Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.03.07
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 Maine Campus - Transgender guidelines stir controversy
2. The Chronicle of Higher Education - Colleges Await End of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
3. The GW Hatchet - For LGBT students, University provides safe haven
4. The Cornell Daily Sun - Filthy/Gorgeous Event Celebrates University's LGBTQ Community
5. The University Daily Kansan - Gay blood donor ban is discriminatory
6. The Diamondback (University of Maryland) - Staff editorial: Applying diversity
7. The Emory Wheel - LGBT Office Honors Alums and Students with Pride Awards
8. The Varsity News (University of Detroit Mercy) - UDM alliance brings together straight and gay students
9. MLive.com/The Saginaw News - SVSU students to tackle lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender issues
10. Windy City Media Group - LGBT college confab covers politics, media
11. ESPN.com Big Ten Blog - OSU's Tressel talks acceptance with GLBT publication
12. The Joplin Globe - MSSU students continue protest for policy change (w/ protest slide show)
13. The Phoenix - Equality Ride begins at VFCC
14. The Day - Lieberman sees ROTC benefiting from repeal of military ban on gays
15. The DePauw - Love Rally
16. The Snapper (Millersville University) - Lecture examines school environment for LBGT educators and what factors encourage outness
17. The Daily Pennsylvanian (UPenn) - Editorial: A welcome out-reach - We support sending letters to LGBT students, though the Admissions Office needs to be cautious
18. The Daily Pennsylvanian (UPenn) - Penn hosts famous philosopher Judith Butler
19. Highlander (University of California, Riverside) - Anti-gay hate crime reported
20. Associated Press - Bias incidents roil University of California
21. The University of Virginia Queer & Allied Activism - Dear Mr. Cuccinelli and Mr. McDonnell
22. The Washington Post - Virginia colleges: Just say 'no' to Cuccinelli
1. The Maine Campus, February 25, 2010
5748 Memorial Union, Orono, ME 04469
Transgender guidelines stir controversy
By Dylan Riley
A draft of guidelines from the Maine Human Rights Commission that would inform schools and colleges of the rights of transgender students in Maine has sparked some debate about possible unintended consequences the guidelines could have on University of Maine athletics.
The guidelines are a clarification of Maine’s Human Rights Act. “Sexual Orientation” was added as a protection of the act in 2005, and the guidelines explain in detail how schools and colleges should work with transgender students. The draft states that transgender students must be allowed access to bathrooms that “correspond with their gender identity” and to locker room accommodations that “meet their needs and that take into account the legitimate privacy of all students.” The draft of the new guidelines is the product of a Dec. 15 work session hosted by the commission.
According to Patricia E. Ryan, the commission’s executive director, “The Commission’s guidance will not have the force of law but is entitled to great deference by the courts unless the statute plainly compels a contrary result.”
Karen Kemble, director of the Office of Equal Opportunity at UMaine, attended the work session. She said in a Jan. 19 letter to the commission that the university is not taking a stance on the guidelines, but that “there will likely be cases in which allowing a transgender student to participate in gender-segregated sports in accordance with the gender identity or expression will raise legitimate concerns about fairness.” The guidelines say a transgender student must be allowed to play on sports teams that matches his or her gender identity.
“It’s not something that comes up with great frequency, so I don’t see it as requiring us to change how our sports program functions,” Kemble said, but the issue is one she felt the commission should know.
The letter stated a transgender student’s participation on a gender-segregated team could result in the National Collegiate Athletic Association classifying it as a mixed team, which could potentially impact an institution’s compliance with Title IX. If a team was reclassified as mixed, it might cause an institution to lose its Division 1 status for not having the required number of teams.
Kemble said she did not recall any transgender students requesting to play on certain teams at UMaine, or any time such an issue has arisen in university athletics. The NCAA has its own proposed guidelines for dealing with transgender athletes on gender-segregated teams, but they haven’t been formally adopted yet, Kemble said.
Issues of fairness in school athletics — such as whether transgender students on a team give an unfair advantage or reduce athletic opportunities for other students — were also raised at the Dec. 15 work session. In earlier drafts of the guidelines, the commission opted to include exceptions to the rule about sports. The current draft has no such exception, which Ryan and commission counsel John P. Gause explained in a Feb. 8 memo to the commissioners. The memo stated, “It would be impracticable to determine whether a particular individual were better at sports than others because of biological sex than some other factor,” and that the fairest ruling opts for “universal inclusion.”
Mary Bonauto, civil rights project director for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, who was included in the lists of attendees of the Dec. 15 work session, wrote the commission saying, “Experience shows that a student denied the opportunity to play on gender-segregated teams consistent with his or her gender identity results in youth forgoing athletic opportunities.” Gause said suggestions and comments from GLAD and the Maine Principals Association were partly the reason for the commission’s decision to include a section on sports.
Danielle M. Steele, of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Services at UMaine, said, “There’s still a lot of ambiguity about what the HRC are trying to do.” The guidelines are scheduled for a public hearing March 1, and Steele said UMaine’s GLBT community is “eager to see exactly what’s going to come of the March hearings.”
Despite the potential problems with athletics, Kemble said she doesn’t see the potential for issues elsewhere in the university community. Transgender students at UMaine already use bathrooms that correlate with their gender identity, according to Steele, who does not feel the guidelines are redundant.
A separate issue concerning the guidelines involves asking for proof of transgender identity. The current draft states a school that has an “objective basis” to question whether a student’s gender identity is genuine may ask for information proving it, but that no particular type of information may be required.
“The initial draft said that they didn’t want any students to be asked for proof,” Kemble said. She said the draft’s current writing would help prevent abuse of the guidelines.
Gause said in most cases transgender students present their gender identity very consistently, and that a sudden switch from their behavior would constitute an “objective basis” for questioning.
“A school in most cases would not have reason to question a bona fide nature of someone’s gender identity because they’d be presenting day to day as a boy or a girl, man or woman,” Gause said.
There will be a public hearing to discuss the guidelines March 1 at the Senator Conference Center at the Best Western in Augusta.
2. The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 28, 2010
1255 Twenty-Third St, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037
Colleges Await End of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
By Andrea Fuller
From a young age, Rachel Newman, a student at New York Law School, imagined wearing a U.S. military uniform someday. But when military recruiters came to her campus in February, she wore a different kind of uniform: an olive-drab T-shirt that read: "ASK. TELL."
Ms. Newman wears her shirt to protest the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which prevents openly gay people like Ms. Newman from enlisting. The policy, which went into effect in 1993, allows gay people to serve in the armed forces but prevents them from disclosing their sexual orientation and limits the ability of military officials to ask service members about their sexual orientation.
"Without a moment's hesitation, I would join the military and serve in the JAG Corps if I were allowed to," said Ms. Newman, whose desire to enlist in the Judge Advocate General's Corps would fall in line with successive generations of military service in her family.
Ms. Newman may get her wish. President Obama vowed in his State of the Union address in January to work with Congress and military officials this year to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
The timeline for a possible repeal remains unclear, and some members of Congress continue to support the policy. But with both Robert M. Gates, the secretary of defense, and Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, advocating an end to "don't ask, don't tell," its repeal appears likelier than ever before.
An end to "don't ask, don't tell" would have a direct effect on openly gay college students like Ms. Newman who hope to enlist. More broadly, it could mean a cooling of tensions on campuses between the military and students and faculty members who have protested the policy.
Some colleges, noting that "don't ask, don't tell" violated their nondiscrimination policies, sought to ban military recruiters from their campuses. But the Solomon Amendment, which since the mid-1990s has allowed the federal government to withhold funds from colleges that bar military recruiters, discourages institutions from doing so.
Following a lawsuit filed by a coalition of several dozen law schools, the Supreme Court upheld the Solomon Amendment in 2006. Since then all but a handful of colleges have chosen to allow recruiters rather than forgo federal funds.
But on many campuses, large numbers of students and faculty members have remained firm in their opposition to the military's policy and continue to protest the presence of recruiters.
"There are certainly tensions," says Arthur S. Leonard, a professor at New York Law School who specializes in gay-rights law and who was instrumental in banning employers who discriminated based on sexual orientation from recruiting there in the 1980s. The law school has periodically barred military recruiters, too, but it dropped the ban after the 2006 court decision.
"If the military's policy is changed as a result of the current discussions," he says, "that will definitely make it less fraught for the military to come on campus."
Return of the Recruiters
A repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" would most directly affect two colleges: Vermont Law School and the William Mitchell College of Law, in Minnesota. They ban military recruiters because the federal law conflicts with the colleges' nondiscrimination policies. If the statute is overturned, the two institutions plan to welcome back recruiters—and federal funds.
Both are independent law schools unaffiliated with research universities, which tend to depend on the continued receipt of millions of dollars from various federal agencies. Even though the two law schools have not been as dependent on federal dollars, deans at both of them say having that revenue source back could nonetheless help support important projects.
Vermont Law School forgoes about $500,000 in federal funds each year, says Geoffrey B. Shields, its dean. The school would immediately look into a wide variety of grants from the Education Department and other federal agencies, including funds that might be available for classroom technology, if "don't ask, don't tell" were overturned, he says.
Eric S. Janus, dean at William Mitchell, says it received a "low level" of federal funds on a "sporadic" basis before banning recruiters. But the college is now developing a public-health law center, for which he says it would like to seek federal aid, including funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if "don't ask, don't tell" is repealed.
Mr. Shields and Mr. Janus say some students at their colleges enlist in the military on their own each year regardless of the recruiting ban on campus. Military recruiters, they agree, should expect a warm welcome back on their campuses if "don't ask, don't tell" is repealed.
"Our core desire is for all of our students to have the opportunity to serve in the military," Mr. Janus says.
Mr. Shields emphasizes that his college's long history of fighting "don't, ask, don't tell" does not stem from opposition to the military. Vermont Law School was a plaintiff in the case against the Solomon Amendment and still sends several dozen students and faculty members to lobby against "don't ask, don't tell" in Washington each year.
"It's not that we're against the military," he says. "We're against this particular policy."
Although all other colleges allow military representatives on their campuses, the recruiters do not necessarily get a warm welcome everywhere.
Relationships between law schools and the military have been particularly fraught. The JAG Corps depends on law-school graduates to serve as military lawyers. But it was law schools that led the fight against the Solomon Amendment. And the Association of American Law Schools requires its members to establish that employers who recruit on campus have nondiscrimination policies. Those policies must include protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The law-school association also requires members to take steps to "ameliorate" the military's presence on campus, such as making efforts to inform students that the military violates the school's nondiscrimination policy. Some schools have been more aggressive in their protests of the policy than others.
Diane H. Mazur, a professor who studies civilian-military relations at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law, says that in some traditionally conservative regions of the United States, law schools typically hold forums about "don't ask, don't tell" but are often more concerned about not "appearing to be rude to the military."
"Southern law schools perform the minimum amount of ameliorative activity that they can get away with," she says. "We are not in the land of active anti-'don't ask, don't tell' activity in the way that law schools particularly in the Northeast are."
But protest thrives at a number of law schools, even if it has recently tended to take a less dramatic form than it did just before the Supreme Court's decision on the Solomon Amendment, when some students led large rallies and signed up for interview slots with military recruiters only to argue with them about "don't ask, don't tell." At many colleges, deans and faculty members continue to send e-mail messages to all students before the recruiters come, expressing support for the military but opposition to the policy, and explaining why the schools must allow the recruiters to show up.
Some schools go further. Stanford Law School faculty members send e-mail messages to students requesting that they meet with recruiters off campus, out of respect for their gay and lesbian peers. Protesting students at Georgetown University's law school typically wear shirts featuring the word "ARMY" in rainbow colors when recruiters are on the campus. This year they also painted toy soldiers pink and placed them in classrooms.
New York University law students pass out rainbow-colored ribbons and sign letters to Congress protesting "don't ask, don't tell." When recruiters come to the campus, rainbow flags often are hung in the law school's main lobby. Students and faculty members at Western New England College School of Law wear rainbow ribbons; at one time, they placed rainbow-colored candy in the interview rooms.
New York Law School, which has included "sexual orientation" in its nondiscrimination policy since the 1983, has a particularly long history of opposing the military's ban on openly gay service members. It joined Vermont Law School and the William Mitchell College of Law on the blacklist for federal dollars after the Supreme Court's Solomon decision, but gave up its ban on military recruiters shortly thereafter.
Richard A. Matasar, dean at New York, says the law school no longer believes that protest will be effective if only a handful of schools bar recruiters. The school receives varying amounts of federal funds each year, he notes, ranging between virtually nothing and sums in the "low hundreds of thousands."
When recruiters came to New York Law School in February, Ms. Newman and her peers in the Stonewall Law Students Association, a gay-rights group, made known their stance on "don't ask, don't tell." They placed posters opposing the policy outside entrances to the school and at a table in the student center near where a recruiter conducted interviews. At their table they asked students to sign petitions against "don't ask, don't tell" and distributed articles about Defense Department officials' asking for a repeal of the policy.
But not all students embrace their colleges' efforts to protest "don't ask, don't tell." Louis Adimando, president of the New York Law School Republicans, said students in his group go and thank the recruiters, out of concern that the protest is insulting to them.
"The recruiters have no part in setting the policy, so why are we protesting them?" he says.
The group also complains to Mr. Matasar when he sends e-mail messages to the student body about the school's opposition to "don't ask, don't tell." Mr. Adimando says it is inappropriate for the dean to "proselytize to the students."
Ms. Newman, meanwhile, says most students who come up to her petition table are supportive of the protest, though she does get questions. "Some people get quite defensive, and they want to know why we're protesting the military when we're involved in military action," she says.
Thawing of Tensions
If Congress abolishes "don't ask, don't tell," those kinds of protests, and the choice that administrators are forced to make between allowing recruiters and losing federal money, could disappear overnight.
"There's nothing to protest at that point," Mr. Matasar says.
While antiwar protests are unlikely ever to disappear from campuses, scholars say colleges' attitude toward the military would probably improve significantly with the end of "don't ask, don't tell."
Kenji Yoshino, a professor at the NYU School of Law who studies Constitutional and antidiscrimination law, predicts that an end to "don't ask, don't tell" would have the "hugely positive symbolic effect of bringing the universities back into alignment with the military." When he was a professor at Yale Law School, Mr. Yoshino was a lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the Solomon Amendment.
He and many other opponents of the military policy are frustrated with people questioning their patriotism because of their opposition to "don't ask, don't tell." An end to the policy would "allow people who are extremely supportive of our troops to be able to manifest that support in an unambivalent way," he says.
Some students, however, are skeptical that a repeal of the policy would change much. "It's just one less thing that a left-wing group will attack the military for," says Mr. Adimando, of New York Law School. "There's a general disdain for the military. ... If it's not this, it will be something else."
The Department of Defense declines to comment on how the end of "don't ask, don't tell" might affect its relationships with colleges. Eileen Lainez, a spokeswoman, calls any speculation "premature."
She adds that the department does not believe that current demonstrations on campuses have hampered military recruiting, which she calls "highly successful."
Scholars and law professors have mixed views about whether the end of "don't ask, don't tell"—and, with it, a general warming of relations between colleges and the military—would increase students' interest in the military on a large scale.
Taylor Flynn, a professor at the Western New England College School of Law who studies discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, expects no significant increase in student interest. "Our students are adults," she says, "and they come in with fairly fixed views about whether they support the military-industrial complex."
But other faculty members say some students interested in the military may be wary of talking to recruiters when their classmates are protesting the military's presence on the campus. Florida's Ms. Mazur foresees "substantially more interest" in military careers among students if "don't ask, don't tell" is overturned. Getting rid of the policy, she says, "will make the military look different in a very fundamental way to law students."
An end to "don't ask, don't tell" will, of course, have the most obvious effect on one group: openly gay students who dream of enlisting.
"Any single person who is now going to enlist who wouldn't have been able to enlist is a significant change," says Mr. Matasar, of New York Law School.
Not only would students like Ms. Newman be able to fulfill their dream of enlisting, but other lesbian and gay students, uncertain of their career paths, could take an interest in the military.
Kathryne Young, who is pursuing a joint law and doctoral degree in sociology at Stanford, says she thought about working for the JAG Corps before she came to fully realize that she is gay. Her father was a Marine, and she says she would look into military service if "don't ask, don't tell" is repealed.
For now, Ms. Young must pursue other options.
"I have no interest in returning to the closet," she says. "It was stifling in there."
3. The GW Hatchet, March 1, 2010
2140 G Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037
For LGBT students, University provides safe haven
By Lauren French
Melissa Gindin couldn't sleep. She was spending more and more nights tossing in her bed and wrestling with a secret she had known since she was five years old.
Finally, at 15, the current junior sat up and told herself something she had always known, but never said out loud.
"I'm gay," she said to herself, ending a decade of questions and denial.
For some lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students at GW, the University's gay-friendly atmosphere is a draw, providing a safe environment for students who struggled to find peace at home.
In the past, many who identify as LGBT felt they had to move away from home before coming out, but younger generations are coming out earlier, according to recent articles published in the New York Times and USA Today. Out of more than a dozen gay students The Hatchet interviewed, nine said they came out in high school. Four said they are still not out at home.
GW does not track the number of LGBT students on campus - unofficial estimates put the number at one in three - but GW was given four out of five stars by the LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index, a division of Campus Pride, for its LGBT policies and practices.
Urban universities often attract LGBT students, Allied in Pride President Michael Komo said.
"Universities in Metro areas tend to be more progressive," Komo said. "When I was looking for colleges, I looked for schools that were progressive, that had resource centers and had a gay-friendly community."
For Gindin, her coming-out process spanned over a decade.
"I was five, I didn't know what gay was," she said. "I was in tremendous denial for about 10 years."
At home in Brooklyn, Gindin said she dressed more femininely, but after graduation, when she was coming to college, she cut her hair short. Originally she went to the University of Massachusetts but transferred because Amherst was "too conservative." GW, she said, is very gay-friendly, with an active gay-male community, though she noted the female community is often small and "forgotten."
Freshman Markia Lee agreed with Gindin's sentiment that GW was a gay-friendly University.
"I found my identify at GW," she said. "I'm so proud now and so wanting to talk about it. When I came to GW everything became focused."
At GW, Gindin is a member of Alpha Phi Omega and the College Democrats. She interned on Capitol Hill and does advocacy work for Allied in Pride, where she meets with administrators and lobbies for gender-neutral housing and an LGBT minor.
This advocacy is important for Gindin. While she does not want to spend her life working solely on LGBT issues, Gindin said sometimes people typecast gay women - she does not like the term lesbian - into masculine roles. This is an issue that personally affects Gindin, as she does not like make-up and feels "uncomfortable in dresses."
"I am a woman, I want to be a woman," she said. "But, I don't think women have to wear make-up or dresses. I don't think you need to confine yourself into this stereotype."
She said that often in lines, when a cashier or barista at Starbucks is addressing customers as "sir" or "ma'am," "they are going to call me sir."
"I've adjusted to it really well. I've come to terms with it," Gindin said. "It's a choice that I make and I accept the consequences."
She added, "Sometimes my friends have no idea how to handle it, though."
Gindin is "out" at school and at home. When she came to term with her sexuality, she reached out to her parents, grandparents and friends, slowly telling them. It was something they weren't surprised to hear, she said.
Still, some gay men and women - particularly those from conservative backgrounds - can find coming out difficult. For students still struggling with being open about their identity, GW's LGBT resource center hopes to begin "Coming Out 101" classes.
Komo said the "Coming Out" sessions are designed to help students transition in college.
"We have students that come from almost every state and from all around the world who didn't always have a supportive environment or... role models," Komo said. "We want to show them how to come out in a safe environment."
A sophomore student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he is out to some friends at home, but most of his family does not know he is gay.
He grew up in a conservative household, in which his parents, both Catholic, touted religion and family values.
"I was brought up to believe that homosexuality was a disease," he said. "So when I first started feeling these things, I thought something was wrong with me."
His first same-sex physical relationship was fueled by curiosity and alcohol, and started a string of unhealthy relationships that were hidden at his all-Catholic high school.
"I would see the person I was dating at school and I never knew if they were mad at me, or if they were just ignoring me because we were at school. That was hard," he said. "I finally went to a counselor, who told me, 'Nothing is wrong with you.' "
After seeing the state-sponsored counselor, his parents sent him to a "straight-shrink," a non-licensed therapist who specializes in convincing homosexuals that "something in our past made us gay," the student said.
"It really hurt my relationship with my parents because they sat in this room, watching this guy dig into me and they did nothing," he said.
Whereas his home life has been constrictive and at times combative, he said his life at GW is a "relief."
"GW is a huge improvement... it allowed me to get level-headed," he said. "It's not like the rest of the country and I didn't know places like these existed."
4. The Cornell Daily Sun, March 1, 2010
139 West State Street, Ithaca, NY 14850
Filthy/Gorgeous Event Celebrates University's LGBTQ Community
By Juan Forrer
On Saturday night, the Cornell homosexual community and allies took over the Straight and hosted the fourth annual Filthy/Gorgeous Party, which aims to celebrate the LGBTQ atmosphere at Cornell.
“I like to consider it the gay Slope Day,” said Ben Lebrun ’10, president of the Gay Straight Alliance.
This year’s event drew more than 600 students, some dressed in drag, others coming with their same-sex partners. Some came wearing platform shoes and chains. The party also drew people from outside the gay community. Attendance is up from 400 last year, which did not surprise Lebrun.
“I feel that an event that cost $27,000 and took 11 months to plan speaks for itself,” Lebrun said. Approximately $7,000 of this came from Student Activity Fee funding, according to Chris Basil ’10, vice president of finance for the Student Assembly. Proceeds from the event benefitted Sylvia’s Place, a homeless shelter for LGBT youth, and the Metropolitan Community Church of New York Homeless Youth Services.
The party was originally started back in 2006 and was the brainchild of John Connelly ’03. To make the event stand out, Connelly wanted to create a sex-positive environment. At this year’s party, a bin of condoms sat on the table for people to take as they paid the $3 entry fee. Half-naked male and female dancers, some who work at the Splash Bar in New York City, were hired to get the crowd excited by sporadically kissing one another on stage and also by kissing members of the audience — regardless of gender.
Mike Ortiz ’12 took the opportunity to dance on stage with the dancers.
“I grew up in New York City and I’ve been out since 15,” Ortiz said. “Getting on stage without a shirt on is second nature.”
This year, organizers brought back Chi Chi LaRue, a transgender porn director and drag queen, to DJ the event and the group Whore’s Mascara to perform original songs. LaRue — who noted that this year’s party was twice as exciting as last year’s — said the crowd at the Straight was quite different from the usual audiences in his hometown Los Angeles.
“This is a happy, young, student crowd, the rest are all jaded bitches,” she said.
LaRue said that she enjoyed the mix of students, who came with different outfits and ideologies. “It’s a melting pot,” she said. “You don’t know who’s straight and who’s gay — and I guess that’s the point.”
According to Lebrun, Haven’s goal for Filthy/Gorgeous was to create a safe place for the LGBTQ community to express itself in an environment different than the Cornell Greek community. He added, “I feel like if you are surrounded by behavior that doesn’t represent you, it can make the coming out process harder.”
This celebration — quite fortuitously — was held just two weeks after the Student Assembly passed Resolution 44, extending the full rights of membership to all members of student organizations in an effort to prevent discrimination within independent student groups. The resolution’s sponsors, At-Large Rep. Andrew Brokman ’11 and LGBTQ Rep. Matt Danzer ’11, both attended the event.
Danzer said, “I think Haven itself — as well as the event Filthy/Gorgeous — highlights why Resolution 44 is so important. The LGBTQ community spans the spectrum of culture, community religion and Haven and its affiliated organizations try to encapsulate that by creating an event that welcomes everybody.”
According to John Connelly, in light of the recent approval of the non-discrimination clause, the timing of Filthy/Gorgeous was a lucky coincidence.
“This party wasn’t necessarily an intentional celebration of Resolution 44, but I’m sure it contributed to the happy vibes,” he said.
Billy Hanson of Whore’s Mascara, who performs under the stage name Lonni Bahls, said that he had been looking into some of the controversy before coming up to Ithaca from New York City.
“There really needs to be a Resolution 69,” Hanson said. “People should be afforded all rights no matter what.”
Some students in the gay community, however, were not happy with the party. Nate Treffeisen ’12 said that he did not find the in-your-face nature of the party very receptive. He had been opposed to the party as soon as the posters went up, but still attended to see what it was all about.
“I’m not here to be filthy, I’m not here to be gorgeous, I’m here to be gay,” he said. “I think in a way it reinforces [gay] stereotypes in the sense that the name Filthy/Gorgeous does not necessarily reflect the way every gay person … goes about their daily life.”
Because of Haven’s prominence on campus, Treffeisen expressed concern over the fact that the prominent LGBTQ group on campus — the face of the gay community — opted to sponsor an event with a name so prone to reinforcing certain gay stereotypes.
Treffeisen said, “[The event’s name] was definitely a controversial issue because it does definitely represent the entire gay community at Cornell and I think it’s personally offensive … to a lot of the gay community.”
Having discussed the issue with other members of the Cornell gay community, Treffeisen observed, “Not a lot of people are speaking out … but there really is a lot of unrest. No one is particularly happy with the way the event represents them.”
Danzer did not share Treffeisen’s concerns.
“I think it’s important to remember that Filthy/Gorgeous isn’t the only even that the LGBTQ community puts on at Cornell,"” Danzer said. “It’s one of a number of events that are put on throughout the year. … If Filthy/Gorgeous were the only event they were putting on I could see where those comments were coming from … but given that it’s not I think it’s wrong to say that [the name of] the event is stereotyping.”
Danzer did not see the event’s portrayal of the University’s gay community as problematic enough to interfere with the party-friendly atmosphere. “I was at the event and people were just focusing on having fun not on how it portrayed the community,” he said.
5. The University Daily Kansan, March 1, 2010
111 Stauffer-Flint Hall, 1435 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045
Gay blood donor ban is discriminatory
By James Castle
The Federal Food and Drug Administration’s lack of response to the vast protesting of the ineligibility of men who have had sex with other men to donate blood is unacceptable. Because of this policy, hundreds of student donors are not only ineligible but have no desire to give. Students need to show the FDA their disapproval of their outdated policy.
The statistics on HIV/AIDS are dynamic and have been arbitrarily applied to gay men based on outdated assumptions.
The large numbers of seemingly healthy men who came down with symptoms of HIV/AIDS in 1981 lead medical experts and the public to coin the sickness as the “gay cancer.” A subsequent donor policy was implemented to ban men who have had sexual contact with other men since 1977, when experts believed widespread outbreaks of the virus began in the United States.
But these presumptions from almost 30 years ago do not hold up with today’s data.
Advert, an international AIDS charity organization, provides statistics showing that all groups of ethnicities, sexes and sexualities are affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the United States. And in 2008, most people infected with the virus are African American, heterosexual men.
Although male-to-male contact constitutes the highest risk for route of infection, heterosexual activity and drug injection use are just as likely possibilities.
It’s clear that because the virus infects anyone regaurgless of race, sex, or sexual orientation and the routes for infection are numerous, no one group carries the burden of carrying and spreading HIV.
There is absolutely no viability or sensibility in this policy. It was a rational course of action after the first break out of HIV/AIDS in the early 1980’s, but more research has shown that its current existence is outdated and unneccesary.
More disheartening is that this outdated and sexually prejudice attitude hurts the people in need of blood more than anyone.
On February 25 the Kansan reported that the Red Cross has pledged full support for lobbying for the repeal of this policy. Not donating blood is not the way to amend the problem. Students who are eligible to donate blood should still do so. The Red Cross is not to blame for the policy implemented by the FDA.
Students should still support the Red Cross and donate blood and they need to aim their disapporival at the FDA
James Castle for The Kansan Editorial Board
6. The Diamondback (University of Maryland), March 1, 2010
3150 South Campus Dining Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
Staff editorial: Applying diversity
When prospective students peruse college applications, they are confronted with a litany of questions. They’re asked to list their extracurricular activities, awards, family military service, ethnicity, race and sometimes religious beliefs. All of these questions are used by admissions officers to help create a class of students that is both qualified and diverse. But applications have never asked about sexuality. That should soon change.
The University of Pennsylvania has begun to reach out to gay admitted students by identifying those who have indicated that gay issues are important to them through their application (for example, personal essays). For years, universities have had black students contact black admits, engineering majors contact engineering admits and Honors students contact Honors admits. These contacts help make a big, scary campus seem more safe and welcoming. At Penn, gay students may contact gay admits to create a similar effect. While this is an admirable step in the right direction, it doesn’t go far enough.
According to Inside Higher Ed, no undergraduate application contains an optional question about sexual orientation. This university should lead the way in becoming the first. This is a university that prides itself on its diverse student body, and last semester’s protests showed it’s an issue many students pride themselves on. By including a question that allows students to identify whether they are gay, bisexual or transgender the university would attract students looking for a gay-friendly campus and welcome those who might otherwise feel compelled to hide who they are.
LGBT Americans are the last to receive equal rights under the law. They still are not allowed to marry in 44 states, even though most politicians would agree separate is not equal. They still cannot serve openly in the military. And they lack a true leading voice for their movement. While these are national issues that no question on a college application can solve, the lack of a question regarding sexual orientation symbolizes how that portion of the population is viewed.
Such a question would likely make some applicants worry, even if it were optional. For a high school senior to self-identify on paper as belonging to one of the most discriminated against minorities in the country could be nerve-wracking and lead many to wonder if it would help or hurt their chances of getting in. But this stigma will never be erased as long as homosexuality is treated as something to be ashamed of, much as it is in the absence of such a question.
That said, it must be noted that many universities use questions regarding race to ensure adequate enrollment of populations that are often underrepresented on campuses, such as blacks and Latinos. It’s difficult to say whether or not LGBT students are underrepresented mainly because of the fear of self-identifying as such on paper. But even if sexual orientation is not used for the same purposes as racial identification, gay people are still part of the diversity of the university and such a question expresses inclusion. Just as having a diverse student body in terms of race and gender benefits the university by bringing a wide variety of perspectives together, LGBT students bring a different set of questions, judgments and life experiences to the classroom and having a significant population of them helps improve the education of all students.
Now more than ever, administrators strive to provide a campus that is inclusive and diverse. While some may carp on preferential treatment for one group over another, true equality is not achieved without acceptance. And acceptance cannot be achieved without adequate representation. The university has an opportunity to mold a campus and a generation of Americans that is not only diverse on paper, but truly accepting of the people around them, including gay students. And a simple question on a application is a good place to start.
7. The Emory Wheel, March 4, 2010
Emory University, Drawer W, Atlanta, GA 30322
LGBT Office Honors Alums and Students with Pride Awards
By Roshani Chokshi
Emory University’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) office hosted the 18th annual Alumni Pride Awards Ceremony on Tuesday to celebrate the alumni and student achievements within the community.
“This event brings together faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends,”
Director of the Office of LGBT Life Michael Shutt wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel. “As a community-building event, it provides an opportunity for everyone to reflect on the last year and the development of life-long connections with each other.”
Several awards were given throughout the night, including the Chesnut LGBT Person of the Year Award, Studies in Sexuality Essay Contest Award and the Gay and Lesbian Alumni of the Emory Alumni Association (GALA) and Leadership Award. Lavender diplomas were also given to eight 2010 graduates and 14 alumni.
Following a humorous year-in-review which ranged from “the flood of 2009” to being featured more often in the Wheel, the LGBT reflections also covered more legally intricate issues such as trans-inclusive student health care.
Vice President of Alumni Relations Allison Dykes congratulated GALA Co-Chairs Sharon Semmens (’86G) and Cleve Shirah (’87Ox, ’89B) and said that GALA raised approximately $3,000 for the Office of LGBT Life and nearly $4,000 for the GALA Leadership Scholarship, which awarded $2,500 to undergraduate students demonstrating leadership within the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer communities.
Winners of the GALA Leadership Scholarship were Emory Pride Co-President and College senior Olivia Wise and College junior Bassel Rabah.
“I really felt honored because this award doesn’t come from the students, but the alumni,” Rabah said. “The alumni see what you’re doing, and they recognized me, which is really great.”
Rabah said that the LGBT community closely resembles a family and added that he hopes this award will show students that they should fight for their beliefs.
“Who knows, they might win an award along the way,” Rabah said.
When College seniors were brought to the podium to talk about their experiences at Emory, College senior Aaron Rutledge recalled watching University President James W. Wagner literally helping a student out of the closet at a LGBT Wonderful Wednesday event.
“As I look back on the events that we planned, there’s one memory that really sticks with me,” Rutledge said.
Rutledge added that the moment demonstrated an open attitude to diversity that made him proud to be at Emory.
Following student remarks, Lynne Huffer, chair of Emory’s women’s studies department, recognized College senior Steven Dry as the winner of the Studies in Sexuality Essay Contest.
“I think it’s awesome that there is such an award that supports creativity and academia,” Dry said.
College senior Scot Seitz was the recipient of the annual Chesnut LGBT Person of the Year.
“[Seitz], as this year’s recipient, embodies these values and serves as an example for present, past and future Emory students,” Emory alum Nathan Hartman (’00C, ’06L, ’06T, ’07B) said. He added that the Alumni Awards honor students who they hope serve as ambassadors of Emory’s aspirations and leaders of service and individual character.
The presentation of lavender diplomas and rainbow tassels to Emory alums and 2010 graduating students ended the Alumni Pride Awards Ceremony.
“To get the lavender diploma really says a lot about Emory as a community,” College senior Raphael Coleman said. “It shows that it’s proactive in promoting diversity regardless of race or sexuality.”
The Alumni Pride Awards were originally introduced in 1991 to commemorate the incident where two gay male students were harassed in their residence hall, Shutt wrote. Shutt wrote that initially dissatisfied reactions with Emory’s response to the incident led to several hundred Emory students and employees marching in protest in March of 1992.
8. The Varsity News, March 3, 2010
4001 W. McNichols Road, Detroit, MI, 48221-3038
UDM alliance brings together straight and gay students
By Alice Arutoff
The Gay Straight Alliance has risen and fallen and risen again repeatedly over its ten years at the University of Detroit Mercy.
As of December, the group is back in action after a period of inactivity.
The lapse was a result of several of the group's leaders leaving UDM to study abroad last year. Back then the GSA floundered, but recently a few students have decided to reestablish the student organization.
This "has been a group effort from all of the participating members," said Dustin Jackson, the new president. "I was in contact with Nick Piotrowski, the last president, to see how I went about starting it back up and since then he's been a major player in trying to reestablish the GSA, as well as Brienna Thorndyke, Mike Pidgeon, Scott Courter and many others."
The group's first event was Milk and Cookies Night.
GSA showed the movie "Milk," based on the career and assassination of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist and the first openly gay man to be elected to political office in the United States.
The event drew about 20 people, who stayed for the movie and to drink milk and munch on cookies that the GSA provided. It was pronounced a success.
The alliance meets every other Tuesday on the third floor of the library. At the meeting on Feb. 23, members discussed upcoming events for both on-campus and in the community.
A meet-and-greet with GSA groups from U of M Dearborn and the College of Creative Studies is in the works for March 20 at Northern Lights in downtown Detroit.
The group is also participating in Phi Alpha Delta's spaghetti dinner on March 30, an event that will benefit Covenant House.
Other ideas that the group is tossing around include arranging a bake sale, another movie night and a bowling night and attending Five15's "Drag Queen Bingo" in Royal Oak.
The organization aims to provide a welcoming social atmosphere for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and questioning individuals, as well as straight allies.
Although Catholicism and LGBT lifestyles often do not coexist peacefully, the GSA has enjoyed ample support from UDM faculty, according to its officers.
"All of the faculty have been really welcoming and supportive of the group," Jackson said. "In fact one of our regular members is a university ministry faculty member."
Outgoing university President Gerard L. Stockhausen has also been supportive, and group leaders hope that the new president will be just as accommodating.
"Existing in a Jesuit university has never presented a problem for the organization in the past or present," said Piotrowski. "However, that is only due to the supportive administration here at UDM. Other Jesuit universities are not that lucky."
9. MLive.com/The Saginaw News, March 4, 2010
203 S. Washington Avenue, Saginaw, MI 48607
SVSU students to tackle lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender issues
By Justin L. Engel
Nine Saginaw Valley State University students plan to spend spring break raising cultural awareness in Columbus, Ohio, school officials say.
The group leaves Friday and returns Friday, March 12.
Students will team with Equality Ohio — a nonprofit organization advocating fair treatment and equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals — to organize education and outreach efforts in Ohio and across the nation.
The trip is part of SVSU's Alternative Breaks program, a drug- and alcohol-free student-led organization that sends service groups on national and international outings during winter and spring breaks.
10. Windy City Media Group, March 3, 2010
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113
LGBT college confab covers politics, media
By Blair Mishleau
Snow fell gently on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, Wis., as college students dashed from their hotel to a nearby restaurant or to attend a workshop.
They were meeting for the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender and Ally College Conference ( MBLGTACC ) 2010. The conference, which ran Feb. 19-21, is the oldest Midwest college conference, according to organizers.
Conference attendees were easy to spot, as many were wearing the purple T-shirts given out at registration and even more were lugging the neon orange tote bags that carried their program books and other paperwork.
It took place near the Madison Capitol, at the Monona Terrace Conference Center. Students from every Midwestern state as well as a few states out of the area, such as Florida, attended to attend workshops, network and shape the gay movement that they will inevitably someday control.
Activities began with an opening session Feb. 19 featuring keynote speaker Loren Cameron, who has been taking pictures of those in the transgender movement for over a decade, beginning with a photographic documentation of his transition.
Workshops began Feb. 20 and were as diverse as the crowd attending, including staples such as bisexuality and retention for student groups, as well as distinctive workshops such as "Media Marginality: TV's Effects on LGBT Student Self-Perception."
"MBLGTACC provided an insight into how other campuses run their GSA's and makes it possible for us to collaborate our ideas," said Taralee Morgan, president of Augustana College's gay-straight alliance, PRISM. "Being able to hear what has worked and what hasn't for other GSA's has helped me to feel more confident in going ahead with the next term for PRISM."
In the first workshop block, bright and early at 8 a.m., Natalie Klueg chronicled the history of how media portrays the LGBT population with an presentation entitled "The Big Bad Bisexual Woman." The workshop ended with how bisexuals have been unfairly portrayed in the media, mentioning examples such as the MTV show True Life.
The audience smiled or laughed constantly during the forum. At one point, Klueg compared the portrayal of lesbians to "hulking vampires, except they don't sparkle," referring to the Twilight saga.
After a short break, the second set of workshops began, one of them featuring a panel of Northwestern University staff talking about allies and the importance of educating them.
Another highlight of the day was the media workshop "Media Marginality: TV's Effects on LGBT Student Self-Perception." Audience members faced an intensive session: They watched a clip from Family Guy. In an episode of the popular animated series, a character is injected with the "gay gene" and becomes every gay stereotype imaginable. The audience had to analyze this clip to judge how much harm and good it did, evoking an interesting conversation between those who found it appropriate and those who did not.
"Media has become a super-peer in the last generation. TV influences us a lot more than it has in the past," said Joshua Johnson, one of the presenters.
Another session, "For Hearing People Only," chronicled common misconceptions of deaf people that hearing people have, and reminded the LGBT community how to be all-inclusive.
The weekend wrapped up with Kate Bornstein. She wrote the suicide-alternative book 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws.
Bornstein gave a unique presentation centered around the fact that people can do anything they need to do to stay alive. "Just don't be mean," said Bornstein. She mentioned that sometimes things like anorexia or cutting are alternatives to suicide, but cautioned that they are extremely dangerous and only temporary.
As the conference ended, Bornstein had ushers at the doors hand out "Get Out of Hell Free" cards that stated, "Do whatever you need or want to do in order to make life worth living. Love who and how you want to love. Just don't be mean. Should you get sent to Hell for doing something that isn't mean to someone, I'll do your time in Hell for you. Kiss kiss —Kate."
The University of Michigan will host MBLGTACC 2011 on Feb. 24-27.
11. ESPN.com Big Ten Blog, March 4, 2010
ESPN Plaza, Bristol, CT 06010
OSU's Tressel talks acceptance with GLBT publication
By Adam Rittenberg
Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel isn't the type to constantly seek out video cameras and tape recorders, even in a media environment where the loudest college football coaches (cough, Lane Kiffin, cough) often get the most attention, regardless of their win-loss total. He gets bombarded with requests from media outlets and interest groups, and responds to those that he can.
It was interesting to see the interview Tressel recently gave to Outlook Columbus, which bills itself as "a lifestyle and advocacy publication" that serves Ohio's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community (GLBT). Outlook Columbus's March 2010 issue is entitled "Queers & Sports," and features interviews with both Tressel and Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith, among others.
Here's the issue: Tressel's interview can be found on Page 32, while Smith's appears on Page 22.
According to OutSports.com, a national publication that serves the gay sports community, Tressel is believed to be the first major FBS head coach to conduct an interview with a GLBT publication about gay issues. Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh spoke to the gay-activist organization GLAAD in December after being accused of yelling an anti-gay slur during a game.
Among the questions Tressel addresses in the Outlook Columbus interview: If an Ohio State football player came out as gay, what advice would Tressel provide and would the team, fans and university be supportive?
“We strive to teach and model appreciation for everyone. One, we are a family. If you haven’t learned from your family at home that people have differences and those strengthen the whole, then you are hopefully going to learn it as part of the Ohio State football family.
"Two, every part of our team is important and every role has value -- no job is too small and no person is irrelevant -- that’s a great lesson that transcends into society. When I think of the diversity we’ve had on our team the past few years, it goes way beyond just a racial, sexual or ethnic mix. We've had players who had different religions, players who came from different economic backgrounds, players who are parents, who are spouses, who are caring for ailing parents, who are wheelchair bound, who are battling cancer, and on and on. Whatever a young man feels called to express, I hope we will help him do it in a supportive environment. Everybody is important, and maturity is learning to find and appreciate those differences in others."
Tressel also addressed why so few gay college athletes declare their sexual orientation openly.
"What we have, quite often, with our athletes, and with a number of young people in any sport, is that from the time they were 6 or 7 years old, their identity has been through sports. You’re the tallest, you’re the fastest, you’re the best player. All their feedback has come in terms of their role as a player, and they are often hesitant to go beyond that narrow role. ... The greatest achievement we can have as coaches is that a young man leaves us with a concept of who he is, what he wants from life, and what he can share with others -- someone who is 'comfortable in his own skin,' and that identity can go in a number of directions."
Michael Daniels, the co-owner and co-publisher of Outlook Columbus, conducted the interview with Tressel through e-mail while the coach was recruiting. Outlook Columbus has a strong relationship with Ohio State and its GLBT alumni group, Scarlet and Gay, and it recently had Smith speak at a networking function.
As part of the sports issue, Daniels reached out to several figures in the Columbus sports community and was put in touch with Tressel through Smith's office.
"I'm really proud of him of being the first Division I coach to do a one-on-one with the gay press and actually address those questions without really flinching too much," Daniels told me. "People look at him and they say, 'He is a little buttoned-up.' If you read his book, 'The Winners Manual,' he's obviously a very spiritual man. People think he's somewhat conservative. But I think that him doing this interview and the answers to these questions showed how much of a class act the guy really is."
Kudos to Tressel for doing this and addressing a subject that is still very taboo in college football. Most fans want their coaches to focus strictly on X's and O's, but Tressel's influence in Ohio stretches far beyond the gridiron. His voice matters, and his message of acceptance comes through here.
12. The Joplin Globe, March 4, 2010
P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802
MSSU students continue protest for policy change (w/ protest slide show)
By Greg Grisolano
Members of a student group pushing for specific policy protection for gays and lesbians at Missouri Southern State University said Thursday that they will continue to protest at the central administration building until the nondiscrimination policy includes reference to sexual orientation.
“People in the administration are flat-out denying the problem of discrimination exists,” said Ruth Eichinger, a sophomore in biochemistry and president of MSSU’s Equality Alliance. “We want a clear response from (MSSU President Bruce Speck) and the Board of Governors that they will address these issues.”
What began last week as a sit-in with about 20 students became a rally Thursday with nearly 60 people, including community members, faculty members, alumni and a delegation from Pittsburg (Kan.) State University’s Gay-Straight Alliance.
Megan Henry, a former MSSU student, returned to the campus to show her support for the change.
“I’m not here as a student; I’m here as a lesbian,” she said. “What’s great is that this many people think these issues need to be addressed — if not for them then for someone they love.”
The 22-year-old from Joplin said she took the year off from school for financial reasons. She said she had encountered name-calling and other verbal abuse on a regular basis. She said adding formal protection for sexual orientation would provide gay and lesbian students with an additional measure of security.
“I haven’t had a confrontation of such magnitude that I’d place a formal complaint,” Henry said. “But really what are they going to do (under the current policy)? I think adding this to the nondiscrimination policy would make it more inviting to know that we’d be taken care of.”
Students continue to stage protests demanding that the university’s nondiscrimination policy include language that would protect gay students and faculty members after a member of the Board of Governors used an anti-gay slur during a Feb. 20 board retreat while talking about the university’s lion mascot logo.
The board member, David Ansley, apologized for the remark several times and later resigned.
The university’s faculty senate earlier this week unanimously approved a proposal calling for expressly protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in the school’s hiring policies. That proposal also was sparked by Ansley’s remark.
Eichinger, with the Equality Alliance, told the crowd Thursday that the sit-ins will become a regular event each Thursday until the university’s nondiscrimination policy is changed to provide specific references to sexual orientation.
“We hope to increase our numbers and make allies visible on campus,” she said.
Rod Anderson, president of the Board of Governors, said he expects the board to discuss policy issues at its regular meeting March 19.
“We’ve got some board members who are concerned as well as I am, and we’re going to look at it and see what we need to do,” he said. “This is in no way a reaction as far as to what’s going on. I appreciate their commitment to the issue, but we’re going to address it in a studious manner and do what’s best for the university.”
Speck, the university president, did not return a message left on his cell phone Thursday. He has repeatedly said he believes the current policy is adequate, in that it complies with all state and federal laws.
During a Feb. 26 interview, Speck told the Globe that administrators have never been presented with any specific complaints of discrimination against gay or lesbian students.
Speck said no one “has availed themselves of those channels” that the university provides for dealing with complaints.
Several Missouri schools — including the University of Missouri at Columbia and Missouri State University in Springfield — have sexual orientation included as a protected class in their policies. Pittsburg State University also extends protection to gays and lesbians.
The current policy states that Missouri Southern “does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, creed, color, national origin, disability, or age in its educational programs or activities.”
13. The Phoenix, March 6, 2010
225 Bridge St., Phoenixville, PA 19460
Equality Ride begins at VFCC
By Amy Strauss
Soulforce, a Texas-based lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) rights organization, began their Equality Ride Tour yesterday, with their first stop in Phoenixville.
Although denied access to Valley Forge Christian College's (VFCC) campus, the organization set up shop on its brims, at Charlestown Park.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Soulforce challenged the beliefs of the local campus, "guided by the spirit of truth and empowered by the principles of relentless nonviolent resistance." Soulforce's Media Director Jess Kalup stated that the youthful alliance wishes for everyone that may be oppressed for being LGBTQ to seek freedom from any religious or political strains.
By traveling throughout the country, Soulforce strives to urgently empower people to "be the change they seek."
Kalup, a resident of Philadelphia, suggested the organization make a
detour toward VFCC because of the response that their group had received from its students.
"We received emails from some members of the campus stating that they would love to come join us, yet they would be expelled if they did," said the director. "We encourage them to educate themselves and embrace a place that has a welcoming environment."
An enrolled student of VFCC, who wishes to not be identified, informed The Phoenix that the student body was instructed by the administration not to "interact, talk or approach anyone regarding [Soulforce], however, the individual felt "it is important for the community to know about this event."
"I speak for a large group of students when I say, 'we're tired of the shadiness and the secrecy with anything that contradicts the administrations point of views," he stated.
"Valley Forge is not a bad place, but when the freedom to express ones self is constricted to the opinion of the administration, the beauty of individuality is nonexistent. I know that there are many students who desire to speak with Soulforce, sadly no one is willing to risk their enrollment at VFCC to learn about the cause and purpose of Soulforce," the student concluded.
However, as VFCC's President Dr. Don Meyer suggests, his campus is "open to consider challenging ideas, it is not an open campus. The college provides ample opportunity for our students," he reported, "to engage in open dialogue from numerous perspectives regarding homosexuality and a myriad of other important topics."
Meyer also suggested that "because the group's goals are incompatible with the mission of the college, a campus visit was not considered to be beneficial to the institution."
"Although we understand that homosexuality is a complex social, political and religious issue," he continues, "we believed that the Bible clearly teaches that some behaviors are sinful and therefore, are avoided in our pursuit of God."
In response to Soulforce being present on the boundary of the local campus, VFCC followed what they thought would be necessary safety precautions by having campus security and state police secured around their perimeters.
Additionally, on Thurs., March 4, Soulforce held a candlelight vigil on the front perimeter of VFCC. Soulforce member Caitlin MacIntyre revealed that several students emailed Soulforce afterward and said that they had viewed the demonstration from afar and although they were not allowed to partake, they were able to embrace the display by listening to the organization sing of equality.
"We want them [the students] to know that we love them for who they are just as God loves them, too," said MacIntyre.
In addition to Soulforce, the organization Silent Witness was also present, which is a group with similar beliefs. Repent America, Christian evangelistic group based in Philadelphia, was also active in the protest, however with contrasting beliefs. None of the previously mentioned organizations are affiliated with VFCC.
For more information on Soulforce, visit them on the Web at www.soulforce.org.
14. The Day, March 5, 2010
47 Eugene O'Neill Drive, P.O. Box 1231, New London, CT 06320-1231
Lieberman sees ROTC benefiting from repeal of military ban on gays
By Jennifer Grogan
Others unsure schools would welcome units over change in policy
Capable people are not signing up for military service because of the "don't ask, don't tell" law and the refusal of some colleges to allow Reserve Officers' Training Corps units on campus, according to U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman.
In a bill he introduced Wednesday to allow openly gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals to serve in the Armed Forces, Lieberman included a provision that requires a report to Congress on whether the defense secretary is enforcing the law that denies federal funds to colleges that block the establishment of ROTC units.
Lieberman attributes the colleges' refusal to allow the units to the fact that "don't ask, don't tell" is contrary to their nondiscrimination policies.
"'Don't ask, don't tell' diminishes the military's readiness because it limits the pool of Americans that might be thinking about enlisting in our military," Lieberman, D-Conn., said in a press conference call Thursday. "If ROTC can't recruit on campus, we do not have the opportunity to get other kinds of people on campus into the military… They tie together."
Many schools, including Yale University, initially told ROTC units to leave campus around 1970, amid the growing unrest over the Vietnam War. "Don't ask, don't tell" later became one of the reasons the colleges kept the units off campus.
Yale took issue with granting academic credit for military courses, responsibility for costs and the right of students to withdraw from ROTC without penalty. ROTC has also been unpopular with the student body.
"Yale has been fairly hostile to ROTC," said Amalia Skilton, coordinator of the university's LGBT political action group, Fierce Advocates. "That is the history, and repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' would not cause ROTC to be welcomed back to campus. There would still be opposition."
Some students, she said, "have misgivings about American foreign policy and would not want an instrument of that policy on campus," while others are anti-military or anti-establishment.
Kathleen Sullivan, a Stanford University spokeswoman, called it a "complicated issue," with the "don't ask, don't tell" law still remaining "a factor" in the university's decision not to offer an ROTC program.
ROTC was phased out at Stanford in the early 1970s, but the university gave another university permission to hold Army ROTC classes on its campus in 1997. It was a controversial decision, with faculty and students raising the discrimination issue, Sullivan said.
Thursday afternoon, in anticipation of the law's repeal, two professors, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and David Kennedy, made a presentation to the faculty senate, arguing that having an ROTC program at Stanford would be good for the students, the military and the country.
"For the foreseeable future, this country is going to have a military and it's a good idea that it be supplied by graduates of, not to be snobbish about it, our leading universities," Kennedy said, adding that "don't ask, don't tell" has been a "sticking point" in discussions about bringing ROTC back to Stanford.
The faculty voted to form a committee to study the issue.
Lieberman wants ROTC units established at "elite colleges," like Yale and Stanford. Federal law allows the denial of federal funds for barring an ROTC unit on campus.
Yale students can sign up for ROTC, which is why the school has not lost federal funding, but they have to travel to the unit at the University of Connecticut for training. Other universities set up similar arrangements to avoid losing federal funding. Brown University students go to the ROTC program at Providence College.
Harvard University students have participated in ROTC since the early 1970s through the regional program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with students from other area colleges and universities.
"There are not currently any plans to modify the arrangement," said John Longbrake, a university spokesman, who added that the university will "of course follow any federal policy changes with interest."
Thomas Conroy, a Yale spokesman, said the university is "proud and supportive of our students who choose ROTC," but for many years "the number of interested students has fallen short of what it would take to support a unit."
The military will be a more attractive option to more Yale students once the law is repealed, Conroy said, especially if the Armed Forces place a unit "nearer to Yale's campus."
Fierce Advocates, the LGBT political action group, lobbied Lieberman to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." Skilton said the group is still researching how the bill, including the ROTC provision, would affect the transgender community.
Lieberman plans to offer the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" as an amendment when the Senate Armed Services Committee discusses the defense authorization bill in May. He said it could go to the Senate floor in July or September, depending on the schedule for other votes.
"People favor repeal, attitudes are changing in the military and support is growing here in Congress," he said. "If the repeal bill came to a vote on the floor of the Senate tomorrow, we would probably get over 50 people voting to repeal. But I'm confident, unfortunately, that we would not get 60. That's our challenge and that's what we'll go to work on."
15. The DePauw, March 2, 2010
609 S. Locust St, Greencastle, IN 46135
By Sam Weigley
The absence of protestors from the Westboro Baptist Church did not stop hundreds of students, staff and community members from crowding into the Julian atrium Saturday night to counter the church's anti-homosexual agenda.
The church, located in Topeka, Kan., had mentioned on its Web site that it intended to picket the university's production of "The Laramie Project." The play is based on the murder of homosexual college student Matthew Shepard, and the Westboro Baptist Church frequently travels across the country to engage in "peaceful sidewalk demonstrations opposing the homosexual lifestyle of soul-damning, nation-destroying filth."
With the church's anticipated arrival, seniors Caitlin Neal and Brandon Monson organized a counter-protest called "Love Rally for DePauw." During the event, many students held posters or wore pins expressing tolerance for homosexuality, which were available from tables setup throughout the atrium.
"I was incredibly happy with the turnout," Neal said. "In fact, I feel like we got the best of both worlds. The threat of [the church] arriving brought us together, but the fact that the group did not show up really allowed the event to be focused on us."
The rally featured several speakers from the university staff as well as from the community who spoke out against the values of the Westboro Baptist Church. P. T. Wilson, senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, said the high turnout for the event really says a lot about the students at the University.
"It speaks highly of this campus, and speaks highly about the values we share," Wilson said.
Adam Cohen, interim director of spiritual life, told those in attendance Westboro Baptist Church does not represent mainstream Christianity.
"They do not speak for Christians," Cohen said. "Frankly, they do not even speak for fundamentalist Christians."
After the rally, many attendees walked together from the auditorium to the Green Center for Performing Arts, for a performance of "The Laramie Project." Students walked in silence along the pathway lined with luminaries in honor of Matthew Shepard to protest bigotry against homosexuals.
Sophomore Sajel Tremblay, an intern at the Compton Center for Peace and Justice, came to the rally to support some of her co-workers who helped facilitate the event.
"I was touched by the sincerity of the speakers," Tremblay said. "I was also really happy to see such a big turnout for something that was only organized within the last three days."
Angie Nally, director of Public Safety, said that the chances of the Westboro Baptist Church showing up were small because it did not give local law enforcement any notification of its intentions to appear on campus like it typically does. Still, Nally's department took necessary precautions, just in case church members did arrive.
"Although we were about 30 percent sure that the Westboro Baptist Church was going to show up, our office was 100 percent prepared," Nally said. "We always have to be prepared for problems to occur and to have a plan to keep everything under control."
Safety concerns aside, Nally said could not have been more pleased with the event.
"It was really a highlight to watch the rally walk across the street," she said. "Overall, it was great to see the community come together."
16. The Snapper (Millersville University), March 4, 2010
SMC Room 18, Millersville University, Millersville, PA 17551
Lecture examines school environment for LBGT educators and what factors encourage outness
By Danielle Moxley
Tiffany E. Wright, recipient of the Phi Delta Kappan International Distinguished Dissertation Award and Career Academy Principal at York County School of Technology, presented her graduate research completed at John’s Hopkins University, February 22, supporting that school environments which foster personal and job safety, regardless of sexual orientation, led to teachers being open about their sexuality.
Her lecture, “Leadership for Safe and Inclusive Schools: An Examination of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Educators’ Perceptions of School Climate” was sponsored by the Department of Educational Foundations and the Leadership for Teaching and Learning M.Ed. program and MU Allies.
Completing her undergrad at Gettysburg College and her master’s degree at Millersville University, Wright admitted her own struggle in navigating the school system, as an undergrad, saying that during student observations and student teaching, she did not want to “out” herself as a lesbian to the teacher evaluating her.
Valuing relationships with teachers and students in her profession she said, “Before I encountered the program here at Millersville, I didn’t know of any school leaders that cared about relationships.”
Considering struggles of LGBT educators, Wright looked at literature on school safety, history of homophobia, in developing her dissertation.
According to Wright, historically the perspective of hiring teachers within schools has reflected traditional gender roles in heterosexual marriage, and part of the McCarthy Era involved making sure that there were no homosexual teachers influencing students.
Today only 16 states provide protection for LGBT teachers, preventing them from being fired for their sexual orientation.
“It’s the collapse of the political and the personal. Everything I do because I am gay becomes political,” Justin Gilmore, who is Vice president of External affairs for MU Allies, a gender and sexuality alliance, said.
Wright also referenced research which shows that teachers, who feel safe, have a higher sense of self-adequacy, are more willing to have good attendance and stay after school, all these things lead to more student achievement.
Inspired by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Educational Network, which publishes a report on school climate based on their biannual survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender students, Wright used Survey Monkey software to study teachers from across the country who defined themselves as LGBT, or other non-traditional sexual definitions.
Following a pilot study, the URL for a national survey was sent to various academic, religious, and other organizations,and fliers were posted at pride festivals. Although 514 participants were surveyed, not all of them finished the 171 question survey, leaving some margin for error in the demographics.
Wright broke up the data into regions and considered variables of age, school type, GSA involvement, and number of absences from work and by dissecting five domains including, how people experience homophobia in schools, principal support, policies in place, feelings of safety, and “outness.”
Using a factor analysis to determine the validity of these domains, the policy and safety domains were further divided into two factors, including policies of human rights, such as health care for life partners, and policies upholding non-abusive language, and job safety, and personal safety. Wright set out to prove a model for her dissertation that all the factors would predict safety, and would lead to outness.
One conclusion made was that age matters to LGBT educators’ perception of principal support. Noting the changing culture, Wright said teachers 43-50 years of age had a tougher role in the past. Teachers in this range were found to be more cautious about revealing their sexual orientation, as were young teachers just beginning their career.
Also, regional teachers of the Southern and Midwestern states felt less safe, and fewer policies were in place to protect them from bullying language.
According to Wright, the fact that teachers in kindergarten through fourth grade schools felt the least amount of job safety goes back to fear of homosexuals being perceived as pedophiles.
Although her data did not provide a full predictive path of personal support and policies of bulling language supported personal safety, while policies of human rights predicted job safety, job safety and personal safety did predict outness.
Gilmore, who is a history education major, believes finding a school that fosters outness is a necessity. He said, “I’m going to have to find a school district that does enable me to be an activist and be able to speak for students who feel discriminated against.”
17. The Daily Pennsylvanian (UPenn), March 2, 2010
4015 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104
Editorial: A welcome out-reach - We support sending letters to LGBT students, though the Admissions Office needs to be cautious
By Opinion Board
Applying to college is stressful for many high-school students. Determining where to enroll once accepted can be equally as daunting.
Students often want to attend a school where they feel like part of a community — especially if they are members of a minority group. By partnering with the Lambda Alliance to reach out to self-identifying lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students who have gotten into Penn, the Admissions Office is taking a positive step toward making the University more welcoming for them.
Penn’s campus has one of the highest-rated LGBT communities in the nation, and the school has a wide array of resources for these students. While the LGBT Center already does its own outreach and some prospective students seek out this information on their own, others may not be aware of all that Penn has to offer. Letters sent out through the Admissions Office will help market the University’s LGBT resources to a greater number of people in a more official manner.
While we think the outreach will be beneficial, it is necessary for the Admissions Office to take a cautious approach when determining who will receive the letters. Many LGBT students are not fully out of the closet or may not want to make a big deal about their sexual orientation. It appears the Admissions Office only plans to reach out to students who are active in LGBT programs or write about being out in their essays — guidelines that seem promising. Sexual orientation can be a sensitive issue, and some extra care is key.
18. The Daily Pennsylvanian (UPenn), March 3, 2010
4015 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104
Penn hosts famous philosopher Judith Butler
By Kimberly Eisler
More than 400 people trekked from near and far and packed the spacious Hall of Flags to hear the Philomathean Society’s Annual Oration given by preeminent philosopher, Judith Butler.
Butler’s intellectual activities span many disciplines, including feminism, queer theory, political philosophy and ethics. The extent of her audience attested to the diversity of her work and the celebrity status she holds among scholars within and beyond her field.
As the Oration began, the room fell silent immediately. Penn senior and Philo’s Second Consul Aro Velmet welcomed everyone to the event and introduced Heather Love, professor of gender studies and English at Penn. Velmet and Philo were responsible for selecting Judith Butler for the Oration.
“Core to any intellectual activity is stirring up trouble,” Velmet said.
Love gave Butler her formal introduction. “[The Oration] was a singular opportunity to hear her speak and see how her early work transformed and continues to inform the work she’s doing now,” Love said. “Thinking through her work has helped me think at all.”
The Oration was titled “From Performativity to Precarity” and emphasized how people can re-imagine the enabling conditions of contemporary life. Butler related gender performance to mortality and explained how negotiations of power determine whose lives are livable and whose lives are unlivable. She articulated the ways in which disobedience to gender norms can result in a threatening condition, including a decreased quality of life or a literal end of life.
There is “a struggle for modes of life in which performativity fights against precarity. We struggle for new modes of existence on the critical edge of what is recognizable,” Butler said.
Butler spoke about the social conditions that act on the formation of desire and the ways in which individuals are effected by these conditions.
Julia Bloch, a Penn graduate student in English, said Butler is a “very important figure in my research and thoughts about literature and gender. Her work has helped me think about subjectivity and how literature is political.”
Wendy Hyatt, a Philadelphia artist whose recent work includes gender-neutral remakes of the Golden Girls with the all-female parts played by men, also attended the oration.
“Judith Butler is making it easier for my work to live in the world, but there’s still a long way to go,” Hyatt said.
19. Highlander (University of California, Riverside), March 2, 2010
101 Highlander Union Building, University of California, Riverside, CA, 92507
Anti-gay hate crime reported
By Sara Truitt
UCPD sent an e-mail to the student body regarding a possible hate crime committed near campus.
The crime took place at 5:00 p.m. near the intersection of University Ave. and Chicago Ave.
According to the report, two UCR students were walking near the intersection when they noticed three people following them. The three people began making anti-gay comments, and assaulted the two students as they tried to leave the area.
The students were taken to the hospital for treatment of their injuries. The suspects, described as two black males and one light-skinned mixed race male, have not been apprehended.
Also included was a reminder "to be aware of their surroundings when on and off campus and immediately report hate crimes and hate incidents."
"Please note that a hate crime is any criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim: Disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics," also noted UCPD.
There are resources available on campus for victims of hate crimes. A Hate/Bias incident report form can be filled out online at www.stophate.ucr.edu or at the UCPD headquarters located on the corner of Canyon Crest and Linden.
20. Associated Press, March 7, 2010
Associated Press Headquarters, 450 W. 33rd St., New York, NY 10001
Bias incidents roil University of California
By Christina Hoag
LOS ANGELES — Swastikas, nooses, a KKK hood, graffiti, epithets and jeers.
An ugly spate of bias incidents has crossed several University of California campuses over the past month, causing consternation, outcry and fear that bigotry is alive among the young and educated.
Students have protested and administrators have condemned, but the question remains of what lies behind the sudden parade of prejudice — a growing climate of insensitivity on campuses or a bunch of immature kids yearning for peer acceptance and attention.
"My guess is some of all of those things," said interim UC Provost Lawrence H. Pitts. "I'd like to believe it's really an extreme minority. It does suggest there's some underlying feeling of intolerance in our community."
The incidents have roiled several campuses in the 175,000-student state university system, which is one of the nation's most respected and diverse.
At UC San Diego, black students were offended by an off-campus "Compton Cookout" party that mocked ghetto stereotypes, a noose and KKK-style hood found on campus and a student making racially derogatory remarks on a student-run TV station.
At UC Davis, swastikas cropped up and the gay and lesbian center was vandalized with graffiti. At UC Santa Cruz, a picture of a noose was scrawled. On the Irvine campus, the Israeli ambassador was heckled to the extent that he was forced to end a speech early.
The acts were particularly shocking because they occurred on university campuses — usually considered centers of intellectual enlightenment above acts commonly associated with ignorance.
But experts note that universities are microcosms of society at large, and that includes hatemongers. Upticks in hate crimes are often seen in times of economic malaise as people seek scapegoats, noted Jack Levin, a Northeastern University sociologist who has studied hate.
Still, surveys show that prejudice among today's young people is at a low and interracial and interethnic marriages are at an all-time high, said Tom Smith, director of the general social survey at the National Opinion Research Center. Studies have also long found that education increases tolerance of different groups, he added.
"College students, as a group, are quite liberal on this issue," Smith said.
Minority students said that's why they're galled that fellow students today would even think that something like hanging a noose in a library is funny or acceptable. The school paper later published a letter of apology from a female student who wrote that she had only been playing with a rope, accidentally left in the library and did not mean to offend.
"Part of the problem is that people don't realize it's insensitive," said Joelle Gamble, a student at the University of California, Los Angeles. "They see it as free speech."
Free speech is a buzzword on college campuses, which tend to be regarded as "marketplaces of ideas" where students are encouraged to express opinions freely, said Brian Levin, director of Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
But sometimes opinions can cross into offensiveness.
In 2007, a UCLA fraternity member sent out invitations to a Mexican-themed "Fiesta Friday" party. But administrators received complaints that the event appeared to stereotype Mexican-Americans and the party was quickly canceled, said Eamon Reilly, a member of the fraternity's board of directors at the time.
"It's a very fine line between what is insensitive and what is sensitive," Reilly said. "A lot of people have a hard time drawing that line."
At UC Irvine, pro-Palestinian students saw the jeering of the Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren as a political statement, but administrators saw it as intolerance, albeit of a political viewpoint. Eleven students were arrested.
"This is a place where we would like to expose students to a wide a spectrum of the world as we can construct," Provost Pitts said. "We have a very broad curve of human belief here. It's a huge place. So it's hurtful that this comes up."
Experts point out that some racist incidents are likely sophomoric pranks as students cross the bridge from adolescence to adulthood.
Although students are expected to behave as adults, some still possess a teenager's impulsiveness and desire to impress peers which can lead to boorish behavior. Then there are the copycats who enjoy the ensuing uproar and media attention. "It's the jackass phenomenon," Cal State's Levin said. "Most are not hard-core bigots, but some are."
Levin and others note that bias incidents occur on campuses all over the country, and college hate crimes are likely vastly underreported.
UC Davis psychologist Gregory Herek said gay and lesbian students tell him they are regularly harassed. "The truth is there are many acts of intolerance," he said. "This is a day-to-day experience."
Whatever lies behind the bias incidents, university officials are stepping up efforts to make underrepresented groups feel more included on campus. UC San Diego, for one, is working with the Black Student Union to establish diversity curriculum requirements and recruit more minority students and faculty.
On Friday, UC President Mark Yudoff appointed a special adviser to assist UC San Diego on tolerance issues.
Pitts said chancellors will be evaluated on increases of student-body diversity. "This is a reminder," he said, "this is a battle that's never won."
21. The University of Virgina Queer & Allied Activism, March 5, 2010
Newcomb Hall, PO Box 400715, SAC Box 527, Charlottesville, VA 22903
Dear Mr. Cuccinelli and Mr. McDonnell
By Jenna Krotke, Seth Kaye, and Alex Tatum
On March 4th, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli declared that it is illegal for public universities in Virginia to include sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination policies and that all state universities must update their policies to make them “in accordance with the law.” (Letter to Virginia Colleges and Universities 3_4_10)
We are appalled by this statement. Such targeted and prejudiced actions follow closely on the heels of Governor Bob McDonnell’s recent decision on Feburary 5th to exclude sexual orientation in Executive Order 6 for state employment non-discrimination. Not only do these actions hurt Virginia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) population, but cost Virginia job opportunities with companies like Northrop Grumman, who have been debating about relocating their corporate headquarters to Virginia. Numerous people, including Maryland state senator Richard Madaleno Jr., have warned Northrop Grumman to study Virginia’s laws closely, particularly this recent decision by Governor McDonnell, before the LGBTQ-friendly company makes any decisions.
It is unbelievable that our “jobs governor” and his attorney general want state employees to be able to fired, or never hired to begin with, because of who they are. This move sets the tone for the state and universities and sends the message that LGBTQ individuals are not welcome in Virginia. This is a clear flip flop on his campaign promise not to promote a social agenda. As students, we need to be worrying about our class work, not contemplating how our daily lives are going to change or whether our jobs, or even our lives are safe because of the negative attitude our government holds.
If Bob McDonnell wants to make good on his promises that “his office does not discriminate against anyone,” he should be pushing the legislature to pass the employment non-discrimination bill, SB66, rather than instructing his attorney general to implement discrimination through our universities. If we are to accept his separation of powers argument (that the executive cannot change the protected classes, only the legislature), he should be making a good faith effort to make Virginia safer by leading our legislature, but instead he has moved to work against long standing protections for LGBTQ university students, faculty, and staff.
In a time when steps should be taken to bar discrimination in all forms, embrace diversity, and provide equal benefits for all people, we feel that the leadership in Virginia has taken a huge step backwards with these actions. These actions are being watched closely by those in Virginia and beyond. Such blatant targeting of a minority group has no place in Virginia – or anywhere. Virginia is already an unfriendly place for LGBTQ individuals, with McDonnell’s removal of sexual orientation protections with his executive order (reversing the order made by former governors Kaine and Warner) to the controversial Marshall-Newman Amendment, which defines marriage in the state of Virginia as being between a man and a woman. This act by Attorney General Cuccinelli makes Virginia an even more hostile place to live and work.
Sexual orientation and gender identity do not interfere with the ability to perform a job. In the workplace, people should be evaluated solely on how they perform their duties and should not have to worry about the unnecessary stress of whether or not they will be fired due to discriminatory and biased laws enacted by discriminatory and biased lawmakers. In a recent CNN poll, 69% of Americans support the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the US military’s policy banning LGBTQ soldiers from serving openly. In a time when support for LGBTQ rights and employment non-discrimination are at an all time high, Virginia is making a huge mistake by removing employment protections based on sexual orientation.
Furthermore, based on our own research of the top 50 schools ranked by US News & World Reports, 49 of 50 schools have non-discrimination protections for sexual orientation, and 38 have protections for gender identity. If our colleges and universities are to remain in the top tier to attract the best researchers and learners. We need to keep our competitive edge, and shrinking our non-discrimination policies is exactly the opposite direction we need to be moving. (Non Discrimination Policies Research)
What this all boils down to is respect. This is a human rights issue, and having the authorization to legally discriminate against someone should not be a allowed in any legal system or university. McDonnell should continue the legacy of our beloved founder, Mr. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and promote freedom from discrimination for all – we need to be inclusive of all Virginians, whether in Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Roanoke, Bristol, Fairfax, Norfolk, Richmond or any other city in Virginia.
Jenna Krotke, Co-Vice President of Queer Student Union and Secretary of Queer and Allied Activism
Seth Kaye, President of Queer and Allied Activism
Alex Tatum, President of Queer Student Union
University of Virginia
22. The Washington Post, March 7, 2010
1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071
Virginia colleges: Just say 'no' to Cuccinelli
By Valerie Strauss
Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the new attorney general of Virginia, had no actionable legal item that forced him to wade into the issue of sexual orientation on public college campuses.
But he was obviously itching to do it so badly that he sent Virginia's public colleges and universities a letter telling them they could no longer include gays and lesbians in anti-discriminatory employment policies. For schools that have such policies, his March 4 letter said, the language should be removed.
The proof of his “itchiness” is the clumsy way he started his letter to all presidents, rectors, and visitors (the term used for people who effectively serve as trustees of Virginia’s public colleges and universities):
Several inquiries recently have been made regarding the authority of public colleges and universities to approve inclusion of “sexual orientation,” gender identity,” “gender expression,” or like classifications in the non-discrimination policies of the respective institution.
He then explains that such language should be removed because the schools have, apparently, exceeded their legal rights in creating a protected class, something that Cuccinelli’s predecessors apparently, allowed to slip through their legal fingers.
How interesting that “several inquiries” took his time away from the things that his Web site says are his key issues:
Sex Offenders & Registry, Seniors/TRIAD, Family Internet Safety, Computer Crimes, Identity Theft, Domestic Violence, Class Action, Gangs, Methamphetamines, Victim Notification, Property Rights, Terrorism/Commonwealth Preparedness, Government & Regulatory Reform Task Force, Youth Internet Safety Task Force.
How unfortunate that Virginia’s attorney general wants to turn back the clock on civil rights for gays just at the time when the District of Columbia and Maryland are taking a step forward. The nation’s capital has just starting issuing marriage licenses for gay couples, and Maryland’s attorney general recently announced that his state will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
The only good news here is that after Cuccinelli’s letter was made public, the Virginia governor’s office felt the need to quickly respond to the criticism that began raining down. Tucker Martin, a spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, issued a statement suggesting that no action will be taken against schools that do not follow Cuccinelli’s advice, my colleage Rosalind Helderman reported.
Even if a real threat of action emerges, Virginia’s institutions of higher education have an obligation to themselves, and the country, to reject these efforts.
There are, of course, practical effects of telling gays and lesbians that they aren’t covered under anti-discriminatory policies. Try recruiting a gay professor after that. Alumni and supporters who find Cuccinelli’s effort abhorrent would likely send their contributions elsewhere.
But the main reason schools shouldn’t rescind policies that protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation is that it is just wrong.
Institutions of higher education are at their core places where America's most profound ideals--freedom of thought and speech and respect for the rights of individuals and their differences--should always be on display. That's what makes Cuccinelli's letter particularly obscene.
Virginia's schools should just say "no."
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