Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.03.28
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. BU Today - Campus Mood Optimistic on Gay Rights
2. USA Today - Opinion: On campus, 'tolerance' and faith collide
3. The Chronicle of Higher Education - Adoption Advice for Gay and Lesbian Employees
4. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram - In Stephenville, college play featuring gay Jesus stirring emotions
5. The Emory Wheel - Health Insurance Rates to be Lowered
6. The Washington Post - Protesters greet Cuccinelli at GMU speech
7. The Washington Post - George Mason board adopts resolution to "reaffirm" gay policy
8. Los Angeles Times - Regents apologize for racist incidents at UC San Diego
9. Golden Gate X Press (SFSU) - Campus highlights transgender PRIDE
10. The GW Hatchet - A year later, Belok continues to fight military policy
11. HBCU Digest - Morehouse to Host First ‘Gay Pride’ Week
12. CBS News - W. Va. Students: Sleepover Policy Unfair
13. Boston.com - Students miffed at 'Mr. Campus Freshman' contest
1. BU Today, March 5, 2010
10 Lenox Street, Brookline, MA 02446
Campus Mood Optimistic on Gay Rights (Click link for video.)
By Susan Seligson
In the video above, thoughtful conversation about being gay on campus, in Boston, and in the world.
As several major rulings hang in the balance, gay BU students believe that antigay bias has dropped dramatically around the nation and is extremely rare on campus.
For the students recently interviewed, struggles are more personal than political, focused on gaining parents’ understanding and acceptance and on helping to debunk gay stereotypes.
“Whenever I say, ‘My girlfriend …’ I’m making a decision,” says Melissa Straz (SED’05), an academic support specialist at BU’s Educational Resource Center and an advisor to Spectrum, BU’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender student group. “The more people who know a gay person, the more things will change.”
Students believe that change may be coming slowly, by their measure, but it will come. And even in the face of drawbacks such as California’s successful anti–gay marriage initiative Proposition 8, many feel that we are edging closer to a time when, to paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59), gay people will be judged not by their choice of partner, but by the content of their characters.
“I hope that when I get married I can live anywhere and not worry about it,” says Paul Renolis (SAR’11).
As assistant director of the Howard Thurman Center, Raul Fernandez (COM’00) often works with Spectrum, and he too is optimistic. “It will take work,” he says, “even going door to door.”
To many, progress on gay rights seems to be two steps forward, one step back. Candidate Barack Obama’s emphatic promise to reverse the military’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell (DADT) policy has given way to President Obama’s hope for a legislative remedy rather than an executive order. For every pro–gay rights gesture in Spain, Mexico, Germany and South Africa, antigay stances harden in Malawi, Kenya, Iran, and Egypt. Uganda is moving to punish homosexuality with death, despite condemnation from Obama and other leaders.
Katharine Silbaugh, a School of Law professor and family law expert, acknowledges that there are a lot of “scary and depressing” things happening internationally, but believes they are a reaction to broadening acceptance of gays in the West and a backlash against the increasingly accepted notion of gay “as an identity rather than a set of practices.”
Silbaugh was a member of the legal team on the landmark Massachusetts case Goodrich vs. the Department of Public Health, which led to the November 2003 high court ruling that the commonwealth’s denying equal marriage rights to gays is unconstitutional.
“At 20, students have only really been aware of the outside world since they were 15,” she says. “But this is a completely different world than 10 years ago, and for the good. Yes, bad stuff happens. Proposition 8 happens. At the same time, states in the Midwest are voluntarily allowing civil unions among gays and in some cases gay marriage.”
Progress also can be seen in subtle ways closer to home: for years a LAW class on gay rights had the euphemistic name Law and Morality, says Silbaugh, rather than its more accurate name, Law and Sexual Orientation. “Students didn’t want the course on their transcript,” she says, but that has changed.
Don’t ask don’t tell remains a point of contention on campus, where ROTC and the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps recruit students. Silbaugh and students agree that whether it comes from Congress after a protracted battle or from Obama’s pen, DADT will be dropped. This and gay marriage are cases of “history moving forward,” she says. “The support for gay marriage is overwhelming among young people. So it’s just a matter of time.”
Susan Seligson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. USA Today, March 22, 2010
7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, VA 22108-0605
On campus, 'tolerance' and faith collide
By Tom Krattenmaker
Should a student religious group at a public university be allowed to bar a certain group of students from membership — gay students, to be precise — without losing its official student-group status, and the funding and other benefits that go with it?
Today, the answer to that constitutionally loaded question depends on which federal appellate court you ask. In a case involving the Christian Legal Society at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco (Christian Legal Society v. Martinez), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the school was entirely within its rights when it denied recognition to the Christian Legal Society over its unwillingness to accept as members gay students or any others who did not share the group's beliefs. The 7th Circuit reached the opposite conclusion in a similar case at Southern Illinois University's law school.
Clarity is presumably on the way, as the U.S. Supreme Court has taken on the Hastings case and will hear arguments April 19. Let's hope the country comes out of it with a clearer understanding of what's in and what's out when it comes to the membership policies of religious student groups. And let's hope that the high court sheds some much needed light on the larger issues evoked by the law school case:
Does religious freedom include the right to discriminate on the basis of gender, race or sexuality? Do authorities have the right to foist their values on religious groups through carrots and sticks such as meeting-space privileges and the threat of withholding funds? And, as more conservatives are asking these days, shouldn't that oft-proclaimed liberal principle of "tolerance" also be invoked to the benefit of tradition-minded Christians?
Those looking for tidy answers and justification for the same old ideological positions will be disappointed. Complex questions such as these require complex thinking and nuanced answers. A little empathy helps, too.
It's rather telling that two distinguished courts would reach different conclusions on these matters. Cases of this type are nothing if not excruciatingly difficult. They pit opposing principles that both carry great legal and moral weight: the right to free religious expression, and the right to be free of discrimination.
Let's consider some of the practicalities. In denying recognition to the Christian student group, Hastings law school did not forbid its existence. Nothing except additional logistical hurdles prevents the group from assembling whenever it wishes, with whatever mix of members. The case is about the funding, reserved meeting space and other benefits that go with official recognition — and in exchange for playing by the same rules as all other student organizations, which are bound by the university's anti-discrimination code.
Hastings' defenders argue that the Christian group, in essence, is insisting on a privilege extended to no other student group — the privilege to exclude students on the basis of their identity.
Attorneys for the Christian Legal Society see it quite differently. "It's completely unreasonable — and unconstitutional — for a public university to disrupt the purposes of private student groups by forcing them to accept as members and officers those who oppose the very ideas they advocate," says Gregory Baylor, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal-advocacy group assisting the student group.
It's tempting, yet unproductive, to sprint to our usual ideological positions on this one. A minute in the shoes of the Christian group leads to an appreciation of the bind in which it would find itself if its ranks included openly gay members or, especially, gay students in leadership positions. How could it convey its message about traditional sexual morality with any integrity if the group itself wasn't living up to it?
But the group's defenders would also do well to practice some of this empathy themselves. Please, no more of the victimization rhetoric so often used these days when conservative Christian groups are challenged; there's much more than "anti-Christian hostility" motivating measures against discrimination.
Freedom from discrimination based on your color or gender or, as our society is coming to better appreciate, sexual orientation is not some flavor-of-the-month trifle. Like religious liberty, it's enshrined in the Constitution, and correctly so. It's not politically correct so much as it's morally correct.
And then there's tolerance, an area of misunderstanding if ever we've had one.
"I find it ironic," one blogger writes, "that liberals, who espouse tolerance and free speech, are the worst offenders (in) not tolerating opposing views."
The observation, written by Gary Ganu at RedBlueAmerica.com, is a familiar one in the national discourse. As the argument goes, liberals waving the banner of tolerance amount to nothing more than hypocrites, lightning quick to condemn and punish expressions of religion and politics not to their liking.
To hear it from such critics, tolerance is a wishy-washy commitment to non-commitment, a moral weakness that refuses to make a judgment about anything — and, worse yet, one that's selectively applied or, when it suits its promoters, conveniently ignored.
But tolerance means much, much more. At its heart, it is a philosophy and moral commitment to accepting the rights of others to believe or behave differently from ourselves without excluding or penalizing. Don't expect champions of tolerance to "tolerate" acts of exclusion or bigotry that represent the very opposite of the principle they hold so dear.
Seeking a middle ground
As to the matter before the high court, must a public university tolerate acts of exclusion performed in the name of religion?
Robert O'Neil, director of The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, has studied and written about the Hastings and Southern Illinois cases. A middle path, he says, might well be the wise one. The justices could rule, for instance, that the Christian student group might rightly be expected to include gay students as rank-and-file participants, but not as officers.
He also suggests this possibility: Clearly communicate the anti-discrimination code, and expectation to abide by it, to all student groups. But refrain from action against any of them unless a real-life, excluded individual steps forward with a legitimate grievance.
As O'Neil says in an interview with Inside Higher Ed, such compromises might be the only way to respect both the "institutional interest in enforcing non-discrimination policy and the religious freedom and free association interests of these organizations." Don't both deserve that protection?
Today, it seems compromise has gone the way of the VCR. A nuanced resolution of the law school cases certainly won't give any of us our daily dose of certitude or outrage.
But in this case and others like it, the middle road might be the right road: the road to reconciliation, the road to moving the country ahead.
3. The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 23, 2010
1255 Twenty-Third St, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037
Adoption Advice for Gay and Lesbian Employees
By David W. Hanson
The decision to have children can be made in so many different ways: traditional two-parent conception, surrogacy, foster care, adoption. And the types of adoption are varied, too. For many gay and lesbian employees in academe, adoption is a commonly chosen course.
Over the past month, I interviewed several gay and lesbian professors and staff members about the adoption process. Some are in the midst of it. Some have been through it. And some, like me and my partner, have decided to forgo adoption for a mix of personal and professional reasons. (We had a surrogacy agreement with a birth mother several years ago that didn't work out.)
The people I interviewed told emotional stories and offered candid advice, but they also offered hope. Some issues in adoption are specific to gay and lesbian adoptive parents (single and couples), but our conversations made clear that institutions can easily develop programs—without significant cost—to assist all employees through the adoption process. Those institutions that make the effort will attain an advantage in the hiring and retention market, as well.
An abundance of advice is available about what to expect in the adoption process—before, during, and after—but little of it is organized in ways that deal with the issues specific to gay and lesbian parents. So my first piece of advice for prospective parents is to take the time to do a lot of research, and don't be afraid to ask any questions. Factors to consider:
Legal issues. The legal landscape for gays and lesbians pursuing adoption varies considerably by state and even at times by county. For example, Florida law bars "homosexuals" from adoption, and Utah law disallows unmarried, cohabitating couples from petitioning to adopt, thus preventing gay and lesbian partners in a relationship that is not a legal marriage from adopting. Other states are far more liberal and progressive.
In some states, such as Georgia, the chances of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered people adopting may depend, in part, on the county of residence. Georgia law does not specifically permit same-sex couples to adopt jointly or prevent them from doing so, and no statewide court has held one way or another, leaving it up to the lower courts (by county) to grant or deny adoption petitions.
Two of the gay and lesbian adoptive parents I met (one single mother and the other in a partnership) admitted that they relocated to a different county where gay adoption was more likely to be granted. The single mother said that because she lives in Georgia, it was important to "get the right judge" and on "the right docket" and know which lawyers to hire so she would not have to "hide her gayness."
The legal issues are not confined to the adoption process. For instance, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows a parent to take time off to care for a child, but if a state does not grant second-parent adoption or recognize parental rights, then a same-sex partner may not be a "legal" parent under state law to take advantage of FMLA leave after the baby arrives or if the child falls ill.
Understanding the legal environment on a state and county level took tremendous effort for some of these parents. The single mom suggested that her institution could have provided helpful information on a Web site or could have created an e-mail discussion group for gay and lesbian adoptive parents.
Financial issues. No question, the cost of raising a child in our country is significant. But gay and lesbian parents may face particular financial issues—especially single gay parents who want to adopt. For example, a single parent must provide a "single-income analysis" to adoption agencies or officials in certain foreign countries, and the scrutiny may be higher for gay and lesbian single people seeking to adopt.
International and cultural bias. Interviewing those who have progressed all the way through the adoption process was informative, especially concerning the bias that older gay and lesbian parents may face. They may be slated for "nonprime" children, and certain countries may specifically refuse to allow them to adopt at all. Interestingly, many foreign adoptions are most successful when managed by Christian-based organizations. Those groups tend to be reputable, but more than one person I interviewed said that some of them will not represent gay and lesbian singles or couples in foreign adoptions.
Human resources. Consistently high on the wish list of people I interviewed was for their institution's human-resources office to assign a staff member to serve as an "ombudsman" on adoption issues for gay and lesbian employees. Some suggested hiring an expert in the adoption process to serve all faculty and staff members, while others simply suggested that a staff member be assigned the job of starting an e-mail discussion group on adoption and keeping a list of resources and contacts.
Others recommended that someone in human resources be intimately familiar with state laws and "know how to work around them." One faculty member suggested that it would be helpful for someone at the institution to provide information about local neighborhoods, including the best locations friendly to families with gay and lesbian parents. Many suggested that colleges develop an adoption guide with a section about issues that could affect gay and lesbian employees differently than other adoptive parents. It would help, for example, if the human-resources office could provide a list of reputable adoption agencies that do not discriminate.
Employee-assistance offices. One recommendation I heard that some colleges are already doing is to build an adoption "community" through their employee-assistance office. Those who are adopting need to understand the before, during, and after of bringing a child into their lives and, if the adoption is cross-cultural or cross-racial, they need to understand what to expect in their academic and geographic communities.
Campus benefits. When asked what institutional benefits would be most helpful to gay and lesbian adoptive parents, the list of expectations included many common-sense ideas that would be equally appropriate for straight parents: on-campus child care, health benefits, adoption counseling.
But some ideas were specific to the gay and lesbian parents, such as creating an institutional-climate survey with questions about campus perceptions of gay and lesbian parents and families. If a campus is progressive and accepting, that survey will provide data to validate the environment, but the data could also reveal gaps where additional training and programming could be helpful.
One interviewee suggested offering programs on "how to make parenting easier" for all parents, but having breakout sessions for gay and lesbian parents to talk about issues pertinent to their children's lives, including how to handle anti-gay discrimination.
More than anything, gay and lesbian employees I interviewed wanted a way to connect with other adoptive or prospective parents via programming and communications sponsored by their college or university. Finding "others in the system who will know our reality" is often the biggest help of all.
Faculty versus staff members. A lesbian couple—one a tenure-track faculty member and the other a staff member—agreed during an interview that while both jobs are all consuming, the faculty member is up against a tenure clock, and adoption for her could have an early-career impact. Many institutions extend the tenure clock for adoptive parents.
The couple said the faculty member's department is particularly progressive with gay and lesbian parents, but that was not necessarily the case across the campus.
The couple noted that higher education is a "bubble" for many people—more progressive toward gays and lesbians than other sectors of society. But within academe, a hierarchy exists among faculty and staff members that can present positive and negatives when it comes to adoption and child rearing.
For instance, professors tend to have more flexible schedules than staff members and may be able to be at home with a child more easily.
On the other hand, staff members don't face publish-or-perish pressures or a looming tenure vote, so their jobs may, in some ways, be more stable. This couple suggested it would be helpful for institutions to have counseling for couples in faculty/staff relationships.
Getting good local advice. The Internet provides abundant resources for those seeking to adopt. The problem for future adoptive parents is that there may be too much information available and it is not always clear if it's reputable or accurate. To fully understand what lies ahead, your best bet is to connect with other gay and lesbian adoptive parents and talk about the many challenges and ways to surmount them. Institutions can be helpful by providing a simple Web page where people can "opt in" to a community of similarly situated employees.
While an ombuds officer with expertise and understanding about the many legal and financial issues of adoption would be ideal for all university employees, the best advice I heard was for institutions to simply create a platform, formally on the Web or informally, in which support among adoptive parents can build and grow.
David W. Hanson is associate vice president of administration and special assistant to the executive vice president at Emory University.
4. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 22, 2010
P.O. Box 1870, Fort Worth, TX 76101
In Stephenville, college play featuring gay Jesus stirring emotions
By Gene Trainor
A planned play at Tarleton State University that portrays a gay Jesus has raised emotions in Stephenville to the point where a Christian radio show was jammed with protest calls and some student actors have been pressured to quit.
John Jordan Otte, the student who is directing Corpus Christi, said he understood that the play would likely create controversy, but he never imagined this level of anxiety. He said he wants to convey the turmoil that gay Christians sometimes experience and create a sense of acceptance, tolerance and unconditional love.
Corpus Christi will be among four plays performed Saturday at Tarleton in Stephenville. The performances are part of a class project, and only 90 seats are available.
"We all share this world," said Otte, who is gay. "We're no different. Everything Christ has said applies to us as well."
To many in the community, the depiction of a gay Jesus who performs a marriage ceremony for two of the apostles is offensive, especially on the weekend before Easter. Letters have been written to the local newspaper, and some alumni have called Tarleton to express their opposition.
"This is a conservative community," said Carroll Cawyer, a Stephenville man active in conservative groups. "It's just sticking a thumb in the eye of the standards of this community. That's what a lot of people are upset about."
Responding to the outcry, Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio released a letter March 11 to the campus community, stating that he would allow the play to be performed because Tarleton "is committed to protecting and preserving the freedoms of thought, speech and expression."
The play, written by Terrence McNally, opened Oct. 13, 1998, at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York. Some religious groups condemned it.
In the play, Jesus goes by a parallel character named Joshua. Joshua grows up in McNally's hometown of Corpus Christi in the 1950s and '60s. Before he is crucified, Joshua heals the sick, feeds the hungry and provides spiritual guidance.
Controversial moments include scenes where Judas and Joshua kiss during their senior prom at Pontius Pilate High School and when Joshua marries the apostles James and Bartholomew. Before the ceremony, James pauses and speaks the Scripture: "If a man lies with a man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them."
Joshua responds: "Why would you memorize such a terrible passage? 'And God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good.'... God loves us most when we love each other."
Otte, 26, said he grew up in the Mormon Church, traveling to Italy for a few years on a Mormon mission.
After an emotional upheaval when he accepted that he was gay, he left the church, which condemns homosexuality. A gay-themed play steeped in religion appealed to him when he was asked to pick a project for his advanced directing class, Otte said.
"I was extremely faithful" as a Mormon, said Otte, who is a junior. "I did everything you were supposed to do."
Cast members have paid a price. Chase Sikes, 18, a senior at Stephenville High School, said he has been called a gay slur by classmates when he walks down the hall. He plays Judas, and he's straight. Auditions were open to the community.
"I'll be honest, it was a bit uncomfortable," Sikes said about the kissing scenes. "What everyone has to understand is that we are acting. ... I believe in the message 100 percent. I, in no way, shape or form, believe homosexuality is a sin or a choice. So this play speaks to me."
A freshman actor said his parents kicked him out of their house and cut off his cellphone service because he refused their request to drop out of the play. His father, who is a preacher, felt that his job could be jeopardized, the actor said. They also had moral objections. He now lives with Otte, who said he will be there to support any of his actors. The actor asked that his parents not be contacted because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Opponents of the play said they don't condone insults but that people should understand that Corpus Christi inaccurately portrays someone whom they hold sacred. Jesus was not gay and did not condone a gay lifestyle, they say. Some also object to high school students being part of the cast.
David Harris, a preacher at Hillcrest Church of Christ, said the weekly radio show that he co-hosts was jammed last week with calls about Corpus Christi. The callers who got through were unanimously against the play, and Harris said Corpus Christi should not be publicly performed.
"It's just very, very offensive to Christians in general, and even to people who aren't Christians," Harris said.
Stephenville Mayor Nancy Hunter called it a university matter. And some clergy have remained low-key.
Elder C. Dwayne Shafer of Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church in Stephenville said his members don't like the play, but they don't want to draw attention to it, either.
"I feel like it's wrong to mock any religion," Shafer said. "I don't believe it would have been done against Muhammad or the prophet Moses."
GENE TRAINOR, 817-390-7419, email@example.com
5. The Emory Wheel, March 22, 2010
Emory University, Drawer W, Atlanta, GA 30322
Health Insurance Rates to be Lowered
By Alice Chen
Despite the rise of health insurance premium rates across the nation, Emory’s Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan is adding benefits and, for the first time, lowering its rates.
According to CNN, insurance costs were to rise by an estimated nine percent this year. Last month, the Anthem Blue Cross in California asked for a 39-percent rate increase.
For the 2010-11 year, the Aetna premium will be decreased by $10.
The lower rate is possible because the plan is executed well, according to Executive Director of Student Health Services Michael Huey.
More students opted to sign onto the Emory health plan this year, covering administrative costs and turning a profit, according to Huey.
Because Emory has its own health system, most students get medical care from the University, which has a good contract with Aetna, Huey said.
“All those things make the plan perform well, and when the plan performs well, premium rates decrease,” Huey explained.
He said that Emory has approximately 5,000 undergraduate students on the plan, a number that surpasses the number of students subscribed to university health plans even at schools with 50,000 students.
In addition to the decrease in the premium, next year’s health insurance plan will offer increased benefits, such as coverage for transgender medical and surgical treatment.
“It’s a big deal for us to be offering these benefits,” Huey said, adding that while some schools cover these services, not many do.
The benefit was added after the President’s Commission on Sexuality, Gender Diversity and Queer Equality sent a 78-page proposal to Student Health requesting the inclusion of services. Because the addition of the benefit would not cause a rise in the premium, he said, the Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee decided to heed the request.
“This means that our students will have full access to medical services that meet their medical needs,” Director of the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Life Michael Shutt wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel. “In the end, this means that students will be able to engage in the Emory community and be successful students without the undue burden of additional medical expenses.”
These benefits, Shutt added, are representative of Emory as a forward-thinking university.
“This says that Emory continues to examine and implement policies and procedures that create and maintain an equitable campus,” Shutt wrote. “This ensures that all students have the ability to participate fully in the Emory mission of creating, preserving, teaching and applying knowledge in the service to humanity.”
Other benefits include an increase in the prescription drug maximum from $1,500 to $2,000; coverage of allergy treatment; coverage for sinus surgery; removal of referral requirements for chiropractic care; and coverage for gastric bypass surgery.
“There are a variety of things that have come up again and again over the years,” Huey said. Last year, many students went well above the $1,500 maximum, he said.
Student Health reassesses the insurance plan annually, Huey said.
Whether or not more students sign up for the plan, he added, will depend on the national health-care bill, which passed through Senate on Sunday.
“There may be things that end up ultimately in the national health-care bill that drive students to other plans,” Huey explained.
6. The Washington Post, March 23, 2010
1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071
Protesters greet Cuccinelli at GMU speech
By Derek Kravitz
About 50 students and alumni associated with campus gay rights groups are protesting an appearance by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli at George Mason University's Law School in Arlington this evening.
The group organized the protest in response to a letter Cuccinelli sent to every public college and university in the state, asserting that schools should not have adopted nondiscrimination policies that protect gays without authority from the General Assembly.
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) sought to tamp down controversy over the letter with a non-binding executive directive prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the state workforce.
But the students said they would continue to express displeasure with Cuccinelli over the letter. They held signs that read, "Cuccinelli: Bad for Virginia" and "Virginia Is For All Lovers."
Del. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who is gay, spoke briefly to the group, calling Cuccinelli "out of touch with the realities of the 21st century."
UPDATED 6:55 p.m.: Students who sat through Cuccinelli's hour-long lecture, which was open only to George Mason students and faculty with a university ID card, said the conservative attorney general first addressed the debate over his advice letter to Virginia's colleges and universities, saying that it was his belief that the public institutions were limited in how far they could go to grant protections to groups of people beyond what is allowed by the General Assembly.
He also stressed, students said, that his letter was not legally binding and that his office was beholden to what state legislators decided. Cuccinelli also answered several questions on the subject "at length," and said he did not promote workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, students said.
"He prides himself on upholding the Constitution. That's the platform he was elected on," said Adina Horvath, 34, of Fairfax, a law student at George Mason.
A little after 6 p.m., when the class ended, Cuccinelli was heckled by a young female protester who yelled, "Go home," as he entered administrative offices on the second floor of John T. Hazel Jr. Hall. Most of those at the afternoon gay rights rally quickly dispersed after the outburst; Cuccinelli, who is a 1995 alumnus of the law school, appeared unfazed.
7. The Washington Post, March 24, 2010
1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071
George Mason board adopts resolution to "reaffirm" gay policy
By Rosalind Helderman
The George Mason University Board of Visitors met today to consider its response to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's recent letter instructing the university it did not have authority to include protections for gays in itsr nondiscrimination policy.
The visitors met in closed executive session, so we cannot give you a full description of the discussion. However, Dan Walsch, a spokesman for the university, said the school's existing nondiscrimination policy, which included reference to sexual orientation, will remain in place. The visitors also adopted the following resolution designed, Walsch said, to "reaffirm" the existing policy.
RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF VISITORS OF GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
Whereas, a diverse and inclusive learning environment that respects and enhances the potential of all members of our community is vitally important to the mission of George Mason University to achieve excellence in teaching, research, and service; and
Whereas, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender faculty, students, administrators and staff make outstanding contributions to the accomplishment of the university mission; and
Whereas, the Governor of the Commonwealth has affirmed that discrimination based upon factors such as one's sexual orientation or parental status violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution; and
Whereas, all employees and students of the Commonwealth deserve statutory protection against discrimination;
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Board of Visitors of George Mason University that it remains deeply committed to equal treatment of all persons in their dealings with the university in any and all contexts.
Adopted: March 24, 2010
William Soza, Secretary
Board of Visitors
GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
8. Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2010
202 West 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90012
Regents apologize for racist incidents at UC San Diego
By Larry Gordon
Reporting from San Francisco - University of California leaders Wednesday apologized to black UC San Diego students for recent racial incidents at the campus and proposed changes in admissions policies aimed at boosting enrollment of minorities across the system.
UC President Mark G. Yudof and other UC regents acknowledged that the UC San Diego episodes, including an off-campus student party that mocked Black History Month, has brought attention to the low enrollment of African American students on the campus. About 1.6% of UC San Diego undergraduates are black, among the lowest such figures for any UC campus. The UC leaders promised to help create campus environments in which minority students feel more comfortable.
Speaking during a regents meeting at UC San Francisco, Yudof said he wanted all UC campuses to adopt an admissions process known as "holistic" review, in which applicants' test scores and high school grades are considered in the context of their life experiences and personal accomplishments.
"I want a system that is less mechanical and takes a serious look at a range of talents and skills and history, and takes into account poverty," Yudof said.
Holistic review is permitted at the university, but Yudof said he would like it to be required at all nine UC undergraduate campuses. UCLA and UC Berkeley now use the approach most extensively, while others, including UC San Diego, rely on a more rigid formula that allows less consideration of personal accomplishments and, Yudof said, may unfairly reject otherwise academically eligible low-income and minority students.
Such a change would need approval by the systemwide faculty senate, something that will be under discussion within a few months, officials said.
Last year, UC regents adopted sweeping changes in undergraduate admissions policies that were designed partly to boost the number of low-income and minority students without violating the state's ban on racial affirmative action. Starting with freshmen entering in fall 2012, applicants will no longer need to take two SAT subject exams, although the main SAT test would still be required. The change also will widen the pool of students eligible to be considered for admission based on high school grades.
Seeking to show their concern about the racial incidents, regents Wednesday spent nearly two hours discussing the UC San Diego situation, which included the use of a derogatory term for blacks on a student television show, and other episodes elsewhere. At UC Davis, swastikas were spray-painted at several locations on the campus last month and one was carved on a Jewish student's dorm door there; an anti-gay slogan was sprayed on a UC Davis gay and lesbian student center.
Regent Eddie Island extended an apology to all students who felt under attack. "We failed to provide a nurturing environment," Island said.
But he also blamed UC's admissions policies for artificially limiting the rolls of minority students. "It is the absence of inclusion that frees hatred, that frees bigotry, that allows it to go unchallenged. That's our biggest problem," he said.
Black student leaders from UC San Diego addressed the regents and said that the controversial party, a so-called Compton Cookout at which guests were invited to dress like ghetto residents, was just the tipping point after decades of blacks feeling marginalized on campus. David Ritcherson, a fourth-year international economics major who is co-chairman of the UC San Diego Black Student Union, said the regents probably wouldn't be seeking to make amends now if "they didn't get all this media attention, if the image wasn't tainted."
Ritcherson, however, said he welcomed the regents' comments and the efforts they promised to combat bigotry. "It's a good start," he said.
In other business, the regents Wednesday took steps to protect the university from court challenges to student fee increases. A regents committee approved a statement that UC has a right to change its fees at any time and that the publication of fee levels does not constitute a contract or promise.
A Superior Court judge in San Francisco this month ordered UC to refund a total of $38 million to 2,900 professional degree students who enrolled in 2003 and were charged increases after being told their fees would not rise. UC probably will appeal that decision, a UC spokesman said. In 2007, UC lost a similar case involving $40 million that UC has since repaid.
9. Golden Gate X Press (SFSU), March 25, 2010
1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco, CA 94132
Campus highlights transgender PRIDE
By Morgan Càsarez
On March 24, individuals from across the gender spectrum celebrated International Transgender Visibility Day.
On campus, the second annual "Between the Binary" event was held by the PRIDE at SF State Committee, a group working to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community.
The festivities began in the morning with performances by transgender musicians in Malcolm X Plaza and continued with a speaker's panel, moderated by Assistant Professor of Sociology Clare Sears, in Jack Adams Hall. The day's events were co-sponsored by SF State's Counseling and Psychological Services, the Ecumenical House, the Associated Students, Inc. Women's Center and ASI Education and Referral Organization for Sexuality (E.R.O.S.).
"We've all heard these concepts of what it means to be male and what it means to be female," Bita Shooshani, PRIDE committee chair and assistant director of prevention education programs at SF State, said. "What we learned today is there isn't any one person who can represent one community."
This year's panel included a mix of SF State students, alumni and transgender community advocates from organizations including Gender Spectrum, St. James Infirmary and the Instituto Familiar de la Raza. Each shared their personal experiences with gender exploration and identification before taking questions from the audience.
"I can be a confident, masculine woman and that's just fine," Pardis Esmaeili, director of E.R.O.S., said as she addressed the crowd. "It's taken me a long time to be open about my experiences."
Panel member Joel Baum, director of education and training for Gender Spectrum, said his organization works with gender non-conforming children as young as 4 and 5 years old. He shared Gender Spectrum's message to "be yourself, change the world," whether one identifies as "male, female, both or neither."
According to its website, Gender Spectrum provides "education, resources and training to help you create a more gender sensitive and supportive environment for all people, including gender variant and transgender youth."
SF State junior Chantel Roberts said she heard about the panel through her involvement with Creating Empowerment through Alcohol and Substance Abuse Education (CEASE) and Active Minds, a new student organization on campus that increases awareness of mental health issues.
"I guess being heterosexual I had a lot of stereotypes," said Roberts, who added that she found the presentation both interesting and educational.
"My experience with gender is that it has been a journey," SF State master's candidate and panel member Shawn Demmons said.
Demmons, who was born female but identifies as male, discussed the TransClusive survey he developed as part of a research project at SF State. In total, 63 faculty and staff members and 187 students participated in the survey, which sought to asses participants' comfort levels with transgender individuals. Demmons is also studying SF State's policies and practices to determine whether they are inclusive of transgender students. He stated that one of the largest issues in the community currently is the lack of transgender-friendly bathrooms on campus.
During the panel, Demmons said it has been estimated that at any given time, a college campus of 20,000 students might have up to eight students in transition, 60 who are actively questioning their gender and 200 whose appearance transgress gender normative roles.
"It's an issue that isn't discussed enough," he said.
"It's really breaking out of these binaries of either/or. Nobody really fits these little boxes," Shooshani said of the meaning behind "Between the Binary." "I'm very proud of the students I've worked with who shared about their experiences."
E-mail Morgan Càsarez @ firstname.lastname@example.org
10. The GW Hatchet, March 25, 2010
2140 G Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037
A year later, Belok continues to fight military policy
By Melissa Turley
Sophomore Todd Belok said he never wanted to be an advocate. He wanted to be a naval officer; he wanted to serve his country.
But in the almost 15 months since his expulsion from GW's Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program, Belok has gained national attention by advocating for the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The government to amend the policy barring homosexuals from serving openly has picked up steam, with a top U.S. military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, supporting the repeal and President Barack Obama affirming his opposition to the policy during his State of the Union address.
At a party during his freshman year, two fellow midshipmen saw Belok kissing his boyfriend and reported Belok to the unit. After discipline trials, Belok was dismissed from GW's ROTC unit, ending his dreams of serving in the Navy.
Since Belok's discharge protests, rallies and marches in his honor and against the "don't ask, don't tell" policy have taken place on campus and nationally. Belok has been interviewed by CNN, FOX News and the Washington Post in recent months and said he is working with national leaders, including the Servicemember's Legal Defense Network and Servicemember's United, to end the policy. Earlier this month, he appeared in national media after wearing a "Fired Under don't ask, don't tell" T-shirt to a press conference.
He has also traveled across the country to protest and speak out against what he calls a discriminatory policy.
Nationally, the fight over "don't ask, don't tell" is gaining momentum. While campaigning, President Barack Obama pledged to repeal the controversial policy and during his State of the Union address in January, Obama promised to direct his attention to a repeal in 2010.
The law mandating the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was passed by Congress during the Clinton administration to protect service members living in close quarters from uncomfortable situations. While the policy does not ban homosexuals from joining the military, it does ban all "homosexual conduct," according to the Department of Defense's Policy on Homosexual Conduct. More than 13,000 service members have been dismissed from the military as a result of this policy since 1993, according to the New York Times.
In March, Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., teamed up with Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee to introduce the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010 which would to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" if passed.
The bill would reverse the current policy, allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military. Similar legislation was also introduced in the House. In response to the possible repeal, the Pentagon will be launching a nine-month study on gays in the military, the New York Times has reported.
Repealing the policy would mean structural changes within the ROTC program at GW. Navy Captain Brian Gawne, a professor of Naval Sciences at GW, said if Congress changed the law, GW would follow.
"If Congress changes the law, the armed forces are constitutionally obligated to comply with those changes," he said.
The University's policy states that any group using its trademarks will not "discriminate against any persons or groups based on age, ancestry, belief, color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status or other illegal basis, or in any other way that would be a violation of University antidiscrimination policies." But because GW receives federal money, Congressional law supersedes GW's policies.
"GW follows all federal policies and laws," GW Director of Media Relations Michelle Sherrard said. "DADT is a federal law."
11. HBCU Digest, March 23, 2010
Morehouse to Host First ‘Gay Pride’ Week
Morehouse College begins its first ever Gay Pride Week activities today. And if that comes as a surprise to you, it shouldn’t; the events are nowhere to be found on the school’s event calender.
While LGBT people across the country are gaining more visibility, many African-American LGBT voices go unheard and their issues get ignored. Morehouse, one of our county’s most premiere historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), is dedicated to amplifying those voices in hopes for creating change and reducing homophobia on campus. Inviting B. Scott is one step in the right direction in Morehouse’s quest for affirming all of their LGBT students.
“I was honored when Morehouse College asked me to speak at their first Pride Week,“ said B. Scott. “It is encouraging that they have decided to acknowledge the LGBT community in a positive way on their campus, which is the first step in creating an environment of acceptance and equality.”
Given the taboos and often-caustic perspectives towards LGBT brothers and sisters on HBCU campuses, I find it disgraceful and offensive that the ‘House wouldn’t acknowledge what could be a groundbreaking forum for discussion on improving attitudes and perspectives among the LGBT and non-LGBT populations.
On a personal note, college was the place where I learned tolerance, understanding, respect and love for brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. Like many, I grew up with ignorant and often humiliating ideas about gays and lesbians, but as an adult in an adult setting (a college campus) I met so many great men and women who were valuable members of our campus community, and tremendous friends. No, I’m not a perfect person who embraces all members of the LGBT community. Occasionally, I have negative thoughts and attitudes about individuals who exhibit certain behavior or stereotypical presentation of the LGBT lifestyle.
But the first step to getting better is to acknowledge being sick. And while I’m far from having the flu, I know that my best chance at a life well lived is to rid myself of the occasional sneeze and cough.
Here’s hoping for a productive and enlightening week of discussion and discovery on the Morehouse campus.
12. CBS News, March 24, 2010
CBS Corporation, 51 W. 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019-6188
W. Va. Students: Sleepover Policy Unfair
By Associated Press
(AP) Some students at West Virginia University say a policy forbidding visitors of the opposite sex from staying overnight in dorm rooms is discriminatory.
Sit-ins were planned Wednesday night outside most of WVU's dorms to protest the policy.
Residence Hall Association President Justin Griffiths says some students believe the policy is discriminatory because gay and lesbian students can sign in significant others for overnight stays while heterosexual couples can't.
Griffiths says he sees it as a safety issue. If students are sneaking people in, the university doesn't know who is in its dorms.
WVU spokesman John Bolt says dorm rooms aren't policed for illegitimate visitors, but the school does respond to roommates' complaints.
"Most of this whole issue for us is a roommates' rights issue," Bolt said. "Even if it's your next-door neighbor spending the night, if the roommate is not cool with that, we rely on them to let us know if there's an issue."
At the beginning of every school year, roommates draw up contracts to address everything from taking out the trash to lights-out times.
Corey Farris, director of Housing and University Apartments, said the university was working on changing the visitation policy before it became an issue with students.
WVU is testing a new policy allowing overnight visits by members of the opposite sex at Pierpont Hall, which is occupied by upperclassmen who live in apartments.
Trying to implement the change in regular residence halls where students share one room might be a challenge, Farris said.
"We're working to figure out how we make sure there's privacy. How do we help that shy student feel comfortable to talk to their roommate?"
About 5,500 students live in WVU's 12 residence halls.
13. Boston.com, March 26, 2010
P.O. Box 52438, Boston, MA 02205-2438
Students miffed at 'Mr. Campus Freshman' contest
By Caitlin Castello
An online contest to find the “smartest, silliest, and sexiest” male freshmen at campuses across the country has left some Wellesley College students feeling misrepresented, leading the website to revamp the competition to address the concerns of the all-women school.
HerCampus.com, an online lifestyle magazine geared toward college-aged women, started “Mr. Campus Freshman 2013,” with the goal of crowning a male from over 20 colleges represented by the website.
But to the dismay of many on campus, Wellesley College students were advised to nominate a male from outside the school, ignoring students at their campusl who are transgender.
''We ran this contest never intending to offend anyone,'' said Stephanie Kaplan, a Newton native who founded Her Campus with two other Harvard undergraduates. ''Our mission is to serve college women, we never meant to exclude or offend anyone.''
But Galen Danskin, a junior English major at Wellesley, said her girlfriend has gathered more than 300 signatures for a petition to have the women's college taken off of the Her Campus site.
“I thought it was offensive the Wellesley community could not be represented by any of its transgender community or a woman," said Danskin. "I do find it offensive that I need to be represented by a guy. It really just doesn’t make any sense. On face value it's a ridiculous assumption."
Her Campus did not learn of the concerns until after the nomination period was closed, Kaplan said. Once the founders received that feedback, they reopened the contest to any Wellesley student who wanted to be nominated.
The nominee for Wellesley College is Christianne Wolfsen, a biology and Chinese major. In her video submission she said, “Wellesley’s community and I agree you don’t need to be a biological male to compete with the men.”
Wolfsen said she was nominated by a friend and felt strongly enough about Wellesley being misrepresented through the competition that she decided to participate.
“I was really disappointed by the fact that Her Campus wanted other men to represent Wellesley College. I find it absolutely ridiculous to have seemingly random students from other colleges represent our name. There are plenty of male-identifying students at Wellesley, and I think it was very unfair to exclude them,” said Wolfsen in an e-mail.
“I don’t think people are generally very educated about transsexual and transgendered people. I don’t identify as a male, I am not gay, but I very strongly identify as an ally. People should never be excluded from anything, even something as small as an online competition, because of their sexuality or who they are.”
Similar sentiments are echoed in a statement released by Arlie Corday, director of communications at Wellesley College.
“Having male students from other colleges represent Wellesley College feels alien to most of our students, who are proud of attending a women’s college. As Wellesley first-year student Christianne Wolfsen puts it, ‘You don’t have to be a biological male to compete with men,’” said Corday.
For the national competition, Her Campus invites readers to vote for Mr. Campus Freshman, and the winner will be decided April 3.
“I think Christianne is doing a wonderful job. If she wins, high-five to her,” said Danskin. “I do support her, but I do not support Her Campus."
Katie Chen, a Wellesley student who edits and writes for the site, said she was simply following instructions when she publicized the contest.
‘‘As far as I know, the contest was never closed to anyone,’’ she said. ‘‘The only nominations I received were for male candidates. Had a female or a person identifying himself/herself as transgender been nominated, they would not have been rejected.’’
“This is the first year we’ve ever done this contest before. We were trying to figure out what we should do to remedy the situation,” said Kaplan. “What we did was restart the contest for it. We are happy for them to have someone who they chose.”
The contest was inspired by a similar contest run by Harvard lifestyle magazine, called Freeze College Magazine.
Her Campus was launched in September 2009 by three Harvard undergraduates. The site features Style, Health, Love, DormLife, Career, and World sections which include content targeted to the broad audience of college women nationally.
Caitlin Castello can be reached at email@example.com.
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