Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.01.31
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Inside Higher Ed - The Transgender Athlete
2. Inside Higher Ed - The Privilege of Not Recognizing Privilege
3. Colorado Daily - Hundreds of CU students demonstrate for gay rights; Fred Phelps picketers absent
4. The Chronicle of Higher Education - Israeli Students Protest Exam That Equates Homosexuality With a 'Defect'
5. ABC News - Univ. of Florida Awaits Tim Tebow Ad
6. UPI (United Press International) - UCLA says gay military ban costs millions
7. The Chronicle of Higher Education - How to Be Welcoming
8. Inside Higher Ed - 'Grossing Up': Equity or Bias?
9. Pensacola News Journal - Transgender equality, College Goal Sunday, helping Haiti
10. The University Daily Kansan - Sexually (inter)Active: What is the purpose of "roles" in a sexual relationship?
11. The Regina Leader-Post - Collection named for gay librarian
12. The Brown and White - Speech reflects on social justice and equality at Lehigh
13. The Advocate - Gay Students Plan Protest at Notre Dame
14. WNDU - Group protests Notre Dame’s “anti-gay” policies
15. South Bend Tribune - Marchers demand that Notre Dame address gay-rights issue
16. The Observer - Students show support for GLBT community
17. The Observer - Concerns and recommendations: Letter to the Editor
1. Inside Higher Ed, January 25, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
The Transgender Athlete
By Pat Griffin and Helen Carroll
"I was really worried about coming out as transgender to anyone else because I knew there weren’t any policies. I was so afraid that my school would ban me from my sport and that was the only thing I had at the time. I finally decided to come out my senior year of college because I was going down a slippery slope and I didn't think I could pull myself out if I didn't come out."
--A transgender former college athlete
Many transgender athletes relate similar experiences that make their participation on college teams painful and frustrating: An athlete is called "she/he" and "it" by opposing players during a game. An athlete stops playing sports in college because it becomes too uncomfortable to use the locker room. An athlete has to change clothes in a utility closet separate from the rest of the team. An athlete quits the team because it becomes too painful to keep reminding coaches and teammates about the athlete's preferred pronouns. None of the institutions or athletic conferences in which these athletes compete have a policy governing the inclusion of transgender student-athletes on sports teams.
These descriptions and many others like them characterize the experiences of many young people who identify as transgender and want to play on their colleges' athletic teams. Transgender is a broad term used to describe the experiences of people whose gender identity and expression do not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Some people transition to live as their preferred gender by changing their names and the pronouns they use to refer to themselves. They express their preferred gender through choice of clothes, hairstyles and other manifestations of gender expression and identity. Some transgender people undergo reconstructive surgery or take hormones to make their bodies more congruent with their internal sense of themselves. Others do not.
Since the increased visibility of a transgender rights movement in the 1980s and a school-based LGBT "safe schools" movement in the 1990s, more young people have the language and information they need to identify the gender dissonance they experience between the sex they were assigned at birth and the gender identity that they know to be true for them. They are increasingly identifying themselves as transgender and they are doing it at earlier ages. In addition, parents are much more likely to support their transgender children and advocate for them in schools. As more states add "gender identity and expression" to non-discrimination legislation and as these legal protections are applied to schools, transgender students and their parents have increased leverage to ensure that educational institutions address their needs. K-12 school and college educators find themselves playing catch up as they learn to accommodate the educational needs of trans-identified students and protect them from bullying and harassment in school or at college.
Many of these young people want to play on their schools' or colleges' sports teams. As a result, athletic directors and coaches increasingly find themselves unprepared to make decisions about what team a transgender student is eligible to play for. As the number of transgender students who want to play on school sports teams increases, school athletic leaders must identify effective and fair policies to ensure their right to participate. Though the issue of accommodating the needs of transgender students, staff and faculty in higher education has received attention, it has not been adequately addressed in athletics. Many colleges have changed policies on access to bathrooms, residence halls or face controversy because they have not done so. In athletics, conversations about accommodating transgender students have only recently begun.
For the most part, athletic teams at high schools and colleges are segregated by sex and divided into men’s and women’s teams. For transgender students, determining on which gender’s team, if any, they will be allowed to play can be a difficult process fraught with misconceptions, ignorance and discrimination. Few high school or collegiate athletic programs, administrators or coaches are prepared to address a transgender student’s interest in participating in athletics in a systematic, fair and effective manner. Few athletes have been given the information that would prepare them to participate on a team with a teammate whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.
The vast majority of school athletic programs have no policy governing the inclusion of transgender athletes and athletic staff have no idea how to accommodate a transgender student who wants to play on a college sports team. Even basic accommodations can be confusing, such as what pronouns or name to use to refer to that student, where that student should change clothes for practice or competition, what bathroom that student should use, or how to apply team dress codes.
Washington is the only state that has a policy identifying the process for enabling transgender students to participate in high school athletics. The National Collegiate Athletic Association does not prohibit transgender students from participating in NCAA sponsored events, but recommends that NCAA member institutions use a student’s official identity documents (birth certificate, driver’s license or passport) to determine whether a student-athlete is eligible to compete on the men’s or women’s team. Because of wide variations in state requirements for changing identity documents, however, the NCAA recommendation unintentionally creates an inequitable situation depending on where the student is enrolled.
Applying the 2004 International Olympic Committee policy governing the participation of transsexual athletes in IOC sanctioned events to collegiate athletics is problematic for a number of reasons. The IOC policy, though pioneering, is criticized by knowledgeable medical experts and transgender advocates for requiring genital reconstructive surgery as a criterion for eligibility. Moreover, applying the IOC policy to collegiate sports does not take into account the eligibility limits placed on individual athletes or the age and developmental needs of this age group.
After a number of informal discussions with collegiate athletic leaders and transgender students who want to participate in sports, the National Center for Lesbian Rights Sports Project and the Women’s Sports Foundation initiative, It Takes A Team! joined forces to organize a national meeting on these topics in the fall. Two of the guiding principles for the discussion were 1) Participation in interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics is a valuable part of the education experience for all students and 2) Transgender student-athletes should have equal opportunity to participate in sports.
The 40 participants, including representatives from the NCAA and Interscholastic High School Athletic Association leaders, were an impressive group of experts from a range of disciplines — law, medicine, sports, advocacy, and athletics — all of whom share an interest in transgender issues. The goals were to identify best practices and develop model policies for high school and collegiate athletic leaders to ensure the full inclusion of transgender student-athletes. A report will be issued in 2010 outlining specific recommendations for high school and collegiate athletic programs.
Specific issues discussed included:
From a medical perspective, what are the salient factors that should be used to determine for which team (women’s or men’s) a transgender student is eligible to participate?
From a policy and school regulation perspective, how can we develop policies governing the participation of transgender students in athletics that adhere to state and federal laws protecting students from discrimination based on gender identity and expression?
From an athletic perspective, how can we address concerns about "competitive equity" or "unfair advantage" while acknowledging the broad diversity of performance already exhibited within both women’s and men’s sports?
From an education perspective, how can we ensure that athletic administrators, staff, parents of athletes and student-athletes have access to sound and effective education related to the participation of transgender students in athletics?
In our forthcoming report, we provide recommendations to address each of these questions.
The most powerful information came from the transgender student-athletes in attendance, who detailed their challenges and triumphs and the importance of high school and collegiate sport participation. Their stories reinforced the necessity of developing sound policies and practices that enable transgender student-athletes to play the sports they love in an environment where their gender identity and expression are accepted as one more aspect of the diversity typical of school and college sports teams.
Pat Griffin is director of It Takes A Team. Helen Carroll is director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights Sports Project.
2. Inside Higher Ed, January 24, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
The Privilege of Not Recognizing Privilege
By Susan O'Doherty
I am a regular guest panelist on the British literary podcast Litopia after Dark. One of the topics discussed on last week’s show was the success, or lack thereof, of men writing in a woman’s voice, and vice versa. All of us had examples of writers who had convinced us (Roddy Doyle and Henry James are my personal favorites), and others who had missed the mark. One panelist, though, had a particularly valuable perspective to share: she had spent the first twenty-odd years of her life as a man. “I found that men took me more seriously, and were more interested in my thoughts, when I was a man,” she told us. “In general, I think women understand men much better than men understand women.”
This is my impression of pretty much all relationships between groups of unequal power, though of course there is great variation among individuals. The experience of the dominant group is presented as the default, and the less powerful group must adapt and, in a sense, become bilingual. Gay people tend to understand the straight experience better than straights understand gays, because the culture is overwhelmingly straight; heterosexuality is assumed unless there is information indicating otherwise.
Fish don’t notice the water they swim in. I never noticed, until a client pointed it out, that in nearly all mainstream fiction, characters are assumed to be white unless another color is specified. I didn’t need to notice this, because I am white; despite good intentions and efforts at improvement, I generally float (or bumble) through life assuming that my experience on this axis is the norm.
It’s not always easy for me to hear that this isn’t the case; that others suffer from, and are handicapped by, systems and conventions that have benefited me. I feel better thinking that we function in a meritocracy, and that any successive I have achieved are to my credit alone, with no unfair help from the color of my skin, my sexual and gender orientation, or my religion.
It’s difficult to suppress defensiveness, even for short periods, and listen to others’ criticisms of my groups, without trying to explain to them why they’re wrong, at least in my case. What I’ve had to learn is that nine times out of ten, members of the nondominant group already know what I think—they’ve heard it repeatedly, often with the speaker’s complete confidence that these are new ideas the listener couldn’t have been exposed to before. I’ve had to learn that polite silence and withdrawal do not usually indicate convinced acquiescence, and that those who take a moment to educate me are unusually patient and forbearing, not insulting.
This is true of women’s issues as well. Really.
This post is not intended to discourage men from commenting. It’s great to have you here. Rather, it is a suggestion that when you read posts and comments by women, about women’s issues, on a blog that is aimed primarily toward women, you consider the strong possibility that we have thought and educated ourselves about the questions under discussion, and that if our conclusions — sometimes communicated in a sort of shorthand, on the assumption that other women will know what we mean — differ from yours, lack of understanding on our part is not the only possible conclusion to be drawn.
You might want to check out Kate Harding’s thoughtful critique of Clay Shirky’s intelligent and well-intentioned essay on why women need to be more assertive in the workplace. Harding is a funny and articulate writer, and a much nicer person than I am, so it should be a painless illustration of what I’m talking about.
3. Colorado Daily, January 25, 2010
1048 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302
Hundreds of CU students demonstrate for gay rights; Fred Phelps picketers absent
By Amy Bounds
Hundreds of University of Colorado students gathered around the Dalton Trumbo Fountain on Monday night in a show of support for gay rights.
The demonstration came before a same-sex marriage debate on the CU campus organized by the Aquinas Institute for Catholic Thought.
"I want to promote love and equal rights," said CU freshman Alexandra Deary. "We're here and not going away. We want our rights now."
The students waved banners, sang and carried flowers intended for picketers from the Westboro Baptist Church led by Fred Phelps. But members of the Kansas church -- who, according to the church's Web site, were going to protest against gay rights outside the debate venue -- were nowhere to be found.
Westboro's position on gay marriage includes "God Hates Fags, God Hates Fag Enablers and God Hates You all in Boulder," according to the Web site.
"We're not for hate," said CU freshman Shelbi Taylor, who was among the students demonstrating before the talk. "We believe in God. We believe he loves everyone."
Pastor Phelps' daughter and Westboro church member Shirley Phelps-Roper said she didn't know why the protest didn't happen as planned. A call to a member of the Westboro "team" in Colorado wasn't returned.
The intellectual debate, titled "Should the Government Approve Same-Sex Marriage?," was between Jonathan Rauch, a Washington, D.C., journalist and author, and Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy who lives in Westchester, N.Y.
Rauch argued that gay marriage would be good not just for those who are gay, but also for society at large and the institution of marriage. Not allowing gay people to marry, he said, will turn marriage into a civil rights violation and make it an unpopular choice.
"We'll no longer be able to keep marriage on a pedestal if it's discriminatory," he said. "Marriage is really special. We want to be a part of it."
Gallagher countered that while she could support civil unions, marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples. Allowing gay marriage, she said, could erode the institution of marriage.
If gay marriage is legal, excluding gay couples would amount to discrimination for organizations that receive federal money, she said. That means religious organizations, such as adoption agencies and schools, could be forced to choose between their values and maintaining nonprofit status and funding.
"There's a line around marriage," she said. "I support marriage equality. I just don't support gay marriage."
Whitney Bryen, For the Camera, contributed to this report.
4. The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 27, 2010
1255 Twenty-Third St, N.W.Washington, D.C. 20037
Israeli Students Protest Exam That Equates Homosexuality With a 'Defect'
Fourth-year students in the physical-therapy program at Tel Aviv University are protesting after a multiple-choice question on a psychiatry examination asked them to define homosexuality and then considered as the correct answer "a defect in sexual preference," according to Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper. In a statement, the university said "a question of this sort will no longer appear on the lecturer's exams, as people might be hurt by this question."
5. ABC News, January 26, 2010
7 West 66th Street, New York, NY 10023
Univ. of Florida Awaits Tim Tebow Ad
The University of Florida campus is slowly catching wind of Tim Tebow’s decision to star in a Super Bowl ad slated to air on CBS on Feb. 7, and some say the ad’s message is bound to spark controversy.
The ad spot was purchased by Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian organization that places emphasis on marriage and parenthood.
The Associated Press reported this week that the ad’s theme will be “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life,” with Pam Tebow sharing the story of her difficult 1987 pregnancy -- instead of getting an abortion she decided to give birth to Tebow, the now-famous quarterback who went on to become a Heisman Trophy winner, leading the Gators to two BCS wins.
Gary Schneeberger, Focus on the Family spokesman, told ABC News he couldn’t comment on the content of the ad. However, he said his organization has always viewed the Tebows as “strong, committed Christians” who have inspirational family stories to tell.
“It seemed like a natural partnership, and we were fortunate enough that they agreed,” Schneeberger said.
CBS is reportedly selling Super Bowl ads for around $2.5 million to $2.8 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence, a company that tracks ad spending.
“Once we explained what we were hoping to accomplish, a strong handful of committed friends provided funding for the airtime,” Schneeberger said. He said he has seen the ad, and he would not label it as political or controversial.
“Our goal is to create awareness for who we are as a family-help ministry and help folks who are watching come to us if they’re struggling in their marriage or struggling raising their children,” he said.
Tebow’s decision to play a role in an ad sponsored by a conservative group suggets he'll take a political stance.
“It’s a big coming-out party for Tim Tebow in terms of moving from athletic superstar to the political realm,” said Daniel Smith, UF associate professor of political science and faculty adviser to Gators for Choice.
Once the ad airs on national television, it might cause some interesting discussions on college campuses while also rallying the pro-choice community, Smith added. The commercial's content might also have an effect on Tebow’s fan base.
“When you are an athlete and you put yourself out in the public sphere when it comes to politics, you have a good chance of alienating half your fan support,” Smith said.
He noted Tebow wasn't political while he was a collegiate athlete. For example in 2008 Tebow chose not to endorse a presidential candidate. Also, Smith pointed out that many of Tebow’s eye black biblical verses promoted generic positive thinking rather than polarizing statements.
“Whoever wants to pay for an ad during the Super Bowl should be able to do so,” he said. “It’s more interesting that Focus on the Family was able to convince Tim Tebow to promote their organization and their issues.”
Camille Jacobs, a UF junior and member of Campus Crusade for Christ, said she was excited to hear that Tebow has this opportunity.
“He’s just standing up for what he believes in,” Jacobs said, “and no matter what you believe in, it’s going to be controversial.”
She said students of the Gator Nation will probably be behind him “whether they’re Christian or not.”
“He wouldn’t say things just because it kind of sounds good or will stir up trouble,” she said. “People know he’s speaking straight from the heart.”
Karen Middlekauff, a UF law student and the president of Outlaw, an organization for College of Law LGBT students, said she believes that Tebow is still a representative of UF, and he has chosen to represent a viewpoint that shouldn’t be associated with the university.
“Focus on the Family is a very well-known group for speaking out against LGBT issues,” she said. “A lot of people know that.”
The commercial is also highlights the strength of Tebow’s religious beliefs, something the general public may not be aware of, she said.
“The UF community itself knows that he is very religious and he’s done a lot of humanitarian work,” Middlekauff said. “I don’t know if the public knows that. They’ll know after this.”
AC Stokes, the UF director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs, said Tebow is probably aware that he is being used for a political purpose and that he will now be associated with Focus on the Family’s viewpoints.
“I got a call from an alumnus that was pretty outraged by the fact that Tim Tebow was going to be in this commercial,” Stokes said.
Ben Anderson, president of UF Christian Campus House activities, however, released a statement saying that the advertisement has a deeper message: “I find it interesting that this ad would receive controversy, when in fact it is simply an amazing story of a mother and child overcoming the odds against them. Would there be controversy if the story were being told by a mother and child not publicly proclaiming Christ? I do not know, but I suspect not as much.”
CBS spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs said CBS has reviewed the ad script, but she was unable to confirm if CBS employees have viewed the actual commercial.
She said the script met CBS’s standards.
CBS also released a statement that read: “Our standards and practices process continues to adhere to a policy that ensures all ads, on all sides of an issue, are appropriate for air."
6. UPI (United Press International), January 27, 2010
1133 19th St. N.W., Washington, DC 20036
UCLA says gay military ban costs millions
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- A more open approach to homosexual or bisexual men and women serving in the military will save hundreds of millions of tax dollars and draw more people into the ranks, the Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles said in a research brief made public Wednesday.
The UCLA research body said that U.S. Census figures showed that about 66,000 lesbian, gay and bisexual men and women were on military payrolls. The current policy requires members of the armed forces to remain silent about their sexual orientation.
However, the Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy carries huge costs for the taxpayer, the study said. The institute estimated that lifting the DADT policy would attract 50,000 new entrants to the armed forces and save taxpayers huge amounts currently spent on maintaining that policy.
An end to the policy was one of the election pledges made by President Barack Obama. Although Obama has said he wants to push ahead with an end to the ban on openly homosexual relationships in the military, a timetable for a change in the law is still awaited.
"I will end 'Don't Ask/Don't Tell,'" Obama said at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay civil rights advocacy group, but did not specify how and when.
The law was passed by Congress in 1993 and signed by President Bill Clinton, who also promised to repeal the ban on homosexuals in the military. Clinton was thwarted by opposition in both the military and Congress.
Analysts said an underlying difficulty was a deep-rooted culture of machismo in both the military and security industries that transcended international borders.
Gary J. Gates, Williams distinguished scholar and study author, said, "Despite official policy requiring that lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals remain silent about their sexual orientation, data from the U.S. Census Bureau suggest that an estimated 66,000 LGB men and women are serving in the U.S. military."
The study updated previously published estimates of the cost of the DADT policy made by the Government Accountability Office and the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
According to Gates, ending the ban on openly homosexual relationships in the military will save "a substantial amount of taxpayer dollars since estimates suggest that the policy has cost more than half a billion dollars."
The estimated 66,000 lesbians, gay men and bisexuals cited as current members of the armed forces account for about 2.2 percent of military personnel.
Of those, about 13,000 are serving on active duty and thus comprise 0.9 percent of all active-duty personnel. The remaining 53,000 are serving in the guard and reserve forces where they account for 3.4 percent of the total.
Currently female members of the U.S. armed forces comprise about 14 percent of active-duty personnel. But, in relation to the UCLA study, they comprise more than 43 percent of lesbian, gay or bisexual men and women who are on active duty.
Lifting DADT restrictions could draw an estimated 36,700 men and women to active-duty service and 12,000 more individuals to the guard and reserve, Gates said.
The study calculated that Don't Ask/Don't Tell had cost the military between $290 million and more than half a billion dollars since it was introduced in 1994.
Members of the armed forces discharged under the policy can also incur costs, said the study. According to its current estimates, the military spends between $22,000 and $43,000 per person replaced under DADT.
7. The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 29, 2010
1255 Twenty-Third St, N.W.Washington, D.C. 20037
How to Be Welcoming
By David W. Hanson
Last fall, a front-page article in one of my university's publications caught my eye. It listed all of the ways in which the campus was welcoming for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, and it got me thinking about what it would be like to work and live at a place that was not so welcoming. In fact, I almost had.
Several years back, my partner was offered a position reporting to the president of a major research institution on the West Coast. The institution knew all about his partner (me), and engaged in a dual-recruitment strategy. So far, so good.
During the final "courting" weekend, both of us were invited to the campus—him for final job negotiations and me to interview for positions. But oddly, throughout the weekend, we were never invited to a meal with the president or any of the people who would have been my partner's colleagues. And none of the senior administrators greeted me or acknowledged my presence in any way, although I was in the main administration building, and even the president's office suite, for much of the day.
We ultimately turned down the job offer, relying on a gut instinct that told us the administration was not as open or welcoming as it claimed.
My experiences in higher education with my partner of 21 years have helped me understand how the environment and culture of a campus is crucial for gay and lesbian employees and their partners or spouses. Certain experiences, like how we have been treated in the hiring process, have shaped our views about academe and our career decisions. We've learned that some elements of a dual recruitment may be more important to gay and lesbian couples than to their straight counterparts.
In mulling all of that, it occurred to me that it might be helpful to my institution—and give us a competitive advantage in hiring—if we could strengthen our support even more for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered applicants and attract top candidates. So I tried to locate a list of practical suggestions and strategies.
But I couldn't find a good list. So I decided to make one myself. I reflected on my own experiences, when my partner and I were on the job market, and surveyed many of my colleagues (both straight and gay) across the country to pull together some best practices.
The following ideas, then, are not mine alone, and I'm grateful for all the good advice I received from people kind enough to contribute. The suggestions are intended to signal to applicants for teaching and staff positions that an institution values them and their partners regardless of their orientation. My hope is that these ideas will spur others and help create work environments that encourage retention for us all, gay and straight. One of my close friends and colleagues at Penn State cautioned me not to be "preachy" in this column. So I have tried my best not to preach.
Housing policies. If your institution is fortunate enough to own rental or for-sale properties for employees, ask whether the policies permit same-sex couples to rent or buy together and allow the nonemployee partner to remain in the home if the employee passes away or is unable to work for health reasons.
Health benefits. With health care at the center of our political landscape, medical benefits are the most important category to consider. Investigate whether your institution offers those benefits to nonemployee partners on the same terms as to married couples. If there are cost differences, that fact signals discrimination to gay and lesbian couples and may be enough to convince a talented applicant to seek employment elsewhere. (That actually happened at one college I know of, causing administrators to revise the benefits policy and permit coverage for same-sex partners).
Tuition remission. Many institutions invest considerable money helping employees advance their education. Does your institution allow married spouses and children to access those benefits and, if so, does it also allow the same level of access for nonmarried couples and their natural and/or adopted children?
Partner career day. Columbia University holds an annual career day so that partners and spouses of employees are able to seek open jobs and gain advice about advancing their careers. This is an example of the institution's saying, "We care about our employees' personal lives and want to help find career options for their partners." For candidates who are part of an academic couple, this idea signals that the institution is willing to take steps to help couples find opportunities. By advertising the event on the Web as open to "partners," Columbia communicates that it is truly a community, not just an employer.
Partner policies. It is important for campus leaders and administrators to understand the policies applicable to same-sex couples and to be able to point to an easy-to-use Web site for applicants to gain clear and accurate information. Although human-resources staff members are expected to be experts on employment policies, everyone in a hiring role should have some level of knowledge about domestic-partner policies, so that when questions arise, there is no uncomfortable pause. Your human-resources department should create a one-page document outlining these benefits and post it to the institutional Web site.
State laws. The 50 states have remarkably different laws regarding domestic relations. Regardless of your position on same-sex marriage, it is helpful to understand your state's laws on this and other matters, such as hate crimes. Does your state allow civil unions and marriage rights, or prohibit them? If you are a hiring manager, it may not be appropriate to voice a personal opinion during an interview about the underlying social policy, but the ability to answer job candidates' questions about your state's laws on this issue shows that you have taken time to do research on questions that may be important to them.
What constitutes a couple? Many institutions, even the most progressive, require a same-sex couple to provide written evidence of their relationship before any benefits are extended to the nonemployee partner. Some requirements are lenient, others are reasonable, and still others are onerous (requiring bank statements, tax records, and mortgage documents). What makes a "couple" at your institution? Do policies apply equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples? If you are a hiring manager, are you aware of the policies and requirements? If the requirements seem complex, you may find it helpful to contact human resources to understand the reasons underlying the requirements. Some policies may be based on state law, giving the institution little leeway, which is helpful to explain to job candidates.
Publications. In academe, we love our campus publications, from admission brochures to alumni magazines. Pick up a few of your institution's publications and flip through to see what types of nouns are used. Do they use only terms like "spouse," "husband," and "wife"? Or do they use "spouse, partner, or significant other"? Job candidates are savvy and, as they visit a campus, will grab publications to learn more about the place. Recently, when reading an alumni magazine from my graduate school, I noticed that the donor envelope tucked in the center asked for my "spouse's occupation." I e-mailed the alumni director and noted that while same-sex couples tend, on average, to have more discretionary income to donate, they may not give because of the term "spouse." The alumni director changed the wording for the right social reasons, but two other reasons exist to make that change: increased donations and improved rankings. As we all know, U.S. News & World Report ranks institutions, in part, based on the percentage of alumni giving. Welcoming language in campus publications can increase giving and contribute to a rise in the rankings.
Interviews. We all tend to use language that reflects our own comfort zone. We routinely use the term "spouse" without intending any offense. Given that many states and local jurisdictions preclude us from directly asking candidates whether they are gay or lesbian (although no federal law does), it is important to use broad and encompassing language during interviews. It may be helpful to avoid pronouns such as "he" and "she" if a candidate mentions a "significant other." Try to allow the candidate to use the pronoun first. Asking about a candidate's marital status is not allowed in any state.
Meals. An important component of any interview process is to include meals. They allow candidates to feel more relaxed and give managers a chance to evaluate the applicants' interpersonal skills. My partner and I each have often been asked if "your wife can join you" for such dinners. That question immediately sends up a red flag. For interviews that include meals, it is helpful to create a comfortable environment and extend an invitation to the candidate's partner. Consider carefully who from the institution should attend the meal. It may help, when appropriate, to invite another same-sex couple, to speak about the climate both on and off campus.
Web-site audit. Campus Web sites are often a conglomeration of individual pages developed by divisions across the institution. It is virtually impossible to control all of the content. As a quick test, try searching your college's site for the term "spouse," and then again for the terms "spouse" and "partner." A simple audit will take no more than five minutes but may provide insight and revealing data. Remember that if you can check the language on your Web site this quickly, so can job candidates and their partners.
Neighborhoods and schools. When attracting any candidate from out of town, issues such as commute time, safe neighborhoods, and high-achieving school districts become important. The location of safe (accepting) neighborhoods may be of special importance to LGBT candidates. It is helpful to have such information in an easy-to-find location on the Web site, and to build a list of contacts across the campus who can speak to those issues. Don't assume that school districts are not pertinent to gay and lesbian employees. The numbers of gay and lesbian parents with children are increasing, and according to the organization Colage (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere), 10 million people in the United States have one or more gay parents.
Social networks. Develop a "partners club" with institutional support (for example, a Web site) so that new hires can see the level of support and interaction that their partners will enjoy on the campus. The club need not be expensive to create and may be managed by employee or nonemployee partners. But it's a symbol that campus leaders encourage full participation of all who are connected to the institution. These clubs can be strong supporters of fund-raising and volunteer efforts.
Career assumptions. The adage "Don't assume anything" is useful advice. At times it is easy to adopt certain academic stereotypes and make assumptions about candidates and their partners. Try not to assume that a lesbian candidate's partner is interested in working for the athletics department, or that a gay candidate's partner wants a job in student affairs or the design department. When the openly gay executive vice president of Princeton University announces (as he did, in The New York Times, last November) his marriage to his partner, who is an executive of a global company, all assumptions should be thrown out the window.
After the hire. Several of my colleagues offered valuable insights, one of which in particular caught my attention as worthy to pass along. After hiring someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, be cognizant of issues related to burnout, workaholism, and the "overtime trap." Many childless gay and lesbian employees tend to work longer hours, possibly to prove that they provide as much (or more) value to an organization as their straight peers. That is by no means a universal truth, but certainly something for managers to consider.
Where else to turn. Finally, there are many helpful online resources to learn more about these issues. One excellent resource is the Human Rights Campaign, which your institution can link to from its Web site.
If other suggestions occur to you, I encourage you to share them via e-mail: email@example.com.
David W. Hanson is associate vice president for finance and special assistant to the executive vice president at Emory University.
8. Inside Higher Ed, January 29, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
'Grossing Up': Equity or Bias?
By Scott Jaschik
Syracuse University may be on the cutting edge of promoting equity for its gay and lesbian employees. Some of the university's straight employees, however, say Syracuse needs to focus its limited funds on benefits for everyone -- and recognize that it can't be held responsible for the inequity of marriage laws in the United States.
The battle is over "grossing up" -- a human resources term for paying someone on top of salary levels so that the employee takes home the full salary amount. So if someone would owe $10,000 on a $50,000 salary, grossing up would mean paying that person $60,000 (plus whatever tax is needed on the extra $10,000 and so forth) so that $50,000 becomes take-home pay.
Syracuse plans to pay $1,000 each to its gay and lesbian employees who use the university's domestic partner program to provide health insurance for their partners. While health insurance benefits for employees and their spouses and children are not taxable under federal law, health insurance that an employee receives for a partner who is not a spouse recognized under state law is taxable. So even though Syracuse has tried to be equitable by offering partner benefits, the university's gay employees have pointed out that they were not really being treated the same way as married opposite-sex couples.
Syracuse isn't even fully grossing up, because $1,000 will probably not cover the extra tax that some employees pay. But the proposed benefit -- even though the money involved is likely equivalent to a rounding error in the university's $113 million benefits budget -- has become controversial as Syracuse considers a range of changes in the benefits packages that it offers employees. The "sustainable benefits" campaign is designed, Syracuse says, to save money while providing more choices and becoming more equitable. Over all, the changes -- such as reducing the match to retirement accounts -- are expected to save about $7 million annually, but more than half of those savings will be used to provide new or improved benefits. The money for gay employees has been the subject of much discussion among faculty members and at a forum on the planned changes.
If Syracuse goes ahead with its plans, it may be the first college to offer such a benefit. The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources could not identify any colleges with this benefit. The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization that encourages grossing up policies for partner benefits, has identified only three businesses and one family foundation with such policies. An HRC official said that he has talked with several colleges interested in starting such policies, but that he did not know of any that have done so. Nancy Cantor, the chancellor at Syracuse, has spoken repeatedly about her commitment to providing equitable benefits and to having the university be seen as a leader in promoting diversity.
Pat Cihon, an associate professor of law and public policy and president of the Syracuse chapter of the American Association of University Professors, has spoken out against the new benefit. Cihon said that he applauds the chancellor's commitment to inclusiveness and agrees that current marriage and tax law discriminate against gay people. He also said that he supports offering domestic partner benefits and believes that most of his colleagues share that belief. But he said that the problem that needs addressing is the law, not the university's benefits. "We really ought to be lobbying to change the tax laws," he said.
What troubles him, he said, is that the planned $1,000 payments are effectively only available to one class of people -- gay employees with partners on benefits -- and could never be available to employees married to or in domestic partnerships with people of the opposite sex.
"I appreciate and understand the rationale and intent, but now the employer is treating different people differently, and they are giving additional compensation to some groups because of sexual orientation," said Cihon. He added that he believes the provision may violate New York State's human rights statute, which bars sexual orientation discrimination in employment. "This would clearly be discrimination," he said.
Cihon said that while he and others would have philosophical issues with the proposal regardless of its overall context, it was relevant that it is part of a plan that, in total, will result in many people seeing a reduction in benefits. "They are taking money out of my retirement," he said.
Brenda J. Wrigley, associate professor of public relations at Syracuse, doesn't buy the discrimination argument. Wrigley's partner works in a part-time job for which she does not receive health insurance, so she is on Wrigley's plan as a domestic partner -- and Wrigley is taxed as a result. She said that the extra tax easily exceeds $1,000 a year.
"What's happening right now is discriminatory" in that her straight married colleagues cover their spouses without paying tax and she must pay, Wrigley said. "Nobody has squawked about that for years," she said. "The discrimination has been taking place for years."
Wrigley said that she would be pleased if federal and state laws changed to allow for marriage equity for gay people, but she said that the idea that Syracuse's lobbying could significantly accelerate that process was far-fetched. "That's a huge hill to climb," she said.
9. Pensacola News Journal, January 30, 2010
101 East Romana Street, Pensacola, FL 32502
Transgender equality, College Goal Sunday, helping Haiti
By Rebekah Allen
Equality For All
The Student Government Association at the University of West Florida is taking a firm stance in favor of giving equality to transgender students.
The Gay-Straight Alliance collected more than 1,000 signatures on a petition to include "gender identity" on UWF's nonharassment and discrimination policy.
Currently, the policy condemns harassment and discrimination of people based on age, color, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status and gender.
President Judy Bense and her top administrators denied the request, saying that "gender" should cover gender identity.
A few years ago, the policy used "sex" instead of "gender." And if we're going to get technical — sex refers to physical anatomy and gender refers to societal norms attached to being male and female.
I'm not a lawyer, but I think that would hold up in a court of law.
But hey, it's 1,000 students. That's 900 more than signed a petition to keep Judy Bense as president. That's even a little more than the number of students who bothered to vote in the SGA election.
There's no telling how many or how few students are actually transgendered at UWF because the school doesn't keep statistics on it.
While it's not legally necessary, 1,000 students have come out to say that they want a gesture of equality for all.
And part two of the reason administrators said they didn't want to do it was because "other universities have not added it to their policies. When more universities make the change, we will consider it," according to the student newspaper.
To me, that's an admission they're afraid to make waves.
Throw them a bone and be a leader, UWF.
10. The University Daily Kansan, January 29, 2010
111 Stauffer-Flint Hall, 1435 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045
Sexually (inter)Active: What is the purpose of "roles" in a sexual relationship?
By Lauren Bornstein, Melissa Lytton, and Caroline Bledowski
Lauren Bornstein, Queerly Speaking: “Who’s the man in the relationship?”
I can’t count the times I’ve been asked this question when people want to know about my sexual life. Really, what they should be asking is, “Who takes control?” They’re confusing sex (our biological label) with sexual behavior because clearly, in a sexual relationship between two women, there is no man.
So, why, when interest is actually about who’s in control, do we ask “who’s the man”? Society associates dominance with men because we view penal penetration as a dominating act. Men are literally thrusting into something-- the vagina. We use this to categorize all sexual acts, even though not every coupling is male-female. This demonstrates the male-dominant heterosexual-focus of our society. People forget that sexuality is not black and white. People aren’t just straight or gay. There isn’t always a “man and woman”.
Why do sex roles matter when it comes to what we do in the bedroom? We have a hard time understanding gay sexuality because we are used to heterosexual imagery. All over the media, we see heterosexuality: Barbie has Ken. Meredith Grey has McDreamy. Burger King has Dairy Queen. You get my point; we are a heterosexual nation.
What’s odd is we are always talking about America the “melting pot”-- this wonderfully, diverse nation-- yet we seldom see minorities (especially gays) well-represented in any kind of media.
This lack of attention doesn’t help dispel people’s poor understanding of homosexuality and sex roles. By labeling sex roles as “the man” or “the woman”, we limit our sexual abilities and imaginations to our anatomy. Sex is not defined by penetration. It is not defined by our biology. Sex is not about what you have, it’s about what you do, and, believe me, you don’t need a penis to make a woman happy.
Melissa Lytton, Sex and Sensibility: In America, we’re used to thinking of gender as the male or female dichotomy, but it’s actually more complicated than that.
Gender roles are primarily vehicles for cultural information. We learn the nuances of each role from our parents and peers so that we know how to fit in. We expect women to smile a certain way when they are interested in a man, and we expect a certain kind of smile from the man in return. So, these roles are really more about assimilation than anything; when someone doesn’t follow mainstream gender roles, they tend to stick out.
There are some gay men whose sexual identity is apparent to everyone around them, but, with others, it’s impossible to tell sexual orientation based on looks alone. There are even some straight men who fit into female behavioral patterns, and are often mistaken for being homosexual. We make these classifications based on behaviorisms traditionally associated with females.
Gender roles are different around the world. In Thailand, instead of viewing a person as moving from one gender to another, transsexuals are recognized as a third gender. The majority of countries do view gender as a dichotomy, but expected male and female behavior in Saudi Arabia is different than expected male and female behavior in Japan. Some countries are more egalitarian than others, some more patriarchal or matriarchal. Take into account each country’s various subcultures, and the number of different gender roles is astounding. That’s wonderful news for anyone who’s ever felt uncomfortable with the role they were supposed to fit into, from the twelve-year-old tomboy to the fifty-year-old transvestite.
If gender roles are just cultural communication, then there’s nothing wrong with an aggressive woman or a timid man. We’re all just unique people who act in unique ways.
Caroline Bledowski, Let's Talk about Sex: American novelist Edward Dahlbert once said, “What men desire is a virgin who is a whore.” In other words, men want a woman who is both innocent and without sexual boundaries.
If procreation was the only reason to have sex, many of our problems wouldn’t exist. This isn’t the case. Rather, sex is often a play of power and desire. How much power we have and how much desire we fulfill depends on the role we play in sexual relationships. In order to satisfy both partners, their roles in bed have to be compatible.
Roles, both societal and sexual, have changed in the last century. Many women don’t accept the obedient part anymore. While the roles were clearer in the past, they are mixed up today. We don’t just decide on one role and play it; we want to decide when to play it and how.
And we want our partner to play along. Women often want a man who is both sensitive and violent in a sexual way. Men often want women who show innocence, while also experience in their sexual behavior. These contradictions make it difficult to come to terms with a partner.
Some theorists argue that the biological roles of men and women are clearly different. They say men have the sexual power over women and she can do nothing but comply. According to author Stephen B. Clark, the increasing emancipation of women in the last few decades led to sexual confusion and physical impairments. Impotence is said to stem from an aggressive, dominant behavior of women.
While the roles we play today have become more complicated, it is worth making sense of it when the alternative is to go back a few centuries in human development.
Bornstein is a senior from Lawrence in women's studies. Lytton is a senior from Kodiak, AK, in creative writing. Bledowski is a graduate student from Cracow, Poland, in journalism.
11. The Regina Leader-Post, January 30, 2010
1450 Don Mills Rd.,Don Mills, Ont.M3B 2X7
Collection named for gay librarian
By Hannah Scissons
Neil Richards may have retired five years ago, but he can still be found nearly every day in the special collections department in the University of Saskatchewan library.
And even on days when he's not there, his name remains: The library's collection of queer materials was recently named for him.
The Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity is currently being created, drawing together the library's collection of queer materials -- one of the biggest collections of its kind in North America -- under one label.
Richards was initially hesitant when he was approached about the designation; he didn't want people to think everything in the collection had belonged to him, as is often the case when collections have a person's name attached.
But he eventually agreed.
"I'm happy that it seems to be recognized as a special collection, which hopefully means it'll be more likely to be continued into the future than if it was just stuff here and there," Richards said Thursday.
Some of the collection's highlights include about 400 pulp novels, a nearly complete set of the first major U.S. gay magazine from the 1950s, LPs, play scripts, other periodicals and personal memoirs.
Richards moved to Saskatoon from Ontario to work at the library in 1971, and began focusing on collecting gay materials after he came out in 1973, donating items both to the library and to the Saskatchewan Archives.
Special collections librarian David Bindle, who had the idea to create the overarching queer collection and name it for Richards, said Richards' contribution to the library has been in more than just queer materials. Richards also scours websites such as eBay for all sorts of Saskatchewan treasures.
"He still comes in every day, and he's always finding us interesting things, no matter what the subject," said Bindle.
The sexual and gender diversity collection will be a non-circulating one, meaning researchers have to visit the special collections department to access the materials, which need special care because some of them are either very rare, expensive or fragile.
Highlights of the collection are also available online through the Saskatchewan Resources for Sexual Diversity page on the university library's website. It includes an annotated chronology created by Richards that gives an overview of lesbian and gay life in the province since 1971.
"It gives people a start and sense that there is an actual history here and that everything didn't just happen in Toronto or San Francisco," said Richards.
The collection, which will include the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Colllection and the Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Pulp Literature Series that already existed within the library, continues to grow. The library recently received a large donation from the estate of Peter Corren in B.C.; Peter and his partner Murray were involved in the legal fight over the Surrey school division's banning of some children's books that featured same-sex parents.
And Richards keeps busy.
"Even though I'm officially retired, I'm around, and I've produced a number of digital exhibitions and physical exhibitions," said Richards. "They haven't really kicked me out yet."
Canwest News Service
12. The Brown and White, January 26, 2010
Newsroom and Editorial Offices, Coppee Hall, Lehigh University, 33 Coppee Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18015
Speech reflects on social justice and equality at Lehigh
By Elaine Hardenstine
A small group - about 20 people - gathered in front of a podium by the flagpole on Memorial Drive Wednesday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and reflect on social justice and equality at Lehigh.
Darius Callier, '11, organizer of the event and president of the Black Student Union, opened the rally with a speech titled "Justice for Us, Justice for All."
Pulling often from the "I have a Dream" speech, Callier restated that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." He encouraged students to support not only the end to discrimination issues most affecting their friends and them, but any hateful, prejudiced situation on campus and in the greater world.
"I cannot, for instance, be for black equality and progress without standing in lockstep with black lesbians and gays, black women or black disabled persons," Callier said.
Admitting the discrimination can appear to be an insurmountable challenge, Callier asked that Lehigh not be burdened by the problems but instead stand up and make a change.
"I stand here today humbled by the challenges before us," he said. "But, this humility must not be mistaken as an excuse for inaction."
The rally, preplanned to honor the great civil rights leaders, also served as a collection location for Haiti relief donations, fitting in well with King's legacy, Callier said.
"Martin Luther King promoted civic engagement," he said. "He wanted us to help our neighbors across borders just as much as our friends down the street."
Several speakers followed Callier's opening remarks with comments of their own on equity and social justice. T-shirts marked with a photograph of MLK were available free to bystanders.
Although the rally crowd was small, Callier said he drew hope from the fact that the long line of lunchgoers, stretching down the University Center's steps, was within range of the speeches.
"I know they can hear us and that means our message can still make an impact," he said.
Callier's speech is included below, in full.
Welcome to the inaugural MLK student equality rally. I'm Darius Callier, organizer of this event and Vice President of the Black Student Union, along with Kirsten and the rest of Lehigh's MLK Memorial Committee. I'd like to thank all of you for coming out, on this brisk January mid-day to rally for equality.
The format goes as such… there are a few scheduled student leaders who are here to speak on issues of social justice, and equality. Afterwards, time permitting; I will open up this session to anyone that would like to say something towards these ends.
There are refreshments that I invite you each to enjoy, and we will be taking donations for earthquake victims in Haiti, through the Community Service Office.
If you are just tuning in, coming from class or previously on your way to lunch, I invite you to take part in our rally.
Again, thanks for showing up. And so it goes…
"Justice for Us, Justice for all"
We meet at an extraordinary time among unprecedented challenges. Around the world,
Human rights are being offended, and forgotten. The U.S. is leading wars in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, while a not-so-distinct battle against terrorist extremism is also taking place to maintain a just peace.
The Economic crisis has teetered the global economy to the brink…disproportionately affecting those that have the least among us, while a privileged few who were responsible for bad risk-taking with other people's money continue along a path of unrivaled greed.
HIV/AIDS is spreading at an increasing rate in Africa, India and just about everywhere, partly due to inaction spurred by an apathy of many to see this pandemic as a problem of theirs, while concurrently we see many HIV+ persons driven underground, because the stigmatization is so great…so overbearing…
Sexual violence remains one of the biggest threats against women., lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals are being denied their civil and human rights in this country and abroad, and there even threats of deaths or life imprisonment towards them for simply being who they are, and loving who they love….girls' and women's schools are being targeted by violence in the deep Swat Valley of Pakistan.
We also face the looming and immediate threat of climate change, which is the result of our emitting Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from our cars, our homes and our factories, and with our inaction on this problem, we risk the lives of many in the world, because undeveloped states will disproportionately bear the burden of increased natural disasters and death because of our comfort with the status quo.
And, now we face one of the greatest humanitarian challenges in our history to save lives and provide aid to our sisters and brothers in Haiti. Yet, long before the earthquake, Haiti knew more suffering than any of us will ever know. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, but their poverty is not just a result of their own mistakes. It is also a result of our unfair trade embargos, our attitudes towards debt relief, and our apathy to lift them up.
But, why should we care?
Some of us are connected to the disaster in Haiti by our families and friends that live or may have been in the region, all of us are bonded by our common humanity.
I stand here today humbled by the challenges before us. But, this humility must not be mistaken as an excuse for inaction. I am here today, because I know that injustice is here.
I know that many of our problems are man-made…and as such, are fixable and surmountable. There's a tendency to see these problems as not our own. But, I also stand here with the knowledge that Lehigh is not immune to, or apart from any these challenges.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students face violence or the threat of violence on this campus and in our communities, one only needs to hold the hand of someone of the same-sex to witness potentially an example of aggression or hatred.. But, we also must recognize that even discomfort in seeing gay/lesbian couples shows a bias or prejudice against some that are just living their lives, perhaps differently that you, but not so differently.
We all hope to live our lives free of unfair persecution, or discrimination. We all hope to be the shapers of our own destiny.
In Pennsylvania, you can still be fired for simply being who you are…lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered. Here (and in many places around the nation and world), you cannot marry the person you love. And as so, are denied the same social and economic benefits that heterosexual couples have.
There is also a tendency sometimes to singularly link social justice with racial progress. This assumption is incorrect for the following reasons. - First, it wrongly assumes that fights for women's rights, LGBT rights, rights for freedom and against persecution for the religious (or non-religious) and spiritual persecution, etc, as mutually exclusive., but this assumption does not stand up to the brute force of our lived experiences.
I cannot, for instance, be for black equality and progress without standing in lockstep with black lesbians and gays, black women, or black disabled persons. Or, perhaps it is clearer by seeing that a gay black man has an equal stake in blackness (and in ending racial discrimination and prejudice) as does a straight black man.
You'll see that the example works too in reverse. For instance, I can't be for women's rights, without seeing the inextricable connections to fights for equality for lesbians and gays, for blacks, latinos, Asians/Asian Americans, and multi-racial/ethnic communities…etc.
We also know that racial equality isn't just black equality.
This means we must face up to the fact that multiplicities of ethnic and racial identities are marginalized.
As Dr. King once said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" and "No one is free until everyone is free."
Why is this true? Well, it has to do with the humanity that we all share in common.
We have each been endowed rights, and corresponding responsibilities to respect those rights of others and not to constrain those rights, by our very being as humans.
This means that a right to freedom, or to…cannot be denied by religions or taken back from a government.
It also means that it's not just the lesbian's place to be against homophobia, but also the Homophobics …It's the frat brother's place to stop sexual violence whether it happens in his frat house or in the dorm rooms...
All of us have a responsibility to stop this.
And we must be proactive about facing these challenges and not reactive.
That is why I support the incorporation of a Chief Diversity Officer, here at Lehigh, to work with the administration to make sure that our policies are inclusive and work towards our stated commitments to community and equity. (And so that there are the resources and power to implement these plans)
And, we must not let the divisions of yesterday define our action towards the eliminating the problems of today.
That is, we cannot think of justice in simply national terms, or think just of justice as only being concerned for the problems of students.
We should stand up for workers at Rathbone, and the people that clean and maintain our campus, fight for their job security, for living wages, and for their families…. And, we must fight for protections to guard them from oppressive, degrading work, and to help them to progress.
We cannot forget them. We cannot forget anyone.
This is our time…to finally address the profound challenges before us. Our problems are many. But, we can't just sit back and hope that they will be taken up by some other weary soul…we can't let up … because so many depend on us…and on the work we can and must do.
We shall not rest until all are equal, all are free, all have the ability to pursue happiness as they conceive it.
To those who have been told for so long, and by so many to be cynical or doubtful, ... Know that we can put our hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day. We can and must rise to the occasion.
I dream of a world where people are not judged by the color or hue of their skin, by their gender/sexual identity, by their national citizenship status, by who they worship or choose not to worship, or by who they love, but rather and only by the contours and content of their character.
My prayers and hopes for a better world are with you.
13. The Advocate, January 26, 2010
P.O. Box 4371, Los Angeles, CA 90078
Gay Students Plan Protest at Notre Dame
By Julie Bolcer
As a sister school of the University of Notre Dame, the all-women’s Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., shares many activities with its powerhouse neighbor, from social exchanges to Catholic identity to political club memberships.
One thing the separate institutions do not share, however, is equal recognition and protections for LGBT students, faculty members, and administrators.
An informal grouping of four students from both schools hopes to change that with a protest at Notre Dame on Wednesday morning.
The action arrives in the wake of outrage over an antigay editorial cartoon that appeared in the independent student-run newspaper, The Observer, on January 13. The cartoon called a baseball bat the “quickest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable.” The newspaper staff apologized for its publication, and the university president denounced it.
Laurel Javors, vice president of the Straight and Gay Alliance at Saint Mary’s, says the insulting cartoon sparked the latest push in the decade-long effort to establish a gay-straight alliance at Notre Dame and to include LGBT students and staff in the university’s nondiscrimination policy. (Notre Dame's policy does not explicitly include sexual orientation, while Saint Mary's does.)
“The comic was really the way of saying, ‘This is why we need a student group,” said the junior social work major, who serves as a liaison on LGBT issues between the two campuses. “Language like this is so pervasive, and having no legal protections from the university makes Notre Dame a less desirable place for a professor or student interested in becoming part of the school.”
Notre Dame, a Catholic institution affiliated with the conservative Congregation of the Holy Cross, stands out among elite American universities because it lacks a student-run gay group and an inclusive non-discrimination policy. Jesuit colleges such as Boston College and Georgetown, which are generally considered more progressive on the issue, have gay-straight alliances and inclusive non-discrimination policies in place.
In contrast, Notre Dame abides by the Spirit of Inclusion, a formal statement adopted in response to student agitation for gay rights in 1997. The statement appears in du Lac, the university guide to student life. Reverend John I. Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, invoked the Spirit of Inclusion in a letter that denounced this month’s antigay cartoon.
”We prize the uniqueness of all persons as God’s creatures' and welcome 'all people, regardless of color, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social or economic class, and nationality,’” said Jenkins.
“Further, 'we value gay and lesbian members of this community as we value all members of this community. We condemn harassment of any kind' and 'we consciously create an environment of mutual respect, hospitality and warmth in which none are strangers and all may flourish.'”
Critics like Javors say that the sentiments fall short of a real non-discrimination policy.
Planners of Wednesday’s demonstration are also calling for the creation of a student-run LGBT group, in which at least 50 students have privately expressed interest. They believe the current university-approved group, the elected Core Council for Gay and Lesbian Students, does not adequately serve the small community of gay students, some of whom remain deeply closeted on campus.
“In order to be in Core Council, you need to be out,” said Javors, who identifies as queer and lesbian. “And not everyone is out. People are still afraid. We need our own club to offer support, but we can’t even get funding or meet as a group because of group sanctions from student activities. It’s a bitter cycle.”
Those frustrations also apply to planning for the demonstration, for which organizers have relied on social networking because their unofficial group is barred from on-campus advertising. The GLBT Resource Center of Michiana in the nearby town of South Bend has offered help, in addition to the encouragement from supportive faculty members.
The demonstration is scheduled to begin at noon on Wednesday outside the gates of Notre Dame. Participants are expected to stand in silence, with tape covering their mouths similar to the NOH8 campaign, to represent the dearth of productive conversation about LGBT issues on campus.
Javors, a Catholic by birth who recently converted to the Episcopal Church, said the organizers hope not to provoke Catholics, but to show that religion and equality are compatible.
“If the biggest name in Catholic universities, the most conservative Catholic university, can accept and take in a healthy discussion, then it opens the door for a lot more gay Catholics to come out and realize that they are equal in the eyes of God,” she said.
14. WNDU, January 27, 2010
P.O. Box 1616, South Bend, IN 46634
Group protests Notre Dame’s “anti-gay” policies
By Nick McGurk
The demonstration comes roughly two weeks after the Notre Dame Observer newspaper published an anti-gay cartoon. Since then, an assistant managing editor has resigned.
Organizers say Wednesday’s demonstration was in response to the cartoon – but they also say that lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people are discriminated against under Notre Dame policy. That, they say, is nothing new.
"This is a way to show the university that this is not just a small group of students that think this is a problem here on campus, but that there are a lot of supporters for this issue,” said Jessica Mahon, who helped organize the demonstration.
The group headed toward Notre Dame’s main building, where they stood outside on the steps to read the letter.
"Father Jenkins, the time is right to pursue full justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual students, and their heterosexual allies,” read Laurel Javors, a demonstration organizer.
The letter says that lesbian, gay bisexual and heterosexual allies have made tremendous progress over the years – but more needs to be done.
"We must move beyond words, and into concrete actions, which fully bring us into equality at Notre Dame,” read Javors to the group outside Notre Dame’s main building.
Members of the group waited to hand the letter to Rev. John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame's president. Eventually an assitant from the president’s office took the letter.
And like that, the demonstration ended. The push for change, organizers say, has not.
Later in the afternoon the university released a statement. In it, the university talks about its “Spirit of Inclusion” Statement dating back to 1997.
The university statement also referred to the Core Council for Gay and Lesbian Students, a group led mostly by students.
The university’s statement is below:
Notre Dame is firmly committed to fostering a campus culture that welcomes all people, regardless of color, gender, religion, sexual orientation or other distinctions. After considerable study from theological as well as legal perspectives, the University decided on the “Spirit of Inclusion” as the official University statement reflecting our commitment to an inclusive community. That statement was adopted based on the conclusion that we are unwilling to leave to civil courts the interpretation of University decisions that are made on the basis of Church teaching on sexual orientation and conduct. In addition, we have established a very active and effective organization called the Core Council for Gay and Lesbian Students. The council is led primarily by students and provides support, programming, education and other services on campus. We believe these two initiatives, in particular, have led over the past decade to substantial progress in promoting a more inclusive culture on this campus.
Even with this progress, however, we know we can improve, and we look forward to working with faculty, staff, students and alumni to enhance our current framework and make Notre Dame an even better place to live, work and study.
The “Spirit of Inclusion” and a full explanation of its adoption are available online at:
More information on the Core Council is at:
15. South Bend Tribune, January 28, 2010
225 W. Colfax Ave., South Bend, IN 46626
Marchers demand that Notre Dame address gay-rights issue
By Margaret Fosmoe
SOUTH BEND — Waving rainbow flags and carrying a banner reading, "No home under the dome," about 225 students, faculty and community residents demonstrated Wednesday at the University of Notre Dame in favor of adding sexual orientation to the campus anti-discrimination policy.
The activists also are asking that the university formally recognize a student group to serve the needs of gay, lesbian and bisexual students and their allies.
Outrage over an anti-gay cartoon published Jan. 13 in the campus newspaper has reignited an issue that has been simmering for years at Notre Dame: whether the Catholic university is doing enough to protect the rights and dignity of gay, lesbian and bisexuals on campus.
The activists gathered in the bitter cold by the university's Main Gate. They wore purple tape over their mouths to symbolize the silence they say is imposed on those on campus who aren't heterosexual.
"It's a very important cause. Everyone here deserves to feel safe and respected," Notre Dame junior Chris Collins said.
"Some of my closest friends are students here and they don't have protection (from discrimination)," Saint Mary's College junior Laurel Javors said.
The activists marched in silence to the Main Building to deliver a letter stating their concerns to the Rev. John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame's president. They paused for a prayer in front of the building.
Five students then walked up the front steps, planning to deliver the letter. They were stopped at the front door by a campus police officer.
About 40 faculty members then walked up the front steps, promising to deliver the letter on behalf of the students. The faculty members also were told they could not enter.
"I'm disappointed that there was no one to receive (the students)," said Peter Holland, a professor and associate dean who participated in the demonstration.
An administrative assistant in the president's office eventually came to the front door, accepted the letter and said she would deliver it.
The Observer, the campus newspaper, on Jan. 13 published a comic strip that many readers interpreted as mocking violence against gays. The newspaper and the cartoonists apologized, an editor resigned, and the comic strip was dropped.
But many on campus believe publication of the cartoon signaled a larger problem: that people who are gay, lesbian or bisexual aren't afforded the same level of respect and protection as others.
On Tuesday, hundreds of students on campus wore orange T-shirts bearing the slogan, "Gay? Fine by Me."
Seniors Meaghan Jennings and Patrick Bears started circulating a petition calling for sexual orientation to be added to the campus policy. By Wednesday afternoon, the online petition had more than 900 signatures: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/notredamenon-discriminationclause/.
Jennings said her research shows that Notre Dame is the only top 20 university that fails to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy and lacks a student support alliance for gay students. "Notre Dame is not a leader on this issue," she said.
Degrading comments regarding gays are common on campus, according to Jennings. She said the word "gay" often is used by students as a slur or condemnation of things they don't like. "It's a word I hear almost on a daily basis," she said.
Members of South Bend Equality, a local group that advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, participated in the protest.
South Bend resident Raul Jara earned a Notre Dame master's degree last year and now works on campus. As a straight member of South Bend Equality, Jara has joined the effort.
"The fact that Notre Dame reserves the right to discriminate against homosexuals helps create an atmosphere where homosexuals are relegated to the sidelines," he said. "Lots of homosexual students here feel they can't be honest with their friends about who they are."
Beginning in the 1990s, some students, faculty and alumni urged administrators to add sexual orientation to the university's nondiscrimination clause. Notre Dame instead adopted a "statement of inclusion" describing the university's regard for all people, with specific reference to lesbians and gays.
The campus Faculty Senate in 1996 passed a proposal that sexual orientation be added to the nondiscrimination policy, and the Academic Council backed the idea.
Notre Dame's Board of Fellows, the highest tier of the university's board of trustees, in 1998 decided not to extend the policy. The fellows concluded that the existing document — called the Spirit of Inclusion — recognized that each person on campus deserved dignity.
Notre Dame's employment policy does adhere to federal law, stating that the university is an equal opportunity employer and doesn't discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, disability or veteran status.
Staff writer Margaret Fosmoe:
16. The Observer, January 27, 2010
P.O. Box 779, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Students show support for GLBT community
By Irena Zajickova
Student, faculty and other members of the Notre Dame community will participate in events this week to demonstrate their desire for the administration to add sexual orientation to the University’s non-discrimination clause.
The events kicked off yesterday when students wore “Gay? Fine By Me” T-shirts to show their support for Notre Dame’s Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender (GLBT) community. Senior Patrick Bears, a member of the Core Council for Gay and Lesbian Students, said that in light of a controversial comic published in the Jan. 13 edition of The Observer, there has never been a more important time for students to show support for the GLBT community.
“Generally we try to coincide T-shirt day with StaND Against Hate week or National Coming Out Day, but given the controversy surrounding the comic we thought it would be better to do a weeklong initiative promoting these issues,” Bears said.
More students and alumni than ever expressed interest in obtaining T-shirts to wear, he said.
Former Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate said he wanted to get involved with the initiative to help show Notre Dame’s GLBT community that he and others on campus support their decisions.
“I wanted to participate in the project because just like everyone else, [the GLBT community] are people and have rights,” Tate said. “The Notre Dame community is a family and family members support one another to make the family stronger.”
Senior Johanna Kirsch chose to wear a “Gay? Fine By Me” shirt yesterday for similar reasons.
“I think it’s good for the student body to come together and show support for each others’ struggles,” Kirsch said. “I hope the GLBT community will be able to see that they do have supporters who love and accept them for who they are.”
Senior Jessica Mahon, one of the students in charge of organizing the T-shirt day, said she hopes the events planned for this week will show students the ongoing nature of discrimination on campus.
“I think it’s important for students to realize it’s not a problem that goes away,” Mahon said. “It kind of comes in waves. There will be a comic or a Viewpoint letter or something and it’ll be a hot topic for a week and then go away. But it’s not an issue that goes away for members of the Notre Dame community that are gay.”
Bears said his main goal for this week’s events is to simply start a discussion on the issue of discrimination against Notre Dame’s GLBT community, because it is often ignored on campus.
“I think [this week is] important because these kinds of issues aren’t really discussed on campus as well as they should be and there’s kind of this veil of ignorance surrounding these issues,” Bears said. “From a legal and theological perspective, Notre Dame needs to reinforce its Catholic identity by practicing nondiscrimination.”
Senior Madison Prieto, a member of Notre Dame’s GLBT community, echoed Bears’ goal of educating Notre Dame students and faculty.
“People at this school can be a little closed-minded sometimes, so [the events being held this week are] a good way for people to learn about what’s going on and the issues at hand,” Prieto said.
Following yesterday’s T-shirt day, a silent demonstration will be held today at noon at the University’s gates to protest Notre Dame’s exclusion of sexual orientation from the non-discrimination clause and the lack of a recognized Gay-Straight Alliance on campus.
Tomorrow, a panel discussion, “Where To Go From Here?: Moving Beyond Fruits and Vegetables,” will be held in the Hesburgh Library’s Carey Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. The event will consist of a discussion and question-and-answer session about what Notre Dame’s student body can do to fulfill the Spirit of Inclusion, a document adopted by the University in 1997.
17. The Observer, January 29, 2010
P.O. Box 779, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Concerns and recommendations: Letter to the Editor
Editor’s Note: This guest column was written by members of the Core Council for Gay and Lesbian Students as well as the former Standing Committee on Gay and Lesbian Student Network.
We come together as former members of the Core Council for Gay and Lesbian Students, as well as the former Standing Committee on Gay and Lesbian Student Needs, to address the Jan. 13 publication of “The Mobile Party.” We believe that the creation and allowance of this deplorable comic to go to press is evidence of the systemic problems of homophobia and prejudice that continue to exist on campus.
During our respective tenures, we worked tirelessly to advise the administration on how to remedy the very issues of hate, homophobia and intolerance promoted in the comic strip. We knew firsthand of students who were so uncomfortable in what was supposed to be their “home away from home” that they would pray before falling asleep that they didn’t wake up in the morning. Because of this, we worked to ensure that every gay and lesbian student felt secure and safe enough to actualize his or her full potential as a scholar, individual, and contributing member of the community. We hoped when we left that we had made it a more welcoming place. However, this recent event is an unfortunate confirmation that more needs to be done.
Even though this publication has resulted in outrage, we found the apology from The Observer Editorial Board greatly lacking. Except for a cursory mention of the Core Council, never once did their statement address the harmed community directly. They also never stated what the comic contained, why it was hurtful, and to whom it was directed. Even upon reading the University’s official response, we were still dissatisfied. The response merely echoed what was said by The Observer. This vagueness demonstrates that Notre Dame has not yet acknowledged the presence of a gay and lesbian community. The students negatively affected by this deserve more.
Over the course of our collected years at Notre Dame, we have been involved in an innumerable number of committees, advisory sessions and presentations related to tolerance and education about issues related to sexuality. However, those things can only do so much to create systemic change. They should not be used as a replacement for direct and concrete action by the University. It seems, at times, that all of these discussions and forums only exist to quell the demands being made for real action. It’s time for the University to put real substance behind what it claims to promote, instead of attempting to pacify the gay and lesbian members of its community with lip service.
We call on the University to address this shameful episode in a way more befitting a reputable institution of higher learning that prides itself on “seek[ing] to cultivate in its students … a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression that burden the lives of so many.” We feel that the following actions need to be taken in order to show the public that Notre Dame is a place where everyone, gay or straight, is welcome and valued.
1) The University must take direct action to address the underlying problems of homophobia on campus. A declaration needs to be made that this type of behavior will not be tolerated by a school that states that “God’s grace prompts human activity to assist the world in creating justice grounded in love.”
2) As has been advised numerous times in the past, the University must add “sexual orientation” to its non-discrimination clause to officially affirm that no individual on campus is considered a second-class citizen. They must show that all students — gay and straight — deserve equal amounts of fairness, respect and protection. The mere promise of a safe space for everyone is undone when no real body exists to authoritatively create and preserve the vowed environment.
3) An official gay/straight student group must be allowed/established. Notre Dame is the only school on the Top 20 National Research Universities list to not have a recognized gay/straight alliance. Ignoring and undervaluing select members of a community only serves to limit the learning experience for the whole campus.
4) The consultative role of the Core Council for Gay and Lesbian Students needs to be taken more seriously. In 2008, the Council composed an internal report to University officials about the serious conditions confronting gays and lesbians at Notre Dame and how to improve campus life and administrative policies. The counsels made were not heeded in a palpable sense, and that lack of action is evidenced by this recent dehumanizing event.
We hope that the University realizes it is time to move forward and takes our concerns and recommendations seriously. We implore the University to use the opportunity presented by this shameful episode to fulfill its obligation “to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice.” In light of recent events, this is needed now more than ever.
Guillermo J. Alfaro
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