Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.08.30
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
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1. Inside Higher Ed - Gay Football Players Exist
2. Windy City Times - Gay man battles N.Y. university over employment
3. The Daily Collegian (Penn State University) - Same-sex couples, clergy welcomed by Lutherans
4. The Collegian (University of Richmond) - Student gay pride group protests on-campus conference
5. The Chronicle of Higher Education - Calvin College Professors Troubled by Trustee Edict Against Gay Advocacy
6. The Red and Black (University of Georgia) - Students lock lips in protest: Event promotes gay acceptance
7. The Daily Collegian (Penn State University) - Assistant professor's discrimination case reaches settlement
1. Inside Higher Ed, August 24, 2009
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
Gay Football Players Exist
While more college athletes who are gay have come out in recent years, they have not included big-time football players. But a survey of 85 football players in ESPN magazine found that just under half know a gay teammate, and that the number increases to 70 percent in the Pacific-10 conference.
2. Windy City Times, August 26, 2009
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113
Gay man battles N.Y. university over employment
By Chasse Rehwickel
In 1835, American Presbyterian missionaries established a small secondary school for women in Beirut, Lebanon.
The school was not only the first women's secondary school in Lebanon; it was the first institution of its kind in the entire Turkish Empire.
The school's unique progressiveness, however, made it a visible target for discrimination in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There were times when the school was even forced to close its doors during periods of heavy unrest.
Undeterred, the small secondary school for women eventually became a two-year junior college and then a full fledged university. Today the school, which after multiple name changes is now the Lebanese American University, offers a wide range of studies for students who attend one of its three campuses, two of which are located in Lebanon and one in New York City.
Similarly, New York-based writer Bob Johnson has endured his fair share of hardships. As a young boy growing up in Warwick, R.I., Johnson was terrified of going to junior high school.
Johnson, who stated that while at middle school he was still unsure of his sexuality, explained that almost every day he was bullied with slurs such as "homo" and "faggot."
The young Johnson would avoid taking the bus into school and found every reason he could to stay after classes had ended so that he could take the less popular late bus home.
However, Johnson said that those troublesome years in Warwick " [ g ] ot me ready me for life in the real world" and that his life turned around as he got into high school, then college and finally the professional world.
Those hard junior high years even, Johnson stated, made him strong enough to deal with brain surgery, living in New York during 9/11 and being diagnosed with colon cancer.
Both archetypes for strength in the face of adversity, the Lebanese American University and Bob Johnson crossed paths in the summer of 2007 when Johnson was offered the position of a marketing and communications manager for the Lebanese American University ( LAU ) , New York City campus.
In April 2008, after a visit from the LAU's president, Joseph Jabbra, Johnson's supervisor presented him with a 45-day performance improvement plan that outlined deficiencies in his work performance. He was instructed to improve these problems within the presented 45-day period or face termination.
Forty-five days later, on June 11, 2008, Johnson was fired.
To Johnson, his sudden termination did not make sense. He felt he had performed all the duties that the job had required, including expanding the school's Web site and getting more media placements in North America than LAU had ever been able to achieve.
Then, five months later, while talking with a former co-worker Johnson discovered the root of his termination. LAU had not fired Johnson because of his performance, stated the co-worker—he had been forced out because he was gay.
"Unfortunately, we have found that discrimination based on sexual orientation still happens on a regular basis in the workplace," said Daryl Herrschaft, the director of the Human Rights Campaign's Workplace Project. "In recent reports we have found that in spite of the progress made by many corporations, a majority of LGBT workers—51 percent, in fact—still are afraid to reveal their sexual orientation."
The Workplace Project is an advocacy campaign that promotes inclusive polices for LGBT individuals in the workplace and, as the project's director, Herrschaft has seen both the great strides and heartbreaking stories for gays in the working world.
The project has focused hard on educating corporations on the need to end discrimination and even grades companies on their tolerance in a yearly list called the Corporate Equality Index.
In spite of the effort, however, Herrschaft still sees a lot of work left to be done.
"I'm absolutely seeing a positive progression for rights within the workplace," Herrschaft stated. "In 2002, we had 13 companies with a perfect 100 score on the corporate equality index, now there are 260 even though it has gotten harder to score 100 on the index. That being said, however, we hear stories everyday of people who have lost their jobs or are very close to losing their jobs because of their sexual orientation."
Unlike federal statutes that protect against discrimination based on race or gender, there is no current federal law that prohibits a company from firing an employee based on their sexual orientation in the United States. Presently, only 21 states have some form of law that protects gays and lesbians in the workplace and just 12 have passed regulations against discrimination based on gender identity.
New York law, however, does prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and Johnson has moved to collect damages from LAU on the basis of these New York State and City human-rights laws.
Although still in its infant stages, Johnson and his representation, hope that this case will bring attention to the plight of many LGBT individuals within the workplace.
"There have been many steps forward in terms of tolerance, but I think this story shows that discrimination based on sexual orientation is very real. I mean if it can happen to Bob Johnson, a marketing manager working in New York City, it can happen to anyone," stated David Zatuchni, Johnson's legal representation. "It is a case that is definitely more than just a case about individual circumstances. We hope that this case raises issues about cross-cultural interactions, where an institution operating from abroad that might have different views on sexuality must conduct itself while inside the United States of America."
LAU's Web site states that it values the ideas of its Presbyterian founders who believed to "always seek the truth, respect human dignity, promote gender equality, and be inclusive"—values that were, in part, forged from those early decades of constant hardship.
However, Zatuchni believes LAU has fallen short on its principles, pointing to the lack of a student LGBT organization, any LGBT-related course material and, any visible LGBT faculty or staff. He hopes the case will help to end discrimination in at least this one workplace.
When reached for comment, LAU officials refused to discuss their polices toward LGBT individuals or the court case involving Johnson.
3. The Daily Collegian (Penn State University), August 26, 2009
123 S. Burrowes St., University Park, PA
Same-sex couples, clergy welcomed by Lutherans
By Ashley Gold
Matthew Wilson grew up in a Southern Baptist community, attending church every Sunday. When he came out as a gay man, he brought his partner with him to church, despite judgement from fellow church members.
"There have always been gay people worshipping," said Wilson, who graduated from South Carolina's Clemson University in May and recently began his first year as a Penn State graduate student. "But now, the veil has been removed."
That veil was recently lifted after a vote held by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). On Friday, the organization held its annual assembly meeting and discussed two major issues: the acknowledgment of same-sex monogamous partnerships and the allowance of gay clergymen and women to have open, monogamous sexual relationships. Both measures were narrowly approved.
" 'OK, we get it, you're having sex,' they're saying," said Wilson, now a Lutheran Christian. "The Lutheran Church is finally acknowledging what's happening in our generation. It should be applauded. A gay person can now walk into a Lutheran church and not be judged."
Lauren Smith, student president of the Lutheran Student Community, said each individual Lutheran church can decide whether or not to adapt these new policies. She said these decisions have been "a long time coming."
Smith (senior-advertising) described the Lutheran sect of Christianity as "more liberal, trying to be good Christians and accepting of other people as a hospitable group."
Her group hasn't met yet to discuss the recent vote, but Smith said the general reaction from students involved in the group has been positive.
"From what I've seen so far, from a student perspective, most students seem to be positive towards this change," she said. "Younger people are more accepting."
But Paull Spring, the former local pastor of State College's Grace Lutheran Church, 205 South Garner St., is much less enthused about the policy switch.
He said the decisions made Friday were "not in accordance with the Holy Scripture and not in accord with the census of faith of the Christian church."
Spring said the decisions clashed with 2,000 years of Christian history, and he disagrees with the opinions of the student ministry on campus.
"They are not in the Orthodox framework of the Lutheran church," he said.
Spring, who was present at the ECLA's Friday assembly meeting, said the vote to approve acknowledgment of same-sex partnerships was carried by one vote. However, a majority vote -- 60 to 40 percent -- carried the decision to allow ordained gay ministers to have monogamous relationships.
Spring thinks this decision will cost the Lutheran church many of its members and much of its relationship with other churches, especially the Roman Catholics.
"I cannot conceive that they will rescind the action," Spring said. "This is a tragedy of the church, in my opinion."
But Wilson thinks the symbolism of these decisions is very important. The basis of Lutheran Christianity is not based on church hierarchy, but on the decisions of the community, he said.
"It's about churches getting over the ignorance that has persisted with organized religion," he said. "Churches try to get by acting like things don't happen, and we're not going to play that game anymore."
4. The Collegian (University of Richmond), August 27, 2009
North Court Basement, 40 Westhampton Way, University of Richmond, VA 23173
Student gay pride group protests on-campus conference
By Avril Lighty
The parking lot across from the Jepson Alumni Center was speckled with gay pride and anti-prejudice paraphernalia on Aug. 25, as the Student Alliance for Sexual Diversity led two protests opposing The Family Foundation of Virginia’s use of university facilities.
The Family Foundation’s mission is to strengthen the family through accurate research and education, prompting civic activism and affecting public policy outcomes. The foundation’s policy stance is based on the principles of traditional marriage, the right to life, religious liberty and limited government involvement in citizens’ lives.
The Foundation was using the alumni center for a board of directors retreat.
Members of the SASD said that the foundation’s presence on campus had countered The Richmond Promise of an authentic culture of inclusivity, especially because of its stance against gay marriage. Thad Williamson, assistant professor of leadership studies, said he had become an ally of the GLBTQ community through his best friends.
“It’s important that the university community and the city and the state know that there is a gay and lesbian community here,” Williamson said. “They’re real people who have families, valued partnerships and children, and it’s a form of love just as wonderful as any other.”
Williamson also said he wished the members of the foundation had come out to talk to the protesters, but Victoria Cobb, president of the Foundation and a Westhampton College ’00 alumna, said: “We were glad to have them. We welcome anyone’s free expression on important issues.”
Members of the SASD said they would like the administration to establish a review process of groups using campus facilities to ensure that they hold common values to those Richmond has promised to uphold.
“Those who expect service from our employees should not discriminate on any of the bases that the university bans discrimination,” philosophy professor Ladelle McWhorter said.
“A true college university that is trying to teach people how to think, not what to think, and is trying to foster inclusiveness, ought to allow all members of the community, regardless of their opinions, to use their facilities,” Cobb said.
She said that it had been a pleasure to use the campus for all that it offers, and that the Foundation plans to be back.
About 30 students, faculty and staff attended the protests held at 7:30 a.m. and noon on Tuesday. Jon Henry, president of the SASD, was pleased with the turnout.
“It was pretty good to get students up and out of their dorms before 7 a.m.,” he said. “It was heartening to know students on campus actually care.”
The protesters held signs across the street from the entrance to the Jepson Alumni Center. The signs read proclamations such as: “The Richmond Promise is hate free,” “I am not a second class citizen” and “Tolerance is the best foundation.”
SASD plans to increase its visibility on campus with continued chalking in the forum as well as speaker series, film screenings and theatrical presentations, including a production of Queer Monologues during the fall semester, Henry said. He encouraged monologue submissions to SASDUR@gmail.com.
Contact staff writer Avril Lighty at firstname.lastname@example.org
5. The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 28, 2009
1255 Twenty-Third St, N.W.Washington, D.C. 20037
Calvin College Professors Troubled by Trustee Edict Against Gay Advocacy
Many faculty members at Calvin College are raising concerns about academic freedom and shared governance at their institution after its Board of Trustees last week issued a memo saying it was unacceptable for faculty and staff to advocate homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the Grand Rapids Press reports. About 130 of the institution's 300 faculty members met this week to discuss the memo, with some expressing concern about academic freedom and how it the policy from the top down with little faculty input. The institution is affiliated with tthe Christian Reformed Church, which regards homosexual acts as sinful.
6. The Red and Black (University of Georgia), August
540 Baxter Street, Athens GA, 30605
Students lock lips in protest: Event promotes gay acceptance
By Tiffany Stevens
A crowd of 20 to 30 people gathered outside the Arch on Saturday afternoon. Participants in purple shirts reading "Kiss at 2 under the Arch" attempted to recruit shoppers and passersby.
When the clock reached the appropriate time, students, friends, associates and couples hugged and kissed to show solidarity for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) couples.
They had gathered for "The Great National Kiss-In," a demonstration bloggers David Badash and David Mailloux created to show that "any person anywhere should be able to kiss whomever they want, whenever they want," according to an advertisement for the event.
During the past year, same-sex couples were detained in El Paso, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah. The couple in El Paso was arrested based on a seldom-enforced law against homosexual behavior. The arrest in Utah occurred in front of a Mormon church when a kissing couple refused to leave at a security guard's request, for what he called "inappropriate behavior."
Badash and Mailloux sent out an Internet call for local citizens across the U.S. to gather in public areas with partners, friends, families and acquaintances. At 2 p.m. participants kissed or hugged to show they believed public displays of affection should not be a violation of the law.
"For anybody who read those stories, it's easy to see why we need to do that," said Josh Barnett, creator and editor of GayInAthens.com.
"Athens is a pretty liberal place," he said. "Most of my gay friends are out and they're fine with going out in Athens and being out, but there are still plenty of people that are afraid to come out of the closet and go out in public, and we need to show that two men or two women kissing in public is OK and acceptable and becoming pretty normal."
Deb Chasteen, administrative associate in the University's anthropology department, decided to host a "Kiss-In" in Athens because she saw the event "as an affirmation of a right we all share, not as a protest."
"I've always wanted everyone to experience the warmth and love that I've felt coming from passersby as I prepared for my wedding, as I ran up and kissed my husband at an airport, [and when] we hold hands in the park," Chasteen said. "Love is too precious not to celebrate wherever it's found," she said. "Yet some people are met with hatred, disgust or danger just for sharing joy."
Corey Johnson, associate professor of counseling and human development services, said he attended because he thought it was important to be visible as a gay faculty member.
"One way we can do that is by gathering at the Arch and showing there are gay and lesbian faculty members at the University and to support our gay and lesbian students."
Some participants brought guests to aid the event. Jessie Fly, a graduate student working toward her doctorate in anthropology, brought family members who were visiting in Athens.
"I like to support events such as this one and my sisters are in town. What better time to come?" Fly said.
Adrian Childs, associate professor of music theory and composition, said he participated because it was important to "live the world you wanted."
"The only way we get to live in a world where all couples get to show affection is to live in a world where all couples show appropriate affection," he said.
7. The Daily Collegian (Penn State University), August 25, 2009
123 S. Burrowes St., University Park, PA
Assistant professor's discrimination case reaches settlement
By Edgar Ramirez
Officials say Penn State has reached an out-of-court settlement with Constance Matthews, a former assistant professor in the Counselor Education Program who accused the university of discriminatory practices.
Matthews filed a federal lawsuit against Penn State and two school officials Jan. 21, 2007, stating in court documents that she did not receive tenure or a promotion because she is openly gay and that the university was in breach of contract.
In her complaint, Matthews said the College of Education had a history of failing to promote or grant tenure to women.
In response, the university denied all claims, according to court documents.
When reached by phone Monday, Matthews referred all questions to attorney Sharon Lopez. Lopez declined to comment on the case and would not discuss the terms of the settlement.
Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers confirmed there had been a settlement in the case but said the matter is confidential.
"Both parties are not releasing any information related to the settlement," she said.
Matthews had been employed by the university from 1998 to 2005.
In addition to the university, Matthews also sued College of Education Dean David Monk and College of Education professor Jerry Trusty, who served on the Promotion and Tenure Committee.
According to her complaint, Matthews applied for a promotion and tenure in 2004, at which time her application was reviewed by Monk, Trusty and other members of the College of Education's Promotion and Tenure Committee.
According to court records, Monk met with Matthews in March 2005 and advised her that her application had been denied because of concerns with her research, which focused on gender topics and gay, lesbian and bisexual issues.
In her complaint, Matthews cited a number of accomplishments she believed should have granted her tenure, including several articles she had written in scholarly journals and a list of diversity groups she represented while at Penn State.
As a result of being denied tenure, Matthew became ineligible for a promotion, resulting in her decision to leave the university at the end of the 2005-06 academic year when her contract expired, according to her complaint.
Prior to the settlement, Matthews had sought compensatory damages from the university for emotional damage and money lost as a result of being denied tenure and promotion.
She also alleged the university's actions had represented a breach of contract.
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