Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.04.25
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. Inside Higher Ed - Anti-Bias Rules for Everyone
2. The Red and Black (University of Georgia) - Gay Muslim activist to lecture on faith
3. The GSU Signal - Christian singer Jennifer Knapp comes out as a lesbian
4. Staten Island Advance - College of Staten Island making some restrooms gender neutral
5. Kentucky Kernel - Campus not place for hate speech
6. The Chronicle of Higher Education - Supreme Court Appears Split Over Law and Facts in Case Involving Christian Student Group
7. The Chronicle - Duke College Republicans impeach chair: Robinette says he was ousted due to his sexual orientation
8. Inside Higher Ed - (Heterosexual) Love and (Women's) Basketball
9. Lincoln Journal Star - Union College event focuses on LGBTQ issues, school's policies
10. The Racquette (SUNY Potsdam) - LGBTA conference a success
11. Inside Higher Ed - Paying a Price for a Bias
12. Daily 49er - Transgender student assaulted with weapon at CSULB
13. WLWT.com - Students Rally Against Hate At Miami University
14. Metro Weekly - George Mason University: Chalk It Up to Pride
15. University of Chicago (The Chicago Studies Blog) - In the Spotlight: Diverse Groups Unite for Pride
1. Inside Higher Ed, April 19, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
Anti-Bias Rules for Everyone
By John K. Wilson
The case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, which will be argued before the Supreme Court today, is one of the most important debates about student rights at public colleges. The Christian Legal Society (CLS) is suing the University of California's Hastings College of Law because the group claims a religious exemption from the college's nondiscrimination rules.
At first glance, it may seem appealing to allow religious student groups to set religious rules for their leaders. But the practical effect of embracing religious oaths for student groups is a violation of individual rights, an attack on student democracy, and a potential increase in administrative power.
This dispute has its roots in the mid-1990s, when fundamentalist groups such as CLS sought to expand their influence on college campuses but feared that Christian students were becoming too tolerant of homosexuality. In 2004, CLS compelled all of its student chapters to adopt a strict Statement of Faith and standards of sexual morality for leaders, which led to the current litigation.
The First Amendment's rights to free association and free expression are paramount in particular at an institution of higher education. However, the Supreme Court has never ruled that student groups at public colleges must be given special rights due to their religious orthodoxy, and can ignore the universal rules applied to all student groups in a viewpoint-neutral manner.
Religious groups must have the freedom to express their views, even repulsive ones like homophobia. No one at Hastings ever tried to punish anyone for being in the CLS, or barred them from promoting their views. But when the society and other fundamentalist groups demand that universities violate antidiscrimination policies and the individual First Amendment rights of their students to accommodate this bigotry, they go too far.
Who Becomes the Enforcer?
Investigating the religious beliefs, moral values, and sexual activities of students is not something that any university should be doing. But if student groups are allowed to impose ideological oaths and religious tests for membership or leadership, universities are placed in impossible situations where such inquiries will be made in their names.
The CLS defenders, which include a vast group of 22 amici briefs and 14 state attorneys general, are wrong when they cite the Supreme Court precedents for a “right to exclude.” These cases, such as Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, deal exclusively with private organizations, a term that cannot apply to student groups at public colleges, which operate under the umbrella of public colleges -- receiving their funds and using their facilities.
This legal status is important because it means that there is no entity other than the administration that can adjudicate disputes over the meaning of a student group's bylaws. This ownership issue creates a fatal flaw in the CLS argument. Suppose the Supreme Court decides in favor of CLS and it receives recognition at your public college, and then it tries to kick out a member for being gay. Now think about what would occur if that student denies being gay. Do you want a public college – or a student organization acting in the college's name -- deciding whether a student is gay or not? Or whether he is a good Christian?
It is noteworthy that the plaintiffs' brief and the 22 briefs supporting it omit any discussion of exactly who shall be given the power to interpret and enforce the bylaws they deem essential to the existence of CLS at Hastings. But in such scenarios, student organizations or, in an extreme case, a college itself would be making such decisions.
The danger is even greater in this case because of the strict restrictions demanded by CLS. In order to be officers or voting members of CLS, students must sign the national CLS Statement of Faith: “Trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior, I believe in: One God, eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. The Deity of our Lord, Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary; His vicarious death for our sins through which we receive eternal life; His bodily resurrection and personal return. The presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the work of regeneration. The Bible as the inspired Word of God.” Virtually all of these statements present interpretative challenges. Does defining God as “maker of heaven and earth” require a belief in creationism over evolution? What does it mean to say that the Bible is “the inspired Word of God”?
But the Statement of Faith is not the only requirement for CLS leaders. The bylaws require that “Officers must exemplify the highest standards of morality as set forth in Scripture” in order “that their profession of Christian faith is credible” and must abstain from “ 'acts of the sinful nature,’ including those in Galatians 5:19-21; Exodus 20; Matthew 15:19; Romans 1:27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.” Envy, rage, hatred, jealousy, selfish ambitions, discord, dissensions, factions, drunkenness, greed, coveting, slander, evil thoughts, and violating the Sabbath are all prohibited by these Biblical passages.
Imagine for a minute that the CLS believes that a member was violating the statement by believing in witchcraft. She denies it. Could CLS demand that Hastings hold a witchcraft hearing?
Imagine if the leaders of a Christian Legal Society are irritating administrators with public protests against abortion rights. These administrators could retaliate by removing the student leaders for violating their own statement of faith, by accusing them of being “angry,” which is contrary to the CLS bylaws. It would be simple to accuse the leaders of some religious heresy, put them through an ideological trial, arbitrarily decree them guilty, and then remove them. So allowing religious tests in the bylaws of student groups actually increases the threat of administrative abuse because it gives the administration the power to determine the leadership of student groups. Administrators at public colleges will certainly try not to get involved in theological debates, but individual students could file complaints that CLS leaders have felt envy or violated the Sabbath, and demand that administrators (or courts) remove them from office.
CLS and its supporters argues that the university’s rules could force it to accept members who disagree with its mission. However, that’s essential in order to protect every student group.
It may seem strange, at first, to say that an organization might be compelled to accept leaders who appear to contradict its goals. But the phrase “compelled to accept” is inaccurate. The real meaning of an “all-comers” policy is that students are “free to elect.” No student organization at Hastings is compelled by the administration to accept anyone as their leader, because the administration does not pick the leaders. The members of expressive organizations are completely free to make belief-based choices in choosing their leaders.
The CLS brief claims that under an “all-comers” policy, “it would make it impossible to have … a vegetarian club (whose menus could be voted upon by carnivores)…” A vegetarian club can exist with carnivore members, and it should not ban meat-eaters in its bylaws. If it did, exactly what would that mean? Would a person who accidentally ingested meat be banned from the group? Can you eat a steak dinner every week but repent before dessert and become a vegetarian again? Could a vegan proclaim that non-vegan vegetarians are actually meat-eaters? Of course, these are all legitimate arguments for a vegetarian club to undertake when electing its leaders. However, by creating a constitutional ban on meat-eaters in its bylaws that overrules the democratic will of its members, the vegetarian club would require the administration (presumably a bunch of carnivores) to make the decisions about the core meaning of vegetarianism, decisions that instead should be made by the student members.
What CLS demands in this case is that administrators overrule student decisions about selecting their leaders. According to the Petitioners, “CLS is vulnerable to sabotage or takeover by a relative handful of hostile fellow students, who need only show up at a meeting en masse and exercise their rights to join and vote.”(Petitioner's Brief at 33) But hostile takeovers of student organizations are extraordinarily rare on public college campuses. There is not a single recorded case in American history where a roving gang of campus atheists have taken over a religious student group. The plaintiff's brief and all 22 briefs of amici curiae supporting the plaintiffs combined identify only two allegations of a campus group hijacking. In a 1993 case at the University of Nebraska, the College Republicans attempted to take over the Young Democrats, but there is no evidence in the record that they were successful. In a 2007 incident at Central Michigan University, a student on a Facebook page suggested (but apparently never took any action toward) a hostile takeover of a student organization.
The Supreme Court must not impose a remedy for a problem that, according to the written record of this case, does not appear to exist.
The nondiscrimination rules required by Hastings do not limit the Constitutional rights of CLS students. These rules protect the rights of these students by allowing members to select their leaders without interference from national organizations.
The demands of CLS run the risk of creating enormous governmental intervention and control over the religious views of students, a power that Hastings does not wish to have, and a power that it cannot constitutionally exercise. If the administrators of a public college evaluate the religious views of students and make theological decisions, they would be guilty of violating the long-established separation of church and state as well as the freedom of religious expression of students. For a public university to enforce the demands of external religious groups to restrict the rights of conscience of individual students is a clear violation of the First Amendment.
John K. Wilson is the founder of CollegeFreedom.org and the author of Patriotic Correctness: Academic Freedom and Its Enemies(Paradigm Publishers, 2008).
2. The Red and Black, April 18, 2010
540 Baxter Street, Athens, GA 30605
Gay Muslim activist to lecture on faith
By Adam Carlson
Faisal Alam is a gay Muslim — and he isn’t alone.
With his “Hidden Voices” lecture, Alam speaks directly to universities around the country hoping to bring to light a group that many forget.
“In my own process of trying to reconcile my own sexuality with my faith, I realized I wasn’t the only one out there,” he said. “And that’s really where my journey began.”
As a college student in the ’90s who struggled to balance his religion and his identity, Alam organized a retreat for others in a similar position. Out of that grew a formal organization: Al-Fatiha (The Beginning or the Opening), which works to improve the condition of LGBT Muslims in the United States and abroad.
Alam’s speaking engagements, though, are what allow him to cut straight to the heart of the matter.
“The idea is to demonstrate that Islam is diverse and that the Muslim world is very diverse,” he said. “I incorporate issues that are going on around the world. [Like,] why is it that these countries are suddenly going after these marginalized groups?”
In a post-9/11 world, the issues facing LGBT Muslims have become even more pressing, Alam said.
Countries like Iraq and Iran persecute gay citizens, leading them to seek political asylum elsewhere — including the United States.
Outside of the work his Al-Fatiha has done in reworking the image most people have of Muslims in the LGBT community, the group also helps refugees in just such a position.
Of the roughly 5-10 cases the group takes on a year, they’ve ultimately been successful with every one.
“I think it’s because they have the backing of an organization that can legitimize their cause,” Alam said. “We can go up there and say, ‘Yes, these are the problems this person is facing.’”
However, it is the unique work that Alam has done changing people’s minds and raising awareness around the gay Muslim community that brought him to the University.
“We’ve never actually had a queer Muslim activist so I thought that would be a cool niche to fill,” said Nicole Brand, director of finance for Lambda Alliance and organizer of the lecture.
From his unique perspective, Alam hopes to share his experiences with others — and, he said, to bring to light the challenges facing a group that many don’t consider at all.
“I think the [goal] is to really learn about some of the challenges that they are facing,” he said. “And to just learn about an issue that isn’t on everyone’s mind all the time.”
During the event, Alam will begin by discussing the standard images of Islam that many people have and the truth behind those conceptions. Afterward, he’ll use video clips and his own story to illustrate the larger problems facing LGBT Muslims followed by a Q&A.
The lecture’s organizers hope that this ability for him to engage directly students offers a valuable opportunity.
“I’m really privileged in the sense that I’ve lived this message daily,” Brand said. “But I would hope [others] gain perspective, because it’s a common ground.”
3. The GSU Signal, April 19, 2010
44 Courtland Street, Suite 200, University Center, Atlanta, GA 30303
Christian singer Jennifer Knapp comes out as a lesbian
By Elijah Sarkesian
This past week, shockwaves went through the Christian music community when Jennifer Knapp, one of the genre’s most critically lauded singers and songwriters, announced that she’s been in a same-sex relationship for the past eight years.
This time coincides with a seven-year sabbatical Knapp took after quickly becoming one of the genre’s most popular artists in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Feeling a lack of enthusiasm with music where she once felt joy, she wrapped up any commitments she had to promote her then-current album, 2001’s The Way I Am, and proceeded to drop out of sight.
Knapp, who releases her first album in nine years next month with the appropriately titled Letting Go, spoke with a few select media outlets to discuss her coming out.
When asked by Christianity Today about the extent of her relationships with women prior to her hiatus, and whether or not it was a struggle for her, Knapp responded, “During my college years, I received some admonishment about some relationships I’d had with women. Some people said, ‘You might want to renegotiate that,’ even though those relationships weren’t sexual. Hindsight being 20/20, I guess it makes sense.
“But if you remove the social problem that homosexuality brings to the church—and the debate as to whether or not it should be called a “struggle,” because there are proponents on both sides—you remove the notion that I am living my life with a great deal of joy. It never occurred to me that I was in something that should be labeled as a “struggle.” The struggle I’ve had has been with the church, acknowledging me as a human being, trying to live the spiritual life that I’ve been called to, in whatever ramshackled, broken, frustrated way that I’ve always approached my faith.
“I still consider my hope to be a whole human being, to be a person of love and grace. So it’s difficult for me to say that I’ve struggled within myself, because I haven’t. I’ve struggled with other people. I’ve struggled with what that means in my own faith. I have struggled with how that perception of me will affect the way I feel about myself.”
In spite of these struggles, Knapp has managed to find peace reconciling her spirituality and sexuality. Even though she’s coming out, though, it’s not something that thrills her to do, nor does it mean she wants to be the poster child for a gay Christian movement.
“I’m in no way capable of leading a charge for some kind of activist movement. I’m just a normal human being who’s dealing with normal everyday life scenarios. As a Christian, I’m doing that as best as I can,” says Knapp.
She continues, “The heartbreaking thing to me is that we’re all hopelessly deceived if we don’t think that there are people within our churches, within our communities, who want to hold on to the person they love, whatever sex that may be, and hold on to their faith. It’s a hard notion. It will be a struggle for those who are in a spot that they have to choose between one or the other.
“The struggle I’ve been through—and I don’t know if I will ever be fully out of it—is feeling like I have to justify my faith or the decisions that I’ve made to choose to love who I choose to love.”
Perhaps in light of a potential backlash, Knapp is targeting a different audience with her new album. Letting Go will be released to mainstream audiences through Sony-owned independent distributor RED, and neither the album nor any potential singles are being specifically targeted to Christian audiences.
“But there’s no reason they can’t play it,” she says. “To me, my faith is fairly evident in what I’m writing, but it’s not a record for the sanctuary. That in itself is a huge risk for me—to be able to write without feeling like I’ve got to manufacture something that’s not entirely genuine, to take a song and feel like I have to make an obvious biblical reference. That’s not there anymore. I’ve actually buried it; for me, it’s an exercise in liberty. In a spiritual context, will God still be evident in me when I write songs?”
Judge for yourself. Knapp’s new album, Letting Go, hits stores on May 11.
4. Staten Island Advance, April 19, 2010
950 Fingerboard Rd., Staten Island, NY 10305
College of Staten Island making some restrooms gender neutral
By Amy Padnani
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Most people aren't given funny looks when they walk into a restroom. Or yelled at to get out. Or even arrested. But for transgender people or parents with small children of the opposite sex, entering a bathroom can be a daily challenge.
"People really learn how to avoid using restrooms in public whenever possible because they do face a lot of harassment," said Michael Silverman, executive director of the Manhattan-based Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. "Sometimes that harassment takes extreme forms."
To ensure a welcoming, all-inclusive campus, the College of Staten Island is retrofitting about 20 of its restrooms -- one in each building -- to be gender neutral and family-friendly, making it the first educational institution in the borough to do so. Wagner College and St. John's University do not have plans to create unisex bathrooms, officials said.
"It's common sense, really," said Dr. Syed Rizvi, a professor of engineering, science and physics at CSI, who was instrumental in modifying the lavatories. "It provides people with a safe environment to perform basic human functions."
So far, eight men's rooms have been converted, with the simple addition of a lock on the main door. There are still urinals, several sinks and stalls -- including a handicapped one -- in each bathroom. The door is marked with male and female stick figures and a sign lets people know they can lock the door for privacy.
Rizvi said the school's Inclusive Excellence Committee came up with the idea after attending five days of workshops on diversity and culture at the University of Vermont, where they spotted the gender-neutral bathrooms. He was reminded of a time years ago, when he was frantically looking for a place to change his young daughter. Left with no choice, he diapered her in his car, and wound up with a soiled tie. Though he was fortunate to have a spare, Rizvi recognized not all parents are as prepared; the new bathrooms will be equipped with changing tables, from which at least 120 parents on campus can benefit.
Though CSI isn't the only place in the borough to offer such facilities -- they can be found at the Staten Island Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center as well as some restaurants and stores -- it joins a short list of about 50 educational institutions across the country, said Darryl Hill, an associate professor of psychology at CSI and co-founder of TransNYC, a support group that advocates for transgender rights.
"The CSI community is becoming increasingly cosmopolitan and diverse as we attract more and more students from across the five boroughs, and faculty from across the world," said Hill, who has been lobbying for the unisex restrooms. "We have to respond to their needs and provide a safe environment."
Transgender students have been known to: Take classes at night when there are fewer people on campus; wait until they get home; or rush to the library, where there is a private, handicapped, unisex bathroom.
According to the city Commission on Human Rights, public restrooms must be available to people based on the gender with which they identify. Still, transgender people are often leered at and eyed suspiciously. In one case, a phone repair worker, who was transitioning from male to female, was arrested three times for using the bathroom at Grand Central Terminal.
"You use the women's bathroom and cops and security come running in, demanding to know who you are and what's your sex," said Silverman of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. "That can be quite humiliating. It's really a difficult issue for a lot of people that leaves them fearful and nervous."
Still, not everyone is a fan of the retrofitted restrooms.
With just one person using them at a time, Andrew DiLorenzo, a junior and a DJ at CSI's WSIA radio station, envisioned lines of impatient students forming outside the door with people eager to relieve themselves so they can get back to class.
"It's going to be a time waster and it's going to be a nuisance for many students who will get annoyed," the South Beach resident said.
Others, like Antoinette Peters, a sophomore from Brooklyn, feared the facilities would be misused by couples engaging in hanky panky: "You just have to hope they're going to be adults. That's all."
5. Kentucky Kernel, April 19, 2010
026 Grehan Journalism Building, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0042
Campus not place for hate speech
By Vincent Purcell
On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 7, tensions flared in the Free Speech Area near the Student Center as I had the honor and privilege in leading a student protest against hate-mongers who came to our beloved university to spread a message of hate and intolerance.
Fully intending to stroll to the Student Center and enjoy lunch with friends, you might imagine my shock as I found myself harassed and insulted by these men who decided to come to my school and condemn me for who I am.
I am a gay man.
I am a very outspoken gay rights advocate on campus: I am on the executive board of the student-run OUTsource resource center, I am an active member of our Gay-Straight Alliance, and on top of that, I host a weekly radio show at WRFL focusing on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered issues.
What I am not, however, is a person to lay dormant and listen to the hate speech and do nothing about it. I fully intend to take back our university from those who come here and try to force their intolerant and often outlandish hate on us.
Yes, emotions ran high when the incident occurred, but we must respect the gravity of the situation we are dealing with.
The annual rate of suicide for young people who identify as LGBT is ridiculously high in this country. And at a place like UK where many of these people are coming to a progressive city such as Lexington, the last thing we need is hateful speech being espoused where we all congregate for lunch or walk from our dorms to class.
This sort of harassment leads to emotional damage to people already at a vulnerable moment in their lives.
I am part of a group of people staging protests in an effort to block out the hate speech. One of the primary objectives of the UK Gay-Straight Alliance and OUTsource is to provide a space and a group accepting — no matter someone’s identity.
We are here to foster the development and exploration of self-identity.
Knowing how stressful of a time college is and how important it is to finally live in a place where one can explore their own identity, we want to make very clear there are advocates fighting for LGBT equality. And while these hate preachers may come from off campus to speak their message, we are here fighting against them, because UK does not condone hate or discrimination or belittling of its students in any form, ever.
I took part in a group that caused our local celebrity, “Brother Rick,” to leave campus last November — he had a hard time justifying the names we called out who were murdered because of the hateful sentiment he came to our school to preach.
But the men who were here on Wednesday are professionals. We all remember the Matthew Shepard murder in 1998, and the backlash from the group led by Fred Phelps known as the Westboro Baptist Church (you may know this group as the people who in recent years staged protests at fallen U.S. soldiers’ funerals).
The folks who visited our campus that day are of the same variety: they will stop at nothing to garnish as much press and visibility as they can to spread their message of intolerance, injustice and hate to those different from them.
While the free speech zone is open for anyone to come and share their mind, it first and foremost belongs to the students. We cannot stop these outside people from coming and yelling at us between classes, but we can drown them out with our message of love and acceptance.
They might have every right to be out there, but I give you my personal promise that I will not stop being an advocate for all students on campus. I will not stop until my university is free and clear from those who choose to spread hate speech that is damaging to my fellow students.
This is our university, and this is our fight. Will you join me?
Vincent Purcell is a mathematics sophomore. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 20, 2010
1255 Twenty-Third St, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037
Supreme Court Appears Split Over Law and Facts in Case Involving Christian Student Group
By Peter Schmidt
As the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Monday in a case focused on whether a Christian law students' group has a right to exclude people who engage in homosexual behavior, the justices appeared deeply split—not just in their interpretation of the law, but in their understanding of the key facts underlying the dispute.
Many higher-education lawyers are closely watching the case, which pits the Christian Legal Society against the University of California's Hastings College of the Law, because the Supreme Court could issue a decision that leaves colleges and universities having to rewrite their nondiscrimination policies to let religious or political student groups reject potential members based on their religious beliefs or sexual practices.
During Monday's oral arguments, several members of the court's conservative majority expressed sympathy with the Christian Legal Society's argument that the law school's requirement that student groups be open to all infringes on the constitutional right of students to assemble based on religion or viewpoint. The court's liberal members, meanwhile, seemed supportive of the law school's argument that it has an interest in prohibiting officially recognized student organizations from discriminating against gay and lesbian students, regardless of the groups' motives.
Throughout the oral arguments, however, justices on both sides of the court's ideological divide expressed uncertainty about the exact nature and impact of the policy they were being asked to consider, because of remaining disagreements between the parties involved over the basic facts of the case, Christian Legal Society Chapter v. Martinez (08-1371).
Early in the proceedings, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, sounding exasperated, asked, "What is the case we have here?"
That confusion over facts was seen as offering hope to Hastings, which had discouraged the court from taking up the case. It has accused the Christian Legal Society's lawyers of distorting the record of the case to make the law school's policies seem more hostile to religious organizations than they had been depicted to be when they were upheld by lower courts.
If the Supreme Court resolves its confusion by considering only those facts that both sides have agreed on, it will end up considering the factual record in the light Hastings wanted. If the court throws up its hands entirely and decides it made a mistake in even taking up the case and should not rule on it at this point—something it does with a handful of cases every year—the law school's policies will be left intact.
Considering the court's ideologically conservative tilt, however, many legal observers believe the likeliest outcome is a ruling in favor of the Christian Legal Society, a national organization that excludes gay men, lesbians, and others whose behavior it regards as sexually immoral.
"I'm pretty optimistic," Michael W. McConnell, a Stanford University law professor who argued the Christian Legal Society's case, said after the proceedings.
In its brief to the court, the law school has argued that the only policy it has had—and the only policy considered by the lower courts as a result of stipulations by both sides—is one requiring registered student organizations to be open to all.
"There should not be any debate about what policy is at issue here," Gregory G. Garre, a former U.S. solicitor general, told the court in arguing the case on the law school's behalf.
The Christian Legal Society is arguing that the law school's "all comers" policy is actually the second justification it gave for denying society members on its campus recognition as a registered student organization. Initially, the Christian organization says, the law school cited a policy that the society sees as more blatantly discriminating against religious groups—an antidiscrimination measure that, it says, bars registered student organizations from having belief- or behavior-based membership criteria in which the beliefs are religious or the behaviors sexual.
"Every time the policy is mentioned, it seems to morph into something else," Mr. McConnell complained to the Supreme Court on Monday.
In an exchange with Mr. McConnell, Justice Kennedy said the case being argued "is a much different case if Hastings treats CLS differently than it treats the Democratic or Republican clubs."
Mr. Garre argued, however, that even if the court decides the law school's policy has changed, it should focus solely on the policy as currently stated, because the Christian Legal Society is seeking a court injunction against the policy now on the books, and not damages related to any policy applied in the past.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked Mr. McConnell how the Christian Legal Society can even characterize itself as "banned" from the law school, when the law school lets such nonregistered student organizations use its facilities. Mr. McConnell argued that, as a practical matter, every time members of the group have sought permission to use campus facilities, "they have gotten the complete runaround."
Both Justice Kennedy and Justice Stephen G. Breyer noted the absence of anything in the case record suggesting that significant numbers of students have actually been denied membership to student groups. Justice Breyer wondered whether it is even possible for student groups to enforce litmus tests for membership based on adherence to an ideology, or which groups can be seen as ideological in their view of who should join. "I don't know how the chess club feels about players of tiddlywinks," he joked.
On related points, the legal society and the law school also differ in their assessments of whether the all-comers policy has been consistently applied to every student organization, as well as in their predictions of how religious groups on college campuses will fare if the policy is upheld.
Mr. McConnell argued that the law school does not demand that every registered student organization accept all members, but Justice Antonin Scalia broke from his pattern of lobbing friendly questions at the Christian group's lawyer to scold its legal team for failing to offer solid evidence of inconsistent treatment.
Under questioning from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., Mr. Garre, the lawyer for Hastings, said the law school has required the campus chapter of the National Council of La Raza to accept as members students who are not Hispanic. In response to a question from Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., Mr. Garre offered assurances that the law school would deny recognition to an Orthodox Jewish organization that gave women a different status from men's.
Mr. Garre acknowledged some groups have membership criteria based on competitions or other measures of some form of merit, but argued that there is nothing discriminatory about such an approach. Justice Roberts asked, however, whether it might be possible for an organization to come up with a definition of "merit" based on a student's beliefs.
The Christian Legal Society has argued that, if all campus groups are required to accept anyone who wishes to join, then unpopular student organizations stand the risk of being subject to disruption or outright takeover by people hostile to their missions. Mr. McConnell raised that prospect in court on Monday, saying Hastings's policy requires a campus NAACP chapter to grant membership to avowed racists, or an environmentalist group to let in people who deny global warming.
Justice Alito seemed receptive to that argument, later asking Mr. Garre about a hypothetical 10-member organization of Muslim students. "If the group is required to accept anybody who applies for membership," Justice Alito asked, "and 50 students who hate Muslims show up and they want to take over that group, you say the First Amendment allows that?"
When Mr. Garre argued that there is no evidence of student groups being subverted in such a manner under its policy, Justice Alito pressed him, asking what recourse a Christian Legal Society chapter would have against such interference if the law school's all-comers policy is upheld. He questioned Mr. Garre's assertion that the original members of the subverted organization can always chose to leave it, asking in a skeptical tone, "If hostile members take over, former members of CLS can form CLS 2?"
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested that existing law-school policies against incivility or disruptive behavior prevent such takeovers from occurring.
Mr. Garre argued that the law school's all-comers policy promotes diversity of opinion within organizations, but Mr. McConnell said its impact is actually a watering down of differences between student groups. "If student organizations are not allowed to have a coherent set of beliefs, there can be no diversity," he said.
The four justices with liberal reputations focused much of their questioning on the law school's interest in prohibiting discrimination.
In exchanges with Mr. McConnell, Justice Ginsburg and Justice John Paul Stevens raised the question of how the professor thinks the law school should deal with student groups that hold or advocate discriminatory beliefs. Justice Ginsburg took her questioning a step further, asking how the law school should deal with a group that holds the belief that women should not occupy leadership positions.
When Mr. McConnell said the group should be granted recognition so long as it does not act on such a discriminatory belief, Justice Ginsburg said, "So they would have to negate their belief in practice?"
Mr. McConnell replied, "People can believe in all kinds of things that are illegal, but that does not mean they can do them."
In keeping with past court rulings showing deference to colleges' own decisions on the basis of academic freedom, Justice Ginsburg suggested that the best option for the court might be to leave Hastings alone to govern student groups as it sees fit. "It may be an ill-advised policy," she said, "but if the school says it is our policy, it is working fine."
Justice Scalia, however, was not nearly as accepting. "It is so weird to require the campus Republican club to admit Democrats, not just to membership, but to officership," he said. "To require this Christian society to allow atheists not just to join, but to conduct Bible classes. ... That's crazy."
7. The Chronicle, April 19, 2010
301 Flowers Building, 404 Chapel Drive, Durham, NC 27708
Duke College Republicans impeach chair: Robinette says he was ousted due to his sexual orientation
By Joanna Lichter
Junior Justin Robinette has been forced to give up his position as chair of the Duke College Republicans. Robinette says he was ousted because he is gay, but other College Republicans denied Robinette’s claims.
In a meeting Wednesday night, the group’s executive board voted unanimously to remove Robinette as club chair. The articles of impeachment approved by the organization list several instances in which Robinette displayed unprofessional conduct, but make no reference to his sexual orientation.
“From the comments made to me before, from the hostile environment created... I believe my sexual orientation had a reason as to my impeachment,” Robinette said in an interview Sunday.
Members of the College Republicans executive board rejected Robinette’s accusation, adding that his sexual orientation was widely known long before his impeachment. Robinette formally resigned from office Thursday following Wednesday’s impeachment vote.
Robinette had served as the group’s chair since his sophomore year. He was re-elected to the position without facing an opponent in February and confirmed in March—three weeks before he was forced to resign. Robinette also serves as co-chair of the North Carolina Federation of College Republicans.
Many of the instances cited by the executive board to justify Robinette’s impeachment occurred prior to his March confirmation. Among other allegations, Robinette was accused of fixing group elections, neglecting to coordinate events with the College Republicans at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and exhibiting unbecoming conduct, according to the articles of impeachment.
“Generally, it was conduct very unbefitting of our leadership,” said Duke College Republicans Executive Director Sam Tasher, a first-year law student and Trinity ’09. “It started in February through his actions. He pushed out a lot of formerly active people in the organization. Initially we didn’t do anything about it.”
In the last few months, several individuals left College Republicans because of Robinette’s leadership and have only returned after his removal, Tasher added. He said Robinette had repeatedly disrespected club members, demanding resignations of those who disagreed with his own agenda.
But junior Cliff Satell, former College Republicans vice chair, said he thinks Robinette’s sexual orientation played a role in his dismissal.
“It was premeditated. It was set in stone before anything happened. These people, all of them, voted three weeks ago to re-elect Justin,” Satell said. “And during the three weeks where it was discovered that he is gay... the next meeting that was held... he is impeached.”
Satell said he was approached by junior Carter Boyle, the incoming Duke College Republicans chair, prior to Thursday’s board meeting. Satell said Boyle asked him if he knew about Robinette’s sexual orientation and proceeded to discuss the matter in a negative tone, implying that he had told others as well.
Boyle, however, rejected these claims, adding that most board members had known of Robinette’s sexual orientation for months.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Boyle said. “Most of us knew about this for months or years and if we really felt this was an issue... something would have come up in the past.... It is utterly preposterous.”
The “trigger” for Robinette’s impeachment was his mishandling of the organization’s endorsement for Duke Student Government president, Boyle said. In a close vote, College Republicans endorsed junior Mike Lefevre, current DSG chief of staff and now president-elect. Robinette, however, supported junior Will Passo, vice president for Durham and regional affairs. After the endorsement was written, Robinette modified it to reflect the qualifications of both candidates and the board’s dissenting opinions, Boyle said.
“The way the situation was handled was a kind of embodiment of the way he handled club business,” Boyle said. “It’s simply that he tried to go through the endorsement as a partial endorsement of Passo, when his executive board fully endorsed Lefevre and only Lefevre. We had the endorsement written up and he chose not to send it in to The Chronicle, and he changed it.”
Although Satell thinks the executive board raised some legitimate points as grounds for Robinette’s impeachment, he said it is clear that the underlying factor was Robinette’s sexual orientation.
“Put it this way,” Satell said. “If he wasn’t gay he would still be president.”
8. Inside Higher Ed, April 20, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
(Heterosexual) Love and (Women's) Basketball
By Jennifer Epstein
When the University of Missouri’s just-hired women’s basketball coach spoke at a press conference this month, her message couldn’t have been much clearer.
“I’m a Christian that happens to be a coach,” Robin Pingeton -- who was hired away from Illinois State University -- said as her husband and three-year-old son looked on. “My values are very important to me.”
Though her mention of religion might have rubbed some observers the wrong way, it gave players, fans and others at the university a sense of who she was. But in women’s athletics, where there’s often an undercurrent of homophobia and a sense that female players and coaches need to “prove” they’re straight, Pingeton’s comments, along with what she said a few minutes later, seemed to be sending a message about more than just her faith.
“I’m very blessed to have my staff here,” she said. “This is something very unique, I think, for Division I women's basketball to have a staff that the entire staff is married with kids. Family is important to us and we live it every day.”
Helen J. Carroll, sports project director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said she thought Pingeton’s comments were a way of “subtly proving that everyone in their program was straight.” Pingeton’s mention of her religion, Carroll added, “was yet again, a subtle way of saying being lesbian or being gay would be against religious values and isn’t what our program is about.”
Women’s college basketball has a long and persistent history of struggles over players and coaches’ sexuality. Two women who coached Mesa College’s women’s basketball team alleged they were fired and discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and their attempts to bring greater gender equity to the San Diego, Calif., institution’s women's athletic programs. A lawsuit was resolved partly in their favor late last year.
In 2007, Rene Portland, who spent 27 years as Pennsylvania State University's women’s basketball coach, resigned under a cloud of allegations that she had discriminated against lesbian players, even though she denied the allegations. More than two decades earlier, she had told the Chicago Sun-Times that same-sex relationships were not a part of her team’s culture. “I will not have it in my program,” she said. (That story, published in 1986, cataloged the fears that some students, parents and coaches had about lesbians in women's basketball.)
Given that history, Pat Griffin, a longtime advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in athletics, also had a strong reaction to Pingeton's comments. “When the coach leads with a description of herself as a Christian and boasts at her first press conference about how straight her assistant coaches are,” the University of Massachusetts Amherst professor emerita wrote on her blog, “you have to wonder about what kind of team climate she will promote for student-athletes who are not Christian or who are not heterosexual.”
Kate Lakin, an assistant director of media relations for the women’s basketball team at Missouri, said Pingeton has since explained to one reporter who visited campus that her comments were misinterpreted. “Fostering a family atmosphere didn't mean anything other than building a community feeling,” Lakin said.
Griffin said she couldn’t help but conclude that Pingeton’s comments were a way of signaling to recruits and their families that her team would not be a gay-friendly place. “Is she beginning her recruiting efforts already by sending a not-so-subtle message to potential athletes and parents that Missouri is now a Christian heterosexual team?”
Tom Rogeberg, executive vice president of communications and marketing at the Kansas City, Mo.-based Fellowship of Christian Athletes, declined to be interviewed, but pointed to a comment posted on the student newspaper’s website. The comment, he wrote in an e-mail message, came from “one of her former players who is living in a gay lifestyle and has/had no difficulties with her coach. Instead of those who are wondering what the new coach will do, perhaps her former player would be best to ask.”
The comment is from “Jane Doe,” who identified herself as one of Pingeton’s former players at St. Ambrose University, in Davenport, Iowa, and “openly in a same-sex relationship with my partner of nearly six years with a son,” before defending the coach. “She develops a family atmosphere with her players and teams,” Doe wrote. “As a player, she NEVER pushed her personal religious beliefs upon myself and I never witnessed it being done to any other teammate. We were not subject to bible studies. Just because someone mentions they are CHRISTIAN doesn’t mean they hate gays.”
Regardless of what Pingeton meant to say and how it was perceived, Carroll, who coached the women’s basketball team at the University of North Carolina at Asheville in the 1980s and was athletic director at Mills College in the 1990s, said she thought that, within academe, the debate was unique to women’s athletics.
“I don’t think a university president would say anything like that,” she said. “But I also don’t think a football coach would say anything like that. The real message in women’s sports is, ‘I’m going to prove I’m straight.’”
9. Lincoln Journal Star, April 21, 2010
926 P Street, Lincoln, NE 68508
Union College event focuses on LGBTQ issues, school's policies
By Zach Pluhacek
Colin Daniels, whose mom is a Union College alumna, planned to enroll there after high school - until the school found out he was a gay activist, he says.
Before he mentioned his sexual orientation to the college, he says, "I was told that Union was the perfect place for me."
Then the school, founded by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, found out Daniels was gay and an activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer issues.
"Once I brought up the thought of me being involved in LGBTQ activism at Union ... it was: ‘Union's not the right school for you after all. You would not happy here,'" the 22-year-old said Wednesday afternoon, after he and about 25 other activists from around the country met with students and staff at Union College.
Daniels, from Kansas City, Mo., is a member of Soulforce Q, the young adult division of Soulforce, an organization that works for religious and political freedom for LGBTQ people.
The group pegged Union College - the 14th of 15 stops on Soulforce Q's nationwide "Equality Ride" - as one of about 200 U.S. colleges and universities that it says "have explicit policies that discriminate against LGBTQ students."
The school was looking out for Daniels' best interests when a staff member dissuaded him from attending, Union spokesman Ryan Teller said Wednesday, and the same applies to other prospective and current students.
Despite disagreements with Daniels' and Soulforce's point of view, Union officials said they were willing to listen and discuss it.
After hosting an 11 a.m. prayer gathering, the school gave Soulforce Q about 2 1/2 hours to state its case. The event, closed to the public and media, consisted of an hour with administration and 1 1/2 hours with about 100 other staff and students.
Among Soulforce Q's biggest frustrations: the lack of clear-cut rules regarding behavior and identity for LGBTQ people at Union College.
"Students are just really unsure about what they are able to do," group member Jennifer Luu said. "It's very vague."
The college doesn't disapprove of LGBTQ students and staff because of their sexual orientation, Union President David Smith said.
It does - based on Seventh-day Adventist doctrine - "draw a distinction between having an orientation and acting that way."
Soulforce wants the school to clarify the "acting that way" part.
If students go against what the school considers a policy "based on principle," they can be disciplined, Smith said.
In his 12 years at the school, no student has gotten in trouble because of sexual orientation, he said, but students have been disciplined for acting on their sexual orientations. He did not go into specifics.
Such discipline is usually limited to a lecture, but "could lead to anything up to expulsion," he said.
It's clear unmarried students of any gender aren't allowed to have sex in campus housing, but rules about such things as hand-holding and sexual acts off campus are less clear, Soulforce Q says.
Students also should be able to be open with their sexual orientations, Luu said, and it's not clear how open they can be.
Smith said the school might take some of Soulforce's suggestions to heart, including drafting specific rules for students and staff.
However, with the end of the school year nearing, those changes aren't likely to come soon, he said.
"This is a time for our campus when everything is really ramped up," Smith said. "I'm not certain when we'll be able to do that, but we certainly will be processing."
Two students the administration asked to speak with the media said the event was a learning experience nonetheless.
"I thought it was really interesting," said junior Serena Stevens, who supports legal rights for LGBTQ people. "It was very Christ-centered and very much about communication.
"I understand the college's position on it. ... My place is just here as a student to accept everyone and love them for who they are."
Junior Jared Henry, who shares the church's viewpoint, said he was still interested in what the visitors had to say.
"There is a lot of room for education," he said.
Reach Zach Pluhacek at 473-7234 or email@example.com.
10. The Racquette (SUNY Potsdam), April 23, 2010
9039 Barrington Dr., SUNY Potsdam, Potsdam, NY 13676
LGBTA conference a success
By Audrie MacDuff
On April 16, 2010, members of the SUNY Potsdam Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Association (LGBTA) attended the Northeast LGBT Conference (NELGBC) at the University of Buffalo.
The NELGBTC is a three-day student-run conference, originally held at the University of Albany. This annual conference is for LGBT youth and their allies working to unite a diverse community through activism, education and networking. The main goal of the conference is for students and faculty to collaborate in hopes of creating change both on their campuses and in their communities.
LGBTA sent 19 students to this conference and brought back an immense amount of information. When asked what he thought about the conference, Tyler Sliker, psychology junior and club secretary, responded, "the conference was very informative and has provided LGBTA with many ideas to give more to the campus and community."
Workshops attended covered such topics as creating a more LGBT-friendly college climate, maintaining healthy relationships and recognizing and monitoring hate speech, bullying and the media's portrayal of LGBT individuals.
Overall, this conference proved to be a great opportunity for LGBT students and their allies here on campus. The attendees have many great ideas to put forth in the future and they hope to use this new-found knowledge as a way to fuel activism and equality on campus.
11. Inside Higher Ed, April 23, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
Paying a Price for a Bias
By Scott Jaschik
The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state could not spend $10 million to build a pharmacy school at the University of the Cumberlands, a Baptist institution, because doing so would violate the state Constitution's ban on support for religious institutions. The university responded by announcing that it was calling off plans to create the pharmacy school.
The Kentucky court came down strongly against state support for a religious college at a time when other courts have made it easier for such government aid. And the decision marked an unusual endpoint to the university's decision in 2006 to expel a student for being gay. That expulsion led the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, a gay rights group, to take a closer look at the university -- and to challenge lawmakers' subsequent decision to support a pharmacy school there.
Jody Cofer, a board member of the alliance, said in an interview Thursday that she felt that the Supreme Court's action had brought some justice to the university's dealings with the state. She said she recognized that, as a religious institution, Cumberlands had the legal right to kick out gay students. But she said that when the university tried to get state money, it went too far.
"It's totally fine for a private religion-based school to admit or deny whoever they want, but they cannot act that way with state dollars," she said. "That's state-sponsored discrimination." If Cumberlands wants to discriminate, she said, it can't at the same time expect state funds.
"I feel really good about what happened," Cofer added. She said that the group had not previously focused on church-state issues. "The horrific experience Jason [the expelled student] went through is what put this on our radar."
The university declined to comment except to release a short statement saying that it was abandoning the plans for the pharmacy school. A spokeswoman declined to say whether the university bars gay students today, or to talk about the university's position on gay students. But the student handbook states: "Any student who engages in or promotes sexual behavior not consistent with Christian principles (including sex outside marriage and homosexuality) may be suspended or asked to withdraw from University of the Cumberlands."
The Supreme Court's ruling was straightforward. Cumberlands is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, and has never tried to deny that it is a religious institution. And Kentucky's Constitution, the court noted, states that "no portion of any fund or tax now existing, or that may hereafter be raised or levied for educational purposes, shall be appropriated to, or used by, or in aid of, any church, sectarian or denominational school."
Supporters of the idea of having the state pay for the pharmacy school argued that it would not be religious in nature, and also that because the pharmacy school was designed to deal with health issues, it need not be considered an educational institution. But the court didn't seem terribly impressed with that line of reasoning.
"How can an appropriation to construct a pharmacy school not entail an educational purpose? What could the construction of a building possibly accomplish in addressing the alleged shortage of pharmacists in the Commonwealth unless faculty are retained and students are then recruited and educated in a manner that will enable them to pass the requisite professional licensing examinations?" the decision asked. "The $10 million
appropriation is for bricks and mortar but its ultimate purpose is to provide a venue for the education of pharmacy students."
12. Daily 49er, April 23, 2010
1250 Bellflower Boulevard SSPA 004B, Long Beach, CA, 90840-4601
Transgender student assaulted with weapon at CSULB
By David Cowan
A 27-year-old transgender student at Cal State Long Beach reported he was assaulted in a university restroom at 9:30 p.m. on April 15.
The student said he was approached by a suspect in a restroom located on the west side of the KKJZ building.
According to a press release, “the suspect called the student by his first name, and the student responded. The student reported the suspect then pulled the student’s T-shirt up and over the student’s head and pushed him back into the stall. The suspect then used a sharp object to slash the student’s chest. The suspect then fled the area in an unknown direction of travel.”
According to CSULB Director Of Media Relations Richard Gloady, “no one has been arrested.”
University Police believe this was an isolated incident and that there is no additional threat to the campus community.
“All manners are being handled through our public affairs office,” said University Police Captain Fernando Solorzano.
Public Affairs Assistant Vice President Toni Beron was unable to be reached for comment.
Officers are investigating the case and ask that anyone who has information regarding the case contact Det. Johnny Leyva at 562-985-4101.
Brian Cuaron contributed to this article.
13. WLWT.com, April 22, 2010
1700 Young Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Students Rally Against Hate At Miami University
OXFORD, Ohio - Miami University students rallied against hate Thursday night after what some call a hate crime over the weekend.
Thursday, students marched and handed out buttons reading "No Hate On My Campus." It was part of the school's efforts to improve its image. The rally was attended by a couple hundred students.
"I think there needs to be change," said Nicole Price, a Miami University student. I think there are more hate crimes. More tolerance, there needs to be change."
"There is more graffiti in bathrooms," said student Michael Odulann, "and more slurs and hate crime that can no longer be written off as something else."
The previous weekend, two gay men were beaten up outside an Oxford bar after a drag show put on by Spectrum, a gay and lesbian coalition.
But even as the rally and the march took place, some students walked on by, not convinced hate crimes are increasing.
"I don't think it's a serious issue, but maybe I just don't know," student Adam Baer said.
A university police sergeant who has worked at the school for five years said he does not believe hate crimes have increased although he says there are isolated incidents.
As for the beaten students, Oxford police have not made any arrests.
14. Metro Weekly, April 22, 2010
1012 14th Street, NW, Suite 209, Washington, DC 20005
George Mason University: Chalk It Up to Pride
By Yusef Najafi
WHEN VIRGINIA ATTORNEY General Ken Cuccinelli showed up at George Mason University's law school in Arlington last month for a speech, about 50 students and faculty members were there just to ask him to leave. That's because the George Mason University-alumnus visited the college shortly after penning a letter to colleges and universities in Virginia stating that they should not have implemented antidiscrimination policies based on sexual orientation without an executive order.
While that demonstration speaks to Mason's gay-friendly atmosphere, GMU's Pride Alliance, an organization for LGBTQ students and faculty, is one that generally veers away from political activism.
'The Pride Alliance is here to let people feel more comfortable about their identity,'' says Alejandro Asin, 23, who serves as co-chair of the group.
''[Political activism] is something that should come up in our discussions, but it's not something that we focus on. We just want people to be here and feel safe, no matter what their ideologies.''
The Pride Alliance provides weekly meetings, movie nights and other events throughout the year, including a popular drag show in the spring, as well as week-long events to mark Coming Out Week in October.
''Sometimes we do excursions and take people to Dupont Circle or U Street to show them queer-friendly places,'' Asin says.
Asin found himself looking for a ''queer-friendly'' place upon transferring to Mason in 2007 to study biology and sociology.
''I didn't have any friends who were LGBT, and I was starting to come out then. I decided to go to a Pride meeting to meet new people, to become more comfortable and to learn more about [LGBT] issues, because I really didn't know that much.''
It wasn't easy.
''I was very nervous. It was a huge group, so it was hard and overwhelming.''
But as the weekly discussions continued, Asin says he became more comfortable being around LGBT people and that made coming out easier for him. '
Chalk scribbled on the campus's sidewalks is what led Myca Taylor, a 19-year-old sophomore studying history and religious studies, to a Pride Alliance meeting, though she was familiar with the group even before starting classes at Mason.
''I actually looked for [the group] when applying for colleges. Mason's Pride group was the most developed one I could find,'' she says. ''I didn't know where the meetings were until I saw a chalking [on the sidewalk] detailing the beginning-of-the-year pride party.''
Taylor got involved and says it was a life-changing experience. ''It taught me the importance of not only a diverse group of identities, but also the fluidity and lack of identities as well,'' she says. ''I firmly believe in having a safe space that LGBTQIS people can come and feel welcome, make friends and feel comfortable.''
In addition to the Pride Alliance, students have access to school's Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Questioning (LGBTQ) Resources, what Asin describes as the ''Pride Office.''
''It's just a place where people hang out,'' he says.
''I think it's a great place for people who don't feel like they're in the 'in' group to go, and feel comfortable about themselves.''
For more information about GMU's Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Questioning Resources, call 703-993-2702 or visit lgbtq.gmu.edu. For the Pride Alliance, visit pride.gmu.edu.
15. University of Chicago (The Chicago Studies Blog) April 24, 2010
5801 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637
In the Spotlight: Diverse Groups Unite for Pride
By Chelsie Sluyk
It's spring in Chicago, and that means humid April showers are beginning to project rainbows across the city. The University of Chicago was one of the earlier communities to launch their spring Queer Pride festivities last Thursday with a sea of pink T-shirts that shouted, "I'm [fill in your identity] and I'm proud!," This year's Pride Week, taking place between April 16-24, will culminate this Saturday with a drag and genderqueering ball which, according to their website, promises to be a "thrilling climax."
According to co-organizer Nicholas Cassleman (BS '13), Pride Week had three main goals: to help inspire unity, raise awareness, and provide fuel for conversation.
Last Thursday's loud pink T-shirt distribution was followed on Friday by a day of silence and a vigil to raise awareness of ongoing anti-LGBTQ violence and harassment. Over the last week, students have participated in events ranging from RuPaul's Drag Race Marathon on the Quad to Rapid HIV testing and a discussion with Cathy Cohen on the importance of forming queer coalitions.
Students also went out into the community to participate in the Spring Quarter Day of Service. Eight students formed a Pride group and joined up with Community Service RSO WYSE (Women and Youth Supporting Eachother) to clean and spread wood chips at Ogden Park in Englewood.
"We wanted to reach out to as many kinds of people as we could," Cassleman said. "By having this variety, we hope to link together important ideas and the ways they can be expressed in ways that are accessible to many."
The goal of Pride Week is to be inclusive, and many of the events addressed issues that crossed over boundries between marginalized groups. Thursday night, as part of an event put on by the Organization of Black Students and Queers and Associates, students gathered at 5710 S
Woodlawn to discuss how race, class, religion and other identities intersect with queer identities.
The evening began with a performance by About Face Theater, a group that travels to high schools across the city to perform short plays about race, gender and identity issues. Afterward, as the floor opened for discussion, students asked questions like, "What does it mean to be a diverse university community if people don't engage with one another and discuss these important issues?" and "What are positive and productive ways to bring LGBTQ and race issues to light and talk about them with friends and classmates?"
"It's exciting to talk about queer people of color," said Malik White, a participant at Thursday's event, "They're so often pushed out of view."
While these issues will remain hot topics on campus, Pride Week's celebration will come to a close with Saturday's genderqueering ball. The event, featuring a drag show and music by Chicago-based Earth Tone DJs, starts at 9pm on the Third floor of Ida Noyes. It is open to
everyone, and will be followed by an afterparty entitled Last Night in Babylon.
Find more information at http://pride.uchicago.edu/
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