Sunday, January 10, 2010

QNOC Digest 2010.01.10

Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.01.10

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 (University of Washington) - The coed question
2. Dallas Voice - Volunteers, hosts still needed for Creating Change

1. The Daily (University of Washington), January 6, 2010
The coed question
By Celina Kareiva

Paul Grosart sees a problem with the dorms on the UW campus.

The UW freshman imagines a more inclusive residence hall free of gender indicators in which students would be allowed to room with all sexes.

“Picture someone who completely identifies, looks, and acts like a woman — whatever that may mean to you. Now picture this person having to live in a males’ dorm. Why? Because someone, somewhere, when she was born, said she was male, wrote it on her paperwork, and now this label has followed and will follow her around for the rest of her life,” said Grosart, who identifies as transgender.

“Picture her having to worry every day if she is safe, and hope that her roommates … understand. Picture how uncomfortable it is for not only her, but also her roommate, who may or may not be aware of transgender issues.”

Twenty years ago, coed residence halls were a thing of controversy. College administrations wondered whether young adults could keep their hormones at bay while sharing close quarters.

Today, there’s a new question.

This winter, Maggie Capwell, director of the UW Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian, Transgender Commission, plans on campaigning for gender-neutral residence halls in an effort to better accommodate transgender students who often feel uncomfortable requesting roommates or selecting which bathroom to use.

“I lived in the residence halls when I was a freshman. One of the friends I met was a trans person who didn’t have a practical option for on-campus housing. He ended up commuting to campus from Marysville, where he was also working,” said Capwell, now a UW junior. “This was not a workable situation for him, and caused him to suffer academically and also prohibited him from having the great campus freshman experience that I had.”

Capwell hopes to introduce a pilot program with the help of Housing and Food Services (HFS). Ideally, the program would not require students to out themselves as transgender on their applications but would instead embrace an open-door policy.

HFS Assistant Director Deborah Costar stated that the issue has been brought to the table several times, but HFS has no formal code of conduct.

Students at Western Washington University (WWU) have made a similar push for gender-inclusive housing.

“Right now if you’re transgender, [the school] will accommodate you if you out yourself and tell them that you’re trans,” said Western junior Cory Hoffman. “But not everyone is comfortable doing that … Otherwise, you can just live off campus, which is a difficult option for out-of-state students.”

Western has similar residence halls to the UW and would likely ask for an entire floor or dormitory to be labeled as gender-neutral, much the same way universities are required to have alcohol-free dorms. Stanford University, Harvard University and The Evergreen State College are among those that offer gender-inclusive options.

“Dorms seem to be one of the very few times we ever live exclusively with the same gender,” said WWU student Ben Crowther. “The fact is, gender-exclusive housing is outdated and doesn’t reflect a realistic living situation.”

As for the UW campus, Capwell has arranged to speak with Vice President Eric Godfrey, who has supported gender-neutral bathroom initiatives in the past. Grosart worked toward unisex restrooms last quarter, and there are now 16 such facilities on campus, including locations in McCarty Hall, the Art Building and Hall Health. A full map is viewable on the Q Center Web site.

Because this issue has not been formally discussed by the administration, Capwell can’t say with certainty what the arrangements would look like. Currently, there are 10 residence halls and 5,459 students living in them. By 2020, the university is expected to make room for 2,400 more beds.

“The new facilities would allow us to implement some additional options at any time, either as soon as they open or down the road,” Costar said. “The buildings, including the residence hall, will have more privacy because we’re no longer using the [communal bathroom] configuration.”

In the meantime, HFS is accommodating students as the issue presents itself. Apartment-style living is available for some. But for transgender students and their allies, this is just the first hurdle. RAs must be trained to handle cases of harassment and to serve as support systems for anyone targeted.

“It’s important to realize and appropriately accommodate the diversity inherent in humanity. It helps move the mindset away from a gender-binary — only ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ — which is really an important step for society to take,” Crowther said. “By removing a binary way of thinking and opening up situations like housing, it not only better accommodates people who don’t fit the binary, like gender-queer students, but creates a more open and genuine environment for everyone.”

Reach reporter Celina Kareiva at

2. Dallas Voice, January 7, 2010
4145 Travis, Third Floor, Dallas, Texas 75204
Volunteers, hosts still needed for Creating Change
By David Taffet

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will stage its 22nd annual Creating Change Conference in Dallas on Feb. 3.

Creating Change is the leading LGBT political, leadership and skills-building conference. Held in a different city each year, Dallas last hosted the event in 1994.

Local co-chair Henry Ramirez said 2,000 people from around the country are expected to participate. Beau Heyen, Lovely Murrell and Marlene Tovar are the other local host committee co-chairs.

Volunteers are still needed to help throughout the conference. Ramirez said volunteers will do variety of jobs, including helping with traffic and registration, and working in the hospitality suites.

Five presidential suites are reserved for attendees to relax, catch up with friends and make new ones, Murrell said.

“You’ll make sure people are comfortable,” she said. “things that you’d do to make your guests comfortable at home.” That includes everything from making sure ice and drinks are available to answering questions about Dallas, the workshops and the hotel.

A training session for volunteers will take place on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 31, at the hotel.

“Also, we’re looking for hosts,” Ramirez said. “Every year about 50 people come who can’t afford the hotel.” He said those needing a place to stay are over 18. Hosts don’t need to worry about food or transportation for their guests, he said, but ideally would live near DART lines so out-of-town attendees can get to the hotel easily.

The first two days of the conference are daylong institutes. On Wednesday, anti-racism, racial justice and people of color organizing will be addressed. Topics for Friday include agism, building a strong transgender community, disability politics, gay youth, families, and moving marriage forward. One track will be geared toward community center staffs, boards and volunteers.

Workshops will be held on Friday and Saturday. Names of workshop leaders will be released over the next few weeks.

Comic Kate Clinton will emcee all of the plenary sessions. The keynote speakers are Thomas A. Saenz, Kai Wright and Rea Carey.

Saenz is president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), a national organization whose mission is to promote the civil rights of Latinos in the United States.

Wright is a New York-based writer and editor whose work explores the politics of sex, race and health.

Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, will deliver the annual “State of the Movement Address.”

On Saturday night, Youth First Texas is among the groups sponsoring the Mas-Queer-Ade ball. The evening will feature comedian Vidur Kapur and trans slam poet Kit Yan.

Heyen, who chairs the local development and fundraising committee, said on Jan. 23, the committee will hold Tour de Change, a Cedar Springs pub crawl to raise money for the conference. He said teams of 10 will pay $350 to get four pitchers of beer from five bars for a total of 20 pitchers in three hours. Designated drivers are encouraged to accompany each team.

The conference takes place at the Dallas Sheraton Hotel in Downtown on Feb. 3-7.

Registration info
The conference will be at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, 400 N. Olive St., from Feb. 3–7. Register online at Hotel discounts are available online as well. For those not staying at the hotel, parking is available in an underground garage. The hotel is at the Pearl Street Station on the Green, Red and Blue Dart lines. The fee for registration through Jan. 23 is $300. On-site registration is $350. Groups of 10 or more are $250 per person. An 11th person free. All names in the group must be submitted together. Scholarships are available for people with limited income. Discounts and age waivers for people under 16 and older than 65 are available.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 regarding fair use of copyrighted work, this material is distributed without profit for information, research, and educational purposes. The Consortium has no affiliation whatsoever with the originators of these articles nor is the Consortium endorsed or sponsored by the originators.

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