Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.04.18
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. Grand Valley Lanthorn - Transpectrum offers resources for transgender students
2. The Baltimore Sun - With Peabody bequest, ex-student gives back
3. Ashland Daily Tidings - Anti-gay graffiti shakes students
4. Colgate University News & Events - Big Gay Weekend speaker raises big issues
5. Inside SU (Syracuse University) - Filmmaker John Greyson to visit SU for screening of ‘Fig Trees’
6. The Temple News - Cracking the gender binary
7. The State Press (Arizona State University) - Mississippi school says ‘no’ to lesbians, prom
8. The Daily Pennsylvanian - U. adds transgender insurance
9. The Salt Lake Tribune - Gay issues take stage at SUU forum
10. The Daily Collegian (Penn State University) - Recovering addict talks of experiences
11. The Tufts Daily - QSA takes alternative approach to this year’s Day of Silence
12. The New York Times - Finding a Gay-Friendly Campus
13. The Harvard Crimson - Opinion: Should Colleges Ask?
14. The Washington Post - Supreme Court to consider case against California law school
15. The New York Times - Opinion: A Case of Discrimination
16. The Brown and White (Lehigh University) - Queer and Ally Prom held to stand up against discrimination
17. Central Florida Future - Benefits not offered to all
18. The Daily Orange (Syracuse University) - Gender-neutral housing attracts 82 students
19. The Daily Orange (Syracuse University) - Day of Silence to represent struggles of LGBT community
1. Grand Valley Lanthorn, April 7, 2010
Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI
Transpectrum offers resources for transgender students
By Samantha Butcher
Grand Valley State University transgender students have gained a new support network with the creation of Transpectrum, a student group aiming to provide support and education to transgender, genderqueer and allied students.
The organization, which was formed in mid-February, fluctuates between four and eight members. Johnnie Thompson, president of Transpectrum, said transgender students have needs that differ from lesbian, gay and bisexual students on campus.
"Transgender students have a wide range of experiences and hurdles in life that other LGB students don't quite understand because they've simply never been there," Thompson said. "It helps to be surrounded by a group of people who understand or have already gone through what you are currently going through."
There are no reliable estimates about the number of transgender people in the U.S. or at GVSU. The number of transsexual people, a narrower definition, is estimated to be less than 1 percent of the population, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Prior to the formation of Transpectrum, resources were available to transgender students through the LGBT Resource Center on campus and the student organization Out 'N' About. Colette Seguin-Beighley, assistant director of the LGBT Resource Center, said the center continues to provide support to the group.
"The LGBT Resource Center fully supports each LGBT student organization, including the new organization Transpectrum, and is happy there are many groups to reflect the needs of the beautifully diverse LGBT community," she said.
Transpectrum partnered with the Resource Center to celebrate the International Day of Transgender Visibility on Wednesday.
"While Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is celebrated in the fall, is to mourn those who have died as a result of discrimination, Day of Visibility is designed to celebrate those who are living and all of their accomplishments and contributions to society," Thompson said.
The group does not have any additional events planned for the semester but plans to continue providing a safe zone to transgender students, as well as allies and students questioning their gender or sexual identity. They are also considering holding a seminar in the fall to educate students about transgender issues on campus.
"We hope to keep growing and hopefully draw in more of those genderqueer, transgender and allied students on campus," Thompson said. "We also hope to reach those students who may be questioning their identity right now and need help or simply those seeking more education. Overall, I think our presence will greatly increase the level of transgender awareness on campus, something there is very little of now."
2. The Baltimore Sun, April 12, 2010
501 N. Calvert Street, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore, MD 21278
With Peabody bequest, ex-student gives back
By Tim Smith
Tristan Rhodes spent less than three years studying piano and conducting at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University during the late 1960s, but the experience left such a positive mark on him that he has prepared a $2 million bequest to the conservatory. Other life experiences influenced the way the New York-born Rhodes has directed the money to be used.
The bequest, among the largest future commitments made to Peabody, will create the Tristan W. Rhodes Scholarship Fund "for the benefit of students who are gay or lesbian and have been disenfranchised by their families and therefore have lost support for education expenses," the agreement reads.
"I can't think of a better use of my money than to save a kid from bigotry," Rhodes, 62, said during a visit to the conservatory last week. "It's hard enough growing up. You don't need that."
Although Rhodes did not encounter a severe backlash at home or at Peabody because of his sexual orientation, it was a different story with a close friend of his.
"She was a fellow New Yorker," he said. "She could have had a brilliant literary career, but when she came out to her parents, they kicked her out. They were a very conservative Jewish family. She was dealing drugs to survive and she ended up a hairdresser. Her parents just threw her away. I don't want that to happen to anyone with a gift, particularly a gift in my field."
College-level scholarships specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students have entered the academic world in recent years, most of them administered by national organizations, rather than the schools themselves. At least one project, the nearly decade-old National LGBT Scholarship Fund of the Los Angeles-based Point Foundation, has a similar goal to that of the Rhodes fund: It is offered to "meritorious students who are marginalized due to sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression."
The Michael Heinl Scholarship, established by an alumnus in 2003, is offered to a student at Hopkins' Krieger School of Arts and Sciences "who supports the Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance" at the university.
Hannah Pressley, director of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Peabody, praised Rhodes' generosity and "unique support."
"I do know several people who have been disowned by their families because of their sexual orientation - none, fortunately, from Peabody," said Pressley, 23, a cello major working on her master's degree. "And I know some students who continue to act heterosexual because they fear they will lose the support of their families. That happens quite frequently."
The bequest agreement will also allow scholarships to be awarded to gay or lesbian students who have not been disowned by their families, but are in financial need.
"This very generous gift is all about lifting barriers," said Peabody director Jeffrey Sharkey. "We want the finest students, whatever their background, to be welcome at Peabody, and we want to be able to help them with what can be a very expensive education."
The Rhodes bequest is one of three future commitments of $2 million that Peabody has recently received, along with "two in the $1 million range," said Richard Selden, director of marketing and communications at the conservatory.
Rhodes, who earned a degree at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J., has been involved with music for 40 years as a pianist, organist and choral conductor.
His resume includes stints as director of the National Boychoir of America in Washington and the New England Vocal Ensemble in Boston. He has taught at St. Mary's College of Maryland and the American Boychoir School in Princeton. He has also been a real estate investor.
"I haven't had a significant career," Rhodes says, "but I've been lucky to make a living doing what I love. And lucky to have been able to sock away some money. I wanted to give this money to Peabody because of the way I was treated here. No one cared if you were yellow or pink or chartreuse; straight, gay or confused. All they cared about was talent."
Rhodes left Peabody in 1969 before finishing a degree.
"During my second year here, my brother was killed in Vietnam," he says, "My world fell apart, and I stopped coming to classes. But my piano teacher, Walter Hautzig, was wonderful to me. He was so supportive. I couldn't imagine a better place for a student, gay or straight."
Despite advances in gay rights over the years, Rhodes expects his Peabody bequest to maintain its relevance when it goes into effect after his death.
"There will always be bigotry and hatred as long as humanity exists," he said. "I don't see the school ever lacking for someone who will need [the scholarship]. But I hope I'm wrong."
3. Ashland Daily Tidings, April 13, 2010
1661 Siskiyou Blvd., P.O. Box 7, Ashland, Oregon 97520
Anti-gay graffiti shakes students
By Hannah Guzik
Southern Oregon University students who saw anti-gay graffiti scrawled across their hallway walls and doors Thursday are still trying to erase the sting the words caused, they said.
"It was pretty hurtful," said junior Amber Templeton, who lives on the first floor of Diamond Hall, a gender-neutral floor where much of the graffiti was written. "A lot of people are upset and some people don't feel as safe."
Police have made no arrests in the case, which Ashland Police Chief Terry Holderness called a hate crime Monday.
"It was targeting a specific group, so we treat it more seriously because it is going to make that group more apprehensive," he said. The case had not been classified as a hate crime as of Monday evening, and it was unclear whether such a classification would carry stiffer penalties upon conviction.
Detectives believe the graffiti was intended to intimidate residents of the dorm, which began housing students in a mixed-gender environment this academic year.
Police do not believe the incident poses a safety threat to the students living in the dorm, Holderness said.
"We have no reason to believe there's any greater risk," he said. "I understand that whenever we get that sort of thing it makes people nervous — and it should — but for someone who likes to write stupid things on walls to actually go out and physically hurt someone would be very rare, especially in Ashland."
SOU officials and police detectives are "following some very promising leads" in the case, said Jonathan Eldridge, vice president for student affairs.
In a campuswide e-mail sent Friday, Eldridge denounced the graffiti.
"There is no place for hate- and/or bias-related conduct of this nature on the SOU campus," he wrote. "We take this matter very seriously."
Eldridge and police officials declined to release details about the investigation because it is ongoing, but Eldridge said he is "confident that those responsible will be identified and held accountable."
The graffiti included "derogatory remarks about people's gender and sexuality," but did not include any threats, said Sgt. Jim Alderman of Ashland police. It was written in blue ink on the hallway walls and doors of the gender-neutral floor and an all-female floor below it, officials said.
Police believe the graffiti was scrawled on the building between 11:45 p.m. Wednesday and 12:30 a.m. Thursday, Alderman said. There were no witnesses, he said.
After the graffiti was discovered, SOU officials met with employees at the Oregon Street residence hall and asked them to be on the alert for unusual activity, Eldridge said Monday.
"The staff in the buildings are being extra vigilant and are keeping an eye out for any type of conduct that could be considered inappropriate," he said.
Resident assistants also met with students living on the floors defaced by graffiti, Templeton said.
The students wrote their own messages on posters and put them on their hallway walls, she said. Messages such as "Choose love not hate" and "I'm proud to be queer" now greet the students as they walk to and from their rooms.
"We wrote stuff to each other to show we're still strong and we're not going to let this get us down," Templeton said.
The gender-neutral dorm includes residents who don't identify with their biological gender, men and women who want to live together or people who are simply more comfortable living in a mixed-gender environment, according to the university.
Other students expressed support for the residents of the first two Diamond Hall floors and denounced the crime.
"I think it's terrible," said freshman Shivaun Trimnell, who lives on the third floor of Diamond Hall. "It blows my mind that people would do that."
Diamond Hall residents hope the graffiti case will be closed soon, Templeton said.
"We just hope that the people are caught and they realize the stupidity of their actions," she said. "We don't want to be always having to wonder if we're going to get graffiti written on our doors."
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Ashland Police Department at 541-482-5211 or SOU Campus Public Safety at 541-552-6258.
Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Colgate University News & Events, April 13, 2010
13 Oak Drive, Hamilton, NY 13346
Big Gay Weekend speaker raises big issues
By Barbara Brooks
Augusten Burroughs, who chronicled his unusual childhood in his 2002 memoir Running with Scissors, delivered a candid keynote address at Colgate's fifth annual Big Gay Weekend.
His messages ranged from developing inner strength ("What you need is not more confidence, you need to subtract whatever it is that prevents confidence, and that is caring too much about what other people think"), to the inevitability of legalized gay marriage ("There will be a day when you will hold today's discrimination in the palm of your hand, like a charming memento").
While Burroughs considered himself to be an unlikely special guest -- because he "never had a moment where he 'came out' to anything" -- his message on Friday gave members and supporters of Colgate's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) community a lot to talk about.
Burroughs's now-famous childhood provided fodder for his first memoir, which became a film of the same name. When his mother was no longer able to care for him, he was sent to live with her psychiatrist and an extended family of long-term patients, many who were psychotic or schizophrenic.
"In that environment, my sexuality was not an issue," he said. "I didn't ever think about being gay. It was like being right-handed. Why? I don't know. I just am."
The theme of the weekend was "Be Yourself."
About that, Burroughs said: "I wish I could take forensic evidence out of my brain and stick it in yours so you would know that that's all you have to be. That's everything you have to be."
But things aren't always that simple, said Aleksander Sklyar '10. "It makes me happy to know that there are individuals out there, like Augusten, who did not have to go through the pain and difficulty of 'coming out.' However, for many in the LGTBQ community, me included, being ourselves is anything but simple; the process to self-acceptance and self-assertion was anything but an easy one for me."
5. Inside SU (Syracuse University), April 13, 2010
Syracuse University News Services,
Filmmaker John Greyson to visit SU for screening of ‘Fig Trees’
By Jemeli Tanui
John Greyson, writer and director of many acclaimed films, such as “Zero Patience” and “Lilies,” will attend a screening of his 2009 film “Fig Trees” Tuesday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the Life Sciences Complex Auditorium at Syracuse University.
“Fig Trees” is a collaborative documentary opera by Greyson and composer David Wall that chronicles the struggles of AIDS activists Tim McCaskell of Toronto and Zackie Achmat of Cape Town as they fight for access to treatment drugs. Featuring Gertrude Stein, a singing albino squirrel and St. Teresa of Avila, “Fig Trees” explores the meaning of pills, saints and activism. “Fig Trees” won the prestigious Teddy Award for Best Documentary at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2009.
The screening, which is free and open to the public, is organized by SU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Studies Program as part of the Transnationalizing LGBT Studies Project. The event is co-sponsored by the Departments of English and Art and Music Histories in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences; the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies in SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts; and the Society for New Music.
The evening will begin with a brief introduction, followed by the screening and a question-and-answer session with Greyson.
Greyson’s visit to SU will conclude with a seminar with SU faculty and graduate students on the subject of his transnational activism and filmmaking on Wednesday, April 28.
“We are thrilled to bring acclaimed Canadian filmmaker and activist John Greyson to Syracuse,” says Roger Hallas, assistant professor of English and author of “Reframing Bodies: AIDS, Bearing Witness, and the Queer Moving Image” (Duke University Press, 2009). “Greyson has been on the cutting edge of queer filmmaking for almost three decades, engaging audiences with dazzling combinations of aesthetic innovation, political commitment and campy wit. One of the reasons we chose to invite Greyson as part of the Transnationalizing LGBT Studies Project is his longstanding dedication to working beyond national boundaries and to exploring the challenges of forging a global politics of queer solidarity.”
The recipient of the 2000 Toronto Arts Award for film/video and the 2007 Bell Award in Video Art, Greyson is a filmmaker, video artist, writer, activist and educator whose productions have won accolades at festivals throughout the world.
His feature films include “Urinal” (1988–Best Feature Teddy, Berlin Film Festival); “Zero Patience” (1993–Best Canadian Film, Sudbury Film Festival); “Lilies” (1996–Best Film Genie, Best Film at festivals in Montreal, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, San Francisco); “Uncut” (1997–Honourable Mention, Berlin Film Festival); “The Law of Enclosures” (2000–Best Actor Genie); “Proteus”, co-created with Jack Lewis (2003); and “Fig Trees” (2009–Teddy Award for Best Documentary, Berlin Film Festival). His film/video shorts include “The Kipling Trilogy” (1984-5); “The AIDS Epidemic” (1987); “The Making of Monsters” (1991–Best Canadian Short, Toronto Film Festival; Best Short Film Teddy, Berlin Film Festival); “Herr” (1998); and “Packin’” (2001).
Greyson has taught film and video theory and production in Canada, the United States, Cuba and South Africa. Since 2005, he has taught film production at York University in Toronto, where he is an associate professor in the Department of Film.
Greyson’s publications include “Urinal and Other Stories” (Power Plant/Art Metropole, 1993) and “Queer Looks” (co-editor, Between the Lines, 1993), a critical anthology of gay/lesbian media theory (Routledge). He is a co-investigator on York University’s Future Cinema Lab. Supported by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the Future Cinema Lab is a state-of-the-art media research facility into new digital storytelling techniques and how these can critically transform a diverse array of state-of-the-art screens.
Greyson is active in various anti-censorship, AIDS, peace and queer activist media projects, including The Olive Project, Deep Dish TV, Blah Blah Blah and AIDS Action Now. His contributions as a member and through service on the boards of arts organizations include V/Tape Distribution, Inside Out Film/Video Festival, the Euclid Theatre, Trinity Square Video, Charles St. Video, LIFT (Liaison of Independent Filmmakers Toronto) and Beaver Hall Artists Housing Co-op.
In 2009, SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor announced that she had selected Transnationalizing LGBT Studies as one of the projects that would receive a Chancellor’s Leadership Project award. This three-year award gives the LGBT Studies Program the opportunity and resources to move its LGBT/queer courses and scholarship beyond national borders to engage questions of sexual and gender identities, theories, communities, movements, diasporas and politics from global and transnational perspectives by collaborating with colleagues in the United States, Spain and other parts of the world. The project is pursuing significant questions about LGBT/queer scholarship, pedagogy and curriculum such as: What new theoretical and political frameworks have emerged as LGBT/queer studies takes the transnational turn? How does this turn influence what and how we teach LGBT/queer studies to university students? In what ways do we connect and collaborate with scholars and scholarship from across the globe? The project will host two international conferences, one in Syracuse from Sept. 23-25, and the other in Madrid in summer 2011.
For more information on the SU Transnationalizing LGBT Studies project, visit http://thecollege.syr.edu/students/undergraduate/interdisciplinary/lgbt-studies/index.html.
For more information about “Fig Trees”, the director/producers or the cast, visit: http://www.yorku.ca/greyzone/figtrees/index.html.
6. The Temple News, April 13, 2010
1755 N. 13th St., Room 243, Philadelphia, PA 19122
Cracking the gender binary
By Maria Zankey
Queer Student Union is fighting to establish gender-neutral bathrooms around campus.
Ash Yezuita would like to wash her hands in peace.
“I don’t want to think twice about which bathroom I use, so I do use the men’s bathroom,” said Yezuita, a junior women’s studies major. “But sometimes I get so nervous about leaving [the stall] and having a run-in with someone. Yes, I do put myself in that situation. But why is that even a situation? When you want to pee, you shouldn’t have to feel like you’re making a life decision.”
Yezuita, whose birth certificate identifies her as “female,” self-identifies as “genderqueer,” a term that suggests there is no gender binary.
She is one of a handful of students in Queer Student Union spearheading a campaign to install or designate gender-neutral bathrooms in buildings throughout Main Campus. The campaign was in full-force last semester but has recently come to a lull.
Yezuita and fellow QSU Transgender Committee Co-chair Jess Balick said they hope to kick the campaign back into gear, with the campaign petition at the forefront of their efforts.
Last semester, the petition, which circulated via Facebook and QSU’s Web site, templeqsu.com, garnered more than 1,000 signatures. Mirroring Students for Environmental Action’s green fee campaign, Yezuita and Balick hope to collect signatures from at least 10 percent of the student body, or 3,700 signatures.
“[The petition is] still out there, still floating around,” Balick, a sophomore women’s studies major, said. “But there really hasn’t been any progress since last semester.”
Temple is one of a few universities that has yet to jump on board in designating gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. Many universities, such as New York University, Ohio University and the University of California-Los Angeles, include gender-neutral bathroom directories on their Web sites.
According to safe2pee.org, the nearest designated gender-neutral public bathroom to campus is in the Abbaye, a bar and restaurant located at the corner of Third Street and Fairmount Avenue in Northern Liberties.
There are a handful of gender-neutral bathrooms on Main Campus, but they are not open for public use.
Previously, there was only one public gender-neutral bathroom, located in Saxbys, but it has since been restricted to use only by paying customers. Balick said the official campaign goal is for one gender-neutral bathroom in every academic building on Main Campus.
“I understand entirely that a lot of the strife in this process is coming from the student budget,” Yezuita said. “But there are students on campus who don’t conform to either gender, as well as trans students who aren’t fully and visibly transitioned yet. Choosing a bathroom can be an extremely uncomfortable decision.”
After speaking with Senior Vice Provost and Dean of Students Betsy Leebron Tutelman, Balick said all he is certain of is what the petition won’t achieve.
“[Tutelman] said administrators won’t approve multi-stall bathrooms, but they could [convert] single stalls [to gender neutral],” Balick said. “She helped us to figure out what our steps were, what was realistic and what we could expect.”
He said the Transgender Committee’s next step is to plan a meeting with Facilities Management to figure out the financial aspects of the project. Newly elected QSU President Nina Melito said she plans to play an active role bringing the Transgender Committee’s goals to fruition.
“There are not a lot of outlets for trans people on campus,” Melito, a freshman biology major, said. “I want to try to get more of them represented through QSU, and I want to help get the petition back up and running.”
Yezuita said it wasn’t a conscious decision to stop pushing the campaign, but it “more or less got put on the back burner.”
This semester, Yezuita worked to establish her brainchild, Purple Circle, as an official student organization. Purple Circle is a nonpolitical organization for queer students and allies that is less about activism and more about socializing.
“Working on Purple Circle was the baby this semester,” Yezuita said. “And when the [Westboro Baptist Church] announced they were coming – when anything like that is announced in the queer community – we all just kind of dropped everything to prepare.”
Yezuita, as president and founder of Purple Circle, assumed WBC counter-protest organizational duties at the last minute. Still, in only an hour, she managed to raise $450 for Attic Youth Center, an organization that creates opportunities for LGBTQ youth to develop into independent, civic-minded adults within a safe community.
Even so, Yezuita said QSU’s and Purple Circle’s other successes should not distract LGBTQ students and allies from the fact that gender-neutral bathrooms are vital implementations that should continue to be pursued.
“It’s so funny ‘cause it’s a weird sort of safe space,” Yezuita said. “Why is bathroom space so sacred? And why do we find that sacredness where we pee? When you have to go to the bathroom, you shouldn’t be forced to put yourself in a, literally, gendered box.”
Maria Zankey can be reached at email@example.com.
7. The State Press (Arizona State University), April 14, 2010
State Press Newsroom or State Press Editor, 950 S Cady Mall, Tempe, AZ 85287-1502
Mississippi school says ‘no’ to lesbians, prom
By Noah Lewkowitz
Constance McMillan is gay. She has been openly gay since the 8th grade. Now, a high school senior, her actions have cost hundreds of students their school-sponsored prom.
Twice McMillan asked school administrators if she could take her girlfriend to prom. The second time the question was posed, along with a negative response, a memo was sent out to the entire school stating that your prom guest “must be of the opposite sex.”
Feeling her First Amendment rights were being trampled on, McMillan contacted the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU threatened legal action if the school did not change its decision to let McMillan attend the prom with her girlfriend, and to allow her to wear a tuxedo.
The threat proved too much for school administrators, so they canceled prom. The school’s official statement, which can be found on the ACLU Web site, said the cancellation was due to “distractions to the educational process.” Perhaps enlightening students to the acceptance of gay people would enhance the educational process, not hinder it.
Unless they have a phobia of rainbows or RuPaul’s Drag Race, why would school administrators ban same sex couples from prom?
According to a 2009 Baylor University study, there is one variable that routinely contributes to a fear of homosexuals: religion. This makes sense, as religion is often linked with a history of violent persecution against dissenters, free thinkers and homosexuals.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that IAHS Principal Trae Wiygul and Vice Principal Rick Mitchell are pictured together on the school’s Web site with an “In God We Trust” plaque hanging behind them on the wall. Successful lobbying from the American Family Association, a fundamentalist Christian Organization headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi has resulted in a state law that requires the plaques. Funding, however, for the posters was never provided by the Mississippi state Legislature, according to the Right Wing Watch Web site, so the AFA provided the posters out of pocket.
In an attempt to appear sympathetic to McMillan’s cause the school helped organize a fake prom to which only McMillan and a handful of other students were invited, according to McMillan’s statement in an April 5 article on The Advocate Web site. Several of the other students were special needs children, which makes one wonder if this was an attempt to show that McMillan’s condition is also seen as a disorder in the eyes of the administrators.
That may not be such a stretch considering the scientifically dubious organization known as the American College of Pediatricians, not to be confused with the American Academy of Pediatrics, recently put out a statement to all U.S. School Superintendents suggesting homosexuality is curable and is a choice.
This is a grievous exaggeration of the facts, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The academic discipline of science was also perplexed with the “findings.”
The courts have already acknowledged that the school has infringed on McMillan’s rights, and the case will soon go to trial. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated occurrence. The ACLU receives similar requests every year from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual high school students from around the country. It’s time to shed the fundamentalist religious ideology essential to anti-gay sentiment, and let everybody in on the party.
Noah is putting on his prom dress. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. The Daily Pennsylvanian, April 14, 2010
4015 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104
U. adds transgender insurance
By Karen Aquino
In the next academic year, the Penn Student Insurance Plan will begin offering a new benefit for transgender students — it will cover the cost of the gender confirmation process, also known as gender reassignment or transition.
The benefit covers triadic treatment, the term used for the three-step process of gender confirmation. Triadic treatment consists of psychotherapy, estrogen or testosterone hormone treatment and sex reassignment surgery, which involves the changing of genitals.
The benefit covers the costs of surgery for up to $50,000. According to a research report by the organization Transgender At Work, the cost of male-to-female surgery can average around $20,000.
The initiative was introduced by the previous Lambda Alliance board, chaired by College senior and Daily Pennsylvanian columnist Dennie Zastrow.
“A problem with LGBT advocacy at Penn in the past had been that we overlooked the needs of transgender students,” Zastrow said.
According to the American Medical Association, a lack of proper treatment for transgender individuals can lead to “significant psychological distress, dysfunction, debilitating depression and for some patients without access to appropriate medical care and treatment, suicidality and death.”
Meeting their health-insurance needs was one way of ensuring the transgender community was looked after, Zastrow said.
Last semester, Zastrow brought the proposal before the Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee, a group consisting of undergraduate, graduate and professional students, as well as University administrators, that makes recommendations to the Office of the Provost regarding changes in student insurance.
After discussing the gender confirmation benefit, researching the costs and consulting with Aetna — Penn’s insurance provider — the Advisory Committee voted to recommend the “important” benefit to the president and provost, according to Engineering sophomore Shantenu Agarwal, a undergraduate representative on the Advisory Committee.
Last week, Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price gave the final approval for the Advisory Committee’s recommendations, thus finalizing the benefit’s inclusion in student insurance for next year.
The cost of the premium will likely only increase by a matter of cents, which is “very little for something so important for people who are transgender,” College junior and Lambda Vice Chairman for Political Affairs Jason Goodman said.
Because the PULSE survey, a questionnaire administered last year that gauged student climate on campus, did not publish data on the transgender community, it is hard to fully know the number of transgender students on campus, according to Goodman.
The transgender community’s lack of visibility “also has to do with the fact that if you’re a trans student, you want to live your life and not have to educate people,” Zastrow said. “But even if it impacts one person, all the advocacy efforts will have been worth it.”
Offering coverage for transgender students is “a necessary standard ... that brings us up to a level of parity” to other schools that already offer such benefits, Lambda Alliance Chairman and Wharton and Engineering sophomore Tyler Ernst said.
The next step, according to Ernst, would be to ensure that a similar benefit is added to the staff health insurance plan, which differs from that of students.
According to Penn’s Non-Discrimination Policy, the school does not discriminate on the basis of gender identity.
Without covering the transition process for transgender students, “we previously were [discriminating], and now we’re taking steps to rectify that,” Zastrow said.
9. The Salt Lake Tribune, April 18, 2010
90 S. 400 West, Suite 700, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Gay issues take stage at SUU forum
By Mark Havnes
Cedar City - When Russell Kennedy moved to Cedar City from Delta in 1983, he was afraid of being labeled as gay. The Southern Utah University student left to live on the East Coast, and was surprised to find more tolerance when he returned about 10 years ago.
"There have been remarkable advances since coming in off the farm in Delta," said Kennedy, who authored an anti-discrimination resolution on sexual orientation adopted by the Cedar City school earlier this year. "Even if we don't always win, with like Proposition 8 [outlawing gay marriage] in California, it increases exposure for issues and raises the level of dialogue."
Kennedy participated in a panel discussion hosted Wednesday by the Southern Utah University (SUU) Queer Straight Alliance and the Leavitt Center for Politics. The event drew an audience of about 50 students to the Sharwan Smith Center.
Among the issues addressed were the role of organized religion in the debate over gay marriage and policies that protect workers regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Salt Lake City recently adopted such a policy and other Utah cities are considering them.
The Salt Lake policy was supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because it was not "violent" to the institution of marriage, among other factors.
Panelist Darcy Godddard, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union in Utah, said she is pleased with Salt Lake City's policy, for the most part. "It's a step in the right direction," she said, adding she was disappointed the measure did not include stiffer penalties such as those outlined in federal anti-discrimination law.
Nadine Hansen, a Cedar City lawyer who started the Web page Mormonsfor8.com, also praised Salt Lake City but was offended by the LDS Church's implication that the institution of marriage would suffer if gays are allowed to marry. "It is denigrating."
Hansen said while religious institutions have a right to get involved in political issues, she said they should not be allowed to hide behind their tax-exempt status. She favors stricter guidelines regarding churches' financial disclosures.
Ben Smith, president of the SUU Queer Straight Alliance, said the group plans to host more such discussions to promote awareness of civil rights for the LBGT (lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender) community in southern Utah.
Student JaiteePitts who attended the panel discussion, said she thought Wednesday's discussion "raised some good issues. But I don't know what the answers are or if we ever will."
10. The Daily Collegian (Penn State University), April 14, 2010
23 S. Burrowes St., University Park, PA
Recovering addict talks of experiences
By Chidi Ugwu
Even though her days as a self-proclaimed BLOC (big lesbian on campus) have been over for more than a decade, Jennifer Storm still considers Penn State her home.
Storm, author of "Leave the Light On: A Memoir of Recovery and Self-Discovery," spoke to a small audience Tuesday night in the HUB auditorium about her struggles with addiction, recovery, and how her time at Penn State helped her through it.
"I had a really positive experience here," she said. "And I did it completely clean and sober."
Storm said that her addiction problems began after she was sexually assaulted at age 12, and she soon found herself dependant on alcohol and various drugs to get through the day. Once she became serious about trying to get clean, Storm uprooted her life and became a student at Penn State.
"Everything was a party for me," she said. "When I got here and I was actually sober, it was like a whole new world."
While Penn State does have a reputation for being a heavy drinking school, Storm said there is much more to do here if people are willing to look.
She recalled an instance where someone flew into a drunken rage after she told him she wouldn't take a shot of alcohol, even if it was his birthday.
It took a bit of getting used to, but Storm said she eventually learned how to resist the peer pressure she encountered regularly and how to avoid the situations where she would encounter it.
Storm said it was her involvement on campus that allowed her to stay clean and sober throughout her four years at Penn State and gave her the courage to be more open about her sexuality.
"I can't tell you the number of times I was on the cover of the Collegian with a rainbow flag screaming about something," Storm said.
The author's courage and openness about her life served as an inspiration for Sophie Lamour.
"Her story, everything she went through, was really interesting," Lamour (freshman-premedicine) said. "The strength it must have taken her to talk about all that stuff is so impressive."
But her high profile position as an LGBTA student advocate was not without its drawbacks. Storm said she had once received death threats because of her work. She later tracked down the
perpetrator, only to find out he was only a 17-year-old from New Jersey.
Storm's main message was that the best thing people can do for themselves is be true to who they really are.
"Living your life as honestly and authentically as you can is really the biggest thing you can do," she said.
"The inspirational message was what really stood out to me," John Koznecki (sophomore-biology) said. "That's the kind of thing that really helps people who are going through rough patches in their own lives."
11. The Tufts Daily, April 14, 2010
Curtis Hall, Tufts University, Medford, MA
QSA takes alternative approach to this year’s Day of Silence
By Amelie Hecht
The 14th annual national Day of Silence, a student-organized event intended to draw attention to the silence, bullying and harassment endured by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, will take place this Friday.
Participating students will take a vow of silence for the day to remember the mistreatment of LGBT community members.
Tufts’ Queer Straight Alliance (QSA), which is sponsoring the Day of Silence on campus, has this year decided to take an unusual approach to the annual event.
While the Day of Silence, sponsored nationally by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is generally geared toward raising awareness about the silence experienced by students who are not out, the QSA wants to focus on those members of the LGBT community who are out, but still feel silenced.
“Our goal with the Day of Silence at Tufts this year is to make people think about the silence you have to endure even after you come out,” QSA co-president Allister Chang, a sophomore, said.
Chang explained that while Tufts is largely an accepting environment, many LGBT community members continue to feel uncomfortable in certain situations.
“We feel that Tufts is a comfortable environment where students often feel like they can come out, but after you do come out, you do still sometimes have to live in silence,” Chang said. “There is silence imposed even by a comfortable environment.”
QSA co-president sophomore Kathryn Salwen explained that some students would be this year using the day as a day of noise rather than a day of silence to more effectively achieve its goals.
“This year, we are trying to take different approach because on the Tufts campus, while people are generally tolerant … they are often indifferent toward queer issues,” Salwen said. “In a community where we have achieved tolerance, the next step is to make people more knowledgeable.”
She added that QSA members on Friday will be sitting on the President’s Lawn under a large rainbow flag, hoping to talk to students passing by about the experience of being a member of the LGBT community.
“Our goal is to make people think,” Chang said. “We are hoping to help people learn more about the societal limitations placed on members of the [LGBT] community.”
The QSA on Thursday night will also be painting the cannon and on Friday itself will distribute fliers describing stories and situations in which LGBT community members have felt silenced or uncomfortable.
12. The New York Times, April 18, 2010
620 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018
Finding a Gay-Friendly Campus
By John Schwartz
The scene was similar to one that plays out thousands of times a year in gyms and auditoriums around the country: a college fair. The folding tables, the school banners, the admissions officers with a student representative or two, and the brochures and tchotchkes laid out. The only thing that might have made this one appear out of the ordinary was the preponderance of handouts with rainbow designs, and the fact that the fair was being held at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in Greenwich Village. This college fair, and several like it around the country, was devoted to recruiting gay students.
“Actually going out and recruiting a gay student — that’s a very new thing for colleges,” says Shane L. Windmeyer, the co-founder of Campus Pride, a national organization that promotes safe college environments for gay students and sponsored the event.
While Ivy League schools are often represented, the fairs also attract lesser-known institutions like Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Scott A. McIntyre, associate director of admissions there, says that his university attends some 500 fairs each year, and that including one for gay students made sense.
“The more I can help my institution be open to diversity of all different kinds,” he says, “it’s just going to make us a stronger university, and it’s going to make our student body be more robust.”
All this is good news for the young gay applicant. Of course, being gay does not lend an advantage, and the embrace is not universal inside admissions offices, and out. While much of the stigma of homosexuality may have eased over the years, harassment and even violence are still real concerns around campus — Matthew Shepard, after all, was an undergraduate.
Students are looking for colleges where they will feel comfortable and safe, Mr. Windmeyer says. Also, he says, “straight students who have gay family members want to find a campus that is welcoming,” so, for example, two moms can show up for parents weekend without a ripple. “They don’t want to pick a college that’s not going to be accepting of people they love.”
Although many young people say they do not feel the anguish about coming out that has burdened past generations, the fact is that adolescence is a time of strong pressures to conform, and being different in any way can cause intense inner turmoil.
Life’s conflicts can make for compelling narratives — the stuff of memorable college essays. And students are working the story of their sexuality into their admissions essays. “Students are finding out that not only are they not being discriminated against for revealing their orientation in their applications, it may be an extra,” says Rachel Pepper, a co-author of “The Gay and Lesbian Guide to College Life.”
As with all essays, the value is in what you actually say. Being spurred to found an organization or join one could show the positive attitude and leadership abilities that colleges look for, Ms. Pepper says. “Students who are out in high school and are comfortable enough to put this in their essay are probably leaders.”
Another reason for a student to be up front about sexual orientation: scholarships and other financial help have emerged from such groups as the Point Foundation, the League Foundation at AT&T, and Colage (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere).
The University of Pennsylvania made waves this year when the online publication Inside Higher Ed reported on the university’s new outreach policy: applicants whose essay identifies them as gay are put in touch with gay students and organizations on campus. Eric J. Furda, the dean of admissions, told the publication that it was doing for gay applicants what it has long done for other groups. “We are speaking to students on the areas they are most interested in,” he says.
To some admissions officials, Penn was taking risks with students’ privacy. S. Caroline Kerr, the senior assistant director of admissions at Dartmouth, says that sending gay-themed information to students can be delicate. “A lot of them aren’t out to their parents or might have only come out to some friends,” she says. “We’re more concerned about how we approach them with information than I perhaps am with different students. If someone talks about involvement with the gay student alliance in their essay, I’m not adding them to the list.” But Dartmouth is, for the second year, sending information about gay life and organizations to students who specifically request it on forms asking about their interests.
Ms. Kerr says that “I have gotten some raised eyebrows” from alumni, who have been surprised to find that there are special recruiting efforts for gay students and have asked, “Do you mean to tell me you are admitting someone based on this?” She counters: “That is not the case. You’re not admitting anyone based on a single aspect of their candidacy.”
The University of Southern California, too, reaches out to applicants who identify themselves as gay or transgender. Prospective students can have a “Rainbow Floor Overnight Experience” — a night on the gay floor of a residence hall and a day visiting their host’s classes and student organizations.
Derek Pooley, an admissions counselor at the State University of New York at Potsdam, manned a booth at the New York college fair this past fall. “The first person I had come up to me was a drag queen,” he says. “I thought that was fantastic.”
He says, though, that not many in attendance expressed a strong interest in Potsdam, perhaps because it doesn’t have a reputation as a gay haven. Mr. Pooley, who is gay and graduated from there last year, let a lot of people know “I had a great experience; not once did I ever feel uncomfortable there.”
Ms. Pepper has served as program coordinator for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies at Yale, which is known for its curriculum on gay issues. She says that while some institutions, including Yale, get reputations as a gay school, “you don’t want to just take any school on its reputation.”
Campus Pride’s Web site serves as a virtual college fair for gay-friendly colleges, and provides a sense of the activities and services geared to various interests. Its “campus climate index” ranks colleges based on programs and policies, including identifying those with strong ones to protect gay students — say, explicitly including them in their declarations against discrimination.
Another clue to an institution’s commitment: whether staff members serve as advisers to gay student groups, and what accommodations are made. Transgender students, Ms. Pepper says, would want to know if the health center provides hormone shots as part of the health plan.
The Princeton Review, which surveys 122,000 students on a variety of topics for its “Best 371 Colleges: 2010 Edition,” has come out with a ranking of colleges where the gay community is “most accepted.” (New York University was No. 1.)
That approach, however, drew criticism from Mr. Windmeyer: asking the overall population whether gays are accepted on campus — “Oh, gay people, I love ’em!” he mocks — “is not the way to assess how gay students feel.” Campus Pride is working on its own survey, which Mr. Windmeyer says he hopes to publish in September.
Mr. McIntyre, the admissions officer from Indianapolis, says that a welcoming environment is only part of what makes a campus right for a prospective gay student. “It’s important that when students are looking for colleges, it’s not, ‘What’s the best college I can get into?’ but ‘What’s the best fit for me?,’” he says.
Mr. McIntyre represented his university at a Campus Pride fair earlier this year at the University of Southern California. He took his 17-year-old son, Anderson, who had come out to him two years ago. Mr. McIntyre says he saw the trip as an opportunity for his son to explore campuses’ attitudes and acceptance.
But Anderson was not so much impressed by whether a college was gay friendly as its focus on his areas of interest. “That’s great,” he told his father, “but do they have photography?”
13. The Harvard Crimson, April 16, 2010
Opinion: Should Colleges Ask?
By Ryan M. Rossner
Harvard’s attitude towards homosexuality has changed dramatically over the past century. In 1920, the University, under the leadership of Abbott L. Lowell, Class of 1877, established a secret court to discover and expel homosexuals within the community. During the 1950s, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Wilbur J. Bender ’27, tried to improve the admission office’s “ability to detect homosexual tendencies and serious psychiatric problems.” Now, sexual orientation is again becoming a controversial subject for elite college admissions officers. The LGBT interest group Campus Pride has proposed adding an optional question about sexual orientation to the Common Application. Supporters of this movement believe that such a question will better enable colleges to meet the needs of LBGT prospective applicants and would produce a more sexually diverse classes. However, although it has the best intentions, the current proposition is flawed for several reasons.
First, unlike race, gender, or geographical location, by age 18 some applicants are unsure of their sexual orientation. College admissions committees seeking a diverse LGBT community would have to deal with the possibility that some applicants may not want, or be ready to, identify their LGBT status. Research shows that only 0.5 percent of teenage males identify as being homosexual, but averages among adults are higher. Those teenagers, who will eventually join the LGBT community, will remain unidentified during the admissions process. Other LGBT applicants might feel pressured to reveal their sexual identity to their family, friends, and teachers before they are ready. Coming out in college is very common, especially in accepting atmospheres such as Harvard; individuals who wait until college, despite being valid members of the LGBT community, would go undetected and unrepresented.
A related problem is the semantics of the exact question; would it be in binary form—gay or straight? What about bisexual and transsexual identities? The Common Application is unlikely to produce a question that is both inclusive and specific enough to be useful. How could applicants be expected to squeeze something as personal as their sexuality into a tiny box to be checked?
It is also unclear exactly what a sexually diverse class would look like. Should admissions offices make the class percentages match the national averages? Studies estimating the percentage of homosexual males in the US population range from 2 percent to 10 percent. However, it is possible that the percentage of homosexual students at a university, such as Harvard, might be higher. Recent research suggests that homosexual male college students are, on average, more academically inclined and have higher grade point averages than their heterosexual counterparts.
Finally, it would be naïve to believe that people would not lie about their sexual orientation. Some individuals are willing to do or say anything to get in to an elite college. But, unlike race, sexual orientation would be easy to fake, as colleges would have no ethically acceptable ways of checking.
Admittedly, the sentiment behind introducing a question about sexual orientation to the Common Application marks an important shift in the right direction. There is a need for queer students to feel more accepted on college campuses. Many students come from less-than-accepting backgrounds and unfortunately, homosexuality (and the social pressures it engenders) remain correlated with teenage suicide attempts.
Thus, many elite academic institutions have sought to welcome admitted LGBT applicants through special outreach programs; Harvard sets up “queer friendly” hosts for visiting admitted students who request them, and this year, the University of Pennsylvania has been vocal about establishing LGBT recruitment projects. These efforts have been welcome and valuable.
Nevertheless, it would be more beneficial for all involved if students were admitted for their merits and more overt perspectives rather than their choice of bedfellow. If an applicant’s sexual orientation is an important part of his identity, nothing stops him, her, zhim or zer from discussing it. But, attempts to balance a class for sexual orientation—as might be done for other measures of diversity—would be misleading. Indeed, forcing the issue upon applicants, and then using the information to determine the composition of the admitted class would be unfair and ineffective.
Ryan M. Rossner ’13, a Crimson editorial comper, lives in Grays Hall.
14. The Washington Post, April 18, 2010
1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071
Supreme Court to consider case against California law school
By Robert Barnes
SAN FRANCISCO -- At the oldest law school in the West, law is being made this semester, not just taught.
In a case that carries great implications for how public universities and schools must accommodate religious groups, the University of California's Hastings College of the Law is defending its anti-discrimination policy against charges that it denies religious freedom.
The college, which requires officially recognized student groups to admit any Hastings student who wants to join, may be well-meaning, says the student outpost of the Christian Legal Society. But the group contends that requiring it to allow gay students and nonbelievers into its leadership would be a renunciation of its core beliefs, and that the policy violates the Constitution's guarantee of free speech, association with like-minded individuals and exercise of religion.
"Hastings' policy is a threat to every group that seeks to form and define its own voice," the group told the court in a brief. The case, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, will be argued in the Supreme Court Monday morning.
Hastings counters that the CLS, a national organization that seeks to "proclaim, love and serve Jesus Christ through the study and practice of law," is demanding special treatment. It wants the college's official stamp of approval and the access to benefits and student activity fees that come with it, but it will not commit to following the nondiscrimination policy that every other student group follows.
The CLS is not being forced to do anything, Hastings contends. "A group may abide by the school's viewpoint-neutral open-membership policy and obtain the modest funding and benefits that go along with school recognition, or forgo recognition and do as it wishes," it said in its brief.
The case poses a quandary for a court that has recognized both the ability of public universities and schools to control the use of their facilities and funds and the right of religious groups to select members based on their beliefs. It comes as religious groups have become more active and litigious in demanding a place in the public forum of free speech.
Christian groups have brought suits against similar policies across the country, from the University of Florida to Boise State University. "In every case . . . either the courts have ruled for the religious student group or the university has settled or mooted the case by revoking its unconstitutional policy," the CLS brief asserts.
The controversy also raises questions about who needs protection. CLS lawyer Michael W. McConnell, a former federal judge and director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, likens the underdog status of Christian groups at liberal law schools such as Hastings to the way gay rights groups might have felt on a Southern campus years ago.
"One of the things I find kind of pleasantly ironic about the briefing in this case is we find ourselves relying on about a dozen cases that involve gay rights groups in universities," said McConnell, who was appointed as an appellate judge by President George W. Bush. The other side, he said, relies on decisions and legislative acts that helped Bible clubs.
Hastings has also brought in high-powered help. It is represented by Gregory G. Garre, a solicitor general under Bush who is now in private practice. The National Center for Lesbian Rights, which represented a campus gay rights group called Hastings Outlaw that is a party to the case, has made way at the high court for Washington lawyer Paul M. Smith. He successfully argued Lawrence v. Texas, in which the court struck down a state law making homosexual conduct illegal.
They are joined by 37 organizations and states who have filed amicus briefs. Notably missing is the Obama administration, which chose not to get involved.
Hastings is far from the usual image of an ivy-clad law school; it is a collection of mid-size buildings on the edge of San Francisco's gritty Tenderloin district. It draws applicants interested in public service, said Leo P. Martinez, its acting chancellor and dean. About a third of its students go to work for government or nonprofit groups, he said, and more California judges are graduates of Hastings than of any other law school.
There are nearly 70 recognized student organizations, including law-oriented groups such as the Federalist Society, ethnic groups such as the Middle Eastern Law Students Association and groups such as ballroom-dancing enthusiasts and Hastings Legal Vines, a wine club.
Martinez said he has been asked if the school's policy means that a Jewish organization would have to allow a Nazi sympathizer to join, and his answer is yes. "That's a necessary consequence of being nondiscriminatory," he said. "We accept students of all stripes. We can't do that and then tell some students, 'Listen, there are going to be some aspects of the educational experience at this school that are foreclosed to you.' "
Official recognition brings the right to use the Hastings name and logo, access to an e-mail address with a link to the law school's network, office space and meeting rooms, and small grants from student-activity fees and university funds.
A Christian group was part of the landscape for years. But when it decided to affiliate with the national CLS, it was told the group's ban of gays and nonbelievers in leadership positions violated the college's policy and its insistence that all Hastings students be allowed to join any club.
The CLS sued. A federal judge sided with the school, saying its blanket policy did not single out the religious group because of its views. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed.
The CLS's brief says Hastings' "all-comers" policy is a litigation strategy, at odds with how the college has actually treated other groups. It is not viewpoint-neutral, the brief says, because the policy "targets solely those groups whose beliefs are based on 'religion' or that disapprove of a particular kind of sexual behavior."
But it said all groups would be threatened if required "to admit as leaders and voting members those who disagree with their core beliefs and viewpoints."
Hastings counters that the CLS stipulated during the suit that the anti-discrimination policy applied equally to all groups, and said in its brief that the religious organization has created "straw men" to try to convince the court that there are greater constitutional issues to be decided.
Garre told the court in his brief that the CLS wants it to find that religious and other groups with a point of view "not only may insist that the public subsidize their practices, they may insist on using the state's name while doing so. Nothing in the First Amendment compels that remarkable result."
15. The New York Times, April 18, 2010
620 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018
Opinion: A Case of Discrimination
Hastings College of the Law, part of the University of California, rightly prohibits student organizations from discriminating. A Christian group that bars non-Christian and gay students sued the school for denying it funding and access to its facilities. The Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in the case. It should rule in favor of Hastings.
To qualify for official recognition, and receive money from a publicly financed university, groups at Hastings are required to adhere to the school’s nondiscrimination policy, which says that official student groups cannot refuse membership on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or other prohibited factors.
For years, the Christian Legal Society chapter at Hastings adhered to this policy. In 2004, it changed course and required members to sign a “statement of faith” that denied membership to students who did not share all of the society’s religious beliefs, as well as gay students. Hastings told the society that it could not remain a recognized group and receive money from the school unless it stopped discriminating.
The society refused, and when the funding stopped, it sued, claiming that its First Amendment rights of free speech, free association and free exercise of religion were being denied.
Under California law, it is illegal for postsecondary educational institutions that receive state money to discriminate on the basis of religion or sexual orientation. The school correctly determined that the law requires it to ensure that its student organization program does not permit discrimination. The school also has the right to pursue its own educational policy of promoting diversity and opposing discrimination.
Students at Hastings who want to join together in more exclusive arrangements are free to do so. They can form unofficial student groups. But Hastings is right that groups that bear its imprimatur, use its name and logo, and receive public funds must not discriminate.
In 2006, the Federal District Court that heard the case ruled for Hastings, and a three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed unanimously. The panel said that the school’s rules were “viewpoint neutral,” since they imposed a requirement of openness on all student groups, and were also “reasonable.” It was right.
The Christian Legal Society is not being denied any First Amendment rights. It is being told that if it wants an official association with a public university and public money, it cannot deny gays, non-Christians or members of any other protected minority equal rights.
16. The Brown and White (Lehigh University), April 20, 2010
33 Coppee Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18015
Queer and Ally Prom held to stand up against discrimination
By Opeyemi Akinbamidele
Students from all over the Lehigh Valley dressed up Saturday night to attend Lehigh's First Queer and Ally Prom in the U.C.
The night was graced with laughs, dancing and good food including coconut chicken, hot spinach and artichoke dip, mini deep-dish pizza and mini vegetable egg rolls. "This is the neatest prom ever, nicest food," Hope Sanderlin, '11, of Kutztown University said. "And the photo booth is the neatest thing ever."
The Queer and Ally Prom cost $10 but it was more than just an opportunity to dance off the night. It was also an opportunity to stand up against discrimination.
"I didn't go to my high school prom," Ryan Feuerbach, '12, said.
Aubrey DeCarlo, a graduate student, said she knew a lot of people who identified with the LGBTQ community who weren't able to dance with whom they wanted or dress how they wanted. DeCarlo said the Queer and Ally Prom was a fun way to give the opportunity a lot of people didn't have in high school.
Timothy Gardner, director of LGBTQA services, said the prom is a fun event where one can bring whomever he or she wants, especially following the McMillen case, which happened earlier this month.
According to the New York Times, Constance McMillen, a high-school senior, wanted to bring a girl as her date and wear a tuxedo to her high school prom. Her school, in Fulton, Miss., banned same-sex couples and women wearing tuxedos. When the American Civil Liberties Union got involved, calling the rules a violation of McMillen's rights, the school canceled the official prom and set up a private prom, which only five students attended. The rest of McMillen's school was invited to a different private prom.
The McMillen case brought to light the discrimination many LGBTQ members have been suffering from for years.
Sara Santos, '13, said, "I know it is always an issue, same sex couples at prom, so [Lehigh's Queer and Ally Prom] is a safe place for everyone to have fun."
DeCarlo was the main organizer of the prom, she and Gardner had started planning the event in October. "I knew someone who went to Boston College and they have a transgender prom every year," DeCarlo said. "And I thought it would be awesome to have a queer prom."
Sanderlin said she really enjoys the aspect of networking with other schools and bridging the gap with the other universities in the area.
"We always want to get together to do something," Erin Thorn, '09, said. "But we always never know what to do."
17. Central Florida Future, April 18, 2010
11825 High Tech Ave. Ste. 100, Orlando, FL 32817
Benefits not offered to all
By Ramya Jenkins
UCF stands for opportunity.
But those opportunities are limited for full-time faculty seeking partnership benefits.
Michael Freeman, the training coordinator for the Office of Diversity Initiatives, thinks UCF is “losing talented gay and lesbian faculty and staff because they are not offered the same benefits that our straight faculty and staff are offered.”
Because Florida does not recognize gay marriage, public universities in the state, including UCF, exclude domestic partners from the state insurance plan.
Many universities and colleges around the nation have found a way to insure domestic partners and their families regardless of their marital status.
The University of Florida is one of them.
In January 2007, an individual fund, outside of the set aside state funds, was created by UF for domestic partners, according to Wanda Santana, the benefits manager at UF.
“The University of Florida needed to attract faculty members, and the best ones, and for that we need to offer what the best universities in the United States are offering to their employees,” she said. “That includes a domestic partner plan, and we also have employees that are in domestic partner relationships, so we also wanted to include those employees.”
According to Santana, UF has 65 domestic partner policies out of 14,000 employees.
The total monthly premium for domestic partner benefits is nearly $7,200, about $110 per partnership.
“There are some faculty members that [UCF] can’t even recruit to this campus either because they are gay or lesbian or because they are straight allies who say ‘why would I want to work at a place where there is this kind of discrimination going on,’ ” Freeman said.
On April 20, 2005, the United Faculty of Florida brought the issue of domestic partnerships before the Board of Trustees, but nothing was passed.
“The university made it clear after we had extensive discussions and research back and forth that they were unwilling to consider domestic partner benefits,” said Jim Gilkeson, the chief negotiator for the UFF chapter of UCF. “Their claim was that to do so would be in violation of state law, so they refused.”
Gilkeson thinks that other universities were able to “get around the law” by accepting private donations to create an individual fund for these benefits.
“It was made clear to us that President Hitt did not see that as a priority,” he said.
The UFF at UCF will begin to bargain for a three-year agreement this year that will continue to fight for benefits.
Representatives for UCF could not be contacted by the time of publication.
“Trying to get independent coverage in this day and age is next to impossible,” Gilkeson said, “It’s affecting real people in real ways, and so we as a union are opposed to that kind of discrimination, and when you discriminate against people and the basis of the benefits that you offer, you are discriminating against them in a real way.”
By not offering competitive packages to employees, Gilkeson said, “it presents [UCF] as being a not good place for faculty to come to, on that level, and that hurts students, because they are not getting the best faculty possible.”
18. The Daily Orange (Syracuse University), April 14, 2010
744 Ostrom Ave., Syracuse, NY 13210
Gender-neutral housing attracts 82 students
By Jon Harris
Forty-one pairs of students are signed up for gender-neutral housing, offered for the first time in fall 2010, said Eileen Simmons, the director of the Office of Housing, Meal Plan and I.D. Card Services in an e-mail.
Phase three of Syracuse University’s housing reservation process ended Thursday at 5 p.m., with numbers of how many people took advantage of the option released Tuesday. The number of students who signed up neither met nor failed to meet expectations, Simmons said. Those who signed up said they are following the growing national trend of students who choose to room with friends regardless of sex. But others in the university community expressed concerns of impropriety as well as potential roommate conflicts for romantic couples.
For the first time, opposite-sex students could sign up to live in the same residence. Students could select a roommate of the opposite sex for two-person suites on Main Campus or apartments on South Campus for the 2010-11 school year. Watson Hall, Booth Hall, DellPlain Hall, Washington Arms and Haven Hall all have suites that were options for gender-neutral housing, in addition to the two-person apartments on South Campus, Simmons said. This provides 776 options, according to the SU housing Web site.
Simmons said the 82 students who signed up for the option wasn’t below or above expectations, as she wasn’t sure how many students would use the new program.
SU joins the ranks of more than three dozen colleges and universities across the United States that offer this housing option. Gender-neutral housing programs allow upperclassmen to select roommates with whom they are the most comfortable, regardless of gender. Gender relations have evolved over time, as students 18 to 24 years old are four times more likely than those over 55 to have a best friend of the opposite gender, Simmons said.
Amit Taneja, associate director of SU’s LGBT Resource Center, said there has been a “generational shift over the years” that has made it acceptable to room with a person of the opposite sex.
“Ultimately, the goal of the policy is to increase options that work for students,” he said.
In talking with colleagues from other universities offering the gender-neutral housing option, good friends of the opposite sex are much more likely to utilize this option than romantic couples, Taneja said.
Student Association Vice President Angelo Coker said the option is a “growing trend among universities around the country” that doesn’t force people to room with the same sex if they’re uncomfortable with it. Students who are gay and are more comfortable living with the opposite sex now have the option to, he said.
“Those who are now comfortable with being openly gay, lesbian or transgender, it’s easier now for them to attend a college of their choice, not having to worry about if it’s gay-friendly,” he said.
SA President Jon Barnhart expected the modest turnout, he said.
“With its first year in progress, I don’t expect a huge turnout,” he said. “However, I really do hope that students take advantage of it.”
But Barnhart’s chief of staff, Neal Casey, said he thinks the students will embrace the new housing option and help the program get off to a quick start.
“The student reaction is going to be probably very positive,” he said. “I think that most students don’t really care one way or the other the way the policy is, but I think that the students that will benefit the most will have great, positive feedback for the program.”
Over the past four years, various students at SU and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry have approached university staff to ask them to consider gender-neutral housing, given that other institutions offered the option, Simmons said.
In fall 2008, the University Senate Committee on LGBT Concerns brought several students, faculty and staff together to consider the option. After several meetings, it was recommended that SU conduct a pilot program for gender-neutral housing for fall 2010. That pilot program was approved by the Student Affairs Subcommittee of the Board of Trustees in fall 2009, Simmons said.
“I really do think it shows a more inclusive atmosphere or an effort to make our campus more inclusive in a lot of ways,” Barnhart said. “It shows the open-mindedness of our student body to not only come out and say that they need this, (but) to say that this is something we want and something we need from our university.”
But some residents may feel uncomfortable with members of the opposite sex living together, whether because of religious reasons or how they were brought up, said Danielle Sutton, Residence Hall Association president.
The Campus Bible Fellowship, an evangelical student organization, disproves of the new housing option, said Sandy Jewell, a staff member of the group. It would be preferable if a man and a woman weren’t living together, she said.
Coker, SA vice president, is taking advantage of the gender-neutral housing option and will be rooming with Sima Taslakian, SA parliamentarian. They want to share an apartment on South Campus because they’re “literally best friends,” Taslakian said.
“For me personally, I don’t have that many girl friends,” Taslakian said. “I feel more comfortable with Angelo (Coker) than anyone else.”
Taslakian and Coker don’t expect any roommate conflicts, they both said.
But not all roommates are expected to blend as well as Coker and Taslakian. Residence hall staff members are preparing to handle conflicts that may arise from the new living arrangement, Sutton said. Under the current policy, same-sex couples can already room together, so residential advisers know how to handle “disputes between couples,” she said.
In terms of domestic violence, Sutton said a resident’s safety is the main concern.
“In any situation like that, they’re going to move that person immediately,” she said.
Another concern regarding the gender-neutral housing option is the residence hall’s structural layout. There is a limited supply of two-person suites on Main Campus and there aren’t any gender-neutral bathrooms, Barnhart said.
Coed bathrooms have become a part of many colleges and universities across America, sometimes causing problems among residents. At Vermont’s Green Mountain College, a student filed a lawsuit against Vermont’s Department of Public Safety for the scarcity of single-sex bathrooms, according to an article published in The Daily Orange on Jan. 26.
For the future, Barnhart said he looks for SU to experiment with gender-neutral open and split-double dorm rooms.
“I believe that if the pilot program goes really well in the next few years, we’ll have a completely gender-neutral residence hall system,” he said.
The open and split-double rooms are not in the formal plans for the gender-neutral pilot program, and may not be included in the future should the program succeed past the first year, Taneja said.
Barnhart said SU is evolving to modern-day standards with the gender-neutral housing option.
“I really do think that, without having to rebuild the wheel, we’re able to take the old soul of Syracuse University and really make sure it adapts to its student body and the changing ideas and values of this country.”
19. The Daily Orange (Syracuse University), April 15, 2010
744 Ostrom Ave., Syracuse, NY 13210
Day of Silence to represent struggles of LGBT community
By Sara Tracey
Erin Rand experienced the power of silence firsthand. The communication and rhetorical studies professor watched a demonstration from the Women in Black, a group of middle-aged women who stood in silence in Fresno, Calif., to protest war and violence.
Though the women involved did not speak a word, Rand said the silence screamed.
“In a way, things have gotten very noisy. We’re bombarded,” she said. “Silence speaks louder than all that noise. Silence is the surprising thing. It’s the thing that shocks us.”
SU students, faculty and staff members will be involved in the Day of Silence, a national silent effort to raise awareness about issues important to the LGBT community, on Friday. The Day of Silence, which started at the University of Virginia in 1996, is centered on fighting silence with silence: LGBT students and straight allies refuse to talk to represent the silence some people find themselves in regarding their sexuality.
This is the seventh year SU will participate in the Day of Silence, said Lauren Hannahs, coordinator of the SU event. Students will wear tags displaying the reason why they won’t talk. At 4:45 p.m., those involved will gather on the Quad to break the silence, both symbolically and literally, with a cymbal crash and bullhorns.
After breaking the silence, speakers from around the Syracuse community will talk about the meaning of the day and why it is important to LGBT people and their allies.
Hannahs, a graduate student in the School of Education, went to a small high school outside of Syracuse and said no one at her school talked about their sexuality. She said the quiet was unsettling.
“I think, looking at my high school experience, it was all wrapped up in the notion of silence,” Hannahs said. “No one talked about LGBT things. No one was gay bashing, but they didn’t talk about it. The existence of the silence kind of shed a light on something that is not talked about or something people don’t allow being talked about.”
Though the event will take place on the Quad, Hannahs said, most of the participants in the past were local high school students. The campus serves more as a location for people to gather than a source of student support, she said. High schools that have participated at SU before include Nottingham High School, Baker High School and Liverpool High School.
SU collaborates with the Q Youth Center in downtown Syracuse, which provides an outlet for young LGBT members in the city, she said. Many of the high school students who come to SU for the Day of Silence are involved in the youth center.
Rand, the communication and rhetorical studies professor, said it is good for high school and college students to speak out for what they believe in.
“There’s no age that’s too young to start,” she said. “I think there are ways of doing age-appropriate awareness all along. Of course, high school and college are important because kids are breaking out, exploring things in their own lives.”
Nick Deyo, a sophomore at SU, said he was a prime example of youth activism. His high school experience showed how silent students felt in relation to their sexuality, he said.
As a junior in high school, he moved to London and started attending the American School in London. He came out before he registered in the new school. He said he was surprised when students were uncomfortable about his sexuality because several faculty members were openly gay.
“Nothing was said to my face, but people were uncomfortable about it,” he said. “It changed the way that people operated in that school before. The school newspaper even wanted to do an article on me. I was kind of against it, but ultimately, I thought it would be good to encourage other kids to come out.”
After the article was released, several students did come out, Deyo said. He felt he had inspired students and showed them it is acceptable to be comfortable in their own skin, he said.
SU is unique from other universities because of the LGBT Resource Center, he said. He said he is comforted by the fact that students do not have to look far to find support.
Deyo and other students said they feel the Day of Silence does not fit well with a college student’s schedule. Carlos Palencia, a senior acting major and an openly gay student, said he supported his friends during the last two Days of Silence but could not participate because he needed to speak for performance classes.
Palencia said students participating in the Day of Silence fight against anti-gay statements, but also show the real problems are ignorance and misunderstanding.
“You choose to let a word mean something to you when you’re insulted like that,” he said in a phone interview. “If someone called you a ‘retard,’ a ‘slut,’ a ‘dumbass,’ it’s kind of the same thing to me. It’s one of those things where you say, ‘I choose to not identify with that word.’”
SU community members said they feel the Day of Silence shows quiet is a hindrance and an asset.
“Queer people get silenced by institutions,” Rand said. “They’re made invisible. They’re victims of violence. They’re sometimes literally silenced through murder. Silence is clearly something that we need to work against.”
“When we can consciously redeploy silence, I think it’s a way to reclaim something very powerful. It’s like taking away someone else’s weapon and using it yourself,” Rand said.
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