Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.08.16
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. The Daily Collegian - Gender studies minor available
2. Inside Higher Ed - The Influence of Higher Ed
3. Daily Texan Online - Study finds college degrees are major tolerance factor
4. Edge Boston - Will Harvard Allow ROTC On Campus Despite DADT?
5. Inside Higher Ed - Quick Takes: Princeton Review's Gay Rankings Questioned
6. Ithaca Office of Media Relations - Ithaca College Film Series To Feature 'LGBT Lives And Stories From Around The World'
7. Southern Voice - Ranking Georgia’s colleges: How state campuses stack up on LGBT policies
8. Outsports.com - Poll: Many college players have gay teammates
1. The Daily Collegian, August 10, 2009
123 S. Burrowes St., University Park, PA 16801-3882
Gender studies minor available
By Evan Trowbridge
After more than 10 years of development, the new Sexuality and Gender Studies minor will be available to Penn State students this fall.
Sponsored by the Department of Women's Studies, the minor was approved by the University Faculty Senate in the spring and by the Penn State Board of Trustees in July.
"We are very far behind our peer institutions in offering a minor of this kind," said Robert Caserio, the supervising professor.
Almost all the other schools in the Big Ten offer a similar minor program, Caserio said.
The minor is a significant advancement for Penn State that will put the university on par with other universities in the area, said Allison Subasic, the director of the Penn State Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally (LGBTA) Student Resource Center.
Subasic said the minor was a contributing factor to Penn State receiving five out of five stars for administrative policies in advocacy organization Campus Pride's LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index.
The minor will help Penn State recruit and retain faculty and staff who study gender and sexuality issues, Subasic said.
Offering the minor will also make LGBT students at Penn State feel more acknowledged and appreciated, she said.
The foundation for the minor was laid more than 10 years ago by a faculty advisory committee that wanted to see the university advance in its treatment of LGBT studies.
Interest waned after committee members failed to come to a resolution about whether the minor should concentrate on LGBT studies or the broader studies of sexuality and gender, Caserio said.
The current committee, formed last summer, decided to forgo a specific focus on LGBT studies in favor of a more comprehensive minor.
The minor is now "an intellectual study of all forms of human sexuality," Caserio said.
The minor has two required courses: ENGL 245, "Introduction to Lesbian and Gay Studies," and HDFS/WMNST 250, "Sexual Identity over the Lifespan." Additional courses students may choose from range from "Biology of Sex" to "Lesbian and Gay History" to "Race, Gender, and Employment."
Subasic said the minor is great for students who want to learn about those who are different from themselves.
And students considering the major do not have to take their sexual orientation into account, Caserio said, but they should have an "intellectual orientation."
All students interested in learning about gender and human sexuality should feel comfortable and engaged within the minor, he said.
"What we call human sexuality is enormously important to us but very hard to fathom," Caserio said.
"Students will walk away with a much more intelligent sense of how complex our sexual desires and sexual experiences are," he added.
2. Inside Higher Ed, August 12, 2009
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
The Influence of Higher Ed
By Scott Jaschik
SAN FRANCISCO -- Higher education has always been celebrated by some (and criticized by others) for exposing students to ideas that may conflict with those with which they were raised.
Scholars here at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association presented data suggesting that this shift in attitudes (a liberalizing one) applies to evangelical Protestants who either earn college degrees or live in areas with many college graduates.
Seth Ovadia of Bowdoin College and Laura M. Moore of Hood College write in their paper that evangelical Protestants make up more than a quarter of of the U.S. population, and that they have become an important political force, making it important to understand both the way they influence society (a topic much studied) and how they are influenced (a less studied topic). They note that evangelicals are not a uniform group and not an isolated group -- nor are they (as some stereotypes have it) uneducated.
For their study, the authors used national surveys that focused on evangelicals' attitudes about gay people and atheists, by looking at the views of those surveyed on whether members of those groups should be allowed to make a speech, teach in a local college, and/or have an authored book in a public library. They then looked at patterns in the attitudes of evangelicals and found the following:
College-educated evangelicals have "significantly higher levels of tolerance" toward atheists and gay people than do those without a college education.
Evangelicals -- college educated or not -- show higher levels of tolerance based on whether they live in areas with more college-educated people.
Evangelicals without a college education are more likely to show more tolerance based on the education level of their areas than are college-educated evangelicals.
Moore said that the data do not distinguish -- either for the evangelicals or those in their surrounding communities -- whether the colleges attended were religious or secular, so it is not possible to measure the impact of one or another type of higher education.
The authors conclude their paper by noting that increased college participation rates -- both of evangelicals and the population as a whole -- could thus have an unexpected change in social attitudes, with potentially important impacts.
"Should college participation rates continue to increase for both evangelicals and the larger U.S. population alike, we would expect evangelicals’ less tolerant attitudes towards 'threatening' outgroups, such as homosexuals and atheists, to continue to decline. Such attitudinal shifts could make evangelicals more wary of organized attempts to restrict others’ civil rights and increase adaptation of a 'live and let live' philosophy. Increased tolerance could yield greater civil rights protections for groups such as homosexuals who have to date experienced major opposition from the Christian Right," write Ovadia and Moore.
Citing other sociologists' work about the way many religious groups define themselves in part through opposition to others, they add that as a result of higher education, "the evangelical movement may be weakened by decreasing subcultural distinction and tension between itself and relevant outgroups."
3. Daily Texan Online, August 13, 2009
P.O. Box D, Austin, TX 78713
Study finds college degrees are major tolerance factor
By Yijiao Zhuang
A recent study found evangelical Protestants who had a college degree were more likely to be tolerant of gays and atheists than those without a college degree.
The study, conducted by professor Seth Ovadia of Bowdoin College and professor Laura Moore of Hood College, was presented at the American Sociological Association meeting this week. It tested the effect of a college-educated environment on the tolerance of evangelical Protestants toward the gay and atheist communities.
Initial conclusions showed the percentage of evangelical Protestants and the percentage of college-educated people were the two most determining factors in how a religious community affects an individual’s attitudes.
The study found that Evangelical Protestants, both with and without a college degree, are on average more tolerant of gays and atheists when they live in communities with more college graduates, Ovadia said.
“College graduates directly experience the dialogues and interactions that lead people to be more tolerant,” Ovadia said. “It is now a hallmark of American education to be more open to ideas other than your own.”
The data pool consisted of approximately 6,090 individuals who were 18 and older from 179 communities across the country from 1973 to 2002, Ovadia said. The same three questions were asked to determine how tolerant an individual was to certain minority groups — whether they would allow a gay or atheist to teach in a local college, make a public speech or author a book.
“The study itself brings these two forces together,” Ovadia said. “We wanted to see if a contextual education affected evangelicals and whether they had a ‘protective effect’ against the liberalizing influences of college students.”
According to the study, evangelicals also make up 25 to 30 percent of the US population and have often been depicted as individuals who are less educated and more opposed to intellectualism and modernism.
“We chose evangelicals because they strongly oppose these groups, especially gays, as people who might be most threatening to them,” Ovadia said.
Ixchel Rosal, director of the Gender and Sexuality Center, said she was not surprised by the result.
“It just shows the value of a college education and that you are bound to meet and interact with people who are different from you, especially at a university with 50,000 students,” Rosal said.
A disadvantage is that resources for the queer community may not be as public and visible on the UT campus.
“If someone doesn’t consciously choose to identify themself in that way, it is very easy to stay within your comfort zone,” Rosal said.
Armando Sanchez, a team member of UT’s Queer People of Color and Allies, said while he was at UT, his perception of gay stereotypes were broadened after interacting with different student groups.
“My interactions after attending programs with other organizations that may not be gay- or queer-centered has allowed me to meet people you usually wouldn’t walk up and talk to,” Sanchez said. “My exposure to them and vice versa has helped to rebuild my idea of what a gay person is. It makes you question what you’ve been told.”
4. Edge Boston, August 13, 2009
46 Plympton Street, Boston, MA 02118
Will Harvard Allow ROTC On Campus Despite DADT?
By Kilian Melloy
Like other universities, Harvard--arguably the pre-eminent educational institution in the country, perhaps in the world--does not allow the The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) to operate on the university’s campus.
Like many other universities that ban the ROTC, Harvard’s refusal stems from a conflict between military policy and the non-discrimination policies that many highly regarded institutions of higher education have put into place.
The ROTC, as a military organization, must abide by the so-called "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy (DADT), a military ban on openly gay troops. Gay servicemembers are allowed to remain in uniform only so long as they keep quiet about their true sexuality.
The anti-gay ban was the result of compromise in the early 1990s between the Clinton administration, which attempted to integrate the military fully, and right-wing elements that whipped up a hysteria that openly gay servicemembers would somehow cause military discipline to disintegrate--an assumption that opponents of the ban said was an insult to the professionalism of America’s fighting forces.
Though President Obama had spoken out against the military’s anti-gay ban, Obama has proven reluctant to strike down DADT through executive action, preferring a more "permanent" solution through Congressional action.
Indeed, as social attitudes toward gays and GLBT equality have shifted, the majority of Americans now favor lifting the ban, and prominent military figures have spoken out against it, including high-ranking officers who came out of the closet after retirement.
But the issue is still contentious, and despite the desperate need for more high quality recruits to continue American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, gay soldiers continue to be discharged under the anti-gay provision.
Harvard’s contemporary reasons for not allowing the ROTC to operate on campus may be rooted in the conflict between the university’s policies and those of the military, but in Harvard’s case, the stance against the ROTC has earlier roots reaching back to the 1960s, when students pressured the university to disallow the ROTC from operating on campus even as the deeply unpopular war in Vietnam raged.
An Aug. 13 op-ed piece at The Washington Times written by Navy spouse Brenda Hurley recounted the origins of Harvard’s refusal to permit the ROTC access to the campus, and quoted a section from the university’s Student Handbook that reads, "ROTC courses may be taken on a non-credit basis and only by cross-registration at MIT [the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also based in Camridge, MA]."
The op-ed also quoted recently graduated Harvard student and ROTC participant Joe Kristol, who expressed discontent with the arrangement between the two top-flight institutions.
"Harvard will pay for my non-ROTC roommate to take accounting, a course obviously intended for professional training, but not for me to take naval science, which I think is... important for my professional training," Kristol, now a second lieutenant in the Marines, said.
A June 2 article at the Harvard Crimson contained a quote from an alumnus who served in the ROTC via the MIT program.
Said Andrew C. Deardoff, who graduated in 1984, "Harvard was very happy to cash the checks from the U.S. government to pay for our tuition but at the same time not provide any official recognition.
"It would have been great to have our ROTC courses be placed on our transcripts. There is no record at Harvard of my having taken part in ROTC."
That article also noted that Harvard and MIT have an arrangement whereby Harvard pays MIT for expenses associated with Harvard students participating in the ROTC at MIT.
But the time may be coming when the ROTC finds a home at Harvard.
The Washington Times op-ed cited a poll that indicates a majority of Harvard students are supportive of the military program, and noted that the university’s president, Drew G. Faust, has also indicated support for the program.
Faust, the article noted, spoke at a commissioning ceremony last June, telling graduating Harvard ROTC members, "Your education has equipped you with knowledge and the capacity to continue to acquire knowledge in the variety of specialized fields you will pursue."
And President Obama, though an outspoken supporter of GLBT equality, has also expressed support for the student program, saying, "The notion that young people... in any university... aren’t offered the choice, the option of participating in military service, I think is a mistake," the op-ed noted.
But if Harvard does allow the ROTC back on campus after 40 years, the reason might not have to do with political pressure or the threat of a loss of federal funds. Rather, America’s steady, if somewhat slow, progress toward full equality for GLTB citizens might one day make the issue moot by erasing the essential conflict between the university’s inclusive policies and the military’s anti-gay ban.
A June 1 op-ed in the The Harvard Crimson by Paras D. Bhayani noted that if Congress does indeed repeal DADT, the contradiction currently at the heart of Harvard’s opposition to the ROTC will vanish.
Wrote Bhayani, "More important than any change in attitudes at Harvard... is the fact that the federal government might soon allow gay individuals to serve in the military openly, a movement that has gathered strength after reports that specialists in high-demand languages like Arabic and Farsi have been discharged for being gay."
Moreover, the op-ed article added, "any official recognition of ROTC will actually mean little to Harvard.
"As it currently stands, ROTC officials do not want to open an office at Harvard, largely because the number of prospective cadets is small.
"Recognition would be largely symbolic: dropping the official statement opposing ROTC, noting ROTC participation on transcripts, and releasing funds to cover administrative costs at MIT."
In other words, while it would be nice for the ROTC to be able to associate itself with the Harvard brand, the practical advantages in terms of young people in uniform might be relatively minor. Indeed, the truly practical advantage of repealing DADT would be the anticipated spike in gay and lesbian patriots eager to seize the opportunity to serve their country, but unwilling to put heir personal integrity in question by being willing to lie about who they are in order to do so.
5. Inside Higher Ed, August 14, 2009
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
Quick Takes: Princeton Review's Gay Rankings Questioned
The Princeton Review regularly is criticized for its ranking system, which is based on surveys of students -- a system that critics find unscientific even by the standards of college rankings. At the same time, the Princeton Review is popular with students in part for providing analyses of many unofficial issues, such as which institution is the top "party school." On Thursday, the Princeton Review was attacked by a gay rights group, Campus Pride, for using its regular surveys (which on many campuses may be filled out largely by straight people) to rate colleges on how gay-friendly they are. “This list is an erroneous, misleading indicator of acceptance for LGBT youth and their safety on campus,” said Shane Windmeyer, founder and executive director of Campus Pride (which does its own "index" on colleges for gay students, based more on policies or programs than a broad student survey). Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher of the Princeton Review, noted in an interview that many gay groups have praised his publication for making gay inclusiveness a measure of college quality. Franek also said that his publication believes students "are the experts" and so he sees no reason to change the methodology.
6. Ithaca Office of Media Relations, August 13, 2009
953 Danby Road, Ithaca, NY 14850
Ithaca College Film Series To Feature 'LGBT Lives And Stories From Around The World'
ITHACA, NY — The Out of the Closet and Onto the Screen series at Ithaca College will show eight documentary films this fall on the theme of “LGBT Lives and Stories from Around the World.” Sponsored by the Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Education, Outreach, and Services, the screenings are free and open to the public.
All showings begin at 7 p.m. and will be held in Textor 101.
Monday, August 31
“Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World”
In some countries, being thought to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender can result in imprisonment, deportation or even the death penalty. This film documents the struggles of LGBT people for basic human rights in the face of severe oppression in such countries as Egypt, Kenya and Honduras.
Thursday, September 3
Double feature screening in observance of Latino Heritage Month.
“Sex and the Sandinistas”
What really happened when the Sandinistas found their soldiers and revolutionary comrades falling in love with the wrong sex? The story of how gay and lesbian people in Nicaragua battled for their own space inside the Sandinista Revolution.
The 1959 revolution which gave Cuba its independence ushered in a new era of equality, blind to race and gender — but not sexual orientation. In contrast with the history of random arrests of bar patrons and the forced quarantine of HIV-positive citizens, this film casts a colorful and hopeful light on efforts to reform and humanize a society often maligned for its calcified rigidity.
Wednesday, September 30
“Out in Africa Filmmaker Workshop Shorts Collection: ‘Telling Tales’ and ‘Happy Snaps’”
A collection of short narrative films produced during two years of filmmaker workshops held as part of the Out in Africa Gay and Lesbian Film festival.
Thursday, October 1
“To My Women Friends”
Revealing interviews with six Russian lesbians convey the joys and hardships of being a lesbian in the former Soviet Union. This fascinating documentary touches on a range of issues, including women’s prisons, transsexuality, lesbian and gay community organizing, coming out and homophobia.
Thursday, November 5
Double feature of two very different films about the themes of family and home.
During Iran’s cultural revolution, six-year-old Gharavi was sent out of the country to live with her father. This intense personal documentary follows Gharavi’s return to Iran 23 years later in an attempt to understand her mother’s decision and reconnect to her lost past.
Lou Glover grew up in New South Wales repeating the same homophobic and racist taunts she heard around her. It wasn't until she came out as a lesbian and left her home environment that she uncovered the secret Aboriginal ancestry that her father’s family had been hiding for three generations.
Tuesday, December 1
Screening in observance of World AIDS Day.
“A Closer Walk”
The first film to depict humankind’s confrontation with the global AIDS epidemic. Subjects and story lines include people with HIV/AIDS from all walks of life: AIDS children and orphans and those caring for them; doctors, nurses and social workers; human rights advocates; and prominent scientists, economists, researchers, government leaders and NGO officials
Contact: Dave Maley
Office: (607) 274-1440
7. Southern Voice, August 14, 2009
1075 Zonolite Road, Suite 1-D, Atlanta, GA 30306
Ranking Georgia’s colleges: How state campuses stack up on LGBT policies
By Matt Schafer
When picking a college, LGBT students sometimes have to evaluate schools not only on courses offered but where will they fit in — which colleges will accept them and where will they feel safe.
Natalija Moss, a transgender Women’s Studies major, and Patrick Snipes, a gay film and sociology major, chose Georgia State University. While the two students, both now juniors, were attracted by the school’s programs, the fact the school is near Midtown was as important.
“I wanted to be in the city as opposed to UGA. I had a lot of friends who wanted to go to UGA, but for me I didn’t feel I would be safe there,” Moss said.
Although Georgia State finished in the middle of the pack in Southern Voice’s 2009 LGBT College Survey — largely for not including transgender protections in its anti-discrimination statement — it is the school of choice for many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students because of its affordable tuition and location.
“I was raised in Covington, and I felt being in Atlanta would help me out,” Snipes said.
Moss considered going out of state to seek even more trans-friendly surroundings, but turned down a chance to go to the University of Southern California.
“I don’t have any family out there, and so I would really be on my own and I didn’t want to do that,” she said.
When looking at out of town schools, prospective students often have to base their decisions on guides and the occasional trip to check out a campus, said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, which offers resources to gay college students.
“Colleges today want to be able to say that they are a welcoming environment for GLBT students. They might not be gay friendly, but they want to be welcoming,” Windmeyer said.
Campus Pride recommends prospective students look for rainbow flags and Safe Space stickers on a college campus and also suggests asking current students about how the school and the student body treat LGBT students.
Southern Voice’s college survey is adapted from a survey by Campus Pride and conducted independently.
After not providing answers to Southern Voice’s 2008 college survey, Mercer University and Southern Polytechnic State University continue to decline to participate in the survey.
A Mercer spokesperson said the media relations department is understaffed and has to be selective in which surveys they fill out. A spokesperson for Southern Poly said the media relations’ office does not track of any of the school’s policies and therefore cannot provide any information about the school that isn’t available on its website.
Offering LGBT policies a balancing act?
In 2008, a lengthy legal battle came to a close surrounding Georgia Tech’s Safe Space program, which aims to support gay students and faculty. Two straight students claimed that parts of the Safe Space training program were anti-religious, and sued. The federal courts agreed with them and the offending passages were removed from the program.
Because of such lawsuits, many LGBT and diversity administrators find themselves walking a tight line between creating a safe environment for gay students while not alienating conservative ones.
“I think that’s the tricky part about creating a space where there is respect for people’s beliefs that you will never change, and on issues more than just sexual orientation,” said Jennifer Miracle, the director of the LGBT Resource Center at the University of Georgia in Athens.
The center at UGA is one of only two dedicated offices that deal exclusively with LGBT issues on Georgia campuses; Emory University is home to the other. Since UGA has students from a wide spectrum of religious and personal beliefs, Miracle’s solution is for the center to address gay issues as parts of larger discussions.
“Rather than doing programs that only identify as LGBTQ, it addresses a lot of issues that students face regardless of their orientation,” Miracle said.
Consuela Ward is the director of the Multicultural Center at Georgia Southern University. Maintaining balance between student groups is an ever-changing task, she said.
“Considering where I am, if I didn’t make somebody mad I probably wouldn’t be doing my job very well. That said, we try to do our best to accommodate those voices who disagree and keep moving,” she said.
Finding their own way
After being involved in with a high school Gay Straight Alliance, Tyler Coon decided to avoid the gay student groups at Georgia Tech.
“I’ve been out since junior year of high school and I think the Gay Straight Alliance didn’t do what it could for me in high school so I figured the best alliance to form was my own by doing extra-curricular activities,” he said.
Coon got involved in wrestling and other clubs and said no one has cared that he’s gay.
“I’ve enjoyed it very much; as soon as I came out everyone lightened up,” he said.
Fellow engineering school Southern Polytechnic State University is one of the lowest-scoring state schools in Southern Voice’s survey. The school doesn’t include sexual orientation or gender identity in its non-discrimination policy, and is the only state school to not offer free HIV testing to its students.
Despite the school’s lack of policies supporting LGBT students and staff, Kevin Moss recently earned his bachelor’s degree at the school and is returning for his master’s degree. He was also elected student body president.
“Even though we didn’t have a discrimination policy, there wasn’t a need to for it,” Moss said. “It’s hard to explain, but the student body was very respectful and accepting.”
Funding cuts impact programs
The state’s 35 public colleges recently submitted to the state their proposals for what programs and curriculum they would have to eliminate if they were forced to cut expenses by 4, 6 or 8 percent. These new rounds of cuts would be in addition to a 5.5 percent cut the colleges already made at the July 1 beginning of their fiscal year.
With colleges, both public and private, struggling to deal with budget cuts, every program is up for review. Oglethorpe University, a private liberal arts school, had to cut back on HIV testing.
“Until 2009, Oglethorpe offered free anonymous HIV testing in conjunction with AID Atlanta,” spokesperson Susan Soper said. “Due to the budget cuts, we currently direct interested students to their facilities in town for $10.”
Budget cuts could also hamper efforts to extend domestic partnership benefits to state college staff and faculty.
Four Georgia public colleges — UGA, the Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Tech and the University of West Georgia — have officially petitioned the Board of Regents to allow them to offer domestic partnership benefits. The Board of Regents has yet to respond to any of the requests. Several of the schools do offer “soft benefits” for same-sex couples, such as gym memberships.
Research from other states suggest the cost of the benefits is negligible. A report filed by a policy analyst for the University System of Wisconsin examined Big-10 Conference schools and documented that only .14 to .8 percent of the total employee population take domestic partnership coverage, and the costs are the same as adding a spouse.
8. Outsports.com, August 14, 2009
Poll: Many college players have gay teammates
By Jim Buzinski
In the upcoming college football issue for ESPN the Magazine, there is a poll of 85 current players. Among the tidbits was this:
“Do you have any gay teammates?
Almost half of those surveyed (49.4%, to be exact) said yes, they believe they have at least one gay teammate. In the Pac-10, 70% of those surveyed said yes.”
Half is a big number and 70% is pretty stunning given how often we’re told that being gay in a sport like football is impossible. What the poll question does not answer, though, is whether those surveyed personally know a gay teammate or whether there are players on their team they suspect are gay. It also does not answer whether these respondents perceive having a gay teammate as a positive or negative thing. Finally, 85 is a small sample and we don’t know if it was weighted to be representative.
We profiled anonymously a college football kicker who is known as gay by his team. He has had nothing but support. Times are changing, especially for young people who are growing up either knowing gay people or seeing them constantly in the media. When we’ll get a publicly gay player, though, is still anyone’s guess.
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