Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.11.15
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to email@example.com
1. The Holland Sentinel - MY TAKE - Hope College can learn from past controversies
2. The Bates Student - Question 1 Passes Despite Student Activism
3. BG Views - BGSU student tells all about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy
4. The Times-Delphic (Drake University) - Sexual orientation support group returns
5. Inside Higher Ed - Furor Over Anti-Gay Blog
6. U.S. News & World Report - Female Student Wants to Be Mr. Yale
7. The Paladin (Furman University) - Coming out on campus
8. The Daily Helmsman - Student arrested for attempted arson, assault: Suspects try to burn Gay and Lesbian Community Center flag
9. The New York Times - Anything He Can Do, She Can Do
10. Washington Blade - Georgetown students unnerved after anti-gay attacks
11. Daily Lobo (University of New Mexico) - ASUNM supports queer resource center
12. The Linc - LGBT society protest for gay men’s right to donate blood
13. The Orion (Chico State) - Gay scene unseen
14. Ocala - Professor takes part in ‘Don’t ask’ study
1. The Holland Sentinel, November 9, 2009
54 W 8th Street, Holland, MI 49423
MY TAKE - Hope College can learn from past controversies
By Ruth Hawley-Lowry
HOLLAND - Hope College’s denial of Dustin Lance Black’s privilege of speaking to students reminds me of 20 years ago when, again, the college sought to subvert controversy, and in that to assuage donors).
In the case two decades ago the question was whether or not Allan Boesak should be given an honorary doctorate. Indeed, James C. Kennedy and Caroline Joyce Simon write in “Can Hope Endure? A Historical Case Study in Christian Higher Education,” “By 1988, controversial South African anti-apartheid activist Allan Boesak had been nominated for an honorary degree from Hope College. The Board of Trustees was so split on whether to grant the degree that [President John] Jacobson said at a faculty meeting that it was the most difficult question that he had to face since becoming president.”
While reading of the current controversy and Hope’s response to it, I came across a letter that my siblings, parents and I signed that was addressed to the trustees, requesting that they grant the honorary doctorate. We wrote: “Please demonstrate to the parents and alumni that Hope College is willing to actively affirm the education that Hope espouses. Reveal to the students and future students that education is not merely an academic process but rather an implementation — however painful — of hard sought learning.”
We quoted Boesak in his book “Black and Reformed:” “We know that the church has to offer a prophetic witness to the state. One of the fundamental things about Calvinist Reformed theology is that of prophetic witness.”
We urged the trustees to “Please understand the extent to which you would radically redefine the vision of Hope College by denying the request to award Dr. Boesak this degree.”
We closed the letter with another quote from Boesak: “Not to act and not to take a stand, simply for fear of making a mistake, when others have to make infinitely difficult decisions every day, seems to me to be almost a contradiction of love. Too late means ‘never.’”
Here we are with another controversy. Because of the challenges from a decade ago in the way that gay, lesbian, or transgender issues were addressed, Dean of Students Richard Frost has declined the generous offer of an Oscar winner. At what point did being “strongly opinionated” disqualify someone from furthering “academic discussion”?
In accepting the Oscar for his screenplay for “Milk,” Mr. Black said, “I want to thank my mom, who has always loved me for who I am, even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey [Milk] had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he would want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, or by the government, or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value, and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you.”
Milk was a very controversial figure in his day. But he observed in the 1970s that people who were in pain as they sorted out their feelings of homosexuality “go to the bars because churches are hostile.”
This past August. when President Obama honored Harvey Milk with a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, he said that Milk “fought discrimination with visionary courage and conviction.”
Sadly, most churches are, indeed, still hostile to gays and lesbians. So does my alma mater choose on the side of hope and love — listening to another’s opinion, even if it is philosophically and theologically opposed to the opinion of the administration and many donors? What if Hope College again risks discomfort by listening, even when the differing perspectives might disagree?
I believe Hope College chose wisely when awarding the honorary doctorate to Boesak in 1990. Perhaps we can learn from two garrisons of the anti-apartheid movement. Boesak and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are two of the most outspoken protectors of civil rights for gays and lesbians. Boesak recently resigned from his positions in the Reformed Church in South Africa over his sorrow for the lack of inclusion of gays in the Church. Tutu says that homophobia is a “crime against humanity” and “every bit unjust as apartheid.”
As a woman in ministry I am accustomed to hearing people proffer Scripture that they perceive insists that my answering God’s call as a pastor is close to heresy. Such an approach to Scripture is historically common as cultures have addressed slavery, suffrage and sexuality.
This does not mean that I do not meet at the same communion table with those who disagree with me. A few years ago I was with a parishioner at a classis meeting and he was surprised that I was friendly with a well-known pastor who opposed most everything I supported. This parishioner asked how we knew each other and I laughed and, thinking of a General Synod when we disagreed with each other on everything, said, “He is a worthy opponent.” Tom kindly and wisely smiled and said, “And she is a good friend.”
Perhaps we can all learn something from this pastor who opposed women’s ordination and gay rights, but listened as well as spoke.
The Rev. Ruth Hawley-Lowry of Holland Township is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America and serves as a hospice chaplain.
2. The Bates Student, November 10, 2009
Bates College, 2 Andrews Rd., Lewiston, ME 04240-6028
Question 1 Passes Despite Student Activism
By Gardiner Nardini
State citizens struck down gay marriage as a legal institution in Maine when they hit the polls during the Nov. 3rd elections. Question 1, a mandate to repeal recent legislation that allowed same-sex marriage in the state, was voted into effect with 99 percent of precincts reporting. 52.82 percent of Maine residents voted in favor of the law, trumping those in opposition by 5.64 percentage points, according to a Bangor Daily News poll updated on Nov. 6.
Student activism at Bates regarding Question 1 began weeks ahead of the election and accelerated as Nov. 3rd approached, with individuals and student organizations alike campaigning for students to vote. The New World Coalition picketed in front of Commons in encouragement of its stances on Questions 1, 4 and 5 days before the election, while the Bates College Democrats tabled in Commons’ entryway and distributed “No on 1” informational pamphlets to every room in the major dormitories on campus.
In an effort to grow voter participation and legalize gay marriage by referendum, Protect Maine Equality partnered with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, The Human Rights Campaign, and an amalgam of smaller groups to demonstrate in support of gay marriage in regions across the state. The coalition, which operated under the auspices of the No on 1 campaign, focused much of their efforts on Bates College, Colby College, Bowdoin College and The University of Maine Farmington.
In addition to spreading awareness of the election, dispatched organizers shuttled voters to their respective voting centers free of charge. Emily Fuller, one of the primary organizers on the Bates campus, noted that while the organization’s broader goal of getting Maine youth out to vote was successful in certain regions, the Bates mission fell short.
Fuller explained that while her team transported roughly 70 Bates students to the polling station for early voting, it transported over 400 Bowdoin students and over 300 Colby students. Citing the relatively low showing of Lewiston voters in opposition to Question 1, Emily expressed her disappointment in Bates Security for forcing the organizers off campus.
“We were asked by Security to leave campus while we were [at] Bates. Just after 11 a.m. on [Oct. 26], they threw out the phrase ‘criminal trespassing,’ although we did have a window of time before then to chalk the quad and spread information in other ways,” said Fuller. “One of the biggest things is getting the youth out to vote. Turnout was even lower because it was an off-year election, and if we had been able to stay on campus they would’ve been able to get many more out to vote.”
Security could not be reached for comment on the incident before this issue went to press.
In Androscoggin County, which includes the distinct voting regions of Lewiston and Auburn, Question 1 passed with 60.13 percent of the vote. In Auburn alone the question passed with a 53.94 percent majority, while in Lewiston it passed with a 58.77 majority. However, both Waterville and Brunswick posted similar statistics, voting 54.35 percent and 63.14 percent respectively in favor of Question 1.
Bates College Democrats Co-President Ben McCall ’11 was surprised and excited by the activism on campus. “As the [Bates Democrats], we appreciate all the amazing work the students, both affiliated with us and not, have put in to help with the effort. It’s hard to drum up support in an off-year election,” said McCall. “The off-year status is the largest contributing factor to voter turnout regardless of what’s on the ballot.”
In response to the turnout percentages, McCall noted that while the Bates Democrats were upset by the election results, the enthusiasm surrounding the ballot was outstanding. “I was pleasantly surprised and energetic and thankful for those who turned out. This isn’t something you commonly see related to a normal ballot issue,” he said.
McCall pointed out that many factors contributed to the election turnout and that Lewiston-Auburn, which hosts a large Catholic population, could have voted along with its religious demographic against gay marriage. However, he emphasized that those in favor of gay marriage certainly had a fighting chance, and that the work done was inspired and effective.
Gabriel Gonzalez, an organizer from Equality California assigned to campaign at Bates by the No on 1 campaign, argued that the political history of gay rights gives reason for optimism. “We are continuing to build momentum. It’s like what happened in California after we lost the ballot initiative – after the committee failed to legalize gay marriage by referendum, there was a plume of organization,” said Gonzalez. “It was amazing to see how everyone became so active after it failed. The next step in Maine is people organizing themselves and becoming more active. We should have another shot at voting on same-sex marriage legislation soon.”
3. BG Views, November 10, 2009
204 West Hall, Bowling Green, OH 43403
BGSU student tells all about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy
By Michelle Olmstead
Exactly one month ago, President Barack Obama reaffirmed his promise to end the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay civil rights advocacy group.
Since DADT, a policy banning gays in the military, was implemented, more than 12,000 qualified members of the U.S. Armed Services have been discharged, according to the Human Rights Campaign Web site.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was originally passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. While Clinton eventually promised to repeal the ban on gays in the military, he was unsuccessful in his attempts.
Although Obama offered no timetable in his speech for such law changes, his words of reassurance have provided hope to millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in the country.
Sophomore Rob Koob is president of Vision, a LGBT student organization on campus. Although Koob does not have military aspirations of his own, he voiced his indignation about the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” Koob said. “Anybody, regardless of race, gender identity sexual orientation, should not be discriminated against if they want to serve their country.”
While Koob believes the law is not justified, he acknowledged DADT may have had good intentions in the beginning.
“I think the intention was to possibly protect LGBT individuals from facing discrimination,” he said. “But what it became was a dishonorable discharge; it became something else.”
One concept DADT ignores, Koob said, is the value of willing citizens to serve their country — regardless of sexual orientation.
“If you look at the history of LGBT people in the military, there were full platoons of female soldiers that were working as desk clerks who were lesbians,” Koob said. “And they were one of the highest-rated platoons in the armed forces during WWII.
“I know, actually, several people who wanted to serve but because they were more traditionally stereotypical, they were concerned about joining the armed forces because they didn’t want to be discharged,” he said.
Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Lt. Col. Rachelle Miller was unable to comment due to the “political nature” of the subject. However, professor of military science, Lt. Col. Steven Letzring did address the issue.
“We implement that policy that was given to us by civilian authority,” Letzring said.
Letzring said regardless of personal beliefs, DADT is first and foremost, the law.
“The bottom line is that soldiers in the military aren’t in the arena of policy-making,” Letzring said. “As it stands now, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is what it is; it’s one of those cases where our opinion, one way or another, doesn’t matter. Until such time that the policy changes, that’s the policy that we’re given to operate under.”
Letzring and the rest of Americans serving their country may be bound by DADT, but Koob remains optimistic about the possibility of reform.
“I think that Obama has been the most LGBT-friendly president that we’ve seen ever,” Koob said. “If it is going to happen, then he will be the one to do it. He has every ability to do it, and I think [he] just needs to tackle the issue head on.”
If Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is ultimately overturned, Koob believes it will lead to more political activism for LGBT rights.
“Every time that any law gets passed for LGBT rights, it’s just blazing the path for more,” he said.
4. The Times-Delphic (Drake University), November 11, 2009
2507 University Avenue, 124N Meredith Hall, Des Moines, IA 50311
Sexual orientation support group returns
By Tyler O'Neil
Drake students seeking a forum to discuss their concerns or questions about their sexual orientation should look no further than the Drake University Counseling Center.
A support group at the center is returning from a yearlong hiatus. It will give students an opportunity to share their daily struggles and experiences and listen to one another.
“I am looking forward to it,” said Kirk Bragg, the group’s facilitator. “I enjoyed the group in the past and was sorry that it kind of waned last year.”
Bragg has been a therapist at the university’s Counseling Center for 10 years and is a licensed independent social worker.
“The way we had phrased it be fore, it was a coming-out group, and when people were done coming out, they didn’t feel they had much of a reason to come,” Bragg said.
Bragg said he wants the new group to be open to all issues, not just those associated with coming out.
“We are open to talking about per sonal issues, talking about the political issues of the day and could be discuss ing a particular reading for the day,” Bragg said. “I’m open to anything.”
Bragg emphasized that the group is not a therapy group.
“It is more of a discussion/sup port group,” Bragg said. “It is quite different than a therapy group.”
Bragg said he realizes that this is a complex issue.
He also said the target audience is students questioning their sexuality, not “well-meaning straight people.” He said there were other groups to fulfill that need.
“What’s the difference between gay and straight and lesbian and gay and bisexual?” Bragg said. “They’re just labels and not always very de scriptive. I’m happy to work with people with any label.”
The goal of the discussion is to guide students in introspective reflec tion. “I hope to achieve a high degree of in sight and comfort,” Bragg said. “Whatever students need to be, they should be that. It is a safe environment to discuss and better understand themselves.”
Bragg also said that this group is not intended to take the place of Rainbow Union.
Rainbow Union Vice President and Diversity Interest Senator La’Cee Groetken called the group a great idea.
“It is a bridge to Rainbow Union, not a supplement,” Groetken said.
The two groups have made plans to col laborate on events and discussions. How ever, Groetken said the groups are very dif ferent, mainly in confidentiality.
“Rainbow Union is an open forum, not a discussion group, “ Groetken said.
Bragg said the discussions in the group will be kept private.
“Confidentiality will be a big issue to the people that attend this,” Bragg said. “Whatever is said in the group stays in the group. Students need to be respectful of who else is attending because there may be some people who aren’t even out yet.”
Rainbow Union is more focused on hosting events for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer students on campus, and focuses on broader topics than the dis cussion group, Groetken said.
Bragg said that the counseling center typically focuses on one-on-one sessions with students, but that he is excited to work with a group.
“Groups are an efficient way of helping a lot of people,” Bragg said. “Groups give people a chance to learn from each other.”
Groetken agreed that communication was helpful for individuals.
“Just talking it out and talking with other people who are similar to you can be very helpful,” Groetken said.
Bragg said there is already interest in the discussion group from students who partici pated in the past and new students. He said he is hoping for a group of four to 10 stu dents to have productive conversations.
Groetken and other members of the Rainbow Union executive board are al ready encouraging all students to partici pate in the discussion group, including their own members.
“I thoroughly encourage our members to go to this group,” Groetken said. “Stu dents with any issues with sexuality should really engage in discussion. It is a wonderful idea.”
The group will meet weekly on either Monday or Wednesday nights. Bragg said he is hoping to get a base of students that are interested in attending sessions every week.
“There is plenty to be talked about, that’s for sure,” Bragg said.
5. Inside Higher Ed, November 13, 2009
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
Furor Over Anti-Gay Blog
By Scott Jaschik
Bert Chapman knows that his reason for opposing what he calls "the homosexual lifestyle" -- that it differs from his view of Biblical norms -- won't win many arguments these days in the secular world. So Chapman, a blogger who is also a librarian at Purdue University, turned to economics. And at his Conservative Librarian blog, he argues that gay people are an economic drain.
He cites the billions spent on fighting AIDS "without recognizing the morally aberrant sexual behavior ... causing its spread" and the "sad practice" of colleges and other employers offering domestic partner benefits in a way that "prevents them from providing additional coverage to those of us adhering to traditional sexual moral standards"; he goes on to say that gay people are causing economic problems in fields such as real estate and divorce law.
"Guess who has to pay for these increased costs and potentially lower investment returns? We do, regardless of whether or not we approve of the homosexual lifestyle. The next time some one tells you how wonderful is the 'progress' gays have made in recent decades ask them if they have ever thought about the multiple economic consequences of this 'progress' as described in this posting," he wrote.
The blog runs not on a university Web site, but at Townhall.com, a conservative news site. On the site, Chapman's biography notes his job as the political science librarian at the university, but also says: "Views presented on this blog are the author's personal opinions and do not represent the opinions of my employer."
But as word of the blog spread at Purdue, the campus has seen petitions and protests, with many calling for Chapman (who has tenure) to be fired. His critics say that what he writes is so hateful and inaccurate that it raises questions about his ability to do his job.
One sophomore wrote to The Purdue Exponent, the student newspaper: "That’s right. I’ll call for his job. As a student, as a lesbian, as a human being, I believe with every fiber of my being that Purdue University in no way should affiliate itself with the hateful, bigoted opinions of Professor Chapman. It would serve Professor Chapman well to know that there are quite a few 'sexually deviant' students on this campus and they just happen to pay his salary.... Imagine that Professor Chapman’s blog had been titled, 'An Economic Case Against Interracial Marriage' or 'An Economic Case Against the Disabled.' How would the Purdue administration react if they knew a professor was convinced racial segregation should still be in place or that the disabled should just stay home because building a ramp to a library would cost too much money?"
Another student wrote: "Bert Chapman surrendered his position at Purdue the moment he decided to publish such intellectual diarrhea on his blog. There are those who would defend this atrocious man by claiming that political correctness has conspired to snatch away his free speech, but this is not so. Dr. Chapman has the right to believe that homosexuals are immoral, just as it would be within his rights to believe the same about any other group of people.
"The issue is not Dr. Chapman’s views of homosexuality, bigoted and wrong-headed though they may be, but that he has abused his authority as a scholar and an expert to disseminate hate-filled propaganda. Professors are expected to use their studies to search for the truth, but Dr. Chapman appears to feel more at home making up his own facts about AIDS, prison sex and other such matters he falsely connects to what he calls sodomy. He is using these lies to extinguish the essential rights of a group that accounts for an estimated 5-10 percent of our nation’s total population. It should not be merely Purdue’s LGBT students and faculty that are offended by this, but every single decent soul on this campus. Dr. Bert Chapman is not just a homophobe, I think he’s a liar, and it’s about time he start looking for a job elsewhere."
Others -- including some who would join in condemning Chapman's views -- have said that they worry about the rush to demand his dismissal. A column in the Exponent by a self-proclaimed "libertarian-minded liberal" accused liberals of refusing to recognize Chapman's right to express himself. "Students’ outrage at Chapman’s blog is understandable, and, more importantly, merited. But once Purdue liberals proposed that Chapman be removed from Purdue for voicing his opinions, a line was crossed from democracy into fascism," the column says.
Kevin Casimer, a student who has been involved in organizing the protests against Chapman, said via e-mail that he isn't calling for the librarian's dismissal, but for a more forceful response by the university. "What I am primarily calling for is for all members of the Purdue community who think that Chapman's comments are damaging to say so publicly." He said that all of the talk about free speech -- while understandable -- is diverting attention from the need to confront and condemn Chapman's views. (Casimer details his views on the debates on his blog.)
The university has rejected calls to fire Chapman. "The university asks its faculty to make it clear that the viewpoints they express do not necessarily reflect those of the university. Mr. Chapman has gone out of his way to do this with a very clear disclaimer. He also took an extra step and posted his blog on a server not owned by the university," said a spokeswoman. "The university has a policy prohibiting harassment if it unreasonably affects a person's educational or work opportunities or affects his or her ability to participate in a university activity. This does not meet that standard. The First Amendment clearly allows him to state his opinion. The best response is to speak up, which is exactly what our students and some faculty are doing."
In a brief interview on Thursday, Chapman said he didn't want to talk about the situation at length because he wants the controversy to die down. He did say that the angry responses have been hurtful to him, and to his wife. He said that his supervisors at the university, consistent with the institution's statement, have not taken any action against him. But he said that he contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, just in case.
FIRE's Adam Kissel said that the organization is monitoring the situation and "has been pleased with Purdue's statements in defense of professors' freedom to publish their personal views on the Internet. This is a great learning opportunity for those students and faculty members who think wrongly that Purdue should censor or punish the professor."
6. U.S. News & World Report, November 12, 2009
1050 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
Female Student Wants to Be Mr. Yale
By U.S. News Education Staff
Amelia Earhart, Sally Ride, and . . . Jen Ivers?
Ivers is a senior Spanish major at Yale University who is making waves at the 308-year-old Ivy League institution. In February, she will be the first-ever female student to participate in the Mr. Yale contest, the Yale Daily News reports.
Ivers's residential college, Timothy Dwight, overwhelmingly voted for her to represent the dorm in the Yale College Council Mr. Yale competition. After originally rejecting Ivers's nomination, the YCC reversed its position and allowed the groundbreaking contestant into the campuswide competition.
Now don't expect Ivers to rock a dress at the competition. Ivers, who is openly gay, tells the Daily News that she prefers to dress in men's clothing. She doesn't identify herself as a man or a woman, the report says, and she doesn't believe gender should play any role in the pageant itself.
"Most people don't see me as falling within some sort of gender stereotype," Ivers tells the Daily News. "And you can't be friends with me if you can't get past that."
Ivers's campaign has the support of the campus LBGT Cooperative and—obviously—her dorm mates. And, after what the YCC calls a miscommunication, the council is excited to see Ivers compete for the coveted crown, too.
"I feel awful about that miscommunication," YCC Events Coordinator Mathilde Williams tells the Daily News. "It'll be really cool and unique to have her compete."
7. The Paladin (Furman University), November 13, 2009
3300 Poinsett Highway, Greenville, SC 29613
Coming out on campus
By Dusty Roether
On October 11 of each year, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and its allies observe National Coming Out Day as a day of awareness about the (often difficult) act of coming out of the closet. The experience of coming out of the closet is not a once-in-a-lifetime event: LGBT individuals have to come out of the closet almost every day, and the difficulty lies in knowing how someone will respond.
I realized that I was gay when I entered middle school. While other guys started talking about how attractive the girls were, I was thinking about how attractive the guys were. As time went on, I realized that this was taboo because "the Bible tells me so," and this led to an internal conflict that waged in my mind for nine years. I even dated a few girls during high school, but no matter how hard I tried or prayed, I could not eliminate my true feelings. At the end of my sophomore year at Furman, I finally accepted my sexual orientation, and I decided to come out.
The first step was to tell my family. I was pretty certain that both of my parents would not approve, but I felt sure that my sisters would understand and would support me, particularly my younger sister because she is a musical theatre major and acts on stage with gay men all the time. My expectations, however, did not reflect reality - my mother was far more supportive than my father and my sisters, and my father actually said that I am going to hell as a result. One of my sisters attempted to talk me out of it, and the other sister refused to talk to me at all. After a dramatic summer living with my family, I hoped to come back to more accepting attitudes at Furman. Sadly, this was not the case. When I returned to Furman for my junior year, some of my friends would not talk to me, and others started to treat me differently. My entire life changed simply because I revealed a part of my identity.
As Susannah Morris makes clear in her column, "On God and gays," religion "is so often used to justify discrimination and hatred." In fact, religion was the main reason why most of my friends and family did not approve of my sexual orientation, and this seems to be why many LGBT individuals on Furman's campus choose not to come out. It is not clear how people will respond and, in such a conservative Christian environment, this action could be socially detrimental. But coming out of the closet was necessary for my own personal happiness, and as difficult as some days are as a result of it, I do not regret my decision.
Many people wonder how they should respond if a friend were to come out to them. The response should be one of thanks to the LGBT individual for trusting you enough to tell you. Also, you should make it clear that the individual can count on you for support. The ultimate goal should be happiness, even if the way of receiving happiness is not entirely understood.
A common misconception is that an individual's identity completely changes when they come out. Rather, they have just revealed more about who they are. The Furman community must become more welcoming to LGBT individuals, for how can LGBT individuals feel welcomed on a campus where they are afraid to come out?
8. The Daily Helmsman, November 14, 2009
University of Memphis, 3720 Alumni Avenue, Memphis, TN 38152
Student arrested for attempted arson, assault: Suspects try to burn Gay and Lesbian Community Center flag
By Chris Shaw
University of Memphis student Ross Burton was arrested early yesterday morning for attempting to burn the rainbow flag outside of the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center on South Cooper Street.
A police officer observed Burton and an unidentified suspect attempting to set fire to the rope that is attached to the flagpole outside of the MGLCC.
When the police officer approached the two men, a scuffle ensued. A second officer arrived, and together, the police officers were able to arrest Burton after they sprayed him with a chemical agent.
The unidentified suspect was able to escape on foot, despite a K-9 unit/aerial search.
The attempted flag burning is the second act of vandalism against the MGLCC in two months. A MGLCC billboard featuring a gay U of M student and former marine was destroyed in September.
Ashley Smith, president of the Stonewall Tigers, the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual community rights organization on campus, said the combination of events in a short span of time was "disconcerting."
"I would like to think that they weren't connected, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were," Smith said.
Smith said that after the billboard was vandalized, the Stonewall Tigers' attendance spiked.
"The only good thing about something like this is that the members of the gay community become more involved," Smith said. "Not only did our attendance grow, but the active members started doing more as well."
Stephanie Cook, vice president of the Stonewall Tigers, said she was ashamed of Burton's association with The U of M.
"It's disappointing that someone so young and supposedly educated would act in such an ignorant way," Cook said. "I hope that The University would suggest counseling or some sort of guidance to him because he is obviously harboring some animosity."
William Porter, dean of students, said he couldn't comment on whether or not The University would punish Burton.
Burton is being charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest and vandalism of less than $500, but the motive for the crime is still under investigation.
Cook said the attempted arson showed prejudice and hatred still exist in the South.
"When something like this happens, it shows that there is a long road ahead to overcome all the prejudice and hatred that's been displayed against all minorities," she said.
9. The New York Times, November 13, 2009
620 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018
Anything He Can Do, She Can Do
By Michael Winerip
IN September 1998, David Buechner, then 39, a prominent classical pianist, came out as a transgender woman, explaining that from then on, she would live and perform as Sara Davis Buechner. The pianist had been accustomed to rave reviews (at 24, David, in his New York City concert debut, was called “an extraordinary young artist” by a New York Times critic). But the debut as Sara, reported in a Times magazine article, was not so well received, even by loved ones.
Elizabeth and Anthony Buechner, the parents, as well as Matthew, the older brother, all expressed their opposition. In a recent interview, Matthew Buechner, a professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Kansas, said he had counseled David to remain a man publicly and cross-dress in private. “A lot of people live that kind of dichotomy,” Matthew said. “I saw the switch as something that would destroy a career. Classical audiences are very conservative.”
But Sara Buechner was determined to be. She said that from when she first took lessons at age 3, she knew she’d be a pianist, and not long after, realized she was meant to be a girl. (“On the playground, boys yelled ‘David’s a girl’ and I’d think, ‘You got that right.’ ”) She believed that bouts of heavy drinking and depression during her years as David stemmed from not being true to herself.
In the next years, Ms. Buechner largely disappeared from public view, though not by choice. David had done 50 concerts a year — performing with philharmonic orchestras in New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland and San Francisco — but as Sara, she couldn’t get bookings. “Apart from local gigs, from 1998 to 2003, I did three to five concerts a year,” she said. David taught as an adjunct professor at Manhattan School of Music and New York University, but as Sara, seeking a full-time professorship, “I applied 35 places and wouldn’t even get a response. Behind my back, I’d hear, ‘Is it safe to leave him in a room with undergrads?’ ”
She left Manhattan, where she got the wrong sort of attention (“In line at the bank, I hear, ‘You’re the guy living on the sixth floor having a sex change’ ”), and moved to the Bronx, where she was only Sara. She took a job teaching the piano to children at the Amadeus Conservatory in Chappaqua, N.Y. “A nice lady said, ‘Why teach here?’ I lied. I said, ‘I want to teach kids.’ I needed work.” She earned a third of what David had made 10 years earlier.
Sandra Elm, a talent manager, had warned that coming out would be costly. “And it was,” Ms. Elm said. “The offers dried up.” This was before colleges were creating dorms for transgender students, before gay and lesbian groups added the “T.” “The visibility of trans people was just beginning,” said Mara Keisling, 50, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, who herself came out as a woman in 1999.
It helped that Yamaha, Ms. Buechner’s piano sponsor, stuck by her and that Koch Classics continued to release her albums. “I recorded the works of Miklos Rozsa as David in ’97 and the CD was released in ’98 as Sara,” she recalled. Of her album of Rudolf Friml’s piano works, Anthony Tommasini wrote in The Times: “I can’t imagine this music played with more integrity and affection.”
She’d call to tell her mother stories about the children she taught. “It could have been sad, considering how successful she’d been,” said Sara’s mother, a retired lawyer. “But Sara always kept a funny spin on it.”
“Whatever my problems, it was a very rich period of my life,” Ms. Buechner said. “I felt it was a blessing to flush David Buechner down the toilet and still have my music.”
In August 2002, when Ms. Buechner was playing at a summer festival in a barn in Delhi, N.Y., she was approached by Carrie Feiner. They had been classmates at Juilliard. “I was in a piano class studying this incredibly technical piece," Ms. Feiner recalled, “The professor said, ‘We’ll bring in Buechner to sight-read this concerto.’ Played it first time through! We were all so discouraged — we knew we weren’t musicians like that.”
Ms. Feiner was surprised to find the great Buechner in a barn in Delhi but didn’t say anything until months later, when Ms. Buechner was giving Ms. Feiner’s daughters piano lessons. “You must be so busy playing,” Ms. Feiner said.
“No,” Ms. Buechner said, “things aren’t going well.”
Ms. Feiner offered to try to get her some concerts, and Ms. Buechner, who’d been through several agents, was skeptical. “Carrie was a housewife with four kids in Scarsdale,” Ms. Buechner said. “I was snooty.”
But slowly, Ms. Feiner built up Ms. Buechner’s schedule. “Sara needed to play a lot, it didn’t matter where,” Ms. Feiner said. “I wanted people to hear this beautiful playing, and hopefully jump on the bandwagon.”
One recital Ms. Feiner lined up was in Hightstown, N.J., at the Peddie School. “She’d get me gigs in Newark,” Ms. Buechner said.
In 2002, Ms. Buechner learned that the University of British Columbia in Vancouver was looking for a piano professor. “I wasn’t just going to apply and be humiliated again,” she said. Instead, she called a former teacher and friend, William Aide, who was the director of keyboard studies at the University of Toronto and asked him to make a discreet inquiry.
Ms. Buechner was welcomed to apply. She had to perform a 45-minute recital, teach a master class and interview with faculty members.
When Terence Dawson, the keyboard coordinator at the University of British Columbia, was asked recently if being transgender came up during hiring deliberations, he said: “I’d like to say it didn’t, but it did, although it wasn’t an issue. There were more important things.” They judged her to be a top-flight pianist and gifted teacher with a collegial spirit. “She’s a very warm person, a joy to be with,” Mr. Dawson said. Ms. Buechner was hired in 2003 from over 100 candidates and received tenure in 2008.
Canada has a national gay marriage law, and in 2005, Ms. Buechner and her partner of a decade, a Japanese woman — they first dated when David was touring Japan and she was his interpreter — were wed before 125 family members and friends in Vancouver.
Ms. Feiner was right. The concerts got bigger, starting with the Montreal Chamber Orchestra in 2004, and including appearances with the Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, Vancouver, Victoria and CBC Radio orchestras. Ms. Buechner now does 60 concerts a year, more than David in his prime.
The reviews don’t mention “David Buechner” and it’s hard to tell how much people know or care any more. A 2007 rave in The Buffalo News began: “You can never tell by looking at a soloist what kind of performance you are in for. With her skirt and pumps, Buechner looked conservative. But her playing was anything but. She played with fire and sparkle.”
As Sara, she has been featured with the Buffalo, Oakland and Seattle philharmonics. But still not, she noted, with this country’s top-tier orchestras. “Now that it’s going in Canada, can we get it to trickle down to the U.S. and rebuild that career I lost?” she said. Even if not, she considers herself a lucky woman.
On Nov. 11, she celebrated the 25th anniversary of her New York City debut by playing in Merkin Concert Hall, still 10 blocks from Carnegie Hall, but a joyous night. The 440-seat hall was full; the audience gave her numerous standing ovations. Her parents traveled from Baltimore, her brother from Kansas. They’ve all long since accepted Sara, happy that she’s happy. Her mother said she was advised to take a firm stand against Sara by a prominent therapist so as not to encourage the switch, but now regrets it. “Sometimes you think you know more than your children, but you don’t,” she said.
Her daughter bears no grudge. “I’ve come to understand, they were afraid I’d lose my sustenance, my identity,” Ms. Buechner said. “If I changed as a person, I didn’t lose my good parts whatever they are — my devilish sense of humor, my rakish good looks. I don’t think I look 50.”
She envies her students, far more relaxed about these things than her generation was. She has one, Al, who’s transgender. “Al’s short and I’m tall,” said Ms. Buechner, who is 5-foot-9. “We’re quite a sight.” Al made the switch at 14, Ms. Buechner said, so much easier than waiting until midcareer.
10. Washington Blade, November 13, 2009
529 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20045
Georgetown students unnerved after anti-gay attacks
By Amy Cavanaugh
Editors’ note: This is the first of a two-part series examining the campus climate for LGBT students at Georgetown following recent anti-gay incidents there.
It started when two men struck a Georgetown University student with her book bag, knocking her to the ground.
The attack — targeting a woman wearing a T-shirt bearing a pro-gay slogan — left the student with minor injuries and unnerved LGBT students on campus.
Another student, Lisa Frank, an 18-year-old lesbian from Oregon in her first year at Georgetown, happened to be wearing a “Legalize Gay” shirt from American Apparel on the same day of the assault.
“That was pretty unsettling,” she said. “That whole idea of being attacked because of what I was wearing or how my gender or sexual orientation was perceived.”
But the assault Oct. 27 that Frank and other students hoped was an aberration became just the first of several recent anti-gay incidents on campus.
On Nov. 1, a man allegedly assaulted a student after repeatedly asking him, “Are you a homo?” The attack, which occurred less than two blocks from the main Georgetown campus entrance, sent the student to Georgetown University Hospital.
The next day, a handwritten note left taped to the door of Georgetown’s LGBTQ Resource Center called director Shiva Subbaraman a “homo” and told her to “go back to India.”
Sgt. Carlos Mejia, commander of the D.C. Police’s Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit, said during a campus vigil Nov. 2 in response to the attacks that police are investigating. And Georgetown’s Public Safety Department is separately investigating the handwritten note.
Despite those efforts, J.M. Alatis, an 18-year-old gay man who serves as the secretary and historian for GU Pride, said he became increasingly alarmed at the developments.
“I came here from West Virginia, and I thought D.C. was more open and things like this wouldn’t happen,” said Alatis, who’s in his first year at Georgetown. “But with the second one, a few days after, I was angry and just upset that we had already had one rally against it and … [then] there was another attack.”
Carlos León-Ojeda, a gay 21-year-old Georgetown senior from New Mexico who co-chairs GU Pride, said the recent attacks have brought back memories of similar anti-gay incidents that occurred in 2007.
Among those incidents was a widely reported anti-gay assault in September 2007 against another Georgetown student, which happened near where the most recent assault against the male student occurred. In the older case, charges filed against one man were later dropped after prosecutors determined they lacked sufficient evidence to secure the suspect’s conviction.
“When the initial hate crimes happened then, they were a catalyst for the LGBTQ Resource Center coming into formation,” León-Ojeda said. “I was used to bias-related incidents happening sometimes, but this time they all happened within a week.”
Some students, including Frank, assumed such attacks at Georgetown were a thing of the past. When she heard people talk about the incidents from two years ago, she paid little attention.
“My thought was, ‘That was 2007, and it’s 2009 now,’” she said. “The year was off to a great start, and we were putting on events for coming out week and there were no incidents whatsoever. So it was shocking to get the first e-mail [alert from campus police] and really angering and frustrating to get the second one.”
The attacks were particularly chilling to Alatis and Frank, who said finding a campus with a safe environment for LGBT students was an important factor in their decision to attend Georgetown.
“I went to a very liberal high school with an active gay-straight alliance, though I was not active in it,” Frank said. “When coming to college, I wanted to be somewhere where I felt safe — and in a liberal and gay-friendly city. I checked web sites for clubs, and when I found out about the Resource Center, it definitely made me more comfortable coming here.”
Alatis added that while he isn’t out at home, he “wanted to express” himself at Georgetown.
“There’s a big difference between West Virginia and D.C.,” he said. “The campus is more liberal than my hometown, and I really wanted to go somewhere I could explore not just the LGBTQ organization but the community and where I wouldn’t have to hide anymore.
“Most other universities I applied to had organizations, but what Georgetown offers is the only resource center at a Jesuit university.”
‘Maybe that’s the reality’
León-Ojeda, Alatis and Frank said in the wake of the attacks, they’re cautious walking around campus and D.C., but don’t feel unsafe.
“You just have to know that on certain nights there will be people who are intoxicated, and if you’re hanging out with a group of gay friends, you may get weird looks, or sometimes get verbal comments like ‘fag,’” León-Ojeda said.
“I don’t know, maybe that’s the reality of college campuses, but at Georgetown, after four years, I don’t think it’s changed that much.”
Frank said she feels safe on campus, but has experienced homophobic incidents while walking around D.C. with her girlfriend.
“Sometimes when walking back from Dupont Circle with my girlfriend, people have said rude things, or semi-blocked the path, but not so that we felt unsafe,” she said. “What’s worrying is … the university tells us, ‘Stay in groups, don’t get too intoxicated.’ But the second incident occurred in a fairly well lit area with people around.
“It’s unsettling. You can take precautions and be with a group and something bad can still happen.”
León-Ojeda said Georgetown has seen a “greater push for safety, not just because of the bias-related incidents geared toward perceived sexual orientation or gender expression” this year.
“In general, the administration wants to make sure that we all have the numbers to contact for public safety in case something does happen or that we have the correct contacts if we’re somewhere in danger,” he said. “It was something vaguely talked about before, but not many people have those numbers on their cell.”
The students said they’ve made additional suggestions to administrators on improving safety on campus, including better pay for the university’s public safety officers.
“They have a really high turnover rate,” León-Ojeda said, “and it would be a preventative measure to keep staff familiar with campus life to stay here.”
But the students also have been careful to applaud steps the university has taken to improve safety.
“The opening of the [LGBTQ] Resource Center is great for explaining the shift in the administration,” Frank said. “They get asked by other Catholic institutions, ‘How can you have that?’ And their response is, ‘How can we not?’”
Frank said the office co-sponsors GU Pride events and educational events, such as bringing back transgender alumni to talk to students during gender liberation week. GU Pride also brought a group of students to the National Equality March and AIDS Walk events.
GU Pride has about 50 active members, but the extended and allied community is believed to be much larger than that. Frank said there are 300 people on GU Pride’s listserv.
“There’s also a very strong ally network,” León-Ojeda said. “We get a lot of support from other organizations, like the black student alliance and the women’s center. That’s definitely something that’s grown since I got here: stronger networking with progressive student groups. Faith-based groups are also doing more with GU Pride.”
León-Ojeda said that while some student attitudes have been slow to change during the last four years, “more out students are coming.”
“The support we see from the administration has definitely been larger than when I first came here,” he said. “And the Center is certainly helping things flourish.”
11. Daily Lobo (University of New Mexico), November 12, 2009
961 Buena Vista Dr SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106
ASUNM supports queer resource center
By Mario Trujillo
Five members of the Queer Straight Alliance stood in front of the ASUNM Senate Wednesday to make their case for adding a queer resource center at UNM.
But by that time, the Senate was already sold on the idea, said ASUNM Sen. Joseph Colbert. The resolution skated through the vote 18-0-1.
“I felt like most people out there would be on board with it, because there is nothing controversial about a resolution that calls for a resource center for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (people),” he said.
Passing a non-binding resolution through the undergraduate student government is only a first step. Jeffrey Waldo, spokesman for QSA, said the process to get a queer resource center will only get more difficult from here.
“GPSA still has to pass it,” Waldo said. “We have to ask for student fees. It is going to be way more complicated than this. But it is good to have the undergraduate student backing.”
What Waldo and his peers are asking for is a few rooms, a staff member and two work study students to run the center, similar to the basement room the Women’s Resource Center was given 37 years ago when they first started.
The resolution didn’t make it onto the GPSA agenda for Saturday’s meeting, but GPSA council chair Danny Hernandez said it should have no problem getting through the Senate in the next meeting.
“I think it is going to pass easily,” Hernandez said. “I believe GLBT issues are extremely important right now. We are on the cusp of getting more rights for GLBT people. I think a lot of people are hip to that.”
QSA already has the backing of the Women’s Resource Center. Director Sandrea Gonzales had already heard of the resolution’s success early Thursday morning. Gonzales has given the QSA her full support and has coached its representatives through the process, she said.
“There are always people who will say, ‘Why do you need your own center?’” she said. “Now that is a question that always gets asked. They are going to need to be
prepared. They are going to have to get that research pretty solid. They are going to have to give a good presentation about why UNM would benefit from having this center.”
The QSA, which has about 180 members, is drafting a proposal to give the student fee review board in early December to hammer out the budget needed for the center, Waldo said.
“The queer resource center would be focusing more on people who are actually in the closet, who are facing internal hate because their parents tell them they are wrong,” he said. “Kids are still being told that they are monsters. That they are going to go to hell and they can’t come out. Many people are not out. There are many closeted people on this campus that I know personally.”
At this point the QSA is student run and doesn’t have the resources to tackle those issues, Waldo said. The QSA has acted as more of a social network and older faculty and graduate students tend to shy away from it.
With a resource center, the group would be better equipped to network and work in the residents halls to get “GLBT information out there in to students’ own private, horrible closets,” Waldo said.
But more than anything, the creation of the resource center would validate the QSA’s and others’ struggles, Waldo said.
“UNM’s creation of this would be like a stamp of approval that our identity is real and issues are real, and it is not just a lifestyle … that this does actually affect every facet of our lives,” he said.
And for such a cause, the Women’s Resource Center isn’t concerned about a queer resource center taking funds that would otherwise go to them.
“I am not really worried about that,” Gonzales said. “I just support it. I don’t feel like it is going to take anything away from us. I am probably more worried about the Legislature and Board of Regents than I am about another program. I think it is the program that needs to happen here.”
12. The Linc, November 9, 2009
University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln, LN6 7TS, UK
LGBT society protest for gay men’s right to donate blood
By Jack Dobson-Smith
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transsexual (LGBT) society of the University of Lincoln demonstrated for gay and bisexual men’s right to donate blood at a blood drive at the Engine Shed, last Wednesday, November 4th.
Hundreds of students signed a petition, and many donated blood on behalf of those currently banned from doing so under the European Blood Safety Directive, which sets sexually-active gay and bisexual men as a “high-risk” group.
Some students were originally worried that the LGBT society were calling for a boycott of the blood donation, however they were reassured by Alanna Draper-Webster, the chairwoman of the society and a first-year forensic science student.
“We’re here to ask people to give blood on behalf of people who can’t give blood, specifically gay and bi men, who are banned even if they only have sex with a condom, are in a monogamous relationship, or even had safe sex ten years ago and have all been tested negative for HIV.”
Draper-Webster also provided figures which claim that there are 306,915 people in the UK who can’t donate because of the restriction.
Many students said they were not aware of the rule and were shocked by it. Brendan O’Toole said: “I thought we’d moved on from things like this,” while another student said: “Anyone should be allowed as long as they’ve gone through the screening.”
A huge 98% of 200 students polled by The Linc said they think gay and bisexual men should be allowed to donate.
Caroline Allen, a drama student, said: “Your choice of sexuality shouldn’t be made to feel wrong, and with people needing blood they should be able to give it.”
Only a tiny minority disagreed with the society’s petition. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, defended the rule, saying: “No medical test is ever 100% foolproof [but] it shouldn’t be a blanket ban, it should be based on lifestyle.”
Jamie Hogue, a member of the LGBT society, is one of the many who have been personally affected by the ban.
He said: “I was a blood donor for a full year before I was affected by the ban. It didn’t seem fair to be told that your blood’s not wanted. I’d been made to feel unclean.”
Altogether 568 students signed the petition, and Draper-Webster felt the day had been a success.
“We’ve helped raise awareness. Quite a lot of people didn’t actually know about the ban, so I think we’ve done quite well, and hopefully the petitions will go some way towards [changing the rule].”
13. The Orion (Chico State), November 11, 2009
Department of Journalism, CSU Chico, Chico, CA 95929-0600
Gay scene unseen
By Kim Sloan
Dating can be hard for many people in Chico, but being a homosexual can limit the playing field even more.
The homosexual population in Chico struggles with dating because of the tightly knit atmosphere in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, said Jeremy Husar, Butte College sophomore and president of the Stonewall Alliance Youth Twenties group. Another problem is there are not a lot of places that advertise a gay-friendly environment for dating, he said.
The gay community is extremely close and, while that provides camaraderie among them, it also poses dating challenges for homosexuals looking for a relationship in Chico, Husar said.
Senior Irma Rivera, a music industry major, is trying online dating to expand her options away from Chico to find a partner. Still, she would appreciate a gay bar or a public place where she could go, feel safe and not be discriminated against, she said.
Though, Chico currently does not have a gay bar, from the 1980s through the 1990s, there were two gay bars in Chico, said Gail Carr, 64. She was a frequent patron of Ice Box, a gay bar in Chico that was only open for a year because community members did not approve of it.
“It didn’t do very well because people were not real appreciative that it was in town,” Carr said. “So the patrons would sometime be beat up or chased out.”
The other gay bar, Cherry Street, lasted longer and had pool tables and dancing, but it was an older place so Carr thinks it must have lost its appeal, she said. At the time, people came from as far away as Redding and Mt. Shasta to go to it.
Although these bars did exist in Chico, they were not necessarily a friendly environment. However, Carr thinks that newer generations are more accepting of homosexuals.
“It was something that was a little unsafe to do, even in my generation,” she said. “It was like taking your life in your hands going to one.”
Nowadays, some people, such as Husar and Rivera, go to Panama Bar and Cafe on Wednesday nights to mingle with other members of the gay community, he said.
Though he does not hold an official gay night at his bars, Robert Mowry, owner of Panama Bar and Cafe and The University Bar, said Panama’s has become friendly to the gay crowd. Mowry also noted the variety of people in the bars changes about three times per year.
Because of the lack of places that publicize gay-friendly attitudes, Husar thinks there are few opportunities for gay individuals to run into the same people at the same places, he said.
“Even though I’m gay and I’m still looking for another boyfriend, it’s not stopping me from trying,” he said.
Husar thinks it is too soon for the Chico community to have a behavioral change about homosexuality and the straight community feels uncomfortable around gays.
“As far as I know, we would love to have another facility because we don’t want to make the crowd more awkward than it already is,” Husar said.
Junior Breanna Wallace thinks the problem stems from the closeness of the gay community in Chico. Wallace has an out-of-town girlfriend and has not dated anyone in the Chico community. However, she has witnessed her gay friends date among themselves because everyone in the gay community knows everyone else, she said.
Though there are no longer any gay bars in Chico, the Stonewall Alliance is an organization that supports the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual population here, Husar said.
The group offers social activities such as dinners and potlucks where the gay community can mingle and meet people, Rivera said. However, the Stonewall Alliance is not meant to replace Chico’s dating scene for homosexuals.
“If there was a gay bar in Chico today, it would survive,” Carr said. “Why shouldn’t they have a place where they can go mingle and feel safe and party and dance?”
Kim Sloan can be reached at
14. Ocala, November 12, 2009
2121 S.W. 19th Ave. Road, Ocala, Florida 34474
Professor takes part in ‘Don’t ask’ study
By Nathan Crabbe
GAINESVILLE - Support for the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy restricting gays and lesbians from military service has fallen sharply among veterans since the policy was introduced, according to a new study done in part by a University of Florida researcher.
About 40 percent of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans supported the policy in 2006, as compared to nearly 75 percent of military personnel in 1993, according to the study.
The research was conducted by UF psychology professor Bonnie Moradi and a military sociologist at the RAND Corporation, a private research group that advises the Pentagon.
“Over the years there’s been a clear decline in support for the ban,” Moradi said.
Introduced by President Clinton in 1993 as a compromise to completely lifting the ban on gays in the military, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has led to the discharge of service members who openly acknowledge their homosexuality.
President Obama pledged to repeal the ban during the campaign and has been criticized for a lack of action on the issue.
The study found that having gay or lesbian soldiers in units had no major impact on military discipline, raising doubts about a justification for the policy.
One-fifth of those surveyed said they knew a gay or lesbian member of their unit.
Nearly three-quarters said they were comfortable in the presence of gays and lesbians.
Soldiers listed the quality of leaders, equipment and training as the most important factors linked to their unit’s cohesion and readiness.
“In the absence of data supporting these discharges, that helps the argument against the policy,” Moradi said.
The study was commissioned by the Palm Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where researchers have advocated reversing the policy.
It was posted online in the online version of “Armed Forces & Society” before being published in an upcoming issue of the journal.
The research examined data from a Zogby online poll of 545 U.S. service members who served in the Iraq or Afghanistan
The poll found 40 percent supported the current policy, 28 percent opposed and 33 percent were unsure or had no opinion.
In a Los Angeles Times polls in 1993, 74 percent of military personnel supported the policy, 18 percent opposed it and 8 percent were unsure.
Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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