Thursday, January 7, 2010

QNOC Digest 2009.12.20

Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.12.20

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. Los Angeles Times - Supreme Court will decide appeal of Christian student group: UC Hastings College of Law refused to officially recognize the Christian Legal Society because it refused to admit gays and lesbians.
2. Los Angeles Times - Christian Legal Society vs. UC Hastings School of the Law: The school is on shaky legal ground in denying the society status as a recognized campus organization
3. The News Sentinel - LGBT students: USF uses ‘double standard'
4. The Daily Iowan - Another tired stereotype falls
5. The Daily Targum - Domestic Violence Services address abuse among LGBT
6. InsideVandy - New Associate Director of LGBTQI Life Named
7. Queer Life at Williams - College Council Votes in Support

1. Los Angeles Times, December 8, 2009
202 West 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012,0,6381342.story
Supreme Court will decide appeal of Christian student group: UC Hastings College of Law refused to officially recognize the Christian Legal Society because it refused to admit gays and lesbians.
By David G. Savage

Reporting from Washington - The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether a Christian student group's right to religious liberty and the freedom of association can trump a university's ban on discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The case could set new rules for campus groups that receive funding through fees paid by the students.

The justices agreed to hear an appeal from a San Francisco chapter of the Christian Legal Society, which lost its recognition as a student group at the UC Hastings College of Law because it refused to abide by the school's anti-discrimination policy.

The law school said that officially recognized student groups must be open to all. The university has a policy forbidding discrimination based on "race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, sex or sexual orientation" in all of its programs.

Five years ago, however, the new leaders of the CLS chapter at Hastings declared they would not agree to accept gay or lesbian students or others who do not adhere to traditional Christian beliefs. They cited the national policy of the Christian Legal Society, which says: "In view of the clear dictates of Scripture, unrepentant participation in and advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle is inconsistent with an affirmation of the Statement of Faith" set by the organization.

So the law school said the CLS chapter would lose its status as an official student group. That meant the school would not pay travel costs for the group's leaders to attend national meetings. The CLS group also lost its right to use reserved rooms for meetings, and the school's website to promote itself to other students.

The clash led to a lawsuit and, not surprisingly, the two sides differ over who is the victim of discrimination.

Kim Colby, a lawyer for the CLS Center for Law and Religious Freedom, said a Christian group should not be forced to "abandon its identity" in order to win campus recognition. "Public universities shouldn't single out Christian student groups for discrimination. All student groups have the right to associate with people of like-mind and interest," he said.

Ethan P. Schulman, a San Francisco lawyer who represents the law school, said the Christian students are entirely free to meet informally on campus. "The real question is whether a law school is obliged to subsidize a group with student fees that is committed to discriminating against some students. If their position is accepted by the court, it could force universities across the country to subsidize discriminatory organizations, including possibly hate groups or extremist groups."

In its suit, the CLS contended it was unconstitutional for a state-funded law school to deny official recognition to a religious group because of its "core religious viewpoints." By denying it official recognition, CLS said, the law school had violated its freedom of "expressive association" as well as its rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion, all protected by the 1st Amendment.

A federal judge and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that claim, ruling a university can enforce "an open membership rule" for student organizations without violating the Constitution.

But lawyers for the Christian Legal Society appealed to the Supreme Court. As a legal precedent, they cited the high court's decision in 2000 that said the Boy Scouts of America may exclude an openly gay man from serving as a Scout master. In that case, a New Jersey court had prohibited such discrimination, but in a 5-4 ruling in Boy Scouts vs. Dale, the high court ruled the Scouts had a right to "expressive association" that permitted them to exclude those whose lifestyle contradicted the group's mission statement.

The Supreme Court dealt with a similar case involving Christian students at the University of Virginia in 1995. The school had refused to reimburse a student group for its campus publication because it explicitly promoted Christianity. The court said the exclusion violated the free-speech rights of the students.

The appeal in the Hastings case also noted that a U.S. appeals court in Chicago had sided with a Christian Legal Society chapter that challenged a similar nondiscrimination policy at the Southern Illinois University School of Law.

After considering the appeal for several weeks in their closed-door conference, the justices said Monday that they had voted to hear the case of Christian Legal Society vs. Martinez. Arguments will be in March and a ruling handed down by late June.

2. Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2009
202 West 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012,0,6011078.story
Christian Legal Society vs. UC Hastings School of the Law: The school is on shaky legal ground in denying the society status as a recognized campus organization

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed last week to referee a dispute between a University of California law school and a Christian student group that claims it's being discriminated against -- in the name of antidiscrimination. The Christian Legal Society, which requires its members to forswear sex outside heterosexual marriage, is contesting the refusal of UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco to afford it the privileges enjoyed by other student groups.

It's tempting for believers in equality for gays and lesbians (ourselves included) to side with the law school. But more is involved in this controversy than the school's opposition to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The issue for the court is whether Hastings is denying the Christian group access to university facilities because of its beliefs, not its conduct. On this point, the Christian Legal Society has a strong case.

Hastings accords a broad range of groups the status of "recognized student organization," which gives them permission to use the college logo as well as access to college newsletters, bulletin boards and some activity fees. Any such group must inform its members and others that it is not sponsored by the college. That would seem self-evident given the diversity of the organizations. Recognized groups include Republican and Democratic societies, organizations for and against abortion rights, and groups such as the Black Law Students Assn. and the Vietnamese American Law Society.

When the Hastings chapter of the Christian Legal Society applied for recognition, it was refused on the grounds that it violated the college's policy against unlawful discrimination "on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, sex or sexual orientation." The school argued that although the society opens its meetings to all, it limits voting membership and leadership positions to students who subscribe to its interpretation of Christian doctrine, including a prohibition on homosexual conduct. That, according to Hastings, constituted discrimination against both non-Christians and gays.

The first of those charges is easy to dispense with. A 1995 Supreme Court decision involving the University of Virginia made it clear that state schools may not deny student religious groups access to activity fees available to other student groups. But what about the college's ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation? The Christian Legal Society argues that students with a homosexual orientation may join, and even lead, the group if they embrace its opposition to homosexual conduct.

We realize, of course, that very few, if any, gay and lesbian students would fall into that category. But that's not the point. The point is that the Christian Legal Society determines eligibility for membership not on who an applicant is but on whether he or she holds -- and lives by -- certain beliefs. In that sense it is no different from other groups united by a political or economic philosophy. Granted, some students find the society's beliefs offensive, and not all Christians share its views about homosexuality. But once the law school decided to recognize a variety of student organizations, it was required by the 1st Amendment to not pick and choose on the basis of beliefs, religious or otherwise.

3. The News Sentinel, December 8, 2009
PO Box 102, Fort Wayne, IN 46801
LGBT students: USF uses ‘double standard'
By Ashley Smith

An unofficial gay and lesbian group on the University of Saint Francis' campus - a Catholic university - is claiming a “double standard” after saying one of the school's staff members is a lesbian.

The LGBT, or the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group, sought official recognition from the campus last year, but was denied. They are now claiming that denial of official recognition “makes no sense,” according to the flier, because one of USF's high-ranking staff members is a lesbian.

The group named the campus official in a flier circulated on campus. The official could not be reached for comment.

The flier was sent out two weeks ago to many faculty and staff members on campus. It is unknown if students also received copies. The flier is pushing for official recognition again and cites other universities, such as IPFW, which have recognized these types of student organizations.

Sister M. Elise Kriss, president of the university, said she was confused when she got the flier because she thought the issue of recognition was resolved last year.

“We just cannot formally recognize this as a student club … according to our faith,” Kriss said. “I don't think you'll find a group like this in any Catholic institution.”

Kriss did say that there is nothing keeping this group from meeting. They just cannot be formally recognized.

“Anybody can meet on campus informally,” she said.

“I don't think it's worth making an issue on campus.”

Kriss also said she did not know if the accusation about the staff member being a lesbian is true, but she did not care. “I'm not asking that question, and I'm not checking,” she said, explaining that if that person is performing her job well, she has no reason to care about her sexual orientation.

Kriss said the campus has been proactive in response to the group's request last year by creating an educational group that addresses concerns from a ministerial perspective. She said that has been working well.

4. The Daily Iowan, December 8, 2009
E131 Adler Journalism Building
Another tired stereotype falls
By Ashley Oerman

Joey Diaz is one of only a few members in the UI’s greek community to come out while still active in his fraternity.
“I could not imagine still being in the closet,” the 21-year-old said. “I wish I could advocate for people to come out.”
In mid-November, the UI Interfraternity Council updated its bylaws to include an anti-discrimination policy that protects gays and other minorities.
Chase Bottorff, former president of the council, said even though fraternity chapters and potential new members were already covered by university policy and state laws, they put the act in place to display the fraternities’ character.
Bottorff, 21, who introduced the clause to the council, said he wanted to show that the 700 men in the UI’s greek community, often seen as archaic, are open-minded. He hopes the policy will encourage more gay students to join fraternities, he said.
Diaz said the policy is evidence of a cultural shift toward greater acceptance.
Nicholas Syrett, the author of The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities, said tolerance of gay members is a new trend for fraternities.
Though not specific to sexuality, the North American Interfraternity Council — which oversees the UI’s 13 fraternities — states in its constitution and bylaws that member chapters should not prohibit any good-standing male enrolled full-time from rushing or joining.
During his freshman year, while he was still “in the closet,” Diaz decided to take part in fraternity recruitment or “rush,” a process that introduces potential new members to each fraternity or chapter.
After accepting an invitation to be a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Diaz said he continued to hide his sexuality because he was not at a stage in his life in which he was comfortable coming out.
“I always told myself I wasn’t coming out until after college,” he said.
But when UI freshman Thomas Paulsen decided to rush this fall, he had a different experience.
Already openly gay at the time of rush, the 18-year-old said he was excited about joining a group that many in the gay community would avoid, though he was worried about how tolerant the stereotypical “frat guy” would be of him.
Mark Rigby, recently elected president of the Interfraternity Council, said recruitment could be more difficult for someone openly gay.
“It’s a sad fact, but there are definitely chapters that would be more hesitant to accept [Paulsen’s] membership because he is gay,” Rigby said.
While Paulsen said he did not feel as though anyone was deliberately discriminatory during the chapter visits, he said there were some chapter members who used offensive phrases, such as “that’s gay.”
Bottroff said recruitment workshops, which teach greek members the rules of rush, will, hopefully, discourage similar language.
An increase in the number of gay people in the greek community would help fraternity members learn about the community, he said.
Bottroff wants to create a partnership between the greek community and the UI’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Allied Union at events or movements.
Cody Shafer, a member of the organization, said he “could absolutely” see a collaboration between the two groups and noted that part of the purpose of his group is to help members feel empowered.
“We want to make them feel as if they don’t have to choose between their sexuality and their interests,” said Shafer, 22.
But Diaz was lucky; he didn’t have to face that kind of decision.
Last year, when he was a junior, Diaz said he felt comfortable officially coming out at Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s weekly meeting.
All of the men responded by clapping and congratulating him, Diaz said.
“Overall, people will not judge their friends,” he said.
One of Diaz’s fraternity brothers, Tim McCarthy, said he was surprised when Diaz came out but did not think any less of him.
“He’s gay, but he’s still the same person,” McCarthy said.
Diaz said he thinks that even if he had rushed openly gay, he would still be in the same fraternity.
“After getting to know all of the guys I feel like they would look beyond [my sexuality],” he said. “Times are changing, and our culture is becoming more accepting.”

5. The Daily Targum, December 9, 2009
126 College Ave. Suite 431, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Domestic Violence Services address abuse among LGBT
By Spruha Magodia

Everyone raised their hands when Lisa Smith, coordinator of Domestic Violence Services, asked if anyone knew someone who had been sexually assaulted at the University.
One of the events of the “16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence Campaign” was a discussion on “Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in the LGBT Community” held Tuesday at the Center for Latino Arts and Culture on the College Avenue campus.
“We are going to talk about some serious information. Especially because it’s a present issue on the college campus,” said Shawnna James, co-president of LLEGO, the People of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Ally Color Union at the University.
Smith told the audience that most assaults are not reported. Less than 10 percent of dating violence is brought to the attention of authorities.
The insecurities and fears people have when it comes to homophobia and heterosexism can manifest as domestic violence and sexual assault in the lesbian community.
“People thought the term ‘lesbian battery’ was an oxymoron … like jumbo shrimp,” said Smith. “People thought it was the men that were the problem and relationships among women were called lesbian utopia. But women can be violent to each other and can also abuse men.”
There are three different types of sexual assaults concerning lesbians, she said.
One is sexual assault between two women in general, another between two women in a relationship, and when someone is targeted because they are perceived as being a lesbian, Smith said.
Fear and shame are two main reasons so much sexual assault goes unreported, she said.
A victim experiencing “internalized homophobia” will not report the abuse if they feel the assault was deserved because of their particular sexual orientation.
Although sexual assault is difficult for anyone to go through, the way heterosexual women handle the effects can be different.
“Straight women don’t have to deal with homophobia,” Smith said. “They don’t have to worry about orientation or gender identity.”
There is a difference between sexual assault and domestic violence.
“Sexual assault is a single act that can happen,” said Smith. “Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that will escalate over time.”
Smith said students think domestic violence has to do only with older, married people.
“I don’t like the term ‘dating violence’ because then people think it is less serious,” she said.
In fact, the two types of violence have the same fear, same trauma and the same potential danger.
“It is not easy to leave an abusive relationship,” Smith said. “They may try to get out, but the abuser doesn’t always take no for an answer.”
There is a difference between a jerk and an abuser, she said. It all depends on the intent of the behavior. If an abuser says things out of anger it is one thing, but an entirely different thing if their intent is to destroy self esteem so they have control.
“What if your friend is in a violent relationship and cannot see the violence but others can?” asked Christine Looi, a Livingston College senior.
Smith said it is up to the people in a relationship to determine and report abuse.
“The short answer is that we can’t do anything,” she said. “We can share concern. But give them our [Domestic Violence Services] phone number and make up a reason if you have to.”
Smith warns that as a concerned friend, one should not approach the abuser because the victim is going to be the one to face the consequences.
“When you know something doesn’t feel right [bring] attention to it and call services,” Smith said. “What’s really important to me is for students to know they have a place to go to for help here at Rutgers.”
The Rutgers Sexual Assault Services and Crime Victim Assistance office is located on 3 Bartlett St. on the College Avenue campus.

6. Inside Vandy, December 11, 2009
Sarratt Student Center 130
New Associate Director of LGBTQI Life Named
By Justin Tardiff

Vanderbilt University recently named a new associate director of the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI) Life.

Michael Brown, who previously served as Coordinator for LGBT Student Involvement and Leadership at Washington University in St. Louis, will take on the position. Brown also serves as treasurer for the National Consortium of LGBT Higher Education Resource Professionals, and works as a faculty member for the Campus Pride LGBT Leadership Camp, held annually at Towson University.

Brown will work under Nora Spencer, who has served as director of the Office of LGBTQI Life since 2008, and as director of the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center since July. Spencer’s controversial appointment as director of both offices led to the creation of new associate director positions to focus on daily operations in each office, allowing Spencer to focus on other tasks.

“This frees me up to do a lot more visioning, a lot more partnering across campus and in the community, to figure out how the priorities of both respective houses can be infused within Vanderbilt’s policies and practices,” she told InsideVandy’s Gaby Roman in September.

Correction 12/15: The article initially stated that Brown was appointed to the position on December 11. He instead began work on August 30, 2009. We apologize for any confusion.

7. Queer Life at Williams, December 11, 2009
College Council Votes in Support
By Lizzy Brickley and Mike Tcheyan

Dear Students,
At last night’s College Council meeting, CC unanimously voted to approve the following resolution in support of the demands put forth by the Queer Student Union and the Women’s Center.
WHEREAS recent homophobic events have catalyzed student groups (i.e. QSU and Women’s Center) to make demands for improvement in institutional programming and support for gender and sexuality at Williams College
LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Williams College Council:
1. Supports an evaluation and redistribution of space within the houses of Morley Circle, with the aid of the Minority Coalition and the Multicultural Center, to include a Gender and Sexuality Resource Center.
2. Recommends that Williams College hire a full-time Assistant Director of the Multicultural Center in Charge of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center.
3. Advocates for an updated JA and Baxter Fellow Training to include more comprehensive LGBTQ and Gender peer-advising and guidance.
4. Urges the College to increase the Queer Studies course offerings in the WGST department.
5. Supports the CUL Proposal for Gender Neutral Housing, stating “that upperclass students should be able to choose to live in a double with another student regardless of gender, if both directly-affected students agree to this. Upperclass housing placements (conducted by the College) into doubles would continue to be done based upon gender, unless requested otherwise by both directly-affected students. (Note: During room draws, gender caps in houses would apply as usual.)”
As representatives of the student body, College Council is proud to present this document to the Williams College administrators, faculty, staff, and students in order to help promote the implementation of these goals. Also, please find attached a letter from the QSU and Women’s Center to the Williams Community with more information regarding the movement as it continues to take shape.
Good luck with finals. Have a safe and happy winter break!!


Lizzy Brickley and Mike Tcheyan
College Council Co-Presidents

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