Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.02.14
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to email@example.com
1. The News Record (University of Cincinnati) - New student government members work to raise awareness
2. Inside Higher Ed - Quick Takes: Gay Students Stage Basketball Sit-In at John Carroll U.
3. The Daily Orange (Syracuse University) - Proposed changes to employee benefits bolster inclusion on campus
4. NewsHouse (Syracuse University) - Never a drag
5. The Daily Cougar (University of Houston) - OUT & ABOUT: Transgender community still needs help from UH
6. New Mexico Daily Lobo (University of New Mexico) - UNM should not allow hatemongering on campus
7. Quick Takes: Inside Higher Ed - Philosophers Push Campaign Against Limits on Hiring Gay Professors
8. The Collegian (University of Richmond) - SASD seeks change in nondescrimination policy
9. University of Iowa College of Law, The Docket - Gay activist and veteran Lt. Dan Choi to speak at UI Feb. 25
10. The Daily Reflector - Safe Zone trains ECU staff on gay issues
11. The Record - Conference focuses on education
12. The Observer (Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s) - LGBTQ support from MEChA: Letter to the Editor
13. The News Record (University of Cincinnati) - Battle for Equality: Student activist nominated for award
14. The Daily Targum (Rutgers University) - Sexuality not a military factor
15. St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Lindenwood University balks at having exclusively gay student group
16. The Fresno Bee - ACLU: FCC instructor giving anti-gay views
1. The News Record (University of Cincinnati), February 7, 2010
New student government members work to raise awareness
By Carly Tamborski
Student Government just got a little more diverse.
The organization elected three new members who are focused on promoting on-campus dversity.
Rohan Hemani, a second-year business student, the director of international affairs of Student Government.
The Singaporean and Indian student enjoys traveling, watching movies and football, playing tennis and playing Ultimate Frisbee. On campus, he’s president of the International Dance Team, vice president of alumni affairs in the Student Alumni Council, a ROAR tour guide and a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
K.D. Miller is a fourth-year special education student. Miller is a transgender student and served as the director of LGBTQ Affairs before starting her new position as senator-at-large Jan. 20.
“As far as spare time, I really don’t have any,” Miller said. “That’s what happens when you have multiple leadership roles and work 30-plus hours a week. If I do find some free time, I enjoy reading, hosting friends and crocheting.”
Chris Hamm, the director of ethnic and cultural affairs on the special interests committee, was not available for comment.
The cabinets of Student Government are divided into four sections: executive, campus relations, community relations and special interests. Miller and Hermani work in special interests, where they focus on getting all students’ voices heard and help Student Government’s initiative to increase diversity on campus.
“It’s a more enhanced version of what we have on cabinet to really look out for the best interests of all students,” said Tim Lolli, student body president. “It’s all-inclusive so that all minority groups have better representation in Student Government. I want to make sure that students continue to be represented in the best light and in taking this step, it’ll do that.”
The two directors represent the student voices of all orientations and countries of origin.
Miller is particularly involved in the LGBTQ movement on campus. There are approximately 300 to 400 active members in one of the LGBT group on campus, although membership could include as many as 4,000 UC students, Miller said.
LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bi and transgender. The Q has several meanings, Miller said.
“I think it depends on what generation you’re talking to,” Miller said. “Some people use questioning while others use queer. I generally use queer, which means any identity, such as pansexual, not fitting under LGBT.”
Hemani’s position enables Student Government to work closely with UC International. UC International represents people who participate in study abroad, exchanges, international student recruitment, grants for international study and research, faculty exchange and international research collaboration.
The group is also responsible for assisting international students in becoming accustomed to the United States and UC regulations, rules and procedures they must follow while at UC.
Each year, more than 2,500 international visitors from more than 90 different countries study, teach, conduct research and lecture at UC, according to UC International Services.
Hemani works with UC International to increase involvement between Student Government and international students. He attends quarterly UC International Committee meetings and then informs Student Government which services the international students want to see improved and works to implement change to meet those needs.
Miller sits in on the meetings of two LGBTQ student groups then informs Student Government about LGBTQ issues, events, speakers, funding needs and, in turn, receives support.
Often overlooked, minority groups face struggles as part of the UC community, but strides are being taken in hopes of positive change.
“We often get put in these token positions, but people need to realize that’s not all we can do,” Miller said. “It’s a matter of getting our voices heard and our needs met. We focus a lot on education. We’re trying to get a bigger office and a full-time staff person, but we’d really like to teach more people about what LGBTQ means.”
A UC “Status on Diversity Recommendations” report was updated in June 2009. The report’s updated progress of that goal states that “funding for the [graduate assistant] was continued, despite budget cuts. Conversations with various stakeholders are underway regarding a full-time staff person.”
“Often times, we’re not seen as a viable group because of things like the confusion about our number of members, bathroom issues and not having a full-time staff person,” Miller said. “We’d really like to educate faculty, staff and students about the LGBTQ community.”
In the same diversity report, another goal is to “continue recruitment on international undergraduates.” The goal was placed in the “some progress” made category.
“Student Government’s purpose is to be the voice of the students, regardless of how long they are in attendance at this university,” Hemani said. “They come here for the American experience and we want to make it the best experience possible.”
There are international students here from anywhere between one quarter and four years, giving them the right to be a represented student group on Student Government, Hermani said.
Opening up communication between domestic and international students is also a work in progress.
“The single greatest struggle I feel for international students is a lack of immersion into the American culture,” Hemani said. “Many students come here hoping for the American experience … I have yet to see complete interaction between domestic and international students. I want these students to be welcomed by our domestic students and have a greater presence on campus.”
Hemani works with International Admissions to help domestic students become more involved with international students immediately upon their arrival. One idea he has is to create a buddy system where each international student is given a domestic student, as a buddy, prior to arriving in the United States.
The events that these student groups plan also help educate curious students who might have been previously aware of them.
The LGBTQ community hosts events like drag shows, speeches and F(2)embody, a transgender activist group. They also organize Pride and Visibility Week, which takes place the first week in May and has events like a parade and lunch-and-learns.
Hemani works closely with UC International on the events that they organize, and is hoping to plan international student events during UC’s next Welcome Week.
The impact these students have made on campus has not gone unnoticed.
“Rohan’s been doing a great job attending all of the UC International meetings as student representative and coming back with initiatives that we can work on,” Lolli said.
He worked with UC NightWalk, Graduate Student Governance Association and UC International to help provide transportation from the airport to campus using NightWalk vans when international students came to UC, Lolli said.
“K.D. has far surpassed any expectations,” Lolli said. “She’s been very instrumental in forming the student diversity subcommittee. She’s never stopped working and has such effort and passion for the issues she’s working for.”
Miller and Hemani have exerted a profound amount of energy in order to improve awareness and support on campus.
“There are steps we need to take to enhance the representation of diversity among students and faculty, and I have no doubt in mind these initiatives will bring students closer to having sense of place,” Lolli said.
2. Inside Higher Ed, February 8, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
Quick Takes: Gay Students Stage Basketball Sit-In at John Carroll U.
Gay students and supporters at John Carroll University staged a sit-in on the basketball court prior to the start of a game last week to protest the university's refusal to add sexual orientation to the official anti-bias policy at the institution. The protest, filmed and then placed on YouTube, ended when students were escorted -- without arrests -- from the court. University officials noted that draft "community standards" being prepared by the university explicitly protect gay and lesbian students and would bar discrimination against them. Officials said that the employment policy that does not include sexual orientation is based on state and federal statutes, which do not cover sexual orientation. "Rather than rely on the limitations provided under current federal and state law, the university strives to achieve a much higher standard based upon its Jesuit and Catholic mission and teachings," said a statement from the university.
3. The Daily Orange (Syracuse University), February 8, 2010
744 Ostrom Ave., Syracuse, NY 13210
Proposed changes to employee benefits bolster inclusion on campus
By The Daily Orange Editorial Board
Chancellor Nancy Cantor explained the recently proposed changes to the employee benefits package Wednesday. One component of the proposal is to provide same-sex domestic partners with $1,000 to offset the federal tax imposed on them but not applied to heterosexual couples. Cantor said Syracuse University is working toward creating a more inclusive community through the proposed changes.
The administration, through this action, now reflects the LGBT-friendly environment the student body has already been recognized for. It's an admirably progressive step by the university to foster a culture of equality that the state does not provide.
Other components of the proposal have also stirred strong debate.
SU proposed that opposite-sex couples who live together but choose not to get married will now receive the same health benefits as married couples. While some professors support this proposal, others feel that they should not have to aid couples who have simply chosen not to marry.
But SU is being consistent and equally progressive in trying to create a more equal community. The institution of marriage is changing, and just like the homosexual tax offset, it is admirable for the university to be out in front of institutional change.
But the university needs to be clear about who qualifies under the new proposal to make sure progressive policies aren't muddled by ambiguity.
SU has only held one open forum in regards to the proposed changes. In order to create a new and successful employee benefits package, the university needs to hold more open forums and meetings in order to give more employees a chance to voice their opinions and concerns.
While more needs to be worked out in the proposal, the university is taking a step in the right direction in trying to foster a more inclusive community.
4. NewsHouse (Syracuse University), February 2, 2010
c/o Jon Glass, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, 215 University Place, Syracuse, NY 13244-2100
Never a drag
By Mallory Passuite
Local drag queen Nikki Fenmore and drag kings, Windz and Miles Long, visit SU to discuss "The Art of Drag."
Her golden-blonde hair rests on the collar of her black sweater, and her soft side bangs brush the thin, silver frame of her glasses. She smiles. Her lips are full and painted a deep, dusty-rose shade of pink. She sits, hands folded together with a shiny gold band on each ring finger, waiting for the others to arrive.
Nikki Fenmore, a woman who was born a man, led a panel discussion entitled “The Art of Drag” with Syracuse University students Monday. The 41-year-old Syracuse native works as a hairdresser by day and performs as a drag queen every Thursday night at the downtown Rain Lounge’s college night.
Nearly 30 people attended Monday’s event, “The Art of Drag,” hosted by the LGBT Arts & Activism programming series, in the basement of Shaw Hall. The panel included a single queen, Nikki, and two drag kings: Windz, from Rochester and Miles Long, from SU. The event served as a precursor to SU’s upcoming Totally Fabulous Drag Show, the campus’s annual talent competition for drag kings and queens.
An informal workshop following the discussion allowed panelists to share makeup and performance tips with aspiring drag kings and queens. Nikki taught students about stage makeup and the importance of lip-liner. Windz showed how to apply sideburns to get a more masculine look, before giving an impromptu performance that included Justin Timberlake and Ne-Yo.
For Nikki, her life as a “she” began 21 years ago at Christmas time, when Nikki’s friends decided to give her the gift of drag. She had performed in the apartment of her two male friends, who were also friends of a local drag queen and they decided it was time for “Nikki” to give it a try. “They dressed me up and I loved it,” she said. She danced and lip-synched to Jane Child’s “I don’t want to fall in love,” at a talent show. She almost won. “I would have won if the winner didn’t win,” she says, laughing. “I was good.”
When performing, Nikki opts for big hair, full makeup and false lashes. She describes her look today (blue-jeans, a cowl-neck sweater, simple makeup) as boring for her. She takes stage-style inspiration from sexy celebrities like Pamela Anderson, who, to Nikki, personify beauty. “They’re dumb, but they’re beautiful,” she says, and giggles.
Nikki also loves the look of Lady Gaga because “she just does whatever she wants,” Nikki says. (She loved Gaga’s spacey, Armani dress she wore to this year’s Grammys, and Nikki’s current favorite Gaga song is “Teeth”). Nikki will perform “Teeth” and songs by Kesha and Carrie Underwood, as the host of this year’s Totally Fabulous Drag Show. She advises aspiring drag queens to really work at it. “Don’t just throw makeup on. You have to do more than a woman does. You have to accentuate your face,” she says.
For Nikki, drag is not just cross-dressing. It takes research, energy and practice to truly represent the artist whose music she performs to.
“It’s a good art form, and a good way to express yourself if that’s what you’re into."
Head to the show
The Totally Fabulous Drag Show preliminaries are Feb. 11, tickets available at the Schine Box Office; the final competition is Feb. 19, tickets also at Schine.
5. The Daily Cougar (University of Houston), February 8, 2010
Communication Bldg., Houston, TX 77204-4015
OUT & ABOUT: Transgender community still needs help from UH
By Thad Sweigart
UH is not only racially diverse, but also in the sexuality of its students.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of a few and the growing confidence of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community as a whole, our school has seen progress in areas that last year looked unrealistic.
First and foremost, campus activists, both student and faculty, have pursued the refinement of the University’s longstanding non-discrimination policy for years. While gays and lesbians have been protected for well over a decade, the policy had, until recently, no provisions whatsoever protecting transgender individuals.
As a minority within a minority, these men and women are often marginalized even within the gay community. Thanks to Dona Cornell, the vice chancellor of UH System Affairs and the system’s general counsel, that is no longer the case. Citing precedence from the 2008 case of Lopez v. River Oaks Imaging and Diagnostic Group, Cornell has implemented a new interpretation of existing language within UH’s current non-discrimination policy. In the case, Izza Lopez filed suit after experiencing discrimination because of her transgender status. Lopez won the case on the basis that discrimination based on sex was unlawful, thereby folding transgender into a broad interpretation of the word sex.
While there are other court rulings such as Price Waterhouse v. Hopkings that could be used against this claim, Cornell assures transgender individuals that so long as she holds her position, the Lopez ruling will be observed. In that vein, campus officials have already begun to make subtle alterations to bathrooms and locker rooms across UH campuses for transgender individuals.
Another step UH has taken recently to meet the needs and concerns of the GLBT community is the actualization of a specially tailored resource center within the new Women’s Resource Center on the top floor of the University Center. Stocked with magazines, pamphlets and other educational materials, all free to the public, the room is brightly decorated and inviting to visitors.
While it may not have been fought for as strongly as the non-discrimination language change, the new resource center is a definite boom. A budding adult’s college experience is, after all, a time of growth and self-reflection, and such acceptance on the school’s part will undoubtedly make it easier for students questioning their sexual orientation.
Accompanying these two changes on behalf of the administration is the blossoming of the University’s GLBT community. Within the last two years GLOBAL, UH’s primary GLBT student organization, has seen an enormous upward spike in membership. Weekly meetings that were a dozen or so students are now up to 40 or 50, and their newfound strength has even earned them a new office in the UC Underground. In addition, a new lesbian sorority has already been established, and there is talk of a possible gay fraternity as well.
For many students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, these recent developments may be both pleasant and unexpected. Let us not forget though that they are the results of great effort on the part of a few who continue to fight even now.
The University has really carried the ball recently, but we can’t let these victories breed idleness. We should take these triumphs to heart and use them to inspire further action. As Maine and California have proven, victories are fleeting, and even battles won must be defended.
6. New Mexico Daily Lobo (University of New Mexico), February 8, 2010
MSC03 2230, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
UNM should not allow hatemongering on campus
By David Luna
I believe it was Spiderman’s dad who said that with great power comes great responsibility. Freedom of speech is powerful and I’m all for it. That’s what makes living in America great. Another thing that makes living in America great is freedom of religion. We all understand free speech and freedom to worship, but this doesn’t give us license to say whatever we want whenever we want.
Today in front of the SUB, a man who called himself “Shawn the Baptist” provided a perfect example of what I mean. While delivering his gospel message he used the word “homo.” I don’t care if he doesn’t like homosexuals. He’s free to dislike whomever he chooses. I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way, but I think that using the word “homo” the way he did — in a derogatory way — is a form of harassment. It’s the same as using the “N” word or similar speech. He continued to tell the UNM community, and not just homosexuals this time, that God abhorred them because they were sinners and that they were doomed to spend eternity in Hell because of the way they lived their lives. He also mentioned that he could never shake students’ hands because they are wicked.
Now, people attend UNM for a number of reasons. I go to learn in a safe and encouraging environment. I go to hear and discuss opposing viewpoints, something that the University should welcome. I don’t go to UNM to hear hate speech and be threatened with fire and brimstone.
UNM should never welcome hate on our campus. Would UNM give permits to the KKK for speakers to shout at its students, faculty and staff? I don’t know, probably not though. So why is it okay for “Shawn the Baptist?” I’ll give UNM the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they didn’t know he would be preaching hate, intolerance and threatening passersby with eternal damnation. I admit that I’m ignorant about the UNM policy for allowing people to speak on campus, but I hope that there is some mechanism that ensures speakers on campus conduct themselves the way students are expected to conduct themselves on campus.
7. Inside Higher Ed, February 10, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
Quick Takes: Philosophers Push Campaign Against Limits on Hiring Gay Professors
Calvin College has become the first institution covered by a new rule of the American Philosophical Association of requiring any college that violates any part of the association's anti-bias policy to have job listings with the association flagged. The rule was adopted late last year in response to the concerns of many philosophers about having their association list jobs from institutions that do not hire gay professors. One aim of the policy, proponents said, was to then be able to lobby colleges to change their policies. Some philosophers are now trying to do just that with a petition urging the college to accept gay professors. "One might puzzle over a form of Christianity that is committed to the inequality of people, and in particular of job applicants for positions in philosophy. More disturbing, however, is the stigma Calvin College feels entitled to place upon those who are doubly exposed: as lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgendered in a society that has yet to accept them, and as people seeking jobs during difficult economic times," the petition says. "Obtaining academic positions in philosophy is never an easy task; doing so in the face of the current economic climate is nothing less than traumatic. That Calvin College would engage in a most egregious form of discrimination under these circumstances strikes us as not only deplorable but indeed as displaying a lack of basic human concern."
A spokesman for the college said he could not comment on the petition. The college requires faculty members to be in good standing with the Christian Reformed Church (or some similar churches), and Calvin's statement about sexual orientation states that all people should be treated with "respect" and "understanding," and that sexual orientation "seems usually to lie outside the scope of an individual's will." But the statement also says that sexual activity under church teachings is allowed only in heterosexual marriage. The philosophy association's anti-bias policy specifically states that it is not acceptable for colleges to say that they welcome gay people, but only if they are celibate.
8. The Collegian (University of Richmond), February 10, 2010
North Court Basement, 40 Westhampton Way, University of Richmond, VA 23173
SASD seeks change in nondescrimination policy
By Maria Ribas
The Student Alliance for Sexual Diversity reached its goal this week of obtaining 1,000 signatures for a petition to have gender identity and expression included in the University of Richmond’s nondiscrimination policy.
By obtaining signatures from approximately one-third of the student body, the members of SASD said they hoped to show that it was an issue of wide concern, and was not limited to the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender communities.
“The petition helps with people saying we want to take a look at this now, instead of whenever you get to it or whenever it gets on the list of things,” said Valerie Wallen, the university’s director of organizational learning and development. “The more the petition grows, the more the attention will grow.”
Wallen works as a liaison between the Community Board for Gender and Sexual Diversity – which is composed of students, faculty and staff – and the members of SASD. Also partnering with SASD on the petition are students from the Women Involved in Living and Learning and UR Men 4 Change programs.
The petition strives to protect gender identity – the internal sense of one’s gendered self – and gender expression – how a person’s gender identity is communicated to others through behavior, clothing or other external characteristics.
“The purpose of the gender identity petition is to protect everybody on campus who doesn’t fit into stereotypical gender norms,” said Johanna Gehlbach, advertising manager for SASD. “You’d be surprised that it is a lot more people than normal. It’s not just LGBT individuals – it’s straight individuals, who just don’t fit into your stereotypical guy/girl category. It’s not about transgender or transsexual individuals – it’s about everybody.”
Since 1992, more than 147 universities, including the entire Ivy League, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, New York University and others, have added gender identity and expression to nondiscrimination clauses. If Richmond were to protect gender identity and expression, it would be the first university in Virginia to do so.
At Richmond, members of SASD have presented the change to organizations such as the Diversity Roundtable, Amnesty International, the Multicultural Student Union and the Black Student Alliance, as well as to Westhampton College Dean Juliette Landphair, Richmond College Dean Joe Boehman, Vice President for Student Development Steve Bisese and other administrators.
“In general the administration side is supportive,” Wallen said. “They have to look at alumni constituencies, families and where this might all fit in that discussion and dialogue before they just go ahead and insert it in the clause.”
The members of SASD work to reeducate the community about what sexuality means. The petition will not only help protect transgender people, but it will help raise awareness about gender issues, said Jon Henry, president of SASD.
“It’s helping everyone,” Henry said. “It helps transgender people a lot because when they fill out a form, it’s just male or female. But there’s so much more to it than that. In India there’s the third sex, Native Americans recognize the third gender and in ancient Greece there used to be the idea of a third gender. It’s just American Puritan ideas about sexuality that morphed this idea of there being only a binary in Western culture.”
Wallen, who works within the hiring resources department, said adding protection for gender identity and expression could help recruit and retain a more diverse set of faculty, staff and students.
“If it’s not included then it’s not a safe place for people who have different gender identities,” Wallen said. “It’s certainly not going to make somebody dress a way they don’t want to. In fact, it will let people dress ways they want to. Which might be uncomfortable for some folks who really like to be able to look at someone and say they’re dressed feminine or they’re dressed masculine, because that’s simpler in some ways.”
Henry said there had already been incidents of discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression on campus. He said one female member of SASD, because she does not exhibit stereotypically feminine traits, had been refused access to the safety shuttle because the driver didn’t believe she was a Westhampton College student.
If the nondiscrimination policy were amended, discrimination on the basis of amended, discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression would face the same consequences as that of racial, ethnic or sexual discrimination.
For faculty and staff, this would mean investigations and counseling by the human resources department; for students it would mean referral to the appropriate college dean, who would then decide on the course of action.
On Feb. 2, members of SASD took their fight for gender equality to the Virginia state Capitol, where they participated in lobbying senators to pass a nondiscrimination bill. According to Henry, former governor Tim Kaine made an executive order during his first hour of office that said the state would not discriminate against LGBT people. But because he is no longer in office, the executive order no longer stands, and it is now legal in Virginia to fire LGBT employees at any level of the state, including in schools. Henry said their lobby focused on passing a permanent law to protect LGBT people.
Gehlbach, Henry and about 20 other Richmond students, faculty and staff spent the day distributing material, meeting with interns and trying to persuade senators to vote for the bill.
“We ended up seeing one of Jon Henry’s delegates,” Gehlbach said, “and Jon’s district is staunch Republican. So this guy is like 6 foot 4 inches – he’s a big guy and he looks like an ex-cop. While he’s on the more conservative side, he still listened to us, and that meant a lot to me. I’m from Vermont, so for me it was eye-opening. They just passed a gay marriage bill legislatively there, and down here this is the first time a nondiscrimination bill has passed the committee.”
On campus, SASD holds events such as the National Day of Silence, National Coming Out Week, which featured a closet door in the forum, and speakers who focus on gender issues.
Although SASD has more than 1,000 signatures on the petition, its members will continue to collect more.
The group also plans on meeting with the Westhampton College Government Association and the Richmond College Student Government Association later during the month to formally present the petition.
SASD will conduct a general campus meeting at 5 p.m. on Feb. 16 to discuss the petition in Jepson Hall, room 120.
Contact staff writer Maria Ribas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. University of Iowa College of Law, The Docket, February 11, 2010
College of Law, The University of Iowa, 290 Boyd Law Building, Iowa City, IA 52242-1113
Gay activist and veteran Lt. Dan Choi to speak at UI Feb. 25
Gay activist and veteran Lt. Dan Choi will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, in the Iowa Memorial Union’s Main Lounge at the University of Iowa.
Choi’s lecture is co-sponsored by the University Lecture Committee and the Journal of Gender, Race & Justice at the UI College of Law.
Choi, a West Point graduate and Iraq veteran fluent in Arabic, attracted national attention last March when he announced that he was gay on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show. One month after his announcement, Choi was notified that the Army had begun discharge proceedings against him under the under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which prohibits homosexual or bisexual from disclosing their sexual orienation while serving in the armed forces. Following the Cadet Honor Code, which demands truthfulness and honesty, Lt. Choi refused to lie about his identity.
Serving in the Army for a decade, he was one of only eight soldiers from his West Point graduating class who majored in Arabic. Determined to apply the leadership skills he learned at West Point, he helped form Knights Out, an organization of West Point alumni advocating for the rights of gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.
Choi was born in Orange County, Calif. A first generation American, his parents emigrated from Korea and founded a church. He resides in New York and has become a full time activist for the LGBT community.
He is speaking at the UI as part of the Journal of Gender, Race & Justice’s symposium “Race, Gender, and Class at a Crossroads: A Survey of Their Intersection in Employment, Economics, and the Law.” The following day on Friday, the Journal will be hosting professors from all over the country at the UI College of Law for four panels on intersectionality.
“Our symposium this year is about intersectionality. The symposium will focus on how different social constructs intertwine in the areas of employment, economics, and the law and the impact it has, such as discrimination, isolation, and self-conflict due to the intersection of race, gender, class, sexuality, etc.,” said UI law student Jonathan Stensvaag, senior symposium editor at the Journal of Gender, Race and Justice. “We are excited to have Lt. Dan Choi as our keynote speaker because of the intersectionality in his own life and the discrimination he has experienced. He is a first generation American, Korean-American, and a gay man who is serving proudly and courageously in our nation’s military. His life and his story is a personalization of intersectionality.”
10. The Daily Reflector, February 13, 2010
Safe Zone trains ECU staff on gay issues
ECU News Services
As the student related his reluctance to go to certain places on campus and his troubles while shopping in Greenville, jaws dropped in surprise and nodded in acknowledgement.
“I think a lot of straight people don’t realize the issues we go through on a daily basis,” Chris Pentz, a 20-year-old junior, told his small audience.
About a dozen faculty and staff members were gathered in a small conference room for Safe Zone, an East Carolina University program that makes it possible to easily identify people who are empathetic and have attended training on issues related to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.
Intended to be a visible example of ECU’s support for GLBT students, the Safe Zone program gives faculty, staff and resident advisers a chance to learn about what it’s like to be a GLBT student on campus.
Participants talk with a panel of students about their campus experiences and get tips from students on how to make ECU a more welcoming place. After a two-and-a-half-hour training, participants earn a sticker they can display in their office that shows students they are in a “safe zone.”
Aaron Lucier, director of housing operations, was part of Safe Zone’s creation at ECU and leads the training today.
“Students would often come to me and say, ‘Who is the best person to talk to in this office?’” said Lucier, who advises the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgendered Student Union (GLBTSU) and did the same for its predecessor. “This was a number of years ago, and I think a number of years ago, they had to be more careful. Safe Zone meant students would not necessarily have to ask me or ask anyone else.”
This was back in the late 1990s, when similar programs were cropping up across the country. After the ECU program started, the Student Affairs Diversity Team adopted it until it fell into hiatus in the early 2000s.
Its revival began in 2006, and now volunteers working with the Chancellor’s Diversity Committee manage it. More than 100 faculty, staff and resident advisers have completed the training.
Safe Zone’s presence is comforting for GLBT students, Lucier said. “It’s not that they would necessarily use it or take advantage of it, it’s just the fact that it’s there. Just that it’s there might make them feel more welcome on campus.”
The program also sends an important message to visitors, he said. “They’re finding that there is a GLBT-friendly presence on this campus. That’s really important.”
Lucier is quick to point out that the sticker only means that someone has gone through the training; its absence does not mean someone is not gay friendly. Nor does the sticker’s presence mean that the training participant is an expert on gay issues.
While the training tends to attract people who are already empathetic to gay issues, the presence of the stickers could spark helpful discussion in campus offices, he said.
“We often get, ‘Well, do I need to put one up for every group on campus?’” Lucier said. “Well, if you think a group feels marginalized we might need to do it for other groups, but I don’t think anybody feels as marginalized sometimes as our GLBT students do.”
Several UNC system schools have similar programs; among them are N.C. State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Appalachian State University and Western Carolina University.
11. The Record, February 14, 2010
Conference focuses on education
By Jennie Rodriguez
STOCKTON - Malachy McCormick can remember hearing derogatory comments toward him as he walked through the hallways of his college dorm.
Worst of all, his own roommate disliked McCormick because of his sexual orientation.
"I didn't want to go home after work or after school," the 21-year-old McCormick said. "That shouldn't happen in the place you live. You should feel safe and comfortable in your own room."
McCormick, now a senior at Pacific, was a freshman during that experience.
After some time, he met a friend who told him about Pacific's Promoting Respect in Diverse Environments (PRIDE) Alliance, a group that works toward equality and open-minded discourse at the university.
McCormick joined the alliance, and today he serves as its president.
The PRIDE Alliance has been emphasizing gay-and-lesbian-centered activities, and Pacific has been making strides to foster acceptance in recent years.
Pacific has had policies in place that protect against discrimination and hate incidents for decades, but it's been only in the past several years that organized programs have flourished.
"That's not to say that every (student) is on board with some of the university's direction," said Steve Jacobson, associate vice president for student life at Pacific and conference co-chairman.
But he said administration, faculty and staff at Pacific support a welcoming culture "because it's the right thing to do."
» The university opened a PRIDE Alliance Center inside the McCaffrey Center a few years ago. The alliance used to be inside a residence hall.
» The first student drag show was held last year. The event is scheduled this year for April 16.
» An annual Lavender Graduation Ceremony was organized last year for the first time.
» A alumni association was launched about three months ago.
For McCormick, who was on the verge of transferring before getting involved, it's meant his decision to stay at Pacific.
"It made the biggest difference knowing there are plenty of people out there supporting the success of all students, to make them feel welcome on campus and feel like it is our home," McCormick said.
Another example is an annual conference launched in 2008 to explore and discuss social and legal issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transexual, queer/questioning and inter-sex populations, also known as LGBTQI communities.
It was held the same year the same-sex marriage debate heated up. A gay marriage ban was on the 2008 November ballot in California.
The measure passed, but the topic ignited more interest on the issues facing gay and lesbian communities, Jacobson said.
The conference "was a huge success," Jacobson said. It returns Saturday, and promises a notable line-up of guest speakers.
Peter Paige, one of the actors in the Showtime drama series "Queer as Folk," is scheduled as the keynote speaker. Paige, who plays Emmett Honeycutt in the TV show, also has appeared on "Will & Grace," "Time of Your Life," "Caroline in the City," "Suddenly Susan" and a number of live theater productions.
Workshops will include topics such as hate crimes and hate incidents; adding children to same-sex partnerships; and spirituality.
The event also will feature a drag performance by Clinton Leupp, best known as "Miss Coco Peru." Leupp has appeared in various films, including "To Wong Foo."
McCormick said much of what the alliance has been focusing on is based on education. The alliance now conducts orientations for incoming students, as well as sensitivity training throughout the campus.
"A lot of students just didn't grow up knowing people who are LGBT. Students aren't necessarily homophobic. They're just not aware because they've never been exposed to it," McCormick said.
Eric Dingler, a 1987 business graduate of Pacific, remembers that university life didn't always accommodate students who weren't heterosexual.
"When I graduated, I didn't necessarily have fond memories of that experience," Dingler, 44, said.
He was academically successful, yet his personal life was miserable.
"Back in the '80s, when I was struggling, I had no role models, I knew no one on campus who I could talk to, or any resource center I could go to. I was incredibly conflicted. I was suicidal," Dingler said.
"I didn't come back to campus for 22 years until I got involved with the PRIDE Alumni club. It's a different world from when I was there in the mid '80s," he said.
The reason he returned was to offer the resources he was missing to current students.
"I am excited and proud that UOP has such an active PRIDE club on campus. They are out there helping educate other students, and being a resource for other students who are questioning themselves," Dingler said.
The outreach made a difference in McCormick's education experience. He is set to graduate in May with a bachelor's in Spanish language and literature.
"I don't think I would be graduating from Pacific if it hadn't been for the PRIDE Alliance and all the support I've received from the campus community," he said.
Contact reporter Jennie Rodriguez at (209) 943-8564 or email@example.com.
12. The Observer (Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s), February 7, 2010
024 South Dining Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
LGBTQ support from MEChA: Letter to the Editor
By Nicole Medina
In light of the recent discussion relating to the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and questioning population on our campus, it has come to the attention of our club, MEChA, (Movimiento Estudantil Chicano de Aztlan) that the struggle these friends are facing now is not unlike the struggle many of us have faced in the past. We also have been mocked, told to change, been refused justice, even physically hurt. We know what it is to feel self conscious about our words, our actions and the way we look. To be afraid of persecution because of a characteristic we cannot change, a characteristic we are born with, leads us to not only doubt ourselves, but also the people we are surrounded by. Committing any of these actions, or ones like them, is against everything our Christian faith tells us.
We are supposed to love our neighbor, whether they are gay or straight, white or colored, men or women, as we would love ourselves. How then can our faith-based University tell us that these members of our school are not subject to protection against harassment and ridicule? Including sexual orientation in the non-discrimination clause does not mean the University condones homosexual or otherwise alternative lifestyles any more than including “religion” condones the practice of ritual sacrifice on campus. All it means is that the University respects these individuals as human beings with a particular difference that should not be targeted by any person, group or entity.
That being said, the members of MEChA proudly declare their support of all the LGBTQ community. We also support the inclusion of sexual orientation under the non-discrimination clause, and the observance of the Gay/Straight Alliance as an official university organization. It is well known that students walking around with bright orange shirts saying “Gay? Fine by Me” are allies of this cause. Now, we want it to be known that students wearing black and red MEChA shirts are, also.
13. The News Record (University of Cincinnati), February 9, 2010
Battle for Equality: Student activist nominated for award
By David Schuler
Blake Jelley’s work in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community has earned him a nomination for local paper CityBeat’s Activist of the Year award, but his struggles working in politics only began after he overcame personal demons.
His conflicts originated long before he came out as a homosexual man his junior year of high school. Jelley, now a second-year sociology student, says he felt isolated and insecure.
“I was feeling very alone,” he explains. “There were no resources and no one to talk to where I was from.”
Jelley grew up in the small community of Georgetown, Ohio in Brown County. Around the age of 12 he began to understand the concept of homosexuality and was able to associate the term with the feelings he had been experiencing.
“This was very difficult for me because I had grown up believing I would eventually have a wife and kids and a traditional life,” Jelley said.
With nowhere to turn and the conflict between his upbringing and inner feelings unresolved, he began to struggle with depression and suicide.
When his parents discovered his homosexuality when he was 16, they responded with a mix of anger, concern and denial. Jelley, who describes his Southern Baptist parents as very conservative, was completely unprepared for this revelation. They sent him to a specialist in an effort to work out his confusion and handle his homosexuality.
“Being taken somewhere to ‘fix you’ was very devastating as a young person,” Jelley said.
When this “fix” did not work, tensions rose and relations between Blake and his parents became strained and chaotic.
He was shepherded from a professional to a religious specialist in an effort to turn him straight. His parents’ attempts to control him escalated, and they eventually tapped his phone line to monitor his conversations.
Tensions eventually came to a head and boiled over when Jelley ran away from home in the summer of 2007 prior to his senior year of high school. He left for Cincinnati with a boyfriend to escape the controlling and suffocating situation with his parents.
Jelley said coming to Cincinnati was liberating. At this literal and figurative distance from home, he was able to make some amends with his family and eventually return to Georgetown.
“I came back very empowered, very politically active,” he said.
The experience in Cincinnati was eye opening and allowed him to take a step back from his situation at home and accept his identity and see that others in similar situations had managed to find happiness and comfort in their lives.
Jelley then channeled his new energy and strength in his hometown by working to form Diversity Club at his school, Georgetown High School. This organization marked the successful beginning to Jelley’s activism career.
The group annually runs a diversity week that covers everything from issues of gender and sexual orientation to those of race and ethnicity. The club’s main accomplishment was having the student code of conduct changed to include a section forbidding bullying and harassment related to sexual or gender orientation.
The principal of the school, who was supportive of the group, told Jelley she was receiving pressure from several unnamed community members to shut down the organization.
The group persisted. A main idea behind the club was to open up a forum for discussion of these issues and make resources available to students who were dealing with inner struggles similar to what he was experiencing a few years earlier, Jelley explained.
Jelley graduated from Georgetown in 2008, but Diversity Club’s work continues today.
Jelley’s work for LGBT rights also continued and has been ramping up since he enrolled at the University of Cincinnati and moved to the city.
He became involved with Impact Cincinnati, a grassroots network of local activists that strives to unite all those working in LGBT equality efforts.
The group connects people in the area working towards the goal for the purpose of organizing their efforts to make the largest and most effective impact possible. The group also works with similar organizations across the nation.
Jelley is also involved in Equality Ohio, a statewide coalition of LGBT activists working to promote marriage, housing and other related rights for all Ohioans regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Through his work in these organizations, he was invited to be a volunteer trainer in Maine’s “No on 1” campaign November 2009.
The mission of “No on 1” was to urge Mainers to vote “no” on state Issue 1, which would overturn a recently passed law making Maine only the second state to recognize gay marriage. Despite the organization’s efforts, Issue 1 passed in a 53-47 vote and overturned gay marriage rights in Maine.
Jelley was heartbroken by the results and sees gay marriage rights as the way to end prejudice and harassment of the LGBT community.
“History has shown that legislation can help end discrimination,” Jelley said. “Marriage equality is taking the form of ending harassment of the LGBT community.”
Despite the outcome in Maine, Jelley pushed forward with his work and partnered with fellow LGBT activist and UC student Erin Kelly to organize a silent protest of the results on campus.
Kelly described Jelley as relentless in his efforts and devoted to the cause.
“These issues affect his life,” said Kelly, a fourth-year political science student. “He really believes in justice, and he is willing to fight for it.”
Since traveling to Maine, Jelley’s work has taken him from Washington, D.C. for the National Equality March to New Jersey in his fight for LGBT rights. Seeing the passion and drive of others working in his cause inspired and pushed him forward.
He described an instance where a lesbian couple physically chased after legislators in New Jersey explaining the type of harassment they and their young daughter experience, trying to convince them to support marriage and equality rights for the LGBT community.
“I want to be a voice,” Jelley explains. “I want to be the person who wasn’t there for me.”
He is working hard to ensure that there are resources available to students at the university and is currently involved with the on-campus group, UC Alliance. His current aim is to urge the school to hire a full-time staff member to work with LGBT community, the administration and entire student body to provide information and bridge some divides and end harassment.
Whether or not Jelley wins CityBeat’s Activist of the Year, his efforts will continue in full force. Jelley is behind his cause and believes in its value.
“Once you know you are equal, no one can take that away from you,” he said.
14. The Daily Targum (Rutgers University), February 11, 2010
126 College Ave. Suite 431, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Sexuality not a military factor
By Josh Baker
Gay and lesbian Americans have been prohibited from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces for more than 16 years by Department of Defense Directive 1304.26, popularly known as the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Issued by former President Bill Clinton’s administration, it reads, in part, “Sexual orientation will not be a bar to service unless manifested by homosexual conduct. The military will discharge members who engage in homosexual conduct, which is defined as a homosexual act, a statement that the member is homosexual or bisexual, or a marriage or attempted marriage to someone of the same gender.” While the directive, which prohibited the longstanding practice of conducting official investigations against enlistees suspected of being gay or lesbian, was arguably an improvement over previous policies regarding homosexuality in the military, it upheld and further legitimized the practice of stigmatizing and discharging such individuals purely on the basis of their sexual orientation. More than 13,000 gay and lesbian members of the armed forces have been undeservedly dismissed under “don’t ask, don’t tell” since it was instituted in 1993, including 498 last year alone.
As unreasonable and inequitable as the directive was when it was first put into effect nearly two decades ago, it seems exponentially more so today, particularly in light of the degree of public acceptance members of the gay community have since come to enjoy with regard to practically every aspect of civic life — with the notable exceptions of the rights to civil marriage and joint adoption. In any civilian line of work, a policy similar to “don’t ask, don’t tell” would surely be viewed as absurd, impractical and, indeed, un-American in the highest degree. I contend that it is no more justifiable to terminate soldiers because of their sexual orientation than it would be to do the same to police officers, software engineers, professional athletes, district attorneys or doctors.
Readers may be surprised to know that in this regard I am in agreement with former President Ronald Reagan, considered by many to be the paragon of the modern Conservative. After serving two terms as governor of California, Reagan worked diligently against the passage of Proposition 6, a 1978 state ballot initiative which would have made it legal for school districts to fire teachers known to be gay or lesbian, as well as those who dared to publicly proclaim support for homosexual lifestyles. If the California voters of more than 30 years ago could recognize the inherent injustice of such a discriminatory policy, why can’t the Washington bureaucracy do so today? It is tragicomically ironic that a measure so obsolete as “don’t ask, don’t tell” endures even as three openly gay Americans hold seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Nevertheless, proponents of “don’t ask, don’t tell” continue to maintain that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces would dampen morale and diminish unit cohesion, thus weakening the military’s ability to carry out its objectives. Military effectiveness, they contend, is more important than perceived equity. However, according to a report by the American Psychological Association’s Joint Divisional Task Force on Sexual Orientation and Military Service, these claims are completely unfounded: “Empirical evidence fails to show that sexual orientation is germane to any aspect of military effectiveness including unit cohesion, morale, recruitment and retention.” The fact the armed forces of many other countries — including those of Israel and 20 of the 26 North Atlantic Treaty Organization member states — allow gays and lesbians to serve openly without suffering from any demonstrable loss of effectiveness is a case in point. The APA has also shown that the “U.S. military is capable of integrating members of groups historically excluded from its ranks, as demonstrated by its success in reducing both racial and gender discrimination.”
Perhaps most damning of all, however, is the distinct possibility that “don’t ask, don’t tell” actually decreases military effectiveness, thereby jeopardizing the satisfaction of the very goal it was created to meet. Let us first consider the 2002 discharge of nine gay military linguists from the Defense Language Institute, six of whom specialized in Arabic. At a time when the armed forces have far fewer Arabic specialists than they require, it is plain to see that “don’t ask, don’t tell” can actually diminish military effectiveness by mandating the dismissal of many whose abilities and talents are desperately needed. Secondly, because the directive requires that gays and lesbians in the military keep their identity secret, these individuals are likely to face much higher levels of stress and anxiety than their heterosexual counterparts, thus interfering with their ability to perform effectively in combat. Rob Smith, a gay veteran of the U.S. Army, said we must listen to those “… who survived “don’t ask, don’t tell” so that we can hear more personal stories about what it is like to live under the rule, the mental anguish that it causes, and the lack of trust between enlisted soldiers that it continues to foster.” This past month, during his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama stated, “… this year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do.” I sincerely hope that the president succeeds in doing so. As we have seen, nullifying “don’t ask, don’t tell” is imperative for both moral and practical reasons.
Josh Baker is a Rutgers College senior majoring in sociology.
15. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 14, 2010
900 N. Tucker Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63101
Lindenwood University balks at having exclusively gay student group
By Doug Moore
ST. CHARLES — Gays will have a formally recognized student organization at Lindenwood University, but sexual orientation cannot be a part of the title and the group must be expanded to include "other students in need of understanding and support."
That was the upshot of a lengthy back-and-forth between students who wanted to form a gay-straight alliance and administrators who called such a proposal "parochial and self-serving."
The compromise reached last week was a move forward, said Jack Sago, the graduate student who led efforts to form the group, which will be known as Spectrum Alliance.
"I think at the end of the day, we accomplished our goal," Sago said. Although the group now goes well beyond an advocacy group for gays and their allies, "it's still an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) group. We can pick our own topics, speakers and own events and functions."
Administrators at the private university said Spectrum would operate as a social justice group.
"Its mission includes issues pertaining to various groups including LGBT, the disabled and other groups/students in need of understanding and support," according to a mission statement approved by University President James D. Evans after Richard Boyle, vice president of human resources, met with Sago.
However, some who have worked with gay-straight alliances say putting gays in a group with other students where the only common bond is a lack of campus representation makes no sense.
"They're being told they can have a club, but they have to be in it with all the other marginalized groups," said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, a nonprofit that helps with programs and services for gay college groups across the country. "It basically says you're not important enough to have your own club."
Kenjus Watson, adviser for the gay-straight alliance at St. Louis University, said lumping various groups of students together "waters down" efforts.
"How can you expect folks to come in under the pretense that all are interested in social justice, know what that is and are comfortable in that environment?" said Watson, coordinator for SLU's Cross Cultural Center. Rainbow Alliance was established at the Jesuit university in 1991 "as an advocacy and support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning students and their allies."
In a meeting Wednesday at Lindenwood with members of those wanting a formal GSA club, Boyle said the administration would leave the door open to review the mission of the group. But having a group just for gays did not meet the mission of the university, he said.
"It was too narrow in scope," Boyle says in a video recording of the meeting. Groups "have to serve an educational purpose with a breadth and scope that everyone within the university can be a part of."
Boyle said he added the disabled as one of the groups because "we don't have that many disabled students on our campus. Why not bring them into the group so they can feel they are a part?"
Gay-straight alliances are common on many college campuses, including St. Louis University, Washington University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis, as well as on hundreds of high school campuses across the country. So the resistance of Lindenwood administrators came as a surprise to the students, who applied in September to become a formally recognized student organization. Doing so allows a group to have access to school facilities, sponsor activities and university funding.
On Feb. 5, Kerry Cox, director of student activities, rejected the group's application.
"The rationale for organizing the club does not meet either our educational or our social service criterion for approval," Cox said in his letter. "Rather, its principal purpose appears to be the support and promotion of a particular lifestyle." Cox also said the GSA "does not coincide with the traditional values of Lindenwood University."
When a reporter asked for more explanation from the university on why the application was rejected, spokesman Scott Queen said: "We want to further our students' best educational and developmental interests. GSA, as it stands now, would not contribute to that goal."
He went on to say that the GSA application is "rather parochial and self-serving. It doesn't offer a benefit to the campus community. Lindenwood University would like the members of the organization to consider a social justice alliance that could deal with race, religion, sexual orientation and other issues that face frequent scrutiny."
According to the school website, eight student organizations are related to religion, seven specifically related to Christianity. The eighth was formed "to help students grow in their relationship with God."
The liberal arts university is described in its promotional materials as having a historical relationship with the Presbyterian Church "and is firmly rooted in Judeo-Christian values." One of the eight points highlighted in the university's mission is "promoting ethical lifestyles."
Queen said the school had no formal affiliation with any religion.
Asked why the GSA's initial proposal was considered more narrow in scope than other recognized groups, Queen said that the university recently had a task force evaluate all student clubs, and it found that some of those clubs "had a very narrow focus without significant educational and service components."
As a result, new parameters are in place "and Spectrum Alliance was subject to the new rules. Other clubs and organizations, although grandfathered in, will be expected to strengthen their educational and service activities as well."
16. The Fresno Bee, February 8, 2010
1626 E Street, Fresno, CA 93786
ACLU: FCC instructor giving anti-gay views
By Cyndee Fontana
A Fresno City College instructor is wrongly presenting religious-based and anti-gay views as fact in an introductory health class, the American Civil Liberties Union charged Monday.
The organization outlined complaints against full-time instructor Bradley Lopez in a letter sent to City College President Cynthia Azari. The ACLU -- which requested a response by Feb. 15 -- demanded the campus ensure that health-science classes teach unbiased and medically accurate information.
Azari said officials are investigating student complaints filed in December. The campus has 90 days to investigate; she said Lopez continues to teach.
"The college takes its nondiscrimination and prohibition-of-harassment policy seriously, investigates alleged violations and takes appropriate action to enforce compliance," Azari said. She declined to elaborate, citing confidentiality rules.
Monday, Lopez said he hadn't had time to review the ACLU's letter and could not comment.
One student who complained about Lopez was Jacqueline Mahaffey, 24, of Fresno. She said Lopez assigned Bible study as homework, said that homosexuals were "degrading society" and contradicted the textbook by insisting that abortion -- not cancer -- was the leading cause of death. "He was teaching things that were definitely not in the curriculum," said Mahaffey, who took the introductory health class last semester. She said she stayed in the class -- even earning an "A" -- but registered her concerns with college officials.
Elizabeth Gill, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, said Lopez is teaching his personal views as science -- neglecting the established facts that he should present to students. "Instead of teaching about abortion as an option for women and about the actual health implications, he's teaching that abortion is murder based on the Bible."
Gill charged in her letter that Lopez has presented homosexuality as a "biological misapplication of human sexuality" that can be treated with counseling or hormone supplements. He also used Bible passages as empirical evidence that life begins at conception to support his assertion that abortion is murder, she said.
In a section on environmental health, Gill alleged, Lopez offered a biblical quote about the world ending in flames as "the real global warming we should be worried about."
Because the class is taught at a publicly funded college, such lectures violate federal and state constitutional protections that guarantee the separation of church and state, she said.
Gill said the controversy doesn't involve academic freedom because Lopez isn't simply expressing an opinion -- he's teaching it as fact or science.
Lopez doesn't have a free-speech right to teach a secular class from a sectarian perspective, she said. But City College has "an obligation to protect its students from religious indoctrination and anti-gay bias presented as 'science' or 'fact,' " she said.
Gill said two students filed grievances against Lopez last fall. He submitted responses that note he disagrees with the concept of the separation of church and state and says he provides students only with "measured, scientific information in current issues in health," according to Gill's letter to Azari.
Lopez's use of religious references in class had been cited previously by students who post anonymously to the Web site ratemyprofessor.com.
The respondents gave him mixed reviews, with some describing him as funny and helpful and others complaining that he was narrow-minded and improperly introduced religious beliefs into the class.
Lopez has a doctorate in education through the joint doctorate program offered by California State University, Fresno, and University of California at Davis, college officials said.
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