regents, the university president and individual members of the counseling program.
Ward's attorneys say their client was "wrongfully dismissed" from EMU's Master of Arts in School Counseling program for not agreeing, prior to a counseling session, to affirm a client's homosexual behavior.
The complaint seeks injunctive and declaratory relief and damages as well as Ward's reinstatement to the program.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, states Ward is a Christian who believes sexual relationships should occur between a man and woman and individuals are capable of refraining from homosexual conduct.
Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco, with the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom, representing Ward, said she should not be ejected from the program based on her religious views.
"She shouldn't be penalized just because she wants to hold to her religious beliefs," Tedesco said Monday afternoon. "She just wants her rights to be respected without having to abandon her religious beliefs."
EMU would not comment on pending litigation. The university reiterated, however, its policy in a release from Pam Young, director of university communications.
"We are a diverse campus with a strong commitment not to discriminate on the basis of gender, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression," the release states.
Ward was acting as a councelor during the winter 2009 semester when a homosexual student was assigned to the graduate student. The homosexual student was reassigned when Ward informed her professor she could not advise the student in regards to his relationship or sexual behavior.
Students in EMU's counseling programs must adhere to the code of ethics of the American Counseling Association, which states councelors cannot discriminate on any basis as proscribed by law, which includes gender identity and sexual orientation.
Councelors are also unable to impose their values according to the code of ethics.
Paul Fornell, director of ethics and professional standards at the ACA, said ethics calls made to his office vary of a case-by-case basis.
Although, he said he has read a little about Ward's lawsuit, Fornell said he didn't have enough information to comment from an ethics standpoint.
"Each individual situation, each individual work environment is different," Fornell said.
Ward's attorneys said she was following university policy when she informed her professor she could not councel the student and he was in turn reassigned.
However, in early March professors in the counseling department held a formal review hearing with Ward, citing the graduate student violated the code of ethics by discriminating against the student.
Dr. Suzanne Dugger, professor of counseling at EMU, said in previous conversations with her student, Ward denied there were any other issues that a client could bring into counseling that would result in her being unable to set aside her religious beliefs and refuse to see them.
Dugger pointed to the Bible's commandments and/or prohibitions against killing, lying and stealing.
"The fact that Ms. Ward asserted that she could set aside her religious values in all of these instances but expressed a belief that she could not set aside her religious values in order to effectively counsel non-heterosexual clients constitutes discrimination," Dugger said during the hearing.
In a unanimous decision by the formal review committee, Ward was dismissed from the counseling program for violating the code of ethics.
The committee citied concern for Ward's "unwillingness" to provide counseling services to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
Ward's appeal to the dean of the College of Education was denied March 12.
Ward is being represented through the ADF, a "legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations."
In a statement released to the media ADF Senior Counsel David French said EMU is "stepping over the line" when it enforces "a prerequisite of affirming homosexual behavior as morally good in order to obtain a degree."
"Julea did the responsible thing and followed her
supervising professor's advice to have the client referred to a counselor who did not have a conscience issue with the very matter to be discussed in counseling," French said. "She would have gladly counseled the client if the subject had been nearly any other matter."
Contact Staff Writer Christine Laughren at 697-8255 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 6, 2009
400 West 7th, Fort Worth, TX 76102
TCU will set aside some apartments for gays, lesbians
By Gene Trainor
FORT WORTH — Texas Christian University will designate some on-campus apartments for gay students and their supporters, creating what may be the only such college housing in the region.
The DiversCity Q community will open in the fall in a section of the Tom Brown-Pete Wright apartments. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender students and allies — heterosexual classmates who support them — will have the chance to live together. Eight students have committed to the community so far, said TCU sophomore Shelly Newkirk, who applied to create the program.
TCU will also open two Christian-based living groups, another for fine arts and three other themed housing arrangements.
It’s all part of the university’s living-learning communities, designed for students who want to live with others who are like-minded.
"It’s a chance for students to be part of a unique experience," said David Cooper, TCU associate director for residential life. It’s also important to universities because students who feel a connection to their school are more likely to stay.
Living-learning communities are common at universities in Denton and Tarrant counties, but none has an on-campus living program for gay students. A fraternity for gay and straight students opened in 1998 at the University of North Texas but had closed by 2001, UNT spokeswoman Sarah Bahari said.
Nationally, some colleges offer "gender neutral" housing to relieve what could be an uncomfortable situation for gay students. Such students are allowed to select a roommate of the opposite sex.
For example, since 2005 at Louis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., which has about 3,000 undergraduates, two or three rooms a semester are available for a gay male and a gay female to live together, said Vanessa Fawbush, college public relations officer. Students are interviewed to ensure that heterosexual students aren’t seeking a room together, she said.
"My understanding is that it’s nice to have the option," she said.
Cooper said TCU opens its living-learning communities to student ideas and sees "what they come up with."
This year’s groups include Leadership and Strengths Community for students who want to become leaders, the Green House for student interested in the environment and the Health and Wellness Community for students interested in healthy living.
Among the other groups for fall are one for patriotism in various cultures and a marine life group that will examine how the ocean affects the environment.
Newkirk, who is gay, helped lead the effort for the DiversCity Q housing area. She said her vision is that it will be a place where gay and straight students can interact and hang out.
She said she also plans to have programs for the general TCU community that will include speakers and maybe programs about gays in the media and gays in general.
Such programs offer gay students a way to offer mutual support and create a community, said Nancy Tubbs, director of the LGBT Resource Center at the University of California-Riverside, which also offers gender-neutral and a living-learning community similar to TCU’s. Because straight students can join the living-learning community, it’s not self-segregating, said Tubbs, who grew up in College Station. "I think it’s wonderful that TCU is offering this," Tubbs said.
Newkirk said she was bracing for criticism, given the largely conservative politics of many TCU students.
"Surprisingly, I found nothing but support," she said.
Cooper said he also has fielded no criticism.
Even if she receives push-back, Newkirk said, that can have its advantages.
"Sometimes those things can bring a community together," she said. "It doesn’t have to tear us apart."
GENE TRAINOR, 817-390-7419
3. Concord Monitor, April 8, 2009
P.O. Box 1177, One Monitor Drive, Concord, New Hampshire 03302-1177
College group hosts debateon gay marriage
By David Corriveau
In the end, the gay bishop and the family-values lobbyist found common ground on one thing last night: The New Hampshire Legislature won't automatically follow Vermont's lead in legalizing same-sex marriage.
"In general, I don't think New Hampshire ever cared much about what any other state did; it's always followed its own path," Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, said after arguing for gay marriage in a debate at Dartmouth College last night. "However, I think the combination of Massachusetts and Connecticut (which allow gay marriage), Iowa (whose Supreme Court recently ruled a gay-marriage ban unconstitutional) and Vermont (whose legislature yesterday overrode Gov. Jim Douglas's veto of a same-sex marriage bill) creates the notion of a forward movement here."
In Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa, courts paved the way for gay marriage, just last week in the case of the latter. Vermont's Legislature legalized same-sex marriages yesterday, replacing the nation's first civil union law in the process.
After arguing against gay marriage in the Dartmouth Political Union's debate last night, Kevin Smith, executive director of Cornerstone Policy Research, a conservative think tank, said he detects less momentum in the Granite State.
"I don't believe that what Vermont did today will have that much effect on New Hampshire," Smith said. "The Legislature here tends to be pretty independent from what other states do. And we have a larger, more organized opposition here. I'm hoping that with Gov. Lynch's statements about not wanting a bill to come to his desk, the Senate will take care of it there. At least, it might be tabled for now."
The New Hampshire House narrowly approved a marriage-equality bill in late March. In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee may hold hearings on the legislation before it comes to a vote. While Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, has yet to promise a veto, he has said he prefers maintaining the state's civil union law as an alternative to marriage.
Nevertheless, state Rep. Jim Splaine, a Portsmouth Democrat and leading sponsor of the New Hampshire bill, sees pressure growing on fellow Democrats to support the bill after his Vermont counterparts turned back a veto by Douglas.
"I think it helps us in New Hampshire," Splaine said in an e-mail yesterday. "My first reaction is, 'Go Vermont!' Our Gov. John Lynch certainly doesn't want to follow in the footsteps of Vermont's governor, standing in the way with his one vote against the march for equality. Our state Senators can make it all happen here. We just need a majority of the 24 members."
Originally, Splaine planned to come to Dartmouth last night to debate Smith on same-sex marriage. Then a medical emergency forced him to bow out Monday night, pledging to recruit another debater. At 3:30 yesterday morning, Robinson, unable to sleep, found the message from Splaine while catching up on his e-mail.
"The amazing thing is, this is the only night I have free for about the next six weeks," said the bishop, whose consecration in 2003 outraged conservative Anglicans nationwide and abroad. "It must have been foreordained."
The debate society's president, Brice Acree, saw the bishop's agreement to come out of the bullpen in even loftier terms.
"As Rep. Splaine told me on the phone, 'God works in mysterious ways,' " Acree said. "It was very fortunate the way things turned out."
Even Smith didn't seem to mind, considering that enough students and other members of the Dartmouth community packed an auditorium of the Rockefeller Center to leave a couple dozen spectators standing.
"I found out at 3:30 this afternoon about the change," Smith said with a smile. "Obviously, Bishop Robinson's a high-profile person, in the state and nationally, but the arguments don't change. I didn't have to change my arguments."
Smith, who is married and has three children, argued that "this issue is more about acceptance than it is about marriage," and that redefining marriage legally could further destabilize families.
"Men and women are not interchangeable," Smith concluded.
Robinson, who was married for 13 years and fathered two daughters before acknowledging his homosexuality, contended that the state could bring much more stability to families by granting same-sex couples the rights as well as the obligations of full marriage. He has shared a committed relationship with his partner for more than 20 years.
At the end of the 90-minute debate, during which members of the Dartmouth Political Union also took sides on the issue, Acree told the audience, "Thank you for coming out tonight."
To which the last-minute guest in the clerical collar added, "We didn't all come out."
4. Royal Purple News, April 8, 2009
66 University Center, 800 W. Main St., Whitewater, WI 53190
Gay rights subject of heated debate outside University Center
By Sarah Kloepping
UW-Whitewater students want to turn a potentially negative event - an antigay protest - into an opportunity to aid a gay support group.
Members of Faithful Soldier School of Evangelicalism in Milwaukee stood outside the University Center Wednesday afternoon holding signs and preaching against homosexuality.
Junior Patrick Broderick said he had been standing outside since the protesters arrived about 12:30 p.m. and planned to stay until they left. He said he wants to collect pledges based on how long the protesters stayed.
"We want to see some sort of organized debate, if there is going to be a debate about these issues," he said. "People are just bantering and we're not making progress. We're not changing minds. So we want to funnel this time into money that can present a pro-gay message."
More than 100 students stopped to listen to Faithful Soldier founder Jason Storms' message or express concerns during the event.
"Everyone has the right to say what they want to say," senior Crystal Juzwik said. "(A protest) shows a sign of the times, we're moving past bigotry, we're in favor of love and what is right … regardless of what the feel about religion."
University police officers began monitoring the scene about 1 p.m. to ensure the situation didn't get out of hand.
"We came out … to make contact with the people in charge and let them know what is legal and what's not," Whitewater police officer Steve Hanekamp said. "As long as they don't obstruct people from entering buildings … they're not in violation of campus laws."
Hanekamp said officers would only intervene if any physical violence broke out.
"Honestly, if all the students kept walking, we wouldn't have any of this," he said.
Faithful Soldier member Robert Breand said the organization travels to campuses to preach the gospel and call on people to repent from their sins.
"If you truly support diversity, you'll listen to both sides," he said. "Early on, it can be a heated debate. Later on, depending on what's in someone's heart, we get to the deeper, more serous issues."
5. Examiner.com, April 8, 2009
555 17th Street, Suite 700, Denver, CO 80202
Gay students face additional challenge in college search process
By Julie Manhan, Seattle College Bound Examiner
“Where will I be respected and safe?” is not usually the first question that pops into students’ minds as they begin their college search, but for gay students that is often a central question as they consider which colleges and universities to apply to.
The 2007 National School Climate Survey, released by GLSEN in 2008, cites that among middle and high school students surveyed, “86.2% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 44.1% reported being physically harassed and 22.1% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.” Having been the target or witness of harassment, or even violence, brings the issue of acceptance and personal safety to the forefront of these students’ college search.
A recent article by Julie Halpert in Newsweek pointed out the challenges faced by LGBT students who are bound for college. Like any student, they want to find a place where they will be respected and appreciated - not merely tolerated. That can be a tricky proposition for any student as they try to wade through the mountain of marketing materials that arrive in their mailbox every day from colleges they may have never even heard of. It takes initiative, and often some very frank questions asked of school officials, as well as current students, to begin to get a sense of a school’s climate. For some LGBT students, the search can be even more challenging because they have not yet come out to family or friends, so they are left alone to figure out which questions to ask and which resources are available to them.
The good new is that there are more resources available now than ever before to help LGBT students find a college that is the best fit for them. Students can check out the Campus Climate Index which rates 186 schools by inclusion factors such as LGBT Housing & Residence Life, LGBT Campus Safety, and LGBT Support and Institutional Commitment, to name but a few. They can also find out which campuses provide professional services regarding sexual orientation and gender identity issues by going to the Consortium of Higher Education Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Professionals.
Because of the special concerns that may be involved, students who are LGBT or who are questioning their sexual orientation may benefit from the additional support of people who understand their concerns more personally. There are local and national groups that may be able to provide mentoring and support to college bound LGBT students. Two of the best organizations to contact are PFLAG and GLSEN Washington. If you’re worried about paying for college, there are also scholarships available for LGBT students. Locally, I recommend that you check out the Pride Foundation, as well as the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA).
If you are comfortable, I would also encourage you to talk with your guidance counselor or independent college consultant about resources he or she may be aware of to assist you in your search for the right school. They may know more than you think. For example, I am an independent college consultant. As such, whenever I go on a college tour, I always make a point of asking my student tour guide about services and general acceptance of LGBT students on the campus. This isn’t a question they get asked often, so I have found that their answers are often very candid. The responses I get help me to get a better picture of which campuses would be a good fit for the students I work with, whether they happen to be LGBT or not. Not sure your guidance counselor is the right one for you to talk to? Ask your school’s personal counselor, I’ll bet he or she can point you in the right direction to find local resources.
One of the most important things for any student who is searching for the right college to know is that they are not alone in the process. This is a challenging thing for anyone to do and the more positive and knowledgeable support you have, the better. Just remember that support is only a mouse click or phone call away.
6. The Murray State News, April 10, 2009
2609 University Station, Murray, KY 42071
‘Bible Belt’ issues explored
By Robin Phelps
Students piled into Faculty Hall room 208 Wednesday night to listen to Bernadette Barton’s multi-media presentation “The Toxic Closet: Being Gay in the Bible Belt.”
For those who have ever wondered how it feels to be gay or wanted to know more about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, Alliance, along with the help of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts and the Office of the Provost, offered Murray State students the opportunity.
Barton, associate professor of sociology and women’s studies at Morehead State University in Morehead, Ky., presented video clips, photographs and quotes from her research.
A bisexual who came out when she was 27, Barton’s research included qualitative data from residents from Kentucky and Texas.
“This research explores the negative consequences of closeting,” Barton said. “It explores what it means to be gay in the Bible Belt.”
Barton defined the Bible Belt as the southeast portion of the country including Kentucky and Tennessee, which embraces the bulk of America’s Fundamentalist Christians—those who indisputably adhere to the Bible and have a “negative interpretation of homosexuals.”
Angela Denk, sophomore from Chicago, Ill., said since living in a conservative area does not bring many cultural opportunities she was interested in Barton’s lecture.
Denk said the nature of a rural area is the cause of closed-mindedness and opposition to homosexuality.
“I think it’s because of the closer proximity,” Denk said. “People are in each other’s business and more likely to nose in on you because there are less people around.”
Barton said a person’s upbringing is linked to several factors concerning the toxic closet.
Barton described the toxic closet as a way of “hiding who you are.”
“If you feel bad about yourself, especially about something you can’t control ... it cripples your life,” Barton said.
Throughout Barton’s presentation several clips were shown depicting the extreme prejudice and discrimination that occurs within families, at work and in public regarding a person’s sexual orientation.
Barton started by differentiating between a sexual identity or orientation and sexual activity and said sexual identity is characteristics of oneself that cannot be changed.
“There’s layers and levels to coming out,” Barton said. “Bisexuals are the only people who can choose who they want to be with.”
Operating under the concept that people are born gay and that being gay cannot be prayed away or cured, Barton said people in the closet should do three things:
•Acknowledge to yourself that you are gay.
•Tell others, based on the amount of
Support you get.
•Then tell other people publicly.
Though Barton said these three items are ideal, they are not be easily achieved.
Naming a number of negative consequences of homophobia, ranging from workplace discrimination to hate crimes, Barton gave several tips for what members of the LGBT community and heterosexuals can do.
Jody Cofer, program specialist for undergraduate research and scholarly activity, LGBT liaison and member of Kentucky Fairness Alliance, said he believes the event was a success.
“This really shows that there’s interest in the conversation,” said Cofer. “That the younger generation of people are open to this conversation about fairness.”
Robin Phelps can be reached at email@example.com.
7. The Daily Iowan, April 9, 2009
E131 Adler Journalism Building
‘Feminists, Freaks, and Fairies’ explores gender, society
By Melea Andrys
There are no capital letters in stef shuster’s name (except in the UI online directory).
“I’m kind of a rule-breaker,” shuster said. “I don’t like being boxed in by things. Who decided that it was grammatically proper to capitalize some nouns and not others?”
As both a UI graduate student in sociology and a self-identified member of the queer-trans community, shuster has learned to question the normative aspects of a gendered culture, from sexuality to politics to syntax.
“My birth name is Stephanie Marla Shuster, and it is all grammatically correct,” shuster said. “But when I started thinking about what does it mean for me to be trans, ‘Stephanie’ is slightly problematic … I think of myself as transcending gender, so I don’t think of myself as a man and I don’t think of myself as a woman, I just think of myself as trans.”
Tonight, shuster will present an art exhibit showcasing the culmination of seven years of photography that both captures and critiques the gay/lesbian/transgender community. The opening reception of Feminists, Freaks, and Fairies will kick off at 6:30 p.m. today, and the artwork will be displayed though May 10 at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center.
“[stef] really brings people to life and sees them [in photography] — often people who have been invisible and unseen,” said Elizabeth Krause, the center’s manger. “People should come out to see the exhibition for two reasons. One is to show support for queer artists in the community. This is a very relevant time to do that — people in the queer community and allies are very excited about the Iowa Supreme Court ruling … and one thing to do with that energy is to stay united as a community. And the other reason is to challenge yourself to think about and question gender — it’s a good idea for college students to think deeply about gender and sexuality.”
shuster’s work not only explores themes of societal constructs but extends more generally in an effort to capture the fundamental nature of humanity.
“In our society, we have very rigid understandings of beauty and how it manifests,” shuster said. “So my work is in dialogue with those conversations about beauty — kind of challenging that and really trying to bring out the essence of people in those moments.”
Although shuster refers to the exhibit as a coming-of-age project, featuring portraits, protests, and erotic images, its overall attitude is reflected in the collection’s lighthearted moniker.
“I think the title captures it pretty well,” shuster said. “The whole concept of Feminists, Freaks, and Fairies, is that all these issues — gender and queer issues and race and class — are all interconnected and wrapped into each other. So the title captures that, but it’s also kind of playful. We don’t always have to be serious, crazy, stomp-your-boot feminazi people. It’s OK to have fun sometimes.”
Krause said she hopes this cheerful spirit of exploration will bring together community members and allies in discussion of these issues at the relatively new resource center, which celebrated its grand opening in 2006.
“I’m really trying to make the presence of the center on campus more prominent,” she said. “One way I thought of doing that was to bring in queer artists and having a space for them to exhibit their work, both because they might not have that space elsewhere and also to educate the larger university community on issues surrounding sexuality and gender identity through the medium of art.”
shuster was similarly optimistic about the use of the center as an exhibition area.
“I’m really trying to work with the space of the center,” shuster said. “I think it’s a beautiful place, and it’s completely underappreciated on this campus … Because of the content of the photos and the space where it’s located, I really want it to be a bringing together of unlikely people in a community-building kind of way.”
8. Yale Daily News, April 10, 2009
202 York Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Beyond one in four
By Raymond Carlson
In the 1972 edition of Yale's yearbook, articles were divided into categories beginning with letters.
The first topic for letter G: Gay Lib.
In a wry piece spanning four pages, an anonymous Yalie recounted his discovery of his homosexuality, describing his childhood disinterest in the female members of the Mickey Mouse Club and his anxiety about swimming camp.
"I knew that I had become everything that our Sex Education teacher had warned us about: A homosexual," the angsty author writes. "No less, a homosexual with an enormous penchant for sexual gratification, a homosexual who wanted to surround himself with the most beautiful and accessible male population he could imagine."
He added: "That's why I applied to Yale."
While Yale did not live up to the author’s standards — the University was a very different (read: closeted) place in the 1970s — change was on its way. By the ’80s, the Yale student body would rightfully become known for its abundance of gays, and Elis were quick to embrace the school’s title of the “Gay Ivy.” But Yale, as an institution, has lagged behind its students in embracing this label.
“At Yale, what we saw in the 1980s and through the early ’90s was a tremendous growth in the social acceptance of gay people on campus, of gay cultural life and of its visibility — and no comparable growth in institutional support for gay students and gay studies,” said George Chauncey ’77 GRD ’89, a Yale history professor specializing in U.S. lesbian and gay history.
When it comes to providing for LGBT students, that institutional support has continued to lag all the way through the 21st century, some students and experts said.
Consider a rather unflattering review of Yale within the Advocate’s College Guide for LGBT Students, published in 2006. (The Advocate is the nation’s largest gay magazine.)
“Unlike the other Ivy League campuses listed,” the guide reads, “Yale University relies solely on out LGBT student leaders to push for the advancement of queer issues and to create a welcoming LGBT campus climate.”
The guide’s author, Shane Windmeyer, told the News last month that Yale only received a place in the book because of the “vibrant” LGBT population. When it comes to administrative services available at Yale, he said, “Yale has a long way to go in terms of its peer schools.” The University of Pennsylvania, for instance, has an entire building for its LGBT student center. And Princeton University’s president spoke at the unveiling of a new LGBT office inside its student center in 2006.
In contrast, Yale’s Queer Resource Center takes up two small rooms on 305 Crown St., where it has resided since 1981.
So, yes, Yale may be the “Gay Ivy” in the sense that there is an abundance of out gay students — particularly males — on campus. But whether Yale is the “Gay Ivy” on an institutional level is a different issue.
Yale has acknowledged that it was “a little bit behind the times” and now aims to leap ahead, said Maria Trumpler. Trumpler was hired by Yale to serve as special assistant to the deans for LGBTQ issues in 2006.
Trumpler’s hiring marked the beginning of a University effort to close the gap with its peer institutions. This January, Yale established an Office for LGBTQ Resources with a 20,000 dollar budget and Trumpler as its director. The word “office” exists in name only, however, as no physical space for it currently exists.
To understand how an institution known as the “Gay Ivy” finds itself behind some of its peer schools, look to Yale’s history.
In the summer of 1987, arriving on campus for her 10-year reunion, freelance writer Julie Iovine ’77 came to a shocking revelation about Yale: there were gay students. Lots of them.
After a few cursory interviews with Yalies, Iovine decided to share her discovery with the world. In a Wall Street Journal article entitled “Lipsticks and Lords: Yale’s New Look,” Iovine made her case, describing all she had uncovered, from the immense popularity of gay parties to the different social circles of lesbian undergrads.
“Suddenly Yale has a reputation as a gay school,” she wrote, as if the University’s good name had been besmirched.
And suddenly, by putting the words “gay” and “Yale” in the same sentence, Iovine brought about a media firestorm. In a response article titled “Is Yale now colored mauve,” the National Review declared that homosexuals at Yale had gone from victims to “cultural aggressors.”
Then-president Benno Schmidt was poised to save Yale’s reputation, sending a letter to 2,000 prominent alumni to debunk this myth, The New York Times reported.
“I know of no one except Ms. Iovine, here or outside the University, who considers Yale a ‘gay school,’ ” Schmidt wrote in the letter, according to the Times.
Iovine — and the world — thought she had discovered something new about Yale, but the large, openly gay community she described had been 10 years in the making. And while Schmidt’s response seemed purely reactionary to some, it was, in many ways, to be expected — Yale’s administration had traditionally taken a mixed stance toward its emerging gay community.
The gay community Iovine would have recalled from her time at Yale in the ’70s was largely closeted, prompting little-to-no administrative acknowledgement. Evan Wolfson ’78, founder of the organization Freedom to Marry, described his four years in New Haven: “Yale was very different from what it is today … There was very little open gay life. There was very little activism.”
But things changed — quickly.
With the onset of the ’80s, there was an explosion in the proportion of openly gay students on campus. But the administration and the students’ classmates did not receive their LGBT peers with wholly open arms.
“There was a clash of traditional Yale and this new wave of actively and openly gay students,” said Anna Wipfler ’09, a former LGBT Cooperative coordinator. Wipfler is researching the history of Yale’s LGBT campus organizations for her senior project.
After LGBT students encountered harassment on campus, Wipfler said they turned to the administration for support. Their argument: Latino and black students had been provided with deans and cultural centers many years earlier.
The administration did not grant the request for a dean. Instead, the students were afforded two small rooms at 305 Crown St. to call their own.
Despite this dead-end, LGBT Yalies went on to find other causes for which to lobby the administration. Their next step involved calling for the protection of sexual orientation under the University’s anti-discrimination policy, something the University of Pennsylvania had already enacted in 1979.
The Yale Corporation responded, sort of.
In 1982, the Corporation changed Yale’s antidiscrimination policy, saying Yale had a commitment to “respecting an individual’s attitudes on a variety of matters that are essentially personal in nature.” LGBT Yalies at the time had a sense of humor about what they considered a shortfall, Wipfler said, holding a dance called “Essentially Personal in Nature.”
So while the administration stalled, Yalies moved forward, rallying around the perceived lack of administrative support. All the while, Yale’s campus was becoming increasingly welcoming to gay students.
“Yale was known back then for being a gay-friendly school,” said Bruce Cohen ’83, a gay alum who produced the films “Milk” and “American Beauty.” “You got there, and you saw that there was a gay life. There were so many gay students, and that was just part of the social scene. It encouraged a lot of people — including myself — to come out during my years at Yale.”
Wipfler said the early ’80s marked a “critical mass” in the amount of gay students and gay activism on campus. Still, Yale’s gay-friendliness was not brought to the attention of the larger world until the publication of Iovine’s article in 1987.
Part of Iovine’s article asserted that one in four Yale students were gay, which one student claimed the University advertised in mailed materials to freshmen. Much of Schmidt’s letter was meant to assert the invalidity of this statement. Then-Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg also wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal to assure them this was not the case.
But Benno’s response did not go over as planned, and at a press conference, he was forced to answer what was wrong if Yale had a large proportion of gay students, according to Newsweek. In an article entitled “Have Gays Taken Over Yale?,” Newsweek Magazine chronicled the saga, explaining Schmidt’s defense of his defense that Yale was not “a gay school.”
Schmidt said the matter at hand was diversity, Newsweek reported. The magazine summarized Schmidt’s comments as follows: “The president of Yale was obliged to point out that a truly diverse student body should also include a representative proportion of heterosexuals. Diversity, ‘perhaps Yale’s most important quality,’ would be endangered if a single group achieved ‘some kind of eccentric dominance.’ ”
While Yale students were quick to coin the phrase “one in four, maybe more” to describe the number of gay students on campus, Schmidt worked to fight this image.
And while it would be easy to characterize Schmidt’s actions as insensitive, it is important to consider the context in which they arose. Beyond Yale, anti-gay sentiment raged in the wake of the AIDS crisis. And Schmidt himself was progressive, cooperating with plans to create a Lesbian and Gay Studies Center at Yale in 1986, a vision brought to fruition the next year.
A TROUBLED TRANSITION
In the ’90s, Yale’s hotbed of gay activism and campus organizing went from a sizzle to a gentle simmer.
The ’90s were a time of “transition,” said David Scarapelli ’95, a gay alum. He noted that while there remained a profusion of gay students on campus, interest in LGBT student groups was unsteady at times.
“There had been a group called Yalesbians that folded as a result of lack of interest in the ’90s,” he said in a phone interview.
“Lack of interest, not lack of lesbians,” his husband, Peter Budinger ’94, shouted in the background.
Still, it wouldn’t be long before Yale was back in the national spotlight for the institution’s stance on gay issues. But this time, it was on the academic front.
With few changes taking place within LGBT student population, Yale developed a renowned program for the LGBT studies throughout the ’90s. This tradition exists thanks to the former History Department Chair John Boswell, who authored “Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe.” Boswell created the Lesbian and Gay Studies Center at Yale in 1987, dying of AIDS seven years later.
This proud piece of progressiveness, however, was not always perfect.
In 1997, Yale alum Larry Kramer ’57, a famous gay activist and founder of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), offered Yale a multi-million dollar gift to create either an endowed chair in gay and lesbian studies or a student center for gay students.
Yale said no to his millions.
In an interview earlier this week, Kramer said that when he met with the College Dean Richard Broadhead and University Provost Alison Richard at the time, he was told: “We don’t believe in separating our students out by any matter of means,” despite his protests that Yale had African American Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at the time.
But the separation had clearly taken place: Yale had offerings in LGBT studies. The question was whether it wanted to give them prominence, and the University decided against it. That fall, Broadhead told the News that part of the decision came with the newness of the field of gay and lesbian studies.
“Gay and lesbian studies have produced tons of interesting work, but it’s a little hard to know what institutional form it will take 200 years from now,” he told the News at the time.
Four years later, Kramer was back; his brother Arthur Kramer ’49 offered the University 1 million dollars in honor of Larry, creating the Larry Kramer Initiative for LGBT studies.
At the time, Kramer explained that his original gift offer came with a high level of specificity, and in an interview with the Times in 2001, he said he was happy with the new result.
But Kramer was disappointed again, saying he did not expect the Initiative to close in five years after his brother’s gift was spent.
Kramer has not been the only Eli disappointed by the administration in recent years. Consider the frustrations of many LGBT students after a gender-neutral housing policy failed to pass this spring. By the time the Kramer Initiative ended, Yale had fallen behind many of its peers in terms of its institutional services for LGBT students, as the Advocate’s College Guide for Lesbian and Gay students showed.
Unlike Yale, other Ivy League schools had placed a priority on hiring staff and administrators for LGBT student support. By 2006, Yale was the only Ivy League institution without a dedicated staff member for LGBT student issues. (Yale was still progressive compared to the rest of the nation. Yale added protection based on “gender identity or expression” to its anti-discrimination policy in 2006.)
And so, an LGBT Needs Assessment Task Force composed of students, faculty and staff took a stand, alerting then-Provost Andrew Hamilton of the perceived problem.
Beyond lobbying for an administrator or centralized student space, the Task Force argued that the University should no longer rely exclusively on LGBT student organizations to provide resources and support, given unevenness in offerings from year to year. The administration listened and shifted its approach toward LGBT resources. It wasn’t a big shift, but it was a shift.
In fall 2006, Yale hired Maria Trumpler GRD ’92 to serve as the “special assistant to the deans for LGBTQ affairs.”
Trumpler said that up until she was hired, Yale had gotten “stuck” in the question of whether LGBT students should have the same model of resources afforded to minority students through the cultural centers.
“I think there were significant people in the administration for whom that was a jump they didn’t want to make,” she said.
Yale is still just about in last place in the Ivy League in terms of its administrative support for LGBT students, Windmeyer said. Bob Schoenberg, the director of the LGBT Center at Penn, agreed.
“I’m very familiar with what you have at Yale — and what you don’t have at Yale,” said Schoenberg, co-editor of a book titled “Our Place on Campus: LGBT Programs and Services in Higher Education.” Schoenberg said Yale and Harvard are known for their weakness in terms of the resources they offer LGBT students.
“Harvard and Yale, interestingly, are not up to where their ivy counterparts are in this respect,” he said.
Yale students do offer many LGBT services, such as peer counseling, and the University’s student-run Pride Month outshines most comparable programs at other schools. But two years ago, Yale’s LGBT peer-counseling program had nearly died off, and without enduring institutional support, LGBT resources risk change as their student leaders graduate.
There are numerous explanations for why has Yale been traditionally slow to offer LGBT student services.
Trumpler said that up until her hiring, the administration may have believed there was an adequate existing LGBT support structure between students and faculty.
“There were so many well-placed queer people around,” she said. “I think the thought was that queer people were pretty well-served.”
LGBT Co-Op co-coordinator Yoshi Shapiro ’11 suggested that Yale was hesitant to offer a resource similar to a cultural center.
“It’s one thing to have a community based on heritage, but it’s another to have a community based on sexuality,” she said.
Prefacing his comments by saying that he was purely speculating, Schoenburg said Yale may have been hesitant to play into the stereotype of the “Gay Ivy.” He also speculated that Yale may be afraid of its students dividing themselves up by group, particularly given the decentralized structure of its housing system.
Whatever the reason, Yale has acknowledged its shortfalls and plans to surge ahead of its peers in terms of the resources it offers, Trumpler said. Such was the thinking when the University hired her and when it created the Office of LGBTQ Resources.
“The goal was not to do what other colleges were doing,” she said. “The goal was to look ahead. The goal was to try to figure out what is coming.”
Trumpler said she plans to create an office in a new space — though she declined to name any specific locations she’s considering. Still, her stipulations are clear: two offices, a drop-in space, meeting spaces and hours of operation from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., made possible with a combination of professional and student staff.
“It would be a hub of activity.” She said. “I’m holding out for a good completed space.”
While Yale’s current construction freeze has put a “slow down” on the creation of this space, Trumpler said she is confident that her vision will be realized well within the next decade. Yet with the failure of gender-neutral housing this year, LGBT students have learned that institutional changes tend to be sluggish, even if their community’s progress is anything but.
9. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 12, 2009
400 West 7th, Fort Worth, TX 76102
Editorial: Bold move or mistaken one at TCU?
A college campus should be a community that provides a true learning environment, not just in academics, but in human interaction and personal growth.
It can be, and most often is, a place where people of different backgrounds — racial, national, religious, economic, gender and otherwise — can come together in a microcosm of the larger society and learn to understand the importance and the unique advantages of diversity, cooperation and inclusion.
In that context, TCU’s recently announced decision to provide designated on-campus housing for gay, lesbian and transgender students (and their non-gay supporters) is both commendable and disturbing.
The decision is laudable because the university is showing sensitivity to the desires expressed by some students seeking a common and supportive "community." But it also is bothersome because it suggests that the larger university cannot provide that support without resorting to segregation as a solution.
When any minority group fights hard for integration and acceptance, why would it then seek any institutionalized separateness?
It was difficult to understand when black and Hispanic groups at several college campuses in the past demanded separate dorms and student unions.
While some gay and lesbian activists argue that certain all-gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender institutions — like the new Harvey Milk High School in New York — can benefit students who sometimes suffer discrimination, we can’t help but wonder if such arrangements are more crippling than helpful.
Certainly there are still segregated pockets of our society, and without a doubt there are bigots among us who will continue to discriminate against people who are different from them, but we must not give in to those backward ideas or the people who support them.
TCU offers a number of Living Learning Communities (LLCs) made up of students with common interests in particular topics.
Don Mills, vice chancellor for student affairs, noted in an e-mail to TCU supporters that last year those included Green House, Health and Wellness, Honors House, Language and International House and Leadership and Strengths.
"In addition to DiverCity Q, other new LLCs proposed for next year include Patriotism, Marine Life, Creativity and the Arts, Christian Perspectives and Service and Community Service and Teamwork," Mills said.
"LLCs provide an opportunity for students to examine, discuss, and share opinions about topics that they certainly will encounter once they leave TCU," he said. "To that end, these living learning communities ultimately prepare students to better understand our diverse, global world."
That can be advantageous when the communities center on academic subject matter or intellectual interests. But because non-heterosexuals have struggled for acceptance in the larger community, it would seem that sexual orientation is the kind of "special-interest" criteria that would warrant more emphasis on inclusion rather than separation.
Perhaps what the university has done will prove to be a bold and encouraging move that’s valuable to the students who volunteer for this housing community.
We hope so. But we also look forward to the day when our increasingly multifaceted society will no longer feel the need to continue categorizing (and segregating) people based on their differences, including sexual orientation.
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