Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.04.04
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to firstname.lastname@example.org
1. The Michigan Daily - Michigan Student Assembly's first openly gay president sworn in
2. The Michigan Daily - Survey shows overwhelming student support for gender-neutral housing option
3. Inside Higher Ed - No 'Corpus Christi' at Tarleton State
4. The Eagle - A&M's gay community marks 25 years out, proud
5. The Guardian - The pride of universities
6. The Diamondback (University of Maryland) - Office of LGBT Equity lags in support compared to peers
7. The State News - MSU celebrates LGBT Awareness Week
8. San Francisco Chronicle - Transgender Latinas Organize at City College
9. The Ithaca Journal - LGBT film series at Ithaca College concludes with 'Keep Not Silent'
10. The A&T Register - Making campus safe
11. The New Mexico Independent - UNM’s Queer Resource Center approaches final hurdle
12. Yale Daily News - Schoenburg: A population the census does not count
13. NBC29.com - Gay Rights Forum Being Held At UVA
1. The Michigan Daily, March 30, 2009
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Michigan Student Assembly's first openly gay president sworn in
By Elyana Twiggs
“Work hard, be true, go blue,” said former Michigan Student Assembly President Abhishek Mahanti last night in the Assembly Chambers, before yielding his position leading campus's leading student governing body to LSA junior Chris Armstrong. Business School junior Jason Raymond, Armstrong’s running mate, was also sworn in as MSA vice president.
Elected in a landslide victory last Friday, LGBT Commission Chair Chris Armstrong of MForward is now the first openly gay MSA president — a fact he said he hopes will have large implications not only for the LGBT community on campus, but also for the greater University community.
Armstrong said he hopes that being gay and holding a position as assembly president will demonstrate that any University student can represent the “spirit of Michigan.”
In an interview with The Michigan Daily yesterday, Armstrong recalled how he did not expect to ever be elected MSA president, after hiding his identity throughout high school and staying out of the public eye. He admitted that he only came out to a few friends and his parents by the end of his senior year in high school.
Elected at the end of his freshman year to be a MSA representative, Armstrong said he was “impressed” by the other representatives and the atmosphere of the MSA Chambers, but never thought he was capable of holding such a leadership position as a gay man.
Over the past three months of campaigning and forming MForward, Armstrong said he became even more sure of himself that he was ready to fulfill the role as president, despite his sexual identity.
“I think that slowly over the course of the campaign that broke down,” he said. “It shows that MSA can do anything.”
After serving two years as chair of MSA’s LGBT Commission, Armstrong has made a name for himself within the community.
His work in bringing the Midwest LGBT Conference to campus next year came from his work with the Victory Fund — a national political action committee that trains LGBT leaders to hold political positions in the government and across the country. Victory Fund also helped Armstrong — who interned with the committee last summer — in his MSA campaign, he said.
Armstrong cited that Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh, another openly gay politician, also worked with Victory Fund. Armstrong said Pugh's political success inspired him and proved that he could lead a similar role.
Gabe Javier, Armstrong’s self-proclaimed mentor and assistant director at the University’s Spectrum Center, said Armstrong’s esteemed position as MSA president will have a large effect on the campus as a whole. He said Armstrong’s election win is a “proud moment” for the University and has important implications for the LGBT community to have such representation.
“I have high confidence that Chris is going to represent the interests of all students,” Javier said. “This is an important time for Michigan.”
Javier said Armstrong is a great role model for every student who is struggling to find his or her identity.
“It’s really great to have a role model like Chris out there who can show that it’s possible to be a student leader and be out and be successful as a gay person,” he said.
Javier said the University isn’t the first university in the Big Ten to have an openly gay student government president. In 2006, Ohio State University elected an openly gay student to serve as the school’s student government president.
Armstrong said his new position has been an amazing feat for the LGBT community.
“I think that personally, it’s a big accomplishment for the LGBT community on campus,” Armstrong said, adding that his willingness to express his identity motivated him to run in the election.
Armstrong said he wants to inspire students, especially freshmen, to have hope that they can hold a position of power despite their background or identity.
Armstrong said his identity would play a role in making MSA more “welcoming” to the entire student body.
“Regardless of what community you are from, you can become a student leader that is leading 40,000 students,” he said.
Javier echoed Armstrong’s comments, and said Armstrong’s role in MSA sets a new precedent for University students.
“Chris is a good example of someone whose identity is important, and only one important aspect of him,” Javier said. “I hope that it encourages other students to see themselves as student leaders and be out in all of their identities.”
Armstrong said that he hopes his position will make University administrators take MSA more seriously.
“I think that it will make MSA more legitimate in the eyes of the administration,” he said. “(Being elected as MSA president could) make administrators and even the regents and maybe the state legislators recognize MSA as a body that can really inspire hope within the student body at large.”
Armstrong said he hopes that if different bodies take MSA more seriously, MSA representatives will feel like their work in the assembly is worthwhile.
“In terms of the culture of MSA,” Armstrong said, “this will make the representatives feel that the projects they are taking on will have more leverage at the University.”
Armstrong said his identity wouldn't be the main focus of his presidency, though it is still a central part of his life. He said this is the reason his sexual orientation didn't come up a lot during the campaign.
“It defines what kind of leader I am, and it defines who I am, but that doesn’t mean that I only represent that community,” Armstrong said.
During the beginning of his campaign, Armstrong said he wanted to be president to shed more light on the “legitimacy” of the LGBT community, but toward the end, he realized he was campaigning to represent the entire student body — not only students who identified with him.
Armstrong said without the University, his identity would have never driven him to be the political activist he is today.
“The support structure — the sense of feeling that you’re a part of something — that has really guided me in each step and each year,” he said. “Without that support structure, I would never be in this position.”
The newly-elected president said his involvement with the Spectrum Center and the LGBT community makes his future in MSA even more “empowering.”
“It pushes me to want to do so much over the course of next year,” Armstrong said. “It encourages me to be the best I can be at this position.”
Armstrong said he wouldn't make his sexual orientation the focus of the assembly, but said that it could be significant to MSA and the student body at large.
“I won’t showcase it, but I think that it will always be important for individuals to remember that this did happen, and I was elected,” he said. “I think the implications can resonate and be very positive for U of M.”
As the first openly gay MSA president, Armstrong calls his newly-elected position “symbolic” for the assembly. He said he hopes more people will feel welcome to be themselves at the University.
He added that he encourages gay students to express their sexual orientation without fear of being discriminated against.
“Hopefully individuals will feel comfortable coming out at U of M and know that it’s a comfortable environment despite fears and inhibitions,” he said.
2. The Michigan Daily, April 1, 2010
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Survey shows overwhelming student support for gender-neutral housing option
By Chelsey Dambro
Results of a survey recently sent out to students to gauge their views on gender-neutral housing were released this week and show that a majority of students support the initiative.
The Gender Neutral Housing Coalition — a committee formed by student representatives of the Residence Hall Association, the Michigan Student Assembly and other campus organizations — sent out the survey to students living in University Housing on March 17. The survey ran for a week and ended on March 24.
Of the 9,545 students who received the survey, 19 percent responded. Out of the students that responded, 38 percent said they would select gender-neutral housing as an option. And while 67 percent responded that gender-neutral housing would be a welcome option for the University Housing community, 19 percent disagreed. Out of the 1,785 respondents, 91 percent said they identify as heterosexual.
The survey asked other questions like how likely students would be to return to University Housing if gender-neutral options were available. Of the students who responded, 34 percent said they would consider returning if the option was available, while 52 percent said they remained indifferent.
The survey also asked whether students would choose a same-gender roommate or a roommate of a different gender. The majority of students — 60 percent — said they would choose a same-gender roommate, while 15 percent said they would choose a roommate of a different gender.
Renagh O’Leary, chair of the University’s undergraduate chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union — which was involved in the push for gender-neutral housing — said the results of the survey match her expectations.
Gender-neutral housing advocates created the survey knowing that they would receive strong student support, she said.
“I am optimistic about making progress even before the school year ends to implement gender-neutral housing more fully,” she said.
Gender-neutral housing has been a much-discussed issue on campus this year, and was a focus of both the Michigan Student Assembly and LSA Student Government elections.
MSA President Chris Armstrong has been a vocal advocate of gender-neutral housing, which was a central push of his party MForward’s recent campaign.
Gender-neutral housing will be at the top of MSA’s agenda come fall, Armstrong said in an interview last night.
“The ball will be rolling within the administration and among students to work together to implement gender-neutral housing,” he said.
Armstrong said he thinks the best way to do this is to create a working group — made up of both administrators and students — within University Housing to discuss the best ways to bring gender-neutral options to residence halls.
In a similar attempt to quantify student support for a gender-neutral housing option, the topic was also a component of the LSA-SG ballot during last month’s elections. The question was put onto the ballot in an effort to reach out to a larger body of students who are no longer living in the residence halls.
On LSA-SG’s online ballot, students were asked to respond to whether they support gender-neutral housing in the residence halls. The ballot question stated that students would have the ability to choose gender-neutral housing as an option and if implemented, students would still be able to choose to live with students of the same gender.
The proposal also stated that students wouldn’t be placed with someone of a different gender if they choose to room blind.
LSA Freshman Katie McGillis — a resident of Alice Lloyd Residence Hall who took the survey — said that while she’s in favor of gender-neutral housing, she’s concerned about the Gender Neutral Housing Coalition's implications.
“I think that gender neutral housing is a good idea for students who don't feel comfortable rooming with someone of their same sex,” she said. “It should be an option for these students, but I don't think it should be mandatory in any dorm because I think that most people would not feel comfortable rooming with a person of the opposite sex.”
Kinesiology junior Kyle Feinauer said he didn’t take the survey and was indifferent to the idea of gender-neutral housing. He said that co-ed halls already exist, so having a gender-neutral hall wouldn’t change the environment of the residence halls for him.
Rackham graduate student Jessica Johnson said that at the university where she completed her undergraduate degree there were situations in which people felt uncomfortable living in same-sex arrangements.
She said that gender-neutral housing would be a great step, especially if it will keep the University from lagging behind other universities already implementing gender-neutral housing policies.
LSA sophomore Alex Edwards, a resident of East Quad Residence Hall, said he feels gender-neutral housing should be an option available to all students and is a matter of human rights.
“At a university that prides itself on creating a comfortable and welcoming environment for its students, not having a gender-neutral housing option is a huge injustice,” Edwards said. “Providing a gender-neutral housing option is a simple yet meaningful step in the struggle for equality on behalf of the transgendered community and University at large. “
Members of the Gender Neutral Housing Coalition will be meeting today to draw up a comprehensive resolution using the results of the survey, according to O’Leary.
3. Inside Higher Ed, March 29, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
No 'Corpus Christi' at Tarleton State
By Scott Jaschik
When the play Corpus Christi was revived in New York City in 2008, a review in The New York Times talked about how in the decade since the Terrence McNally play was first produced, the culture wars had subsided. "I didn’t even walk through a metal detector. Times have certainly changed," he wrote.
Of course the revival was in New York City, not in Stephenville, Texas, home of Tarleton State University, where the culture wars are very much alive, at least for this work, in which a Jesus-like character is portrayed as gay, and says that the Bible should not be used to oppose gay marriage or love. A student production of the play was to have taken place at Tarleton State Saturday but it was canceled by the university, citing security concerns.
The university issued a statement Friday night that said: "The four student-directed plays, including Corpus Christi, scheduled to be performed at Tarleton State University on Saturday, March 27, 2010, have been canceled this evening by the professor. The professor cited safety and security concerns for the students as well as the need to maintain an orderly academic environment as reasons for canceling the plays. The performance of these four class plays will not be rescheduled." A note from the university's press office said that no questions would be answered.
A drama professor at the university, Mark Holtorf, told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "We received so many threatening calls and e-mails today across campus, the numbers were staggering. One administrator received in excess of 800 e-mails.... Our department received calls of a threatening nature. I could not guarantee the safety of my students. The administration was truly behind the academic exercise, but I could not justify the safety risk."
A gay student selected the play and defended its message -- in which parts of the Jesus story are shown in modern-day Texas -- as showing universal ideas. But many local residents objected, and were joined by politicians. Originally, the president of Tarleton State, F. Dominic Dottavio, issued a strong defense of free expression, saying that the university "is committed to protecting and preserving the freedoms of thought, speech and expression."
But as the controversy grew, the university first announced that the play would be shown only early Saturday morning, with reporters and others not affiliated with the university barred from attending. Further, the president issued a new statement (prior to the cancellation) in which he stressed that the university had no legal option but to allow the play. "As a public university we are legally bound to allow the student production to go forward. We have had many conversations with the Office of General Counsel for the Texas A&M University System and they have made it clear to us that this is an unambiguous freedom of speech (First Amendment) issue," he wrote.
He also denounced the play. "As you might imagine, many people have shared with me quotes, excerpts and even video clips of the play. My personal reaction is that I see no artistic or redeeming quality in the work. I believe, as many have opined, that it is offensive, crude, and irreverent," he wrote. "It is my sense that there are significant numbers of faculty, staff and students at Tarleton who share my views of the play. "
Many faculty members did not respond to requests to discuss the situation. One forwarded an e-mail from the provost telling professors not to talk to reporters, explaining that to assure that "media do not get conflicting reports of the university's position," all inquiries were to be referred to the official spokeswoman.
Before the play was called off, one faculty member -- Moumin Quazi, an assistant professor of English -- wrote an essay in the student newspaper praising the university for sticking by the controversial work.
"I am grateful to work at an institution that is about education as opposed to indoctrination," he wrote. "I am grateful to have a president here at Tarleton who stands firm for academic freedom in the marketplace of ideas. Especially as a Salman Rushdie scholar and postcolonial critic, I cheer and cherish academic freedom. And, thankfully, at Tarleton State University, I am not afraid of recrimination for teaching controversial, yet thought-provoking works, regardless of which group or religion may protest."
On a Facebook group of those who called for the production to be called off, many comments denounced the university for having even considered allowing the play. One comment said: "This play MOCKS what most of us believe in. Tarleton is supposed to be a close tight family and why are they upsetting family members. Do they have any idea how this is affecting the university?"
4. The Eagle, March 29, 2010
Bryan-College Station Communications, Inc., 1729 Briarcrest Drive, P.O. Box 3000, Bryan, TX 77802
A&M's gay community marks 25 years out, proud
By Vimal Patel
Larry Hickman saved recordings of threatening messages left on the Aggie-run referral service for gay students. And he still has a cardboard box of documents related to Texas A&M students' gay-rights struggle.
He kept it all, in part, because one day, he thought, he'd talk about those years again.
He will this week, after traveling from Illinois — where he is a philosophy professor — to Texas A&M, the university he left 17 years ago.
He's 67, but he speaks passionately about the events that, after a nearly decade-long struggle that reached the U.S. Supreme Court, led to the Texas A&M gay student group he advised receiving official recognition.
This week, A&M groups will celebrate the 25-year anniversary of the end of that battle, which began with a denial of recognition from then-chief student administrator John J. Koldus and ended with the nation's highest court refusing to take the case and allowing a lower court's ruling to stand.
Hickman has lost touch with the students he mentored. He doesn't remember much about them these days, he said, because they were typical college students, different in just one way: they were gay. He remembers the hardship some faced. There was Patricia, whose landlord kicked her out when she found out she was a plaintiff in the suit.
"There were kids who did not have the support they needed to be healthy students," Hickman said. "I can't tell you how many Aggie students I met who were paranoid. They felt displaced, isolated and not part of the community because of the bigotry."
The battle had waged for several years when Hickman volunteered to become adviser to the group in the early 1980s, about three years before the case reached the nation's highest court. He wasn't gay -- though at the time, he never made any comments about his sexuality: "Let them jump to any conclusion they want," he remembers thinking -- but he had gay friends.
Perhaps as important as any reason in his decision: "I had just got tenure that year."
Many Aggies were riled up following the filing of the lawsuit.
"Aggies are not queers," read a banner that hung from a third-floor window of Hart Hall in March 1977. "We don't want the Twelfth Man to be a homosexual!!!" stated a letter from former students in the campus newspaper, The Battalion. "Because he doesn't like queers!" explained a spokesman for a legislator who introduced a bill that would make it illegal for administrators to recognize gay-student organizations.
Gay Student Services, an off-campus group, had filed a request to be recognized to Koldus, the vice president for student affairs, in April 1976. The administrator denied the application, asserting two basic arguments. One, given that homosexual acts in Texas were illegal at the time, it would be inappropriate for Texas A&M to support a group likely to "incite, promote and result" in gay acts. And two, the stated purposes and goals of the university were not consistent with those of the student group.
The next year, the A&M System Board of Regents weighed in with a clear stance opposing a gay student group.
"So-called 'gay' activities run diabolically counter to the traditions and standards of Texas A&M University," a board resolution from a March 22, 1977, meeting stated, according to court documents (the board perhaps meant diametrically instead of diabolically).
"And the Board of Regents is determined to defend the suit filed against it by three students seeking 'gay' recognition and, if necessary, to proceed in every legal way to prohibit any group with such goals from organizing or operating on this or any other campus for which this Board is responsible."
A lower court ruled in favor of Texas A&M. But the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, supported the students, stating in an August 1984 ruling, "We think it clear from the facts that TAMU refused officially to recognize GSS based upon the homosexual content of the group's ideas."
On April 1, 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, rejected Texas A&M's appeal, solidifying the appellate court's decision and giving birth to the first gay student group.
Koldus, who lives in College Station, could not be reached for this story. Organizers wanted him to speak at this week's celebration, but he declined. In a handwritten letter that's on file at Cushing Memorial Library, he said he wasn't confident in his memory of the events.
"My heart says thanks but my brain says no," Koldus wrote.
Hickman, remembered affectionately by some as a highly effective rabble-rouser, had clashed with Koldus on other occasions. He said he's sure Koldus is a "very nice person."
"But I think his job was to do what the administration and former students wanted," Hickman said.
A strong community
Today, Texas A&M has a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center, one of only about 150 at universities nationwide. And it has a vibrant program called Aggie Allies, a network of about 800 people who have agreed to be resources for members of the GLBT population as they navigate their way through the university.
"I believe that when individuals that are part of a marginalized population are in an environment that is almost the extreme for their marginalization," said Lowell Kane, the center's director, "it actually in many ways enforces community development."
A cloth with a pink triangle hangs in the resource center. It was the symbol Nazis used to identify gays. In the next room, on Wednesday, a couple of students hung out near a 53-inch TV, a DVD collection and library. It's a "safe zone," they call it, where they can relax around others who won't judge them.
Riley Bryan, president of the student group GLBT Aggies, sat on a couch there. During his sophomore year, he was outed by cadets he had confided in. He remembers upperclassmen telling him he was never to directly look at them again.
The fifth-year senior, from Guymon, Okla., a town of about 10,000, came to Texas A&M because of his love of the Aggie Band. He said he has no regrets about joining the Corps, which he said gave him friends and a "completely unique experience." And now, he said, he's found his place on campus, and his comfort zone.
"I'm the happiest I've ever been on campus," he said.
Tom Spellman also was in the Corps. The Class of 1986 Aggie now works in computing information services. He also confided in someone that he was gay. After a falling-out, he said, the person told Spellman's dad, the commandant, and "everyone at the [Dixie] Chicken."
Spellman did the only thing he thought feasible for a cadet in the 1980s: "I lied through my teeth. I wasn't prepared to come out yet."
Today, he meets his partner of 23 years every day for lunch on steps near Cushing Memorial Library. Michael Jackson, who met Spellman while both were A&M students, works at the library.
Aggieland is changing, they said.
"More of the young kids don't care," Jackson said. "They go to school with people who are gay. They have family who are openly gay. They can put a face on it. There are positive portrayals in books and movies."
Still, in all these years, they've never felt comfortable enough to walk hand-in-hand on campus.
The two-day conference -- dubbed "It's Time ... " -- kicks off Wednesday at the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building with the Queer of Color symposium. It will feature an academic discussion exploring the intersection between race, ethnicity and sexual orientation by top scholars in the field, organizers said.
The second day of the program, organized by the GLBT Professional Network, will be called "25 Years Later: LGBT in Higher Education." It begins at 9 a.m. with welcoming remarks by Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin.
Christine Stanley, Texas A&M's vice president for diversity, will deliver the keynote introduction. Interim Provost Karan Watson, the university's top academic official, is scheduled to be on a 3:30 p.m. panel called "Future."
Kane said it's meaningful that top-level officials are attending the conference.
"I think it represents that there is a firm commitment we are now seeing," the 27-year-old said. "In the past, many people would talk the talk, but here, we're seeing A&M walk the walk. We are seeing our top administrators taking an active role in conferences dealing with diversity and equity issues. It's a new time."
Hickman, who left Texas A&M in 1993 to become director of the Center for Dewey Studies at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, where he is today, will be on a 10:30 a.m. panel titled "Past."
He attracted statewide media interest surrounding A&M's treatment of gays, women and minorities. But he said his activism sprang from deep affection for the university. His wife and her family are Aggies, and he spent 19 years in Aggieland as a faculty member teaching philosophy.
"I'm very hopeful that A&M is moving rapidly in the right direction," he said. "It's a great university, and it has the potential to be even greater."
5. The Guardian, March 30, 2010
Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9GU
The pride of universities
By John Crace
There's always a catch 22. University admission forms work two ways: partly as a means for a university to filter out the undesired, partly to help it to tailor its offering to those who make the cut. Express an interest in film, sport, politics or race on your form, and the university can send you out a whole load of information explaining how to make the most of it when you arrive.
But the system falls apart if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) because there's no way the university would know. It's illegal for any institution to request this information. There are consequences. While it gives those students who do not wish to disclose their sexual orientation the confidence to know they will not be discriminated against, it also makes it impossible for the university to highlight practical services, such as mentoring, that might be of benefit.
In the US, the University of Pennsylvania is trying to find a way of getting round this by reading between the lines of student applications to gauge student interests, through an analysis of the student groups applicants already belong to, personal statements and questions about what areas of social and cultural life they wish to become involved with.
The analysis itself is something of a dark art. The university says it doesn't identify applicants on one stand-alone fact, such as membership of a gay-straight alliance at high school, as many students are members of such groups; rather it is trying to tease out an overall impression from a variety of sources so that it can offer the appropriate outreach services. The bottom line, though, is that it is still a judgment call.
Campus Pride, a national US group that works on behalf of gay students, has given Pennsylvania the thumbs-up for its initiative, but believes university application forms should now include a question about sexual orientation.
"Any type of question should be voluntary," says Shane L Windmeyer, founder of Campus Pride, "but, at the same time, the absence of such a question ultimately determines how these identities are treated. So the fact that you don't ask about sexual orientation leaves a question about your commitment to that population."
Which rather takes us back to another catch 22. Only those confident in declaring their sexuality will answer a voluntary question: and, by definition, these applicants are the ones least likely to require extra support. The voluntary question could also be counter-productive: if universities reckon they have the issue covered, they won't put much effort into looking at other ways of engaging with it.
Working out the best way of helping new gay students is also an issue on this side of the Atlantic. Last year, the Equality Challenge Unit published the first comprehensive study of the experiences of LGBT students in higher education. The report, by Professor Gill Valentine and Dr Nichola Wood from Leeds University, made tough reading for those who hoped the liberalism of modern academia had reached the sunny uplands of sexual tolerance.
While more than 90% of LGBT students are out to their university friends, almost two-thirds chose not to reveal their sexual orientation to academic staff for fear of discrimination; 15% of students feared losing the financial support – which the government assumes will be forthcoming – of their parents if they came out; LGBT students also reported significant negative treatment on the grounds of their sexual orientation from 50% of their fellow students and from 10% of academic staff. And so on.
Suggesting ways for students to deal with homophobia at university is more problematic. All higher education institutions have codes of practice, but making sure they are properly implemented is rarely straightforward. So students have to make their own choices. "Some things, such as steering clear of universities with strong faith-based groups, might be clearcut," says a spokesperson for the National Union of Students. "But others are counter-intuitive. You'd have thought that cities such as London, Manchester and Brighton with a large number of gay people would have been a safe choice. Yet many LGBT students report they feel safer on campus or in smaller towns."
Until now, students have had to rely on anecdotal evidence, internet chatrooms and pieces of ad hoc research when trying to assess the gay-friendliness of a university. And it was often either all quite confusing, with one person saying something like "Brighton's cool", while another complains it's "a bit rubbish"; very generalised: "arts courses are more tolerant than medicine"; or relying on data about the experience of LGBT academics at various institutions – a 2006 report suggested the post-92 universities were more inclusive – and extrapolating inferences about the student experience.
All that will shortly change. After compiling a list of the top 100 gay-friendly institutions – from higher education, only Liverpool John Moores and Imperial College London made the grade – the lobby group Stonewall is due to publish a student guidebook in June.
"This web-based resource will ensure students have all the facts they need to choose a university that supports lesbian, gay and bisexual young people," says Ruth Hunt, deputy director of public affairs at Stonewall.
"The change in the nature of student finances means that students are increasingly consumers ... they have a right to expect universities to cater to their needs. This innovative Stonewall guide will allow students to compare how gay-friendly universities are, which will help inform their final choice.
"Going to university is a liberating experience for young people and it's frequently the time when they come out about their sexuality. So students need all the help they can get."
The guide will try to break the mould of much of the qualitative research around homophobia and measure objective criteria at each university, such as equal opportunities programmes, how strong and well-resourced the LGBT students' society is and the number of honorary degrees awarded to gay and lesbian public figures.
Sadly, what it won't do is rank the universities in any order. But it can only be a matter of time before there is a league table for that. It's an important part of the student experience, after all.
6. The Diamondback (University of Maryland), March 29, 2010
3150 South Campus Dining Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
Office of LGBT Equity lags in support compared to peers
By Claire Saravia
If you are looking for the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equity, you might need directions.
The office is located within a maze of hallways on the ground level of Cole Field House. But the office’s director, Luke Jensen, said location is nothing compared to the other problems the office faces.
The office is severely underfunded, Jensen said. Its budget is too small to support more than six staff members, four who are students. Because of the staff shortage, office hours are unpredictable. Students are advised to come on certain business days at specific times. The resource room, where students can find a safe place to read and find answers to their most intimate questions, is a cramped space piled high with books and videos, all received through donations.
The office is budgeted about $75,000 annually — peanuts next to what some of the university’s peers set aside to fund their LGBT support offices.
The Spectrum Center at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is budgeted around $260,000 a year, Spectrum Center Director Jacqueline Simpson said. It has four staff members, three student workers and a library that boasts more than 2,000 different materials for its students to check out.
At the LGBT Campus Resource Center at UCLA, students can engage in weekly community discussion groups and individual counseling and have access to a cyber center and a library with almost 4,000 books on LGBT topics that also function as safe zones.
The Gender Equity Resource Center at the University of California at Berkeley spends $200,000 covering staff salary and benefits and receives additional funding from the state. Last year, the office was allocated $55,000 in temporary monies.
Rob Waters, assistant to the president for equity and diversity, blamed the university’s budget issues as the reason for the Office of LGBT Equity’s limited resources, particularly referring to its staff shortage.
“If we weren’t in the middle of a budget crisis, I know they could use at least a couple more positions,” Waters said.
The Office of LGBT Equity is overseen by Associate Provost for Equity and Diversity Cordell Black, who will be replaced at the end of the academic year with a part-time administrator. He could not be reached for comment.
Adequate resources for the LGBT population is crucial, said Michael Weinberger, graduate coordinator of LGBT student involvement and community advocacy for the office of Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy.
“There’s many ways that LGBT students need to be served on a campus of this size,” he said. “We’re all supported by our offices, but there can always be more resources.”
According to its website, the office’s purpose is to provide various resources to LGBT students. The office also hosts annual events, including the LGBT Fall Reception, intended to introduce new students to university resources.
Jensen said that the office’s lack of resources limited the amount of outreach that could be provided to both current and prospective LGBT students.
“There’s a lot more we could be doing in terms of recruitment,” Jensen said, adding if the office had more money and staff, he would like to travel to different high schools to reach out to student alliance clubs.
Although the university is ranked well on the Campus Climate Index, a website that assesses friendliness towards LGBT students at universities, Jensen said more resources would go a long way toward recruiting more students.
Officials at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, understands what it’s like to be underfunded: They receive no state funding and have a budget of less than $40,000. With only two staff members and a handful of work study students, office director Terri Phoenix said they make do.
“North Carolina is still pretty conservative,” Phoenix said.
As for the future of the Office of LGBT Equity, Jensen said the office will take advantage of what money they’re allotted, while also trying different means to exhaust their resources and provide better services to students.
“We’re the ones who actually do all the work,” Jensen said. “And there’s a lot more we could be doing.”
7. The State News, March 29, 2010
435 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing, MI 48823
MSU celebrates LGBT Awareness Week
By Emily Wilkins
MSU’s College of Human Medicine LGBT Allies in Medicine will host several speakers this week as a part of LGBT Health Awareness Week: Closing the Gap.
The week is aimed toward educating the MSU medical community about the difficulties faced by members of the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender, or LBGT, community concerning health care. Allies in Medicine, which formed a year ago, is a group of about 40 medical students interested in educating themselves about the LGBT community.
LGBT Health Awareness Week has been observed nationwide for the past eight years, but this is the first year it has been brought to MSU.
“As future physicians, we believe it is our responsibility to advocate on behalf of all of our patients,” said Emily Antoon, a first-year medical student and member of LGBT Allies in Medicine. “Many health care professionals wish to provide friendly care, but it is not enough to simply say you are friendly. We have to educate ourselves.”
The LGBT community faces various challenges in the medical field. Children of same-sex couples cannot be legally adopted by both parents, and if a child’s legal guardian does not have health care but their partner does, the child is not able to access it.
The transgender community faces a unique variety of issues in dealing with health care and insurance.
“Trans individuals have a wide range of health care issues,” said Brent Bilodeau, director of the MSU Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender Resource Center. “Some may need support for lifelong health concerns related to gender reassignment.”
André Wilson is a consultant senior associate with Jamison Green & Associates, a group that works with employers to create a work place where everyone is welcome. Wilson gave the first lecture of LGBT Health Awareness Week on Monday about the transgendered community and health care.
“Primary care providers have not been trained for when a trans person walks into their practice,” Wilson said. “And when they say they will treat you, they don’t know the first thing of what that means.”
Wilson said doctors and physicians lack proper training when it comes to serving the unique needs of the transgender community.
Physicians also are concerned they are not fully prepared to treat the transgender community. Currently, a national campaign led by the American Medical Student Association is working to add an additional hour to the three hours of LGBT-related curriculum already required by medical school curricula.
Antoon said LGBT Allies in Medicine is in talks with the College of Human Medicine for MSU to adopt the initiative.
“This is the first time Health Awareness Week has come out of the College of Human Medicine from the medical student organizations,” Bilodeau said.
He said although the LBGT Resource Center has conducted health-related education and training in the past, this was the first time MSU’s College of Human Medicine led an initiative.
“The effort is just outstanding,” Bilodeau said. “Because being able to sensitively interact with LGBT clients and their families is a critical skill for health care providers. … It’s critical that a health care provider doesn’t assume that everyone they see is heterosexual.”
8. San Francisco Chronicle, March 30, 2010
Transgender Latinas Organize at City College
By Rosa Ramirez
Andrea Flores recalls getting stares and muffled comments by Latinos when she walked across the City College of San Francisco’s Mission campus.
“They would look at me and they would laugh,” said Flores, a shy, soft spoken, slim transgender woman with long flowing hair.
“They would say, ‘there goes a joto,” she added, describing the derogatory Spanish slang word used to describe a gay man.
Flores and her friend Juanita Martinez, who is also transgender, decided to combat the homophobia that exists in the immigrant Latino community with open discussions – ones they would have to create.
On Saturday, 28 people—the majority of them Latino and Spanish speaking—attended the second meeting of the TransLatinas, a new club at City College’s Mission campus.
“We’re a group of people who are constantly being attacked by the heterosexual community. I’m tired of it. The attacks I suffer are mostly from the Latino community here in the Mission,” said 47-year-old Brenda Oliveira, a native of Mexico.
The goal of the group is two fold: to encourage transgender Latinas to take advantage of English, computer, or certificate programs at City College and to educate the straight Latino community about transgender and GLBT issues.
“When you see a transgender person, don’t judge them. Get to know them. You’ll see we’re like everyone else. We’re nice people. We’re friendly,” said Martinez.
Transgender people often face barriers ranging from discrimination in obtaining employment to suffering violent attacks from strangers. This can even be more so in an isolated, Latino community.
Gamariel Hernandez, who is from Chiapas, a southern state in Mexico, described being hit by a gang member simply for being gay.
“This beautiful scar right here was thanks to a gang member,” he said pointing to a side of his face.
But things in Latin American appear to be changing.
Brazil, Colombia and Mexico have launched media campaigns against homophobia.
Last year, Mexico City’s legislature approved gay marriage—the first such law in Latin America. People can also adopt children and receive government benefits for couples under the new law.
“My respects go to the people in Mexico City because now gay people can marry,” said one attendee, who self-described as being “in the closet.”
Participants talked about how to regain self-esteem, how to handle negative comments, and where to seek help when they’ve been discriminated against.
They also talked about upcoming projects, including the participation in Miss TransLatina, a beauty pageant, and setting up skills workshops where one member leads a class on how to cut hair or do basic carpentry, for instance.
Flores said she left school at 15 because her classmates constantly badgered her. And she doesn’t want others to forgo an education because they feel isolated or rejected in school.
“I returned to school two years ago. I regret not having returned earlier,” Flores told the group. “You should not waste time. Take advantage of computer and English classes.”
9. The Ithaca Journal, March 31, 2010
123 W.State St., Ithaca, NY 14850
LGBT film series at Ithaca College concludes with 'Keep Not Silent'
A documentary about three Orthodox Jews -- who happen to also be lesbians -- will conclude this year's Out of the Closet and Onto the Screen film series at Ithaca College. "Keep Not Silent" will be shown at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 6, in Textor 103. Admission is free.
Winner of an Israeli Academy Award for best documentary, the film documents the clandestine struggle of three women fighting for their right to love within their beloved Orthodox communities in Jerusalem. All three are pious, religiously committed women who are members of a secret support group called OrthoDykes.
The Out of the Closet and Onto the Screen series is sponsored by the Ithaca College Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Education, Outreach, and Services.
10. The A&T Register, March 31, 2010
The A&T Register/NCA&TSU, 328A General Classroom Building
1601 East Market Street, Greensboro, NC 27411
Making campus safe
By Dexter R. Mullins
Being different has never been easy, ask Nyasha Gibbs. She’s the president of Acceptance Without Exceptions (AWE), the gay straight alliance organization on the campus of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. As if being president of such an organization wasn’t different enough, she is also an African American lesbian on an historically black university campus.
“Being President of a gay-straight alliance is a challenge above all things,” Gibbs said. “You face many obstacles, some of which being from the community you represent. Our organization faces discrimination from students, faculty and staff; heterosexuals and members of the LGBT community. Much of the discrimination stems from identity issues.”
But this is not what makes Gibbs unique. Like her, there are thousands of students on college campuses all across the country that faces the difficult task of leading a gay straight alliance. What makes Gibbs different is her push to bring Safe Zones to A&T. No, these aren’t areas where people go in a panic, and they aren’t a campus safety initiative.
Safe Zones provide students of the lesbian gay bisexual and transgender community a spot on campus that they are free to be themselves & not face discrimination. This is a national movement that is just finding its way to the doorstep of A&T, and Gibbs, along with the help of Dr. Maria Palmer from the Multicultural Student Center, is trying to spearhead Safe Zone Training and growth on campus. Safe Zones have five main goals:
1. To provide information and advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgendered (GLBT) members and Allies.
2. To help the A&T community understand GLBT issues.
3. To insure employees of A&T understand their responsibility to safeguard the rights of all students, including GLBT members and allies.
4. To train faculty and staff to provide harbor and refuge if and when needed to students who are facing issues of sexual identity, discrimination or violence.
5. To help eradicate homophobia and heterosexism from the campus of A&T.
“I would like to think that I had been smart enough or powerful enough to brainstorm and implement the idea off Safe Zones on my own, but that is not true,” Gibbs said. “Safe Zones are implemented on grade school and college campuses across the nation. It was initiated by Dr. Maria Palmer of the Multicultural Student Center. I served on the planning committee for Safe Zones and also the student panels featured at the trainings.”
Gibbs took her direction from Palmer, and together they have been expanding the realm of Safe Zones one office at a time.
“A&T’s slow progression in a changing world has caused other organizations and businesses to feel a certain way,” Gibbs said.
“I realized through working with students that the LGBT students did not have any support on campus,” Palmer said. “I visited other universities in the UNC system and found out what they were doing. I was impressed with what I read and heard about Safe Zones, and with the help of some former and current students, did some research and put together a proposal to the administration.”
Currently A&T is the only campus in the UNC System that doesn’t have a “no discrimination based on sexual orientation” policy in its employee handbook. As a result, Palmer has been pushing to bring Safe Zone Training to various campus administrators to try and help bring more awareness.
While some administrators are less then willing to conform, they aren’t the only people who are less than thrilled about not only the Safe Zones, but also AWE’s existence in general. For Gibbs, every step is an uphill battle.
“The heterosexual or straight individuals on campus show their animosity towards the LGBT community in a number of ways; whether it be from ripping down all of our event flyers or the silenced physical abuse on the walk home from the cafeteria,” Gibbs said.
“Honestly, this animosity stems from identity issues as well. You have the closeted homosexuals who bash on gay people to cover up their own homosexual behaviors. I would say that at least 10% of the entire student population consists of these closeted homosexuals.
“These are the people who always spark up a conversation about having sex with females, make references to females body parts or how much they love females, and then subsequently how much they ‘could not be gay’ and always speak so negatively about the lifestyle. They are also the instigators, and sometimes the initiators, of gay bashing and hate crimes.”
Palmer also says that she has found it difficult at times to get everyone to understand the significance of what the Safe Zones is.
“The biggest challenge has been lack of participation in the training,” Palmer said. “Faculty and staff are very busy and we don’t have enough time and incentives for folks to get the training. There are also some very entrenched prejudices that keep people from being willing to explore their attitudes and sign up for training.”
Gibbs and Palmer also find themselves at odds with the black community as a whole. Gibbs says that misinformation and bad translation of a centuries old document is the root of a lot of the issues she finds herself facing.
“The Black community is strongly against the LGBT community. The Church has condemned homosexuality, and this institution is the foundation for the values of the Black community since its introduction to Christianity in the years of slavery,” Gibbs said.
“The issue does not lie with the Church. The issue lies with the mistranslation of the Bible, which individuals who most often do not read the Bible and harbor the most ill feelings towards LGBT person use against that community.
“The Bible condemns many things (consumption of shellfish, men shaving their beard, women praying without a head dress) yet society chooses one to strongly uphold. In the times of slavery, and in the current day for some people, the Bible was used to defend the buying, selling and beating of slaves.”
Gibbs says that this is just one of the many things that AWE is working on. She says that a lot of students misunderstand the organization, or don’t really know what it truly is about.
“Some students feel that our organization just has movie nights or tries to convert people or is solely a social network, but they don’t see us promoting safe sex on and off campus and changing the views of universities and multi-million dollar companies from across the nation of A&T at activism conferences and banquets,” Gibbs said.
“Our organization has made some accomplishments on campus though. We are the longest running LGBT organization on campus (3 years). We have sponsored a lot of great events in that time span, and we are continuing to grow and be known by many activist groups, companies and student organizations from other Universities.”
As far as student perception and reactions of Safe Zones, Gibbs knows it will take time for people to come around but she has a lot “optimism.
“I don’t think students know what Safe Zones are and what the logo means unless they have attended a school in which Safe Zones were implemented,” Gibbs said.
“I think that the more that Safe Zones are publicized and the more faculty and staff that stand up as an ally, the more students will be comfortable talking about their problems, and it might also open a lot of people’s eyes and cause them to be a little bit more accepting.
That is all we are asking for at the end of the day; not that you agree with the lifestyle, but that you accept us as equals.”
Currently, there are only a few Safe Zones on campus, but with locations in the offices of orientation, counseling services, student leadership, greek life, the multicultural student center, and the honors program, the movement is sure to spread.
11. The New Mexico Independent, April 2, 2010
UNM’s Queer Resource Center approaches final hurdle
By Danielle Bauer
UNM regents will decide Friday whether to increase student fees by about $10 per semester to fund several projects, including a Queer Resource Center. Despite a strong faculty, staff, and student backing of the center, funding for it has become a contentious issue.
Less than half of the increase in student fees, the smallest such increase in the last five years, would go to the resource center, but President David Schmidly and the Board of Regents will have the final say.
The center would provide a LGBTQ-friendly site on UNM’s campus, functioning similarly to Women’s Resource Center and other ethic centers. LGBTQ resource centers are common on college campuses across the country. Supporters of the QRC believe its presence will add to the need and appreciation for diversity on the UNM campus.
12. Yale Daily News, April 2, 2010
202 York Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Schoenburg: A population the census does not count
By Sam Schoenburg
How many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people live in the United States? Though the Constitution mandates a count of every person in the country every decade, we don’t know the answer. The federal government has never made an officially sanctioned count of people’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In order to measure the size and begin to address the struggles of the LGBT community, federal surveys, including the census, should include a question about sexual orientation and gender identity.
By excluding the LGBT identity on the census, the government excludes a mechanism to advance initiatives that address inequities faced by LGBT individuals. To make policy, you need numbers, and right now, we don’t have the numbers. Every year, the U.S. Census Bureau collects data through random sampling on a whole host of issues, gathering information on geographic area, race, income level, relationship status, health, housing quality and immigration status, to name a few. Data collected by the Census Bureau determines the distribution of $400 billion in federal funds every year. If there is no accurate count of LGBT people in communities across the country, programs to improve LGBT lives will have no information for allocating resources.
The current statistical information about those who identify as LGBT in this country paints troubling picture and an incomplete one. Based on a compilation of several isolated studies and an exhaustive search for data, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force estimates that, of the 575,000 to 1.6 million homeless or runaway youth each year, a staggeringly disproportionate 20 to 40 percent of them identify as LGBT. Another rigorous national survey found that 26 percent of transgender people nationwide have lost their jobs due to their gender identity. And, due to a recent change in census data gathering to count same-sex relationships (but not individuals), we know that there are 565,000 reported same-sex couples, 35,000 of which are legal marriages.
These statistics only scratch the surface. We do not have comprehensive information on how LGBT people fare in employment, health services or housing. We do not know the extent of various problems for LGBT people in rural versus urban settings. While most current studies are conducted in cities, LGBT people in non-urban communities could face an entirely different set of issues. Furthermore, the place of LGBT people in various communities of color and ethnicity could differ widely. Only by conducting a comprehensive count of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people throughout the country can we grasp an accurate picture of the full diversity and richness of LGBT members of American communities.
To encourage the federal government to adopt a question about sexual orientation and gender identity in census data, Yale students will have the opportunity to Queer the Census when they fill out their census forms. Stickers are being distributed throughout campus with the question, “Are you: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or A Straight Ally.” Everyone can check their box and put the sticker on the back of their census form. Thousands of people across the country will also be participating in this effort. When census forms are returned with these stickers, the Census Bureau will see the outpouring of support for gathering this crucial data.
We have an opportunity at Yale to stand united in the belief that all of us count. We know that there are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in every part of the country. In fact, recent data reveal that same-sex couples are present in 99.3 percent of U.S. counties. But we need a broader picture, one that reveals the true stake that LGBT people have in all facets of American life. We need a question covering sexual orientation and gender identity on the census.
Sam Schoenburg is a junior in Silliman College and a board member of Fierce Advocates.
13. NBC29.com, April 4, 2010
WVIR-TV NBC29, 503 E. Market Street, Charlottesville VA, 22902
Gay Rights Forum Being Held At UVA
By Kasey Hott
Students, faculty and staff from the University of Virginia are coming together to discuss the school's non-discrimination policy and how it affects gays and lesbians on Grounds. The gay and lesbian community at UVA is pleased with Governor Bob McDonnell's recent Executive Directive banning discrimination in Virginia schools, state agencies, and departments, but many are still confused by exactly how much protection the directive provides.
Gay rights supporters will gather at UVA Monday to discuss the university's non-discrimination policies.
"We're going to have people speaking about what actions we can take as citizens, as well as state employees and students," said UVA Professor Ellen Bass.
This comes after Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's letter claiming state discrimination law does not provide protection for sexual orientation and that state colleges and universities should remove those words. UVA Student President of Queer and Allied Activism Seth Kaye recalls first hearing about the letter last month.
"What does this mean? Could we get kicked out of school? Are my professors going to be fired?" Kaye asked. "It was not cool."
Governor McDonnell went on to contradict Cuccinelli's opinion by issuing an Executive Directive banning discrimination based on sexual preference.
"I do think that it's a really big step forward to recognize that gays and lesbians are a protected class according to the United States constitution, because that supersedes anything that Cuccinelli or the Virginia legislature would say," Kaye said.
But many say they are still trying to figure out exactly what the Executive Directive means.
"We think that it's more of a suggestion rather than having the force of law," said Kaye. "But, we're not 100 percent sure."
Monday's university-wide forum is designed to help answer some of those questions. Many are hoping to expand the non-discrimination policy even further to include gender identity and gender expression.
"We are working on a resolution that basically outlines some of our arguments for why we think the non-discrimination policy should be expanded, and asking the board of visitors to expand our policy to reaffirm sexual orientation," Kaye explained.
The forum will be held in UVA's Maury Hall Monday from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Anyone interested in learning more about the anti-discrimination policy is encouraged to attend.
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