Saturday, November 21, 2009

QNOC Digest 2009.10.25

Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.10.25

Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals.

Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at

Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to

1. The Daily Targum (Rutgers U) - Second face-off sparks education, gay marriage disputes
2. Inside Higher Ed - What the Morehouse Man Wears
3. Inside Higher Ed - More Than Appearances
4. The Tufts Daily - Despite findings, LGBT students feel accepted
5. Ball State University Daily News - Spectrum, Multicultural Center host discussion about gay marriage
6. Hofstra Chronicle - University students and others march on Washington for equality
7. The Quad (West Chester University) - GLBT history month relates to today's students
8. The New York Times - Ruling Eases Transgender Name-Change Process
9. The Keystone Online (Kutztown University) - KU students join march for gay rights
10. The Birmingham News - UAB offers health coverage to same-sex partners
11. The Daily Orange - Housing pilot program to open gender-neutral housing
12. Flat Hat News (The College of William and Mary) - Transgender homecoming queen a first for College
13. Daily Queers News - Open Letter to Students
14. Vallejo Times Herald - Systematic problems hit at-risk students
15. Emory Wheel - Our Opinion: Keeping LGBT Issues in Focus
16. Emory Wheel - LGBT Changes Emory, Work Still Ahead
17. Harvard Law School - Panelists assess the fall-out of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’
18. The Voyager - Program certifies 45 new allies
19. Loyola Phoenix - A home for all faiths, a home for all people
20. Daily Eastern News - Resource center makes headway
21. Los Angeles Loyolan - No more victimizing
22. The Daily Athenaeum - ‘It’s not that scary’: Presentation uses animated cartoon ‘South Park’ to raise awareness for gay, bi, lesbian, transgender
23. Eagle Eye (Lock Haven University) - Gay Straight Alliance raises awareness

1. The Daily Targum, October 18, 2009
126 College Ave. Suite 431, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Second face-off sparks education, gay marriage disputes
By Mary Diduch

At the second New Jersey gubernatorial debate, the three candidates may all have agreed that Bruce Springsteen is their favorite N.J. rocker and that the New York Giants — which they agreed should be from the state — are better than the Philadelphia Eagles.
But the three expressed differences on the revitalization of the Meadowlands Sports Complex, gay marriage and higher education at the debate on Friday at William Patterson University in Wayne, N.J.
Democratic candidate Gov. Jon S. Corzine relayed his past work to make higher education more affordable in the state.
“We have increased tuition aid grants to our students by about $100 million over the last three and a half years,” Corzine said.
This has helped students pay for the increasing tuition, he said.
The NJ STARS program, which pays for high-achieving students in the community to transfer to a public state college of their choice after two years, has expanded from 900 to 4,600 students, he said. His administration has also capped public university tuition increases at 3 percent — one of the lowest in the nation.
The government must help students pay for tuition, but also be aware of the constraints the state faces on its budget, he said.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie said the state throughout the past decade has not helped high education institutions.
The grants do not help alleviate the high tuition and fees students face, making education a top economic issue for this election, he said.
It is important to keep students in the state because then they are more likely to raise a family and work here when they graduate, Christie said. This fall, 33,000 New Jersey students left the state to go to college elsewhere and it tears families apart.
“Higher education isn’t just an important economic issue, it’s an important family issue as well,” Christie said.
Independent candidate Chris Daggett said the state is the worst in the nation in terms of investing in higher education, as New Jersey has disinvested throughout the past decade.
“It’s shameful. We are putting ourselves in the positions where our best students — some of them are staying here and it’s great— are going out of state,” Daggett said.
While tuition aid grants help alleviate costs for students, it does not solve the deficits many colleges face, he said.
“The state colleges have to borrow money, and they now collectively have something like $3.8 billion in debt to build dorms and classroom space on their own because they’re not getting the proper assistance from the state,” Daggett said.
Grants do not help build facilities, encourage research and bring more top professors to the state’s universities, which is what they need, he said.
The three candidates also differed with the possibility of signing a gay marriage law.
Corzine and Daggett said they would sign one, citing the equality of all men and women as their reason.
“I’ve made it very clear. I would sign a marriage-equality law … all men and women are created equal and should be treated equal under the law,” Corzine said.
But Christie would not.
“I believe marriage should remain between one man and one woman,” Christie said. “It’s a deeply held belief that I have.”
He does support civil unions, saying they provide the same contractual rights for gay couples as marriage does.
Christie said if the public wants gay marriage, he would put the issue up to a vote and let the majority decide.
But the constitution protects the equal rights of all people, and these rights need to be protected regardless of what a majority says, Corzine said.
A third issue the candidates differed was their vision for the Meadowlands Sports Complex, including the unfinished five-story Xanadu entertainment and retail center — to be the largest in the U.S. — and allowing gambling casinos there.
Christie said Xanadu is a disaster.
“It’s not only a complete disaster financially, it hasn’t opened on time and there is no realistic timetable when it will open on time, [but] it’s the darn ugliest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said.
The Xanadu issue needs to be investigated because a lot of taxpayer dollars have been used to construct it, Christie said.
In terms of casino gambling in the Meadowlands, Christie said he would not expand it there.
“I would not look to expand casino gambling anywhere else in the state of New Jersey until we fix Atlantic City and return it to profitability,” he said.
Daggett agreed Xanadu needs to be investigated but said no matter what it must be opened.
“Xanadu may be the ugliest thing and I never would have built it, but we better figure how to open it because if we don’t, we’ve got a big white elephant that’s going to really harm us,” Daggett said.
Xanadu needs to be privatized and given a timeframe for completion, he said.
Daggett also agreed that casinos should not be built there, but slot machines should be allowed at the racetracks.
“We need to make sure that in the end that whole problem is thought through carefully with all aspects of the meadowlands gambling and casinos,” he said.
Corzine disagreed with Daggett and Christie, saying the new Giants/Jets stadium is a “centerpiece of renewal” for the region.
“I think the Meadowlands is going to be a tremendous success,” he said.
Corzine admitted that Xanadu needs to be reexamined, but said it has to be completed.
The issue for its delay is the financial environment, he said. Once it improves, Xanadu can open.
He concluded by saying there would be no gambling in the Meadowlands because he wants to protect the franchise and workers in Atlantic City.

2. Inside Higher Ed, October 19, 2009
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
What the Morehouse Man Wears
By Scott Jaschik

Since he was named as president of Morehouse College in 2007, Robert M. Franklin has stressed the importance of defining education broadly, well beyond courses. He has been talking about the social and ethical obligations of those who are studying at the elite historically black college. Of late he has been calling for students to have "five wells" -- to be "well read, well spoken, well traveled, well dressed and well balanced.”

Last week, the idea of being "well dressed" became much more specific, with the start of an "appropriate attire policy," under which Morehouse is joining a small group of colleges that have in recent years adopted dress codes. Morehouse's policy is generally being well received by students -- and college officials stress that 90-plus percent of students are already in compliance. But the policy is getting some criticism from gay students over the idea of regulating dress, and specifically for banning the wearing of women's attire.

Here are some of the policy's features:

-Caps, do-rags and hoods are banned in classrooms, the cafeteria and other indoor venues. Do-rags may not be worn outside of the residence halls.
-Sunglasses may not be worn in class or at formal programs.
-Jeans may not be worn at major programs such as convocation, commencement or Founder's Day.
-Clothing with "derogatory, offensive and/or lewd messages either in words or pictures" may not be worn.
-"Sagging," defined as "the wearing of one’s pants or shorts low enough to reveal undergarments or secondary layers of clothing," is banned.
-Pajamas are banned in public areas.
-Wearing of "clothing associated with women’s garb (for example, dresses, tunics, purses, handbags, pumps, wigs, make-up, etc.)" is banned. (Morehouse educates only male students.)

William Bynum, vice president for student services at Morehouse, said that the clothing rules are part of a broader agenda to develop students' minds and "social consciences." He said that Franklin, the president, has pushed President Obama's idea that there should be "no excuses" for black men in an era when one of their own has been elected president of the United States.

Bynum said that while the clothing rules are capturing attention, it is important to view those rules as part of a broad set of values being promoted. For instance, on Saturday, 200 students spent the morning going door-to-door in area neighborhoods, briefing residents on tutoring and mentoring programs run by students, and providing information about nutrition, energy efficiency and job training.

Generally, he said, students have responded well to the clothing rules. And while there are plenty of examples of student attire in the past that would have violated the rules, most students won't have to change the way they dress. An unscientific review of Morehouse students' Facebook pages finds many posing in ties, not the drinking shots that are common at some institutions.

Cameron Thomas-Shah, co-chief of staff of the Student Government Association, said that he backs the new policy, and sees it as consistent with the college's values. "It's about the ideals of the school. If you come to Morehouse college, and want to become a Morehouse man, you should know these things. You should know you don't wear do-rags. You should know that you don't wear caps inside. You shouldn't deviate from the norms of what a man wears."

Many of the styles banned at Morehouse are popular at other colleges, and Thomas-Shah said that doesn't create any doubts in his mind about Morehouse's approach. "On other college campuses, this is common. Other campuses are common, but Morehouse isn't common. It's an institution founded on the principles of producing black male leaders. We have a legacy to protect."

The only vocal opposition to the new rules has come from some gay students on campus. Kevin Webb, co-president of Safe Space @ Morehouse, a gay-straight student alliance, said that under Franklin's leadership, the college has been more committed to equity for gay students than ever before, and that "as an openly gay student, I feel privileged to have matriculated now."

Webb said that gay students are divided about the dress code. But although he will not have to change his style, he said he was bothered by the new rules.

For many gay students, fashion is an important part of self-definition, he said. "Once you try to stop people's expression, everything that is unique about people is going to start to crumble, and you will produce robots, and we wouldn't want that, would we?"

A few gay Morehouse students do dress in women's clothing sometimes, and Webb said that should be allowed. While all Morehouse students are covered by the new clothing policy, Webb said he was bothered that a specific rule singled out a style popular only with some gay students. "I think this borders on discrimination," he said. "While someone can say that it applies the heteronormativity of other students in terms of do-rags and sagging of pants, I can also say that there are gay people who sag their pants and wear their do-rags, but you don't find people here who identify themselves as straight walking around in feminine garb."

If male students wear feminine clothing, he asked, "what impact does it have on how intelligent they are, their grade point average and how much community service they do?"

He also questioned the idea that someone who wears more formal clothing is necessarily a better person. "We are focusing too much on the exterior," he said. "If you put a clown in a suit, he's still a clown."

Bynum, the Morehouse vice president, said that he met with Safe Space before the policy went into effect, and he noted that many of the students there supported the change. He said that the policy isn't about gay students, but about standards for all students. "Morehouse is completely supportive of our gay students. This isn't about them, but about all students."

Two presidents of other institutions that have instituted dress codes in recent years say that they are glad they did so. (Both are coeducational and didn't ban women's clothing, but otherwise have policies similar to the one instituted at Morehouse.)

Richard Holland, president of the University of West Alabama, instituted the rules there in 2007, after he noticed some freshmen wearing caps and cut-off shorts to a performance by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. He said he's pleased with the results, but added that regular attention is needed. "We have noticed that each fall semester we must remind the university community of the dress code," he said. "This is especially true with beginning freshmen, new transfer students and new faculty and staff."

He said that officials work with a variety of student groups to help in the "selling of the code" to other students.

Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College, which also adopted clothing rules in 2007, said that rules on clothing "changed the tenor of the campus." He noted that the college started stocking a closet with acceptable clothing, so that any students who need to borrow items may do so.

As president of another historically black college, Sorrell said he's been watching the discussions at Morehouse with interest and said he was "thrilled" to see that college adopt the rules. "I can only hope that more schools recognize the need for leadership in this area," he said.

3. Inside Higher Ed, October 22, 2009
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
More Than Appearances
By Marybeth Gasman

This past week, Morehouse College, a historically black, all-male college, instituted a dress code, which details what students should wear to various college functions and activities and what they should not. The items that are not allowed include: caps, do-rags, and hoods in the classrooms, cafeteria and indoors; sun glasses and grillz; clothing with lewd comments; sagging pants and pajamas in public; and women’s clothing and accessories.

Morehouse students have had mixed reactions to the new policies. Some students feel that these rules hinder their freedom of speech and expression – as adults, they should be able to wear what they want when they want. Other students think the policy is long overdue. When you are admitted to Morehouse, they feel, you become a Morehouse man and follow in a long tradition of great African American men such as civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Julian Bond or national health leaders Louis W. Sullivan and David Satcher. This kind of legacy requires dressing and carrying oneself in a professional way.

Last year, my colleague Shaun Harper and I wrote an article published in the Journal of Negro Education entitled “The Consequences of Conservatism at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.” Ironically, much of the article focused on campus dress codes at black colleges. As part of our research, we reviewed the dress codes at all of the black colleges in the United States. We found similar dress codes to the one instituted at Morehouse and we called these codes into question as scholars typically do. We wondered what kind of impact conservative dress codes would have on the individual autonomy of students and argued that these often puritanical codes are part of a long history of black colleges compensating for negative views by white society of black people.

However, as I think about the new Morehouse dress code, I am reminded that much of America (read: white America) does not see African Americans as individuals. If a young white male dresses in pajamas or saggy pants, and a lewd t-shirt on a predominantly white campus, he is seen neither as a representative of his race nor his campus. And let’s be honest, anyone who visits campuses these days, including some of the most prestigious in the country, will see many white male students displaying more of their underwear than most of us want to see, wearing caps inside, and displaying crude T-shirts. But when a young black male wears saggy pants, pajamas, or a do-rag, many Americans see him as a representative of all black America (and in this case, Morehouse College). The stakes are higher for black men because of American racism. The stakes are higher for Morehouse College as well.

There are those who argue that when one gains admission to a college, one signs up for the rules of that college – to be a Morehouse man in this case. There are others who claim that more learning takes place when we take decisions about clothing and fashion out of students’ hands. For me, the most convincing argument is made by those who want to change the nation’s perceptions of young black men and it seems that Morehouse College is making this argument. The institution’s president wants the students to dress like professional men because he wants them to become professional men.

When I first saw the dress code, I immediately forwarded it to a good friend who graduated from Morehouse about 20 years ago. He was happy to see the code and responded that with regard to Morehouse, “Many are called but few are chosen” – reminding me that Morehouse was a standard setter, not a trend follower.

Yet, it does seem like there could be a middle ground. Perhaps when attending school functions and classes, these young men could be expected to dress professionally but in their personal time, they could be free to express their individuality – seems like that is what most adults do once they are in the “real world.” But then again, the stakes are higher for the young, black men at Morehouse, aren’t they?

One of the most controversial aspects of the dress code is the banning of women’s clothing and garb. Even though the Morehouse administration consulted the college’s gay students group and the majority of these students voted in favor of the rules, including the ban on women’s garb, this rule may give some pause. I am not an expert on this topic, but I do wonder what will happen if a Morehouse man wants to become a Morehouse woman? What happens to the transgender Morehouse man? Does he go to another college or stay at Morehouse? I don’t have the answer, but I think the Morehouse dress code raises some important questions about race, sexuality, and masculinity that we in higher education should tackle head on and hesitate to avoid. As my friend said, Morehouse College is a standard setter and has the opportunity to be out in front on discussing these issues.

By raising issues about cross-dressing and dress and appearance generally, Morehouse is forcing discussions and more thought about the way society views black men. And Morehouse is making sure that its black men – who already defy stereotypes with their ambition and intelligence – will do so with their attire as well.

Marybeth Gasman is associate professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania. A historian of higher education, her books include Envisioning Black Colleges: A History of the United Negro College Fund(Johns Hopkins University Press). She is also the co-editor of Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Triumphs, Troubles, and Taboos (Palgrave).

4. The Tufts Daily, October 9, 2009
Curtis Hall, Tufts University, 474 Boston Ave., Medford, MA, 02155
Despite findings, LGBT students feel accepted
By Erin Brau O’Shea

Be it the gay pride flag hanging from the Bolles House on College Avenue or the upcoming National Coming Out Day events, there is no question that the Tufts gay community plays a very visible and involved role on campus.
That is why some students were surprised when Tufts didn’t make the Princeton Review’s list of Top 20 Gay Accepting campuses. However, Tom Bourdon, the director of the LGBT center, explained that these results haven’t discouraged the Tufts gay community.
“The methodology used is completely inconclusive when it comes to creating a top 20 list,” Bourdon said in an e-mail to the Daily.
The Princeton Review compiled their list based on answers to only one question from 122,000 students at 371 colleges. Students were asked to respond “yes” or “no” to the statement “Students, faculty and administrators treat all persons equally regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.”
Bourdon’s main concern about the results of the survey lies in how prospective students will interpret them.
“Teenagers typically don’t stop to ask what measures were used, and who had the opportunity to actually respond to the questionnaire,” he said.
Nevertheless, Bourdon noted that potential students have many other resources at their disposal when trying to determine if a campus is accommodating to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. One such resource is, which uses more than 50 measures, and gives Tufts 4.5 out of 5 stars. Another is The Advocate’s “Guide for LGBT Students,” in which Tufts ranks among the Top 20 “Gay Point Average” scores.
“I don’t think it’ll knock us down, but to have other reports that put Tufts on top is good for us,” Alex, a senior involved with the LGBT community and activities, said. Alex did not give her last name because she wanted her sexuality to remain private.
More important than lists, however, are actual Tufts students’ experiences.
“I feel both safe and accepted here at Tufts,” Kim, a senior, said about her experience on campus. Kim asked to be quoted anonymously out of concern for the privacy of her sexual identity. “I personally have never come across anyone who has an issue with my sexuality or who I am dating here at Tufts and I have also found that professors and staff on the whole are also very accepting.”
Alex added that despite a few discrimination incidents off campus, her experience has been positive.
Bourdon reported an increase in students visiting the Tufts LGBT Center “just to hang out,” noting that it has always been one of his main goals “for the Center to feel like a space that students consider their second home.”
While the LGBT Center is a useful resource for many students, Kim feels many students do not feel the need to take advantage of it.
“A lot of gay people on campus do not even feel the need to go to these resources because they are so well accepted by their Tufts community as a whole,” she said.
While Tufts has achieved much in the way of creating a welcoming environment for LGBT students, Alex feels there is still work to be done.
“There’s a need for people to be more active in the community and not to be complacent,” she said, adding that studying in a liberal state like Massachusetts may lead to false assumptions that all states are equally as accepting.
“[If more people] were more active and continued to fight it may improve things even further,” she said.
Bourdon expressed similar opinions, and he noted that one of the LGBT Center’s main goals is to encourage all people, not just gay students, to get involved in order to achieve a more universal understanding of LGBT issues.
Events such as “Guess the Straight Person”and LGBT training with different departments are ways in which Bourdon hopes to bring community members together.
Cindy Stewart, co-chair of the LGBT Faculty/Staff Caucus, explained that the Center is also working on an initiative to bridge the gap between LGBT students and faculty. This program focuses on “providing support and social networking for LGBT staff and faculty as well as creating an awareness that there are gay faculty members,” Stewart said.
Alex expressed excitement about the program. “Having faculty members who identify themselves as queer individuals will be really beneficial, because they’re an additional resource,” she said.
Another way in which the LGBT community is expanding its audience is by offering more courses like Intro to Queer Studies. After an immensely successful spring semester, Professor Jennifer Burtner was asked to offer the course again in the fall due to the high student demand. Whereas the first semester attracted students who were already active in the LGBT and Women’s Centers and had wanted to take the course for a while, this semester has drawn students who are not necessarily familiar with queer theory.
Burtner, along with other faculty members, is currently in the beginning stages of expanding Tufts’ queer studies department and course offerings in order to meet the needs and requests of students.
Burtner explained that interest in LGBT issues is no longer limited to queer individuals. “[It is] not just about an identity; it’s a way of looking at the world, human rights and public service, understanding who you are and how you relate to people in larger society,” she said.

5. Ball State University Daily News, October 22, 2009
Spectrum, Multicultural Center host discussion about gay marriage
By Kelly Stacy

It is easier to hate a group than it is to hate a person, Ball State University students said at Spectrum and the Multicultural Center’s “Freedom to Marry” event Wednesday afternoon.
“Everybody is scared of the unknown,” senior music education major David Zimmerman said.
The Multicultural Center and Spectrum, Ball State’s GLBT group, hosted “Freedom to Marry” at the Multicultural Center’s Malcolm X Library. The event started with a film, “In Sickness and In Health,” that chronicled three same-sex couples fighting for the ability to be married.
Zimmerman said the film put a face to the issue.
After the film, Spectrum led a discussion about gay marriage. Spectrum President Daimon Clevenger opened the topic up to about twenty students.
Junior social work major Victoria Patterson said she was unhappy about the stereotypes associated with homosexuals.
“It frustrates me that people peg [homosexuals] as going to hell,” Patterson said.
Patterson was not alone in her frustration; most students said they agreed.
Senior psychology major Jessica Tindal said she thought misunderstandings about the GLBT community was an educational problem. Some of her professors talked negatively about homosexuals.
“How is this a lifestyle choice,” Tindal said, reacting to a statement one of her psychology professors said.
Students discussed how it is not only the title of being married that is important, but also the legal benefits that come with being married. Some of these benefits include tax incentives, receiving a spouse’s military benefits and the ability to visit your spouse in the hospital.
Marilyn Maneely and her partner, Diane Marini, were featured in the film. When Maneely suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a degenerative brain disease, Marini said she was not able to visit her in the hospital and had to fight to get a civil union just to visit Maneely.
Zimmerman said that gays should be able call their unions marriages just like straight couples can.
“It needs to be called marriage,” he said.
Spectrum members said the event was a success and they hope to work with the Multicultural Center again in the future.
“[The event] was really good, I wish there were more people, but I appreciate those who came,” Clevenger said.

6. Hofstra Chronicle, October 18, 2009
University students and others march on Washington for equality
By John Lazarz

Thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and sexually questioning Americans descended upon Washington, D.C. Sunday, October 11 in one of the largest displays of support for gay rights in decades. Joining the marchers were thousands of heterosexual Americans who added their voices and concerns to the fight for marriage rights. Several University students also marched, refusing to let a school night keep them from taking part in history.
“I heard about it right after Prop 8 passed,” said Katie Smith, a freshman majoring in Political Science. Proposition 8, a new amendment to the California constitution, repealed a previous law recognizing gay marriage. Smith and her friends traveled to Washington with Broadway Impact. Of the nine students, seven said they were straight, one identified his or herself as questioning, and one said he or she was bisexual. “I don’t see the harm in people being happy for the rest of their lives,” said Erica Starr, a freshman drama/performance major.
Broadway Impact sponsored 25 charter buses with 1400 riders for the march.“It’s great that a cultural group is striving to make a political impact,” said Lakshman Kalasapudi, a sophomore undergraduate at CUNY Hunter College. The marchers were joined by some high profile stars, including the Tony Award nominated star of “Hair,” Gavin Creel and “Sex in the City” star Cynthia Nixon. Nixon also spoke at the foot of the Capitol building on how,“It is time for us to make the President move beyond words.”
On the state level the fight for marriage rights continues to show only isolated victories for the LGBTQ movement. In New York, the fight for marriage rights is now the focus of a case before the New York State Court of Appeals. In this case, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has brought a suit against Westchester County to prove that it does not have the authority to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The ADF, a conservative legal group based in Arizona, will also be fighting against Governor Paterson’s executive order for state agencies to recognize gay couples legally married out-of-state.
The march was intended to push Democrats into repaying the substantial support that the LGBTQ community gave in the 2008 presidential election. Exit polls showed that 4 percent of voters identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual. Of these voters, 70 percent voted for President Obama.

7. The Quad, October 19, 2009
GLBT history month relates to today's students
By Marcelle Bacon

Among all of the students at West Chester, many are what people would consider "gay," "lesbian," or "transgendered." These students are people with whom we study, participate in class activities with, work alongside, and who are also our friends. Most people do not realize what some of these students have gone through to finally let the truth be known about their sexuality.

Rodney Wilson, a high school teacher, was one of the first people to organize cultural leaders and other teachers to educate the public about events that are embedded in the history of gay, transgendered and lesbian people. His desire for the public to have knowledge of gays, lesbians and transgendered people eventually led to a grassroots campaign, which educated and celebrated the history of homosexuals. Eventually this campaign deemed October as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) History month.

October was chosen to be the month of celebration of the history of gays, lesbians, trans-genders, and bisexual, due to the fact that October contains the two anniversaries of the first ever marches held for gays and lesbians. The first was in Washington during October 1979, which attracted more than 200,000 and the second was also in Washington, in October of 1987, which drew a crowd of more than 500,000 people.

Many different gay/lesbian organizations endorse the month of October as GLBT History month. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force are all different examples of the various organizations that endorse it.

The issues to be exposed during GLBT History month include marriage rights, AIDS, discrimination and domestic partner benefits. However, it is mostly to celebrate the historical figures of GLBT history that have brought the gay and lesbian community more freedom.

A big part of GLBT History month is Coming Out day, which this year took place on Oct. 11. The first Coming Out day was Oct. 11, 1988. This day is to encourage anyone who is bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transgendered to "come out" to co-workers, friends and family. The "coming out" of these individuals helps the GLBT community by letting the world know that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people are everywhere.

To find out more about the month of GLBTs, the GLBT History Month Web site offers an icon of a person for every day of the month of October. These people include gay, lesbian and transgendered icons of the gay community. Each day, the icon contains a biography of the person, free videos, downloadable images, and other resources. The Web site is htt://

Marcelle Bacon is a third-year student majoring in French. She can be reached at

8. The New York Times, October 21, 2009
620 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018
Ruling Eases Transgender Name-Change Process
By Sewell Chan

Should a transgender person seeking judicial permission to change her or his name be required to furnish medical documentation justifying the change?

A panel of justices in State Supreme Court in Manhattan ruled on Wednesday that the answer is no. The ruling was a victory for the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

The fund had brought the case on behalf of a transgender man, Olin Yuri Winn-Ritzenberg, who had petitioned the New York City Civil Court seeking to legally change his name from Leah Uri Winn-Ritzenberg.

In February, a Civil Court judge in Manhattan, Manuel J. Mendez, denied the petition, ruling that Mr. Winn-Ritzenberg first had to provide a letter from a physician, psychologist or social worker documenting the “need” for the name change.

Michael D. Silverman, the executive director of the transgender advocacy group, argued that the state’s common law generally allows an adult “to change his or her name at will, for any reason,” and that transgender petitioners like Mr. Winn-Ritzenberg were being held to a higher standard. About 10 other people, all in Manhattan, have approached the fund with similar reports of having their name-changing petitions denied for the same reason Judge Mendez gave.

Advocates like Mr. Silverman note that not all transgender people take steps like hormone-replacement therapy or sex-reassignment surgery; many take the view that gender is socially constructed, or not even a stable or meaningful category altogether. The fund’s Name Change Project connects transgender people seeking to change their names with lawyers who work for free or for low cost.

Three justices — Douglas E. McKeon, Martin Schoenfeld and Martin Shulman — on Wednesday reversed Judge Mendez’s ruling, voting unanimously to grant Mr. Winn-Ritzenberg’s petition. They found that he had “satisfied the requirements for a name change” under state law, and wrote, “In the absence of fraud, misrepresentation, or interference with the rights of others, the name change petition should have been granted.”

They added, “There is no sound basis in law or policy to engraft upon the statutory provisions an additional requirement that a transgendered-petition present medical substantial for the desired name change.”

“This ruling confirms that each one of us has the right to be known by a name we choose,” Mr. Silverman said. “That choice can’t be second-guessed by doctors, therapists or anyone else just because someone is transgender.”

Mr. Winn-Ritzenberg, who is 26 and pursuing a master’s degree in social work at Hunter College, said in a statement after the ruling was issued: “This ruling means that I can finally change my name and move forward with my life. My gender transition has been a very personal journey, and no one is in a better position to decide that I need to change my name than I am.”

9. The Keystone, October 22, 2009
McFarland Student Union Rm 194, Kutztown, PA 19530
KU students join march for gay rights
By Chrissy Guzzi

“Today, we are standing on the right side of history!” poet and political activist Staceyann Chin shouted into the microphone to more than 200,000 people in front of the Capitol Building on Oct. 11, 2009.

Chin and 32 other prominent speakers passionately gave their speeches after a mass of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and even straight people marched side-by-side down the streets of Washington, D.C., in the 2009 Equality Across America March, the fifth gay rights march in American history.

The march was organized to demand the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which discharges openly gay soldiers from serving the country, as well as the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which limits how state, local, and federal bodies can recognize partnerships and determine the 1,400 rights, benefits, and protections that come with marriage, according to Fox News.

KU’s Allies, the student organization that focuses on GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) issues, invited students all over campus to take part in this historical event. Leaving at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, 26 KU students joined with the thousands of others from across the country, ranging from young children to proud grandparents, all with a simple goal in mind: full equality now.

KU students marched proudly among the thousands of rainbow flags and homemade signs that flooded the streets of Washington as chants such as, “Gay, straight, black, white! Marriage is an equal right!” and “We’re out! We’re proud! We won’t back down!” echoed loudly throughout the nation’s capital.

“I think that the best part of the march was the overwhelming feeling of support and openness,” said freshman Business major Chris Ford.

The march led to the Capitol lawn where speakers like Judy Shepard, whose son Matthew was beaten to death in 1998 because he was gay; Lt. Dan Choi, an Iraq War veteran who is facing discharge after announcing he was gay; and Cleve Jones, the creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and a protégé of the assassinated gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk, demanded that Obama’s administration and Congress work hard on giving equal rights to every American now.

“We’re not settling,” Jones announced in front of the large crowd on the Capitol lawn. “There’s no such thing as a fraction of equality.”

According to CNN, although President Obama gave a powerful speech promising to abolish the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and to urge Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay and lesbian rights group, he failed to offer a timetable or any other specifics as to how and when his promises will be accomplished.

Despite the uncertainty, KU students walked away from this historical march with a sense of hope.

“I felt that [the march] was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I felt proud that I could be myself,” said Kyriakos Illiadis, president of Allies and a sophomore French Education major. “I came back knowing how many of us are really out there. It was refreshing.”

Although the march was considered by most to be a modern-day civil rights movement, some students believe the media is not giving it enough attention.

“The march was all but ignored by most large news organizations,” said Emily Harris, a junior Professional Writing and Spanish major.

She pointed out that the major network news channels had all spent hours covering the Tea Party March on Sept. 12, but that the march had not received the same attention.

“Fox News didn’t even manage to get a camera crew to the scene, and they have a bureau located on North Capitol Street, a mere two blocks away from the Capitol building where the rally took place,” she said. “The only ‘news’ program that seemed to pay any attention to the National Equality March was The Daily Show.”

10. The Birmingham News, October 22, 2009
P.O. Box 2553, Birmingham, AL 35202
UAB offers health coverage to same-sex partners
By Stan Diel

The University of Alabama at Birmingham will extend health insurance benefits to same-sex partners beginning Jan. 1 in a move officials said was designed in part to help it compete with top medical schools when recruiting faculty.
Faculty and staff were able to enroll same-sex partners and their children in medical, dental and vision plans for the first time earlier this month, for coverage beginning in the new year. The move makes UAB the first of the big three universities in Alabama to offer domestic partner benefits to staff and faculty. Neither the University of Alabama nor Auburn University offer such benefits, though UA is studying the issue, spokespersons for those schools said.
Dale Turnbough, a UAB spokeswoman, said the change was made "to create a positive, supportive and diverse work environment," and to help the school compete for new faculty with other National Institute of Health-funded medical schools. Most top medical schools, including Vanderbilt, Duke and Johns Hopkins offer such benefits, she said.
"We believe this change will help us remain competitive," she said.
The expansion of benefits to domestic partners comes several months after the release of a UAB film student's documentary about the impact of the lack of benefits on the university. In the film "One Closed Door After Another" UAB faculty members and employees said the school was losing top talent, or not getting the opportunity to seriously recruit top talent, because competing schools offered same-sex partners health coverage. They also discussed how the lack of coverage for their partners affected their own lives.
Efforts to reach the film's director, Jade Delisle, for comment Wednesday were not successful, but she told the UAB student newspaper Kaleidoscope that UAB was among just a handful of top research universities not offering domestic partner benefits.
"A lot of people left for this reason," she told the newspaper. The short film, which is posted on the Web site YouTube, was not a factor in the university's decision to extend its benefits, Turnbough said.
Growing trend
Gay and lesbian rights advocates said that the number of academic institutions and businesses offering same-sex partner benefits nationally has been slowly increasing for years.
Trevor Thomas, a spokesman for the nonprofit Human Rights Campaign, said a recent survey by the organization found that 74 of the 130 universities on the U.S. News & World Report list of top schools offered the benefits as of Jan. 1 of this year.
The percentage of top colleges and universities offering benefits to domestic partners has declined slightly compared to a survey done in 2007, probably because of a shuffling in the U.S. News rankings, and not because any universities have stopped offering the benefits, he said.
According to the Human Rights Campaign survey, a similar percentage of Fortune 500 businesses offer domestic partner benefits. Typically, larger businesses are more likely to offer such benefits than smaller ones. Eighty-three percent of Fortune 100 companies offer domestic partner benefits, compared to 57 percent of Fortune 500 companies.
Join the conversation by commenting below or e-mail Diel at

11. The Daily Orange, October 20, 2009
744 Ostrom Ave., Syracuse, NY 13210
Housing pilot program to open gender-neutral housing
By Kathleen Ronayne

Fifty years ago, males and females at Syracuse University could not live next door to each other. They could not even live on the same floor.

Today, all but one of SU's dormitories is co-ed. The university plans to further this housing evolution with a pilot program in fall 2010 that will allow students to live with a member of the opposite sex.

During the regular housing process, sophomores, juniors and seniors will now have the option of rooming with the opposite sex. Roommates will only be allowed to live in two-person suites and South Campus apartments, said Terra Peckskamp, interim director of the Office of Residence Life.

Seventy-four suites on Main Campus fit the criteria for gender-neutral housing, said Neil Casey, Student Association chief of staff. Two-person suites, including those in Haven and Booth halls, would be available to those interested, ORL officials said.

Students choosing gender-neutral housing will participate in the normal housing selection process that occurs every spring semester. But they will not be given any more priority for room selection than students who choose traditional rooming, Peckskamp said.

"If it's truly gender-neutral, then your gender selection choice of roommate shouldn't have an impact, one way or the other," she said.

Amit Taneja, associate director of SU's LGBT Resource Center, said that SU officials should not be in charge of choosing students' roommates based on gender.

"Who are we to say you need to live with a male or you need to live with a female?" Taneja said.

In 2006, the university updated its non-discrimination policy to protect students from being discriminated against on the basis of gender identity and expression, Taneja said. These changes were made to be more welcoming to transgender students, faculty and staff. The new housing option will be inclusive as well.

An official policy for the pilot program has not yet been set by the university, but will most likely be released some time in November, Peckskamp said.

The university is gathering feedback from as many interested student groups as possible to try and make the program successful, Taneja said.

"At the end of the day this policy is coming as a result of the request made by students and parents," Taneja said, "and it's just one of many different options that will be available to students to best meet their housing needs."

Others outside of the LGBT community have requested gender-neutral housing, including parents and heterosexual students, SU officials said. ORL and the Parent's Office have seen complaints from parents looking to room their children together, regardless of their gender.

It is widely accepted now for students to have best friends of the opposite gender who they would feel comfortable living with, Taneja said.

"It's a sign of changing times," he said. "We know our students are already doing that when they go off campus. People want to live with their friends, that's what it's about."

The largest concern SU officials have heard in regard to gender-neutral housing has to do with romantic couples living together, Peckskamp said. If a couple were to break up, housing would have to deal with more intense roommate conflicts, she said.

"We don't foresee it as being a lot of romantic couples," she said. "But at the same time we don't want to go in with our blinders on and think it isn't a possibility."

But other institutions that already have a gender-neutral option have said this is not as much of a problem as people may think, Peckscamp and Taneja said.

Another concern is protest from students who may be uncomfortable living near students who choose this option. Residence advisors who will have gender-neutral roommates on his or her floor will be given extra training to deal with non-traditional conflicts that may arise, Peckskamp said.

"We'll make sure that they have support to deal with that roommate conflict as well as any community impact that might occur," she said.

12. The Flat Hat, October 23, 2009
Campus Center, PO Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
Transgender homecoming queen a first for College
By Felicia Tsung

Jessee Vasold ’11 made history at the College of William and Mary Wednesday when ze was announced as the school’s first transgender homecoming queen, representing the Class of 2011.

Vasold identifies as gender-queer and prefers to be referred to with gender neutral pronouns: “ze” in place of he or she and “zir” rather than him or her. Vasold has also created a Facebook account for a female identity, Kathy Middlesex.

Friends suggested that Vasold run for homecoming queen. Even though Vasold thought that there was a good chance at being elected, Vasold said the win was still surprising to hear.

“We figured it would be something different for the school to go through, something that hasn’t happened too often,” Vasold said. “I was kind of surprised that I won because I knew the other girls running. I know that they’re really friendly; they’re wonderful people, so I was unsure.”

This year marks the return of direct voting by students. Last year, there was no platform to host voting, so the homecoming kings and queens were chosen by class officers out of student-submitted nominations.

The alumni website was used this year to choose the homecoming court. The alumni office had no oversight over the nominations for the court, which was a purely student initiative.

“I thought it was much better done this year because students actually could vote for who they wanted instead of having five or six class officers select who they think should be the winner,” Junior Class President Mike Tsidulko said.

According to Tsidulko, there is no rule against men or women running for opposite roles. Students who made nominations were simply asked to describe how the candidate exemplified Tribe pride.

“In general, most descriptions were about what activities they were involved in on campus or spiritedness at sporting events or any other kind of campus activity,” Senior Class President Alyssa Wallace said.

Those students nominated with a description were put on the ballot.

“It basically came down to nominations,” Wallace said. “Jessee was nominated, Jessee’s peers voted and Jessee won. That’s really all there is to it.”

Around campus, the reaction has been positive.

“I’ve only had people congratulating me. I know that one of my friends was in a conversation with someone who didn’t think that it was fair that I was able to run, because I’m not female-bodied,” Vasold said. “But it generated a really good conversation, so they were able to talk about a lot of different things.”

For Vasold, the election of the College’s first transgender homecoming queen is a significant step forward for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community on campus.

“It’s definitely amazing that the students are in a really good position, in a really good spot on how they think about things,” Vasold said. “I think that it would be a good time to show student support on these issues.”

Vasold has played a significant role in the campus’s GLBT community.

Vasold is currently the Student Assembly Undersecretary of Diversity Initiatives for GLBT Affairs. Last year, Vasold served as co-president of the Lamba Alliance, the College’s GLBT advocacy group.

“I think students are really appreciative of just being able to have him at William and Mary,” Tsidulko said. “I think it’s a mark of how progressive our values are here … that’s certainly something that’s appreciated.”

13. Daily Queer News, October 24, 2009
Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld, Department of Curriculum & Instruction
Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-3192
Open Letter to Students
By Warren Blumenfeld


I’m sharing with you my response to a very thought-provoking question my students asked me in the Introduction to Queer Studies course I teach here at Iowa State University.

Warren Blumenfeld

Hi Queer Studies Students,

I just wanted to answer a question I was asked, but I did not have sufficient time to answer in a manner that reflected my thinking on the question. Please be assured that I am not directing this response toward any one or few specific people, but the question got me thinking.

I was asked something like, why am I still so conscious of being gay, and why am I still doing the work, when a friend of mine – someone with whom I marched in the early 1970s in the Gay Liberation Front years – doesn’t understand why I am still fighting the good fight?

I am still so very conscious of being gay because still today my own students come to me with pain on their faces and tears in their eyes after they come out to their parents, and their parents either disown them, cut them off of financial support for college, or place them in “Reparative” or Christian therapy to “take them out of the ‘gay lifestyle.’”

I am still so very conscious of being gay because politicians continue to scapegoat us for their own fundraising and recruitment purposes while spreading lies about who we really are.

I am still so very conscious of being gay because we are not allowed to openly serve our country in the military.

I am still so very conscious of being gay because I am not allowed to donate blood because I have had sex with another man since 1977, even though I am not infected with any communicable disease.

I am still so very conscious of being gay because same-sex couples still continue to be denied the rights and benefits on par with different-sex couples in most states in the United States and in most nations of the world.

I am still so very conscious of being gay because some religious denominations still brand us as “sinners,” as an “abomination,” and as “immoral.”

I am still so very conscious of being gay because some members of the psychiatric profession still consider us as mentally or emotionally ill.

I am still so very conscious of being gay because many still equate “homosexuality” with “pedophilia.”

I am still so very conscious of being gay because images in the media still either depict us in stereotypical or evil ways or don’t acknowledge us at all.

I am still so very conscious of being gay because still my comrades are humiliated, bullied, attacked, and killed for simply being themselves.

I am still so very conscious of being gay because I and many LGBT people still live in a world and a society that teaches us to hide and to hate ourselves, and we have internalized those messages all too well.

I am still so very conscious of being gay because our youth are still 2-3 times more likely to attempt and complete suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.

I will stop being conscious of being gay and stop fighting the good fight when homophobia/heterosexism are no longer problems, and when labels are placed on jars and not on people when they perform their gender differently from the mainstream.

I still believe that we are all born into a great pollution called “homophobia” (one among many forms of oppression), which falls on us like acid rain. For some people spirits are tarnished to the core, others are marred on the surface, and no one is completely protected. But neither are we to blame. We all had no control over the formulation of this pollution, nor did we direct it to pour down upon us. On the other hand, we all have a responsibility, indeed an opportunity, to join together to construct shelter from the corrosive effects of oppression while working to clean up the homophobic environment in which we live. Once sufficient steps are taken to reduce this pollution, we will all breathe a lot easier.

Until that day finally arrives, I’ll be there fighting the good fight as long as my heart keeps pumping and my brain keep functioning. I am proud and happy that I still have the passion to continue the fight when so many of my contemporaries have long since lost their passion.

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-3192

14. Vallejo Times Herald, October 19, 2009
P.O. Box 3188, Vallejo, CA 94590
Systematic problems hit at-risk students
By Lanz Christian Bañes

The issues facing at-risk students are daunting.
"We've got a big problem -- by income, by achievement, by race," said LaMar P. Miller, dean of the College of Education for Touro College in New York.

Miller was the keynote speaker Sunday at Touro University on Mare Island in a workshop on empowering at-risk students. The conference brought together educators, law enforcement officials and others who work with at-risk youth.

Different states define "at-risk students" in a variety of ways, ranging from low-scoring students to students of color, Miller said. At-risk students have difficulties in the system and often cannot progress to higher education.

A variety of breakout sessions explored subjects as diverse as dealing with gangs to creating safe environments for gay and lesbian students.

"Only 11 states have laws that protect LGBTQ students, and California is one of them," said Rachel Kadner of Berkeley-based Pacific Center for Human Growth.

Kadner, who facilitated a session on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender student issues, noted that most LGBT students say in surveys that teachers do not intervene when students are harassed for being perceived as gay.

Kadner recommended educators establish gay-straight alliances in schools that do not have them and establish anti-homophobia training.

Fairfield Councilman Rick Vaccaro talked about dealing with students who are in gangs. A former principal at Armijo High School, Vaccaro was a mentor to Matt Garcia, a Fairfield City Councilman who was shot and killed last year.
Vaccaro, who works as the director of alternative education for Solano County, assumed Garcia's seat on the council after his death.

"Even if they're violent, they're still kids and you can still get through to them," Vaccaro said.

The main gangs that affect Solano County are the Sureños, affiliated with the Mexican Mafia, and their rivals the Norteños.

"With kids ... you have to get to them real early and talk to them about what's important," Vaccaro said, recommending intervention begins in elementary and middle schools.

California State University, Sacramento, professors José Chávez and José Cintrón gave an overview on understanding Latino students.

Latinos represent a large minority in California and are expected to become the majority in the coming decades. They represent 49 percent of enrollment in the state's public schools during the 2008-2009 academic year.

"The achievement gap makes an assumption ... that everybody stands on 'the same playing field.' That is not the case in this country ever," Cintrón said, explaining that a white, middle-class student who could speak English is already a step ahead when starting kindergarten than a poor Latino child.

The problem is systemic, with barriers such as the state's bans on affirmative action and bilingual education getting in the way of closing that initial gap, Chávez and Cintrón argue.

Both claim to be the products of affirmative action and call themselves "flukes" because they are Latinos who have earned doctorate degrees despite the challenges they faced growing up.

There are also prejudices and assumptions made by the teachers, including one that states Latino parents do not value education, the professors said.

Cintrón described how, while his parents never helped him with homework, nonetheless made sure he was fed, at home after dark and at school every day.

"Did they value education? I think they did, in the best way they know how. ... It's not that they don't value (education), it's how you define 'value,' " he said.

Saturday's conference was part of a roll-out of Touro University's new master's in urban education program, said Jim O'Connor, the university's dean for the college of education.

Contact staff writer Lanz Christian Bañes at or call (707) 553-6833.

15. Emory Wheel, October 19, 2009
Emory University, Drawer W, Atlanta, GA 30322
Our Opinion: Keeping LGBT Issues in Focus
By The Editorial Board

As has been true nation-wide, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) issues have been receiving greater attention and inspiring more awareness at Emory than at any time in the past. As such, organizations and resources at Emory geared toward these communities have enjoyed more attention recently, with October celebrating LGBT History Month and Oct. 11 marking National Coming Out Day.

With this in mind, the Wheel’s series on LGBT concerns and issues, beginning with today’s focus on the history of LGBT life at Emory, will hopefully aid that awareness. Additionally, we hope that it will answer many questions students may have about a community that too often has gone under the radar, rather than receiving the acceptance and support it deserves from all corners of the University community. It is our hope that the administration will take notice of this and the work being done by student and community leaders on these issues, and expand its efforts to cater to the needs of the LGBT community at Emory.

As a community, Emory tends to be a fairly liberal environment. Beyond politics, this means that, in general, the campus has been and should reasonably be expected to be a comfortable place for LGBT students and their concerns. However, there is a crucial difference between being a safe space and being a fully understanding and accepting space. As the University progresses toward the latter, there are steps that can be taken — or at least considered, and in an open, community-wide dialogue — to address a few prominent concerns.

One concern that stands out is the question of housing accommodations. Right now, housing requests for LGBT students are addressed on a case-by-case basis. The University may want to consider exploring other options, such as LGBT theme housing or holding training sessions for housing employees on LGBT concerns. At the very least, Emory should do its due diligence in making transgender students feel that their concerns are receiving the attention they deserve.

Additionally, Emory should look into reserving more restrooms as gender-neutral restrooms. While there are a few around campus, they are missing from some of the most prominent buildings on campus, such as the DUC, which are most heavily trafficked by students.

Emory can definitely take measures toward creating a campus more sensitive to LGBT students; the University seems to have a good idea so far. One of Emory’s strongest resources for LGBT students is the Office of LGBT Life, which addresses and promotes LGBT issues by hosting a variety of events and discussions each month. In addition, Emory offers courses on sexuality that also address LGBT issues.

There is still room for improvement — and likely always will be. The University must continually explore new ways to create a supportive and understanding atmosphere for every member of the community and avoid letting smaller fractions of the population, such as transgender students, fall to the wayside. The University has done good work thus far; now, it should make a priority of continuing those efforts and taking them to a new level.

The above staff editorials represent the majority opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

16. Emory Wheel, October 19, 2009
Emory University, Drawer W, Atlanta, GA 30322
LGBT Changes Emory, Work Still Ahead
By Kate Borger

“I have a problem about homosexuality,” reads a letter from “a concerned moral citizen” written to the Emory Gay and Lesbian Organization in 1986. “It exists.”

Though the adversity today is less severe, Emory’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community continues to face adversity nearly two decades after the inception of the Office of LGBT Life.

Just last year, a sign from McTyeire Hall was defaced to read “McQueer,” and graffiti continues to deface fliers that promote LGBT events.

“You can’t really legislate opinions and how people behave towards one another,” said Saralyn Chesnut, the first director and founder of the Office of LGBT Life at Emory.

But in the past 18 years, administrators and students have worked to establish policy changes and increased visibility to establish a decidedly more accepting campus environment.

“Emory has committed itself to a certain course and is moving along that course so that things will get better and better,” Chesnut said.

October is LGBT History Month and “Creating Your Own History” art is displayed in the Dobbs University Center (DUC). In these visual presentations, students describe what it means for them to be out at Emory. Director of the Office of LGBT Life Michael Shutt said that the Office is working today to establish a tradition of LGBT History Month on campus.

While Emory currently has several LGBT advocacy groups, the Office of LGBT Life can be viewed as a hub of resources and a common ground for the groups on campus, Emory Pride Co-President Olivia Wise said.

The Office of LGBT Life began operations in the fall of 1991 as the Office of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) student life, with two graduate students each working part-time. In the fall of 1998, the office was renamed LGBT, as it remains today.

Chesnut said that in the ’80s and early ’90s, the LGBT presence on campus was minimal and that the office focused exclusively on student concerns.

“When I started here as a grad student, there wasn’t any LGBT life, there wasn’t any gay presence, there weren’t any organizations that I was aware of as a student,” Chesnut said.

However, in December 1991 an incident occurred that helped propel the development of the presence of an LGBT community at Emory: Undergraduate students Alfred Hildebrand and Michael Norris kissed in Thomas Hall and were consequently harassed by other students because of their homosexuality.

“[The other students] said things like, ‘Die f-----s’ and ‘You’ll burn in hell,’” Hildebrand recounted in a 1991 issue of Southern Voice, Atlanta’s LGBT newspaper that launched in 1988.

The two students filed a complaint under Emory’s Discriminatory Harassment Policy, but many found the administration’s response weak.

“The Office of Equal Opportunity Programs wants to give the impression that [the actions] were formulated in response to the incident in question,” Norris said in the Southern Voice article. “But only one [an education program in Thomas Hall] is the direct outcome of our complaints.”

The Emory Gay and Lesbian Organization (EGLO) consequently organized a march across the campus in protest, which took place on March 2, 1992. Southern Voice reported that at least 150 students participated in the protest, marching from the Administration Building to the Residence Life office, where they staged a 20-minute sit-in before returning to the administration building to confront then-University President James T. Laney.

Chesnut said the 1992 demonstration was the first time she became aware of an LGBT community at Emory.

“I went to the demonstration and then I saw the job position and the rest is history,” Chesnut said.

Chesnut said that a full-time position for in the Office of LGB Life was created after Laney appointed a task force to investigate the climate of lesbian, gay and bisexual life on Emory’s campus in the aftermath of the demonstration.

“[Emory] decided to hire a full-time administrator to expand the office and to deal with not only student concerns, but with staff and faculty as well,” Chesnut said.

The Emory Pride Banquet, which began in 1993, is held on or around March 2 every year to commemorate the protest in 1992, Chesnut said.

“A lot came from that original activism,” Chesnut said.

Chesnut assumed her post as the first director of the LGB Office in January 1993 and began working to change University policy to ensure that all people felt protected and safe.

In the state of Georgia, employees can be hired or fired based on sexual orientation. In order to protect the rights of Emory’s employees, Chesnut worked to amend Emory’s equal-opportunity policy to include protection based on sexual orientation and identity, which went into effect in 1994.

In January 1996, Emory passed an amendment to extend benefits to employees with same-sex partners under then-University president William M. Chace.

“Emory was one of the first in the Atlanta area [to institute domestic partners benefits], so that really paved the way for employers in the Atlanta area to do the same thing,” Chesnut said.

Then in 1997, an incident that gained national notoriety was sparked at Emory’s Oxford College when two members of the Oxford staff were denied a commitment ceremony in the campus chapel.

In a June 18, 1997 article, the New York Times described the situation as one that pitted “university policies that guarantee gay community members equal access to university services against church policies that do not recognize same-sex unions.”

Chesnut said that Susan Crowe, the chaplain at the time, worked with the Board of Trustees to create a policy. Same-sex commitment ceremonies are now permitted on the condition that the ceremony is presided over by someone affiliated with Emory and that the faith recognizes and allows the commitment.

Karen Salisbury, chief of staff to the vice president of Campus Services and former director of student activities, said in a previous interview with the Wheel that Chesnut’s “steadfast leadership during that effort to keep everybody working together” led to a positive solution.

Chesnut said that she attributes the positive resolution to the “strong gay presence” on campus.

“[The 1997 Oxford incident] was probably the biggest test ... of how firm Emory’s commitment to non-discrimination was going to be on the basis of religion and sexual orientation,” Chesnut said.

More recently, in April 2007, Emory implemented a change to the equal opportunity policy to protect gender identity and gender expression with the goal of making the campus “safe and welcoming for gender variant people,” Chesnut said.

In addition to University policy changes, Chesnut helped to implement programs to create a more receptive and welcoming environment for those who identify as LGBT.

The “Safe Space” program, created in 1993, was modeled after a similar program used at telephone service provider AT&T in order to educate the community about LGBT concerns, identity development and support resources.

Those who complete the 3.5-hour program are given a “Safe Space” sticker to post in their workspace to indicate an openness to LGBT concerns and an engagement in creating an equal community.

“It made a big difference to students to see that sticker on the door and know that nothing bad was going to happen if they were to come out,” Chesnut said.

During Chesnut’s time at Emory, the LGBT community began to become a more visible campus force by participating in activities such as National Coming Out Day. She said that during Emory’s first participation in National Coming Out Day in 1992, some administrators were under the impression that National Coming Out Day was encouraging heterosexuals to become gay, as though the event were a type of recruitment.

“We had to do some education,” Chesnut said, as National Coming Out day has since become integrated into Emory tradition.

Dean of Students Bridget Guernsey Riordan said that she has seen a change in the campus climate as well.

“The Coming Out Week celebration is now a regular part of every October here on campus, whereas 15 years ago, it was a little more low-key because people weren’t able to accept that as an activity,” Riordan said in a previous interview with the Wheel. “Now it’s part of Wonderful Wednesdays and something that people expect to see every October.”

Wise said that Emory Pride has helped to foster a more visible LGBT community by creating the same-sex hand-holding campaign and by hosting the coming out celebration in Asbury Circle.

Chesnut said that she admires the “kinds of traditions that have been established and the willingness of the whole community to participate.”

The Office of LGBT Life currently staffs two full-time members, as the office works in conjunction with student groups such as Emory School of Law’s Emory OutLaw, Emory Pride and Emory Gay and Lesbian Alumni (GALA).

Shutt joined Emory after Chesnut retired from her 15-year tenure as director in the Office of LGBT Life in August 2008. Shutt said he was drawn to Emory’s progressivism and to the groundwork laid by Chesnut, including policy changes, procedure and “environment improvement.”

“Knowing Emory’s history and the capacity it had to do this work was really impressive to me,’’ Shutt said. “[Emory] has one of the oldest offices in the country, the support of the president and student groups.”

Shutt said that in the past year he has focused on assessing the needs of the community and bringing different groups together to collaborate and share resources. With the groundwork established for LGBT development, Shutt said he is committed to “expanding programs and services that could lead the country.”

The Office of LGBT Life will soon launch a five-year strategic plan to further the goals of LGBT life at Emory.

“It’s not just about acceptance,” Shutt said. “It’s about creating a space that celebrates everyone and sees the gifts that everyone is bringing to the table.”

Shutt said the office is working to accommodate the needs of all individuals and to foster discussions about race, transgender, queer and religion.

Wise said that education is not only for the Emory community, but also for Emory’s LGBT individuals on the issues that affect the LGBT community. She added that there is a move toward the discussion of how race, gender, religion and other components interact and intersect.

The LGBT Office recently received a grant from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators which will be used to assess campus needs to help guide the future LGBT life at Emory.

“We continue to figure out what these changing needs are,” Shutt said. “We are continuing to learn every single day.”

Shutt said that the visual support of University President James W. Wagner and the Division of Campus Life have helped to foster dialog and the progress of LGBT concerns, in part through the support of the President’s Commission on Sexuality, Gender Diversity and Queer Equality.

Chesnut said that Emory has progressed in parallel with the national attitude towards LGBT issues and that young people are more accepting now than in the past.

“When I came out, it was in college, and now people who identify as gay are visible in middle school,” Chesnut said.

Chesnut said that Emory’s Office of LGBT Life has changed dramatically from the time she was a graduate student in the ’80s.

“There’s always more you can do, but as long as Emory is committed to this course of action and is putting resources there, I trust that’s going to keep happening,” Chesnut said.

Shutt said that although major strides have been made through the development of University policy and LGBT programs, there is still work to be done.

“Because we’ve moved so far ahead, it could potentially produce complacency,” Shutt said. “I see a lot of motivation and momentum, but we have to poke and prod sometimes to say, ‘We need to keep moving.’ There’s still a lot of work to do.”

17. Harvard Law School, October 20, 2009
1563 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138't.ask.html
Panelists assess the fall-out of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

Experts on the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and veterans who served under it drew a-standing-room-only crowd at Harvard Law School last week, during a panel discussion sponsored by the student organization Lambda and moderated by Dean Martha Minow.

Passed by Congress in 1993 after an earlier attempt to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly was unsuccessful, “don’t ask, don’t tell” stipulates that the military must discharge those “who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts” because they “would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”

As she recapped the policy, Elizabeth Hillman, a military historian and professor of law at the University of California Hastings College as well as a U.S. Air Force veteran, expressed the frustration palpable among the panelists that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is still in place—when more than 20 other countries have no such restrictions. “It’s shocking to me that we are 16 years into this,” she said. Part of the difficulty, she pointed out, is that it’s not just a policy, but a federally enacted statute, unlike the outright ban on service in the military for gays and lesbians that it replaced. “That’s why it was such a loss and why it’s taking so long to undo.” she said.

HLS Visiting Professor Tobias Barrington Wolff, on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and an expert on “don’t ask, don’t tell” and constitutional issues it raises, told the audience that there’s a widespread misunderstanding that the statute carves out “a zone of privacy” for gay, lesbian bisexual and service members. “I want to make sure you understand, the statute applies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

If you are in the military, he said, it’s a violation of the policy to talk to your parents about the fact that you are gay, to your spouse, to clergy, or even to your doctor. “LGB members have been discharged for exactly those speech acts.”

There have been First Amendment challenges to the policy, he said, but courts have ruled that it doesn’t violate the First Amendment. Despite its name, courts have held that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is not a speech policy but a conduct policy. And according to the argument the courts have relied on, he said, service members aren’t being punished for their speech, but because their speech is taken as evidence—not that they are gay—but that they engage in homosexual acts or have a propensity to do so.

Wolff said that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is harming both the military and the “thirteen-some thousand service members who have been kicked out under the policy.” And he added: The federal judiciary in its review of challenges has “dramatically and profoundly warped some very important doctrines of free speech under the First Amendment, equal protection and responses to status-based regulation in ways that the judiciary would never be prepared to embrace as a general proposition.”

Panelists did see “a glimmer of hope,” as Hillman put it in, a 9th Circuit ruling in Witt v. the U.S. Air Force, which uses Lawrence v. Texas—the Supreme Court ruling striking down anti-sodomy laws—to challenge “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The decision, which is on remand, found that under Lawrence, the military policy must be subjected to something more stringent than the rational basis test.

In addition to discussing the legal issues surrounding the policy, some of the veterans on the panel told their own stories. Joe Lopez, a joint M.B.A/J.D. candidate at HLS, went to West Point because he wanted to serve his country, but he didn’t know when he signed up that he was gay. By the time he was a senior, he’d found out, but feared the consequences of revealing his sexuality—ranging from calls to his parents to imprisonment.

“I decided to complete my commitment and hide myself,” he said, and as he spoke to the audience emotion was audible in his voice. Lopez became a Black Hawk helicopter pilot and eventually a platoon leader in charge of 20 soldiers flying missions in Iraq. “In the military you have very close interactions with the people you work with. They are your support network. They are like your family,” he said. “I couldn’t be a full part of that family, because I was never able to tell my story. I had a boyfriend who would send me letters and pictures. And while everyone else got to put their pictures on their bunks, I had to hide mine. I lived in fear that one day somebody would find them and out me.”

For Lopez it all came to a head one morning at 2: 00 when he and his soldiers came under mortar attack. “The standard practice is to put on our gear and run outside to be counted so you can be sure everyone is still alive,” he said. But the first thing he did was to secure the letters. “Afterward I just thought about the absurdity of the situation,” he recalled. “When I should have been thinking about my safety and the safety of my soldiers I was thinking about a trivial thing like being outed.“

The Army, he said, teaches you not to lie, cheat or steal. So why was the military telling him to lie about his sexuality? After he finished his time in Iraq, he came out to his commander. Five months later he received an honorable discharge under “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Minow reminded the panel that just six days earlier President Obama had renewed his campaign promises to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” although he hadn’t offered a timeline. What did they think were the likeliest venues for change?

Lopez and other panelists spoke about the legislation in the House supported by Rep. Patrick Murphy, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act. The act, which now has 180 cosponsors, would replace “don’t ask, don’t tell” with a policy of nondiscrimination throughout all branches of the military.

Hillman said the legislation has potential, but she believed the president had the authority right now—at a time when service members are being involuntarily called back to duty—to suspend “don’t ask, don’t tell,” under what is known as the stop-loss statute.

Other panelists, including Joan E. Darrah, worried about suspending the policy without putting in place protections for LGB service people. Darrah, a retired Navy captain who served as chief of staff and deputy commander at the Office of Naval Intelligence, and now volunteers as part of the Military Advisory Council of Service Members Legal Defense Network, said, “We are going to have to do some serious training, otherwise what you are going to have [is a situation where ] gay people can’t get out, but then they are stuck in this really uncomfortable limbo.”

In addition to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the panel also addressed the Solomon Amendment. The amendment revokes federal funding to any educational institution that doesn’t provide military recruiters full access, despite the fact that military hiring practices don’t comply with anti-discrimination policies adopted by law schools across the country. In 2004, Minow led other Harvard faculty in writing an amicus brief supporting a challenge to the amendment. But the Supreme Court, with a unanimous opinion, rejected the challenge. HLS had never barred military recruiters from campus, but recruiters met with students through other venues than the Office of Career Services. Full access is now provided, and the day after the panel, representatives of the U.S. Air Force were scheduled to meet with students.

Among those who spoke after the panel was a student who demanded that Minow disallow military recruiting at HLS.

Minow said she welcomed his comment, and if it were within the law school’s power, she would have already done what he requested. But although she had no power over something that was a university decision, she and all of them had the power to speak out.

“We’re in a room that shows the people behind landmark decisions,” she said, referring to the black-and-white photos on the walls of the Vorenberg classroom in Langdell, ”the people behind Tinker, the people behind Brown. And that’s why we are here—to think about how to change policies.“

18. The Voyager, October 20, 2009
Program certifies 45 new allies
By Kristi Noah

Last Friday, the University of West Florida Commons became a safehaven for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community with the certification of 45 new allies in the Ally Program.
“The Ally Program educates faculty, staff and students on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities so they can better support them,” said Stephen Loveless, president for the Gay-Straight Alliance.
The Ally program was started five years ago when universities discovered that the LGBT communities needed a safe place on campus to go and feel comfortable and accepted. At this recent Ally Program, 45 UWF students and faculty became allies for the LGBT community.
Becoming certified as an ally means there is a signed agreement to help and assist the LGBT community on campus.
“During the program, these individuals are educated on issues in the gay community,” Loveless said.
On Friday, there were four breakout sessions, in which the allies learned about the history, cultural aspects, spirituality and current issues in the LGBT community. A few of the current issues covered were gay marriage, gay adoption, blood donation, Matthew Shepherd hate-crime legislation, the Employee Nondiscrimination Act and the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
One of the current actions in support of the UWF LGBT community is GSA’s petition to add gender identity to the UWF discrimination policy. GSA is the organization on campus that introduces new students in the LGBT community to others in the Ally Program.
“Ally is about a safe place for students to go,” Loveless said.

19. Loyola Phoenix, October 20, 2009
A home for all faiths, a home for all people
Staff Editorial

Due to LGBTQA Awareness Month taking place this October, this week’s staff editorial meeting focused on gay rights and what place they have (or don’t have) at a Catholic university. During our discussion we supposed that many univesities may feel that promoting faith contradicts a support of the LGBTQA community. Our consensus was that Loyola, having such a prominent LGBTQA group on campus that holds campus-wide events, was probably in the minority of Jesuit universities. In fact, after doing some research, we found we are actually in the majority. And we think that’s a good thing.

Many other Jesuit schools have some comparable group, and many surpass Loyola’s Advocate group in population and community outreach. Santa Clara University boasts six different LGBTQA groups and Georgetown University is home to the first LGBTQA Resource Center at a Catholic or Jesuit institution (something Advocate would like to bring here).

These groups are created to be a resource and safe haven for students and they do everything from holding bake sales to creating LGBTQA scholarships. For LGBTQA awareness month, Advocate has scheduled, among other events, a performance of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the slaying of 21-year-old Matthew Sheppard, as well as a drag show to raise money for LGBTQA scholarships. “We want to promote understanding and work for equal rights for [LGBTQA students], as well as everyone else,” said Advocate president Noel Rodriguez.

Some Catholic groups have criticized Loyola and other universities’ support of gay-friendly groups. The self-appointed watchdog group The Cardinal Newman Society believes supporting these groups sacrifices the very values that make us a Catholic university. In fact, last February the Newman Society criticized Loyola for its support of the Color of Queer film series.

“That Catholic universities would permit these events on their campuses at any time of the year is unthinkable,” said Patrick J. Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society. “The saddest part of this story is that there is no indication that these universities are ashamed or embarrassed by what is taking place on their Catholic campuses. Parents and potential students might begin to wonder how these universities can in good conscience consider themselves Catholic when they allow such perverse distortions of Catholic values to take place.”

The Phoenix Editorial Board believes supporting gay and lesbian groups doesn’t diminish our Catholic identity. If anything, it nourishes it. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, gays “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” It goes on to say that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” Groups like Advocate clearly provide the compassion and sensitivity mandated by the Church.

Although LGBTQA groups may be largely supported by Jesuit schools, groups like Advocate may not be the norm for all Catholic universities. The University of Notre Dame has Core Council for Gay and Lesbian Students, a committee made up of only 12 members to assist with gay and lesbian issues. Their approach offers confidential counseling instead of peer support, lending a more clinical feel to its LGBTQA sponsorship. The Phoenix Editorial Board, however, thinks organizations for students, run by students, made up of likeminded students (like Advocate) is much more empowering for the students involved.

And students can personally give testament to how these groups are beneficial: “Advocate has given me a feeling of acceptance and community,” said sophomore and Advocate secretary Margaret Curran. “Loyola has been really outstanding with [its] support.”

Because we attend a university whose mission statement believes in “the positive impact of diversity” and embraces “freedom of inquiry,” what we find unthinkable is the attempt of The Cardinal Newman Society to exclude LGBTQA students from the community of our school. Furthermore, it is essential that student-run, student-led groups, as opposed to LGBTQA “boards” of questionable leadership, be exercised in Catholic universities.

We acknowledge that the values of Advocate may not line up with Catholic teachings in every instance. The Church’s disapproval of gay marriage and its endorsement of chastity may set the two groups at odds with each other; however, completely discouraging community among LGBTQA students does little to promote the sensitivity and compassion that the Church mandates. Groups like Advocate serve a purpose. LGBTQA people are a part of humanity — part of the body of Christ — and they need to be recognized as such, instead of cast away like lepers. The Phoenix Editorial Board is proud to support Advocate as part of Loyola University’s Catholic community.

20. Daily Eastern News, October 21, 2009
Resource center makes headway: LGBT may find home online
By Emily Steele

There's no place like home. However, gay students at Eastern don't have one.

Resources for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender students at Eastern are limited primarily to Pride and the Counseling Center, compared to departmental programs at other state schools.

But after years of inquiry and planning, a LGBT resource center may be in the works.

Last week students, members of Pride and the Student Government came together in a forum to discuss a resource center, and both short and long term solutions.

But with limited space and money, Dan Nadler, the vice president for student affairs, suggested a virtual resource center.

"I believe the virtual center is something we can accomplish in a relative quick fashion," Nadler said. "There is a need to provide resources and information. Using the web will help us address this need."

As an online version of a physical center, the Web site would provide campus, local and general information for current and prospective students.

One student at the forum mentioned that while looking at schools, LGBT support was one of his deciding factors, and he found Eastern lacking.

Student Government push
"I'd like to see a fully funded, fully staffed resource center," said Mark Olendzki, student vice president for student affairs.

Olendzki organized the forum with other Student Government members as part of his continuing efforts to fulfill his campaign promise.

He first learned about concerns for a resource center, when his party spoke with Pride before Student Government elections last spring.

"I saw a need, and I'm hoping to fill that need," said Olendzki, who admits that a complete center would take a lot of time.

Until now, most of his efforts were concentrated on planning for the forum and researching programs at other schools.

His next step is organizing trips to schools with resource centers.

"It's really not personal beyond my own personal sense of fairness," said Olendzki, who was happy to see student interest in the forum and hopes that something will come of it.

Advisory Committee
Terri Fredrick, one of the advisers of Pride and a member of the LGBT advisory committee, agrees with Olendzki that something must be done.

"What do we need to do to make the campus environment better for LGBTQA faculty and staff and that includes what can we do right now and what can we do in the long term," Fredrick said.

The advisory committee was formed after a diversity workshop came up with the idea for a center and Health Service Director Lynette Drake was assigned to be the committee chair.

The year-old committee has the difficult task of figuring out the best course to show LGBT support at Eastern.

The committee, which is comprised of liaisons from dozens of campus departments, has researched other programs in order to determine Eastern's next step.

But one thing Fredrick reiterated was that the committee was only advisory.

"We can't change the culture, and we can't make a resource center," she said.

The committee is also looking at bringing back the Safe Zone program within the next few years, which would potentially provide stickers to place outside the door of someone with LGBT supportive training.

Nadler backs the project as one of the short-term efforts.

"The Safe Zone project is another way in which to increase knowledge, improve understanding, and foster support throughout campus," Nadler said.

As a representative of Pride, Fredrick sees both sides.

"We saw our role in Pride in dreaming it, what would it really be, but not being Pride's job to figure out where the money would come from, that becomes the university's role," Fredrick said.

The LGBT resource center at the University of Illinois in Champaign opened in 2003 and offers educational and social resources to students.

Director Leslie Morrow said the center also teams up with other departments on their campus.

"We try to provide just about any service a student requests of us," Morrow said.

The U of I center, which has seen record numbers this year, has two full-time staff members and several students workers and volunteers.

"We're trying to continue to expand," Morrow said.

The advisory committee at Eastern has been looking at five schools, which all have some LGBT initiative established.

Besides the U of I, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and Northern Illinois University have physical resource centers, Illinois State University has an online resource center and Western Illinois University has a student organization as the primary resource, similar to Eastern.

Olendzki hopes Eastern will continue moving forward.

"I would like to see Eastern have something we can be proud of instead of playing catch-up," he said.

Emily Steele can be reached at 581-7942 or at

21. Los Angeles Loyolan, October 20, 2009
Daum Hall, Loyola Marymount University, One LMU Drive MS 8470, Los Angeles, CA 90045
No more victimizing
By Sean Krimmel

Last Sunday, groups from Loyola Marymount University, such as Sigma Phi Epsilon, the Black Student Union and the Gay-Straight Alliance, participated in the AIDS Walk in West Hollywood. I was one of many people to join forces with hundreds of organizations seeking to end a disease that affects people from all walks of life, regardless of race, religious affiliation, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation.
Not to my surprise, as the crowd rounded the corner onto another long stretch, there were protesters wielding huge signs: “Homo sex is a sin, read the Bible,” and many more condemning gay people for the contraction and spread of HIV/AIDS. I also participated in San Francisco’s AIDS Walk last year, so I was already familiar with blatant hate-oriented messages from groups who aim to blame a specific minority for the world’s AIDS epidemic. However, during the San Francisco AIDS walk, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (a group of drag queens) danced in front of the protesters to protect the walkers and support their cause. Here in L.A., there was just one person trying to deflect the hate-spewing protesters from the massive group of walkers.
Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the gay community has been stigmatized as the main carrier of the virus. In the ’80s, many reported AIDS victims happened to be gay. While it is true that the HIV/AIDS virus has plagued the gay community, it is important to understand that all sexually active people are at risk, regardless of one’s sexual orientation. It is unjust to target a single minority group with the responsibility for the spread of a deadly disease.
While the gay community was definitely the focus of the media as being the first “group” to contract the disease, it was also the first to combat it. The gay community set up centers where people with HIV/AIDS could go while society shunned them. Even today, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, which caters to people of any sexual orientation, includes a huge HIV/AIDS testing center.
All throughout my life, I have been told that abstinence is the only way to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS. Yes – abstinence is preferable, but hardly realistic, and here we are on a campus that does not even have condoms in its health center. We need to take a more proactive step towards sexual health education and away from myth.
There I was at the walk, a gay man, eyeing these protesters who believed that AIDS is God’s punishment to gays. Emotionally, I didn’t have the strength to shout at these protesters, and it did not hurt me as much as it probably should have, conceivably because I have become desensitized to this kind of victimization. It was interesting to see the crowd react as if this was the first time that they have ever seen such oppression; I face it on a daily basis.
Most of last year, I demonstrated in protest after protest against Proposition 8, the proposition that made me a second-class citizen overnight. I cannot begin to explain the emotional toll and drain that came from arguing with peers, in class and on the streets. Before the proposition passed, I did everything I possibly could to get the word out that this is discrimination and is hurtful to scores of people. The evening the proposition passed, while people were celebrating Obama’s win in the freshman quad, it seemed as if no one grieved about the fact that California’s gay community had just had their rights taken from them.
It is exhausting being made a victim again and again, and I am tired of fighting. It sickens me that I can’t even walk for a cause that affects everyone without having it flipped around so that I am a victim once again.
Our generation is not educated enough about intolerance, or about sex for that matter. Someone from the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center informed me that he diagnoses someone with AIDS every single day; there is most definitely a reemergence of the virus, and I think a lack of knowledge will only worsen the situation.
This is the opinion of Sean Krimmel, a sophomore screenwriting major from Walnut Creek, Calif. Please send comments to

22. The Daily Athenaeum, October 22, 2009
284 Prospect St, Morgantown, WV, 26505
‘It’s not that scary’
By Matt Narvin

In an attempt to raise awareness about current issues facing the bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender community, Rachel N. Holmberg held a presentation Wednesday featuring clips from "South Park."
Holmberg, a Career Services counselor for West Virginia University, showed clips from the popular animated series, asking the audience for input on various issues that were raised in the episodes.
"Since it’s Diversity Week, I wanted to talk about sexual orientation issues in a format that would be fun, and something that students could identify with," Holmberg said.
The topics Holmberg covered included gay marriage, sex-change operations, conflict with the Catholic church and the difficulties involved in coming out.
Statistics showing the high rate of suicide among the gay community were presented, as well as the various types of physical and mental abuse bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgendered people face.
"I think people who don’t understand (homosexuality) can be afraid of it, but if they just take the time to understand, they realize it’s not that scary," said Anthony Hamill, a sophomore general studies major and member of Bi Gay Lesbian Transgendered Mountaineers.
"I think anything that brings light to the situation is good. I think ignorance is our biggest problem."
The presentation was attended by more than 40 students.
"I thought it was informative, and a good way to see how ‘South Park’ covers the issues," said Madalyn Fizer, a freshman pre-psychology major.
"I think it helps that people can make jokes about it. In ways it reinforces stereotypes, but it also shows the flaws in those stereotypes and points and laughs at them."
Students were encouraged to be open-minded and accepting of other people’s opinions before the presentation started.
The goal of the presentation was to help people see issues in a different way or from a different perspective, Holmberg said.
"The point of college is not to have someone hand you the answers, but try to help you ask good questions, and then form your own opinion of it," she said.

23. Eagle Eye, October 22, 2009
Gay Straight Alliance raises awareness
By Kaeti Kosinuk

Gay Straight Alliance is a club offered by Lock Haven University where the purpose is to create an environment where any sexual orientation or gender can come together and raise awareness about the freedom to be open about one's sexual identity. Gay Straight Alliance is welcome to all, even if you just want to come and make new friends; it is a great club to join.

The meetings begin by bringing up events that are happening on campus that everyone might be interested in going to. Then topics affecting the gay community are brought forward and discussed through the members. Some of the topics thus far that have been talked about include the experience of coming out of the closet, being gay in the work place, and the threat of hate crimes toward any sexuality.

The group is kind with everyone being very friendly and happy to share personal stories from their own life. Some of the tales were very emotional, moving, and poignant, while others were less serious and made the entire classroom burst out into uncontrolled laughter.

Not only does the Gay Straight Alliance have these meetings, they also sponsor school dances such as the much anticipated Halloween Dance occurring later this October. The festivities will include food, music, and of course some grooving on the dance floor. There will also be a contest based on costumes such as scariest, most original, etc. Winners will even receive prizes.

Students are thrilled to be involved in the club and are happy knowing that groups like this exist on the Lock Haven campus. Sophomore Matt Myers comments "This club gave me acceptance, courage, and a place to acknowledge my opinions on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender matters."

Feel free to come and enjoy the company of many interesting and kind people. Gay Straight Alliance meets Wednesday. If interested in learning more about the club and how to get involved, visit

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