Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.05.02
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Metro Weekly - Georgetown University: Pride and Jesuits
2. The State Journal-Register - UIS alternative prom provides option for gay students
3. The Boston Globe - Elite colleges thawing on ROTC
4. OutSports.com - Columbia University sprinter is openly gay
5. The Maneater (University of Missouri) - Court hears California gay, lesbian discrimination case
6. The Maneater (University of Missouri) - Editorial: Public institutions should not fund discriminatory groups
7. The Daily Orange (Syracuse University) - Change to change: Penn expands health care to provide for student sex changes
8. The Daily O’Collegian (Oklahoma State U) - LGBT community at OSU needs to expand with center
9. The Lamron (SUNY Geneseo) - 'Gay? Fine by me ... ' panel lightens hearts, opens minds
10. The Star-Ledger - Newark archbishop questions plan for Seton Hall University gay marriage class
11. The Record - Students might want to consider sexual orientation in choosing a college
1. Metro Weekly, April 22, 2010
1012 14th Street, NW, Suite 209, Washington, D.C. 20005
Georgetown University: Pride and Jesuits
By Will O'Bryan
THERE'S RARELY AN upside to a hate crime, though Georgetown University may be that rare exception. In the fall of 2007, a season in which this over two-century-old campus really looks the part of grand academia, a homophobic hate crime happened a block from campus. Both victim and perpetrator were Georgetown students. That prompted the president of the university to lead the private institution affiliated with the Jesuits, an all-male religious order of the Catholic Church, toward a new reality affirming LGBT students. Tangibly, it led to the university's fully staffed LGBTQ Resource Center in August 2008.
"This is a first for a Jesuit school," says Sivagami Subbaraman, director of the resource center and one its two paid staff members. "The very fact that the center exists is the university saying, 'We're okay with this.' It's an official center with a full-time staff."
Among her duties directing the center, Subbaraman fields calls from prospective students.
"Some of the questions are whether it's okay to be out at a Catholic, Jesuit school," she says. "The fact that this does exist at a Catholic school -- and a very active student group -- makes a big difference in their decision making."
That "very active student group" is GU Pride. Maxwell Wallace, an 18-year-old freshman from San Francisco majoring in international politics, is the group's publicity chair. Another hate crime, this time off-campus but also in Georgetown, in October 2009, pushed Wallace to become more involved in the group.
He says today that the Georgetown University campus shouldn't conjure memories of crime news, but of a place where LGBT students are fully affirmed.
"In my classes, when gay issues have come up, I've been surprised how affirming people were -- and how uncomfortable [non-affirming] people were," he says. "I've been surprised how accepting this campus can be.
"Obviously, sexuality is very complicated and personal, but I do think the administration has done a good job. The administration is making legitimate efforts, like diversity training at orientation."
Wallace adds that during the next academic year, he'll be serving as a resident assistant (RA), living in a dorm where he'll offer particular guidance, support and supervision to students. And he has no qualms about doing it as an openly gay man.
Subbaraman says Wallace is not alone. "When I first came here [in 2008], there were only a couple [openly gay] RAs," she remembers. "Now there are more than a dozen. That's a simple example that has made a significant difference. I feel bit by bit things have changed. Most students feel comfortable being out on campus, that they don't have to hide."
Wallace says he wouldn't hesitate in endorsing the university to prospective LGBT students: "Being gay shouldn't in any way deter them. I would encourage LGBT students to apply."
For more information about the LGBTQ Resource Center, call 202-687-3546 or visit lgbtq.georgetown.edu. For GU Pride, visit studentorgs.georgetown.edu/pride.
2. The State Journal-Register, April 23, 2010
P.O. Box 219, Springfield, IL 62705-0219
UIS alternative prom provides option for gay students
By Dean Olsen
Springfield-area high school students uncomfortable with bringing dates of the same gender to their own schools’ proms have another option — an “Alternative Prom” at the University of Illinois Springfield.
Today’s event, which runs from 8:30 p.m. to midnight in the student center at the UIS Student Life Building, will be the sixth annual alternative prom sponsored by the UIS Queer-Straight Alliance, according to Jessica Enock, 22, a UIS junior from Buffalo Grove and chair of the event’s planning committee.
She said she doesn’t know whether there will be more interest in the event in the wake of a Mississippi school board’s decision to cancel this year’s prom rather than accommodate a female student’s wish to bring her girlfriend as her date.
Enock, a member of the student-run alliance who is straight, said the Mississippi board’s decision was a tragedy for the student body there.
She said the UIS event, which has no admission charge, is open to any area high school or college-age students — gay or straight — and is geared toward young people who want to attend a dance where they will not be judged based on their sexual orientation.
“Our idea is for people to have fun and for people to be comfortable with being themselves,” she said.
Most people who attend dress casually, but some show up in fancy gowns and tuxedoes, Enock said, adding that the turnout each year has ranged from 130 to 200 people.
Anyone attending must show a photo identification card and sign in.
The alcohol-free event will be chaperoned by UIS faculty members, and UIS police will provide security as part of a new policy governing all dances on campus.
The student center will be decorated in the theme of “Alice in Wonderland,” Enock said. There will be snacks and recorded music played by a DJ.
Alliance chairman Bret Tate, 22, a UIS junior from Mount Vernon, said some gay high school students who have attended the alternative prom in the past told him they didn’t go to their high school proms or went with someone of the opposite sex to avoid being harassed.
“This gives us a chance to go into the local community and be there for students who may not have any other outlet,” said Tate, who is gay.
The event costs $500 to $600 to hold. The cost is paid with donations and UIS student fees, he said.
Dean Olsen can be reached at 788-1543.
3. The Boston Globe, April 26, 2010
P.O. Box 55819, Boston, MA 02205-5819
Elite colleges thawing on ROTC
By Bryan Bender
WASHINGTON — Administrators at Harvard, Brown, and other elite universities are softening their resistance to the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps more than four decades after the military scholarship programs were driven from campus in the face of fierce antiwar sentiment.
Many professors, students, and administrators say the more welcoming climate is a result of growing support for the military since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But they contend it has become pronounced since February, when Pentagon leaders for the first time advocated overturning the law that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the ranks.
Some college administrators consider the ban on gays in the military discriminatory and have cited it as a reason to keep full ROTC programs off campus long after the Vietnam War ignited the controversy.
“The declaration of military leaders regarding abolition of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy means the fig leaf that university administrators and professors have been hiding behind is about to be withdrawn,’’ said Army National Guard Captain Marc Lindemann, a Harvard Law School graduate who completed an analysis of the issue for the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.
Harvard, which has not fully recognized ROTC since the antiwar protests of the early 1970s, now allows the small number of its students who participate in the program at nearby MIT to be commissioned as officers in Harvard Yard upon graduation. And in a highly symbolic show of support, the president of the university, Drew Faust, has attended the ceremonies the past two years and is expected to attend again next month. Harvard also now allows cadets to include their ROTC affiliation in yearbooks.
“They have been far more receptive,’’ said retired Navy Captain Paul E. Mawn, a 1966 Navy ROTC graduate who runs the group Advocates for Harvard
ROTC, which he said has 2,300 members. Last year, he said, Harvard “even invited General David Petraeus,’’ the top US commander in the Middle East, to the commissioning ceremony.
At Brown University in Providence, where Army ROTC students must commute to Providence College for drills and military science classes, a top dean has pledged to do more to support students in ROTC, including finding ways to award them academic credit for their military courses.
Last month, the Faculty Senate at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., established a committee to study whether to overturn its ban.
And in another sign of a thaw, the president of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, predicted after an April 10 meeting with Admiral Mike Mullen, the nation’s top military officer, that “the campus will be much more receptive — this and other universities, if not almost all of them — to rebuilding that relationship.’’
“I think the policy has been anachronistic for a long time,’’ said David Kennedy, a history professor at Stanford who, along with William J. Perry, the former secretary of defense, proposed the university’s committee that’s studying the issue. “We are developing a separate military caste that the [nation’s] founders never intended.’’
The policy reviews come at an opportune time; ROTC scholarship applications nationwide are increasing between 12 and 15 percent each year, according to officials.
The ROTC program dates to 1862, when the federal government established land-grant colleges and required them to offer military instruction as part of their curriculum. In recent decades, it has provided cadets college tuition in return for a commitment to serve at least four years as an officer in the Army, Navy, or Air Force.
ROTC cadets first studied at Norwich University in Vermont, and the program had deep roots in the Ivy League until the turmoil of the Vietnam War, when the cadets were the most visible sign of the military on campus.
The Army ROTC unit at Harvard abandoned the campus in 1970, followed a year later by the Air Force and Navy units. Other universities did not renew their contracts with the Department of Defense.
While the number of ROTC units rebounded around the country in subsequent years, the program remained exiled from some of the nation’s most selective universities, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford, Brown, and the University of Chicago.
In the 1990s, these universities maintained that the military’s stance on gays conflicted with their own antidiscrimination policies, justifying a continued refusal to recognize ROTC.
Some universities, including Harvard, also took steps to bar military recruiters from campus, but a 1996 law and a 2006 Supreme Court ruling stipulated they must provide access to recruiters and allow their students to participate in ROTC programs. Still, for ROTC students at universities that do not fully recognize the program, this means not only commuting to another school for military instruction — which is commonplace for other universities that have consolidated ROTC programs — but also not receiving credit for their military science courses.
This year, Harvard has 20 undergraduates enrolled in ROTC at MIT. But it does not credit their ROTC courses or share program costs. Instead, private funds from Harvard graduates cover the estimated $400,000 to provide the students with classroom space, instructor salaries, and other support, according to Mawn.
“We want to get official recognition and create a long Crimson line of ROTC graduates,’’ he said.
Other influential alumni voices say a policy change is long overdue, especially now that the military leadership has changed its view of the “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ policy on gays and lesbians serving in the military.
“The emperor has no clothes,’’ said Theodore Roosevelt IV, a Navy ROTC graduate of Harvard who served two tours in Vietnam. “If the Harvard faculty thinks it’s inappropriate [to embrace ROTC], then they are being intellectually dishonest. Harvard has a long, distinguished history of creating future leaders, including military leaders.’’
A Harvard spokesman, John Longbrake, said there are no plans to significantly change its stance on ROTC, but indicated that the Pentagon’s ongoing review of the policy on gay military service could change that. The university administration, he said, will “follow any federal policy changes with interest.’’
Other schools are doing more. At Brown, which has only one student enrolled in the ROTC program at Providence College, a new student group called Students for ROTC at Brown is circulating a petition calling for Navy or Air Force ROTC departments to be reinstated and urging the university to award credit for Army ROTC cadets at Providence College.
“Our main goal is to reinvigorate the program and increase the population,’’ said Keith DellaGrotta, a senior who started the group but is not in the ROTC.
The university administration, for its part, says it is highly receptive. “We have had some very good conversations about how we can better support students in the program,’’ said Katherine Bergeron, the undergraduate dean of the university. “We are looking forward to, or anticipating, a day when more students are interested in participating.’’
While she said the issue of awarding credit would have to be voted on by the faculty, “I think it would be a very worthwhile thing to do.’’ But she acknowledged there are practical challenges. For example, official recognition might require Brown to have its own department of military science, staffed by members of the Brown faculty.
As for the military, leaders are eager to see the program fully embraced.
After his meeting with Columbia’s president this month, Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he sees a “transformative moment’’ for the ROTC debate.
“I think representation . . . in particular [at] universities in the Northeast would be of great benefit to both the universities as well as the military, as well as the country,’’ Mullen said.
Bryan Bender can be reached at email@example.com.
4. OutSports.com, April 27, 2010
Columbia University sprinter is openly gay
By Cory Benton
On December 8, 2007, I lined up on the track amongst other elite athletes as we prepared ourselves to run an 800-meter race. My hands were trembling, and I could feel the sweat dripping down my forehead as I mentally composed myself for several firsts. It was my first race of the season at Columbia. It was my first time running an 800 in college. And it was my first time running as an openly gay athlete.
So many thoughts ran through my head. Did I have something new to prove? What if I did not run well? Would my teammates attribute a bad race to my homosexuality? All of these questions raced rapidly through my head as others walked toward the starting line. But I couldn’t move. I was petrified. I glanced over at my coach.
“Let’s go, Cory,” Coach Wood shouted. “Get out hard!” Somehow, as soon as he said those words, all of the negative feelings and thoughts disappeared. I was focused on the race at hand.
Coming out was hard for me because of my childhood. As a young child I was always very social and talkative. However, once I began to realize that I was little different, I started to suppress certain aspects of my personality. I consequently talked less and became a repressed, shy teenager lacking confidence.
In my affluent neighborhood on eastern Long Island, I was often made fun of for acting “white” because most of my friends were Caucasian. I was ostracized from the African-American community in my hometown because I never fit in.; I did have African-American friends, but most of my friends were white. As I got older, not using Ebonics seemed to have the effect of branding me as “white” and homosexual. I remember I was doing some homework in the library one evening and two people I knew, both African-American, were sitting at the same table a little further down. They were close enough that I could hear their conversation. One asked if they should sit closer to me and hang out; The other responded negatively saying that I was “too gay”. The other person’s jaw dropped and asked how he knew this. He said, “Just go talk to him. Listen to the way he talks and look at the way he dresses. He’s so white.”
It was mentally trying to hear things like this. I love who I am, the color of my skin, and the rich history and culture of my Jamaican ancestry. There is this stigma that comes with being gay, and an additional cultural stigma attached for being African American and gay, so coming out was not an option for me in high school, although many people already assumed I was gay. I knew no other African-American gay athlete to seek support from, so I made the conscious decision to continue hiding my sexuality and become something I wasn’t. It ate away at me every day, and I felt so uncomfortable with myself. How could I make these everlasting bonds with people while hiding something that is so important to me?
During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I couldn’t take the lying and sleepless nights anymore.
One of the first steps I knew I had to take after coming out to my family was to come out to my coaches. During the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I was thinking about quitting the team, and I actually did stop running for a semester because I was so uncomfortable with myself. I always thought there was no possible way an openly gay athlete could be accepted by so many people with so many different backgrounds. One of my biggest fears was the reaction of my coaches. I was uncertain how they would react, and I worried that they might no longer want me on their team. Although email is not the best way to communicate a very important message, I decided to email all of my coaches at once to tell them about my sexuality.
My head coach, Willy Wood, quickly replied and asked if I would like to come into his office and talk about it. What started off as a silent, awkward conversation turned into daily long conversations about my life and how my family was handling me coming out. I would sit in his office for sometimes hours and discuss how I felt about being gay, and how I felt now that I was out.
My coach has become a second father to me. The amount of support that he has offered is unparalleled. He would often ask me how the other guys on the team were responding to me being gay, and if I thought there should be a team meeting to discuss any issues I might have with some of the things that teammates would say that may come off as offensive. Thankfully, there were no major issues. Moreover, when I decided to take a break from the team, Coach Wood still emailed me every week to check on me. My own father never did that.
My other coach, Jon Clemens, emailed me in response to me coming out.
“Cory, I can’t be more blunt than this...I don’t care that you’re gay,” his email read. “It has nothing to do with your integrity, work ethic or development as a man.”
This is kind of cliché, but one of the many things that I have learned at Columbia is that you cannot judge a book by its cover. I never thought my teammates and coaches would be so supportive. It often makes me emotional when I recall how I had almost left them for good without giving them a chance to get to know the part of me that I had been hiding from the world. I would not be the strong, confident gay athlete I am today without my coaches and teammates. I have heard of some coaches that destroy their athletes’ dreams and love of the sport when they come out, but this was not the case for me at Columbia University.
Despite the positive reinforcement from my coaches, I cannot say that being an openly gay athlete has been without problems. In a team atmosphere, a lot of jokes fly through the air. Sometimes disclaimers were put on jokes such as “Cover your ears Cory,” or “...No offense Cory.” Sometimes things were said that really hurt, things that would make me go home and cry to myself and wish that I had never come out.
During my first semester of my sophomore year, I became really good friends with one of my younger teammates. We would talk all the time, hang out, and do everything that normal teammates do. One of my less-accepting teammates questioned him, asking him if he was gay because he was hanging out with me so much. My close friend, who had never met another homosexual man before in his life, consequently began hanging out with me less because he was afraid of what others might think.
It was always hard for me to respond to situations like this. I have a very reticent personality, so I never said anything because I felt, as weird as this sounds, outnumbered. I eventually stopped going to a lot of the parties, never changed in the locker room and never discussed my feelings with any of them. I was scared. I knew a lot of athletes who discontinued doing their sport because this kind of environment enhanced their concerns about coming out to their teammates.
But as time went on, a funny thing happened. As I became more comfortable with myself and open about my life, my teammates learned more about me and homosexuality. The inconsiderate comments stopped. They realized that I was one of the guys, and that my sexual orientation had nothing to do with the type of person and athlete I was.
One of the most memorable moments of my life took place during spring break of 2008. Practice was low-key, so my teammates and I had time to enjoy the city for the week. It was late at night and we were walking around campus, and they all said, “Let’s go to Suite.” Suite is a gay karaoke bar right near our campus, hosted by Ms. Jacqueline Dupree, a drag queen. It’s maybe the last place I would have never invited them.
Still, there we were around midnight, a couple of us at Suite singing a few songs. Sooner or later, more and more teammates showed up. We crowded the place. My teammates were having a great time and were talking to other gays and lesbians. They surprised me, and the gay people there surprised them. My teammates were in awe of how comfortable they felt.
One of my teammates, who I thought was the most homophobic of them all, told me at the end of the night that he had the best time of his life, and that he would be nothing but supportive of me for life. This meant so much to me because I realized that I needed to give myself a chance to accept others just as much as I needed to give other people a chance to accept me. I was still their teammate and I was still capable of being loved by them. It was the first time in my life that I felt completely comfortable sharing a part of my life that I had hidden even as an openly gay athlete.
Two athletes outside my team have helped me a lot along the way. Jamal Brown was an openly gay runner for Dartmouth College who was there for me during my really low points at Columbia. Jamal has always been a great source of advice, since he had been through everything I was currently going through. To personally know another openly gay athlete has helped me so much as I adapt to being my true self in this environment. And while Scott Herman is not a fellow runner, he is one of the people I look up to most today. He has inspired me to give it my all for my last semester at Columbia. I appreciate them both immensely.
As I approach my last season at Columbia, I come with no regrets. I love who I have become and I love the people I have met throughout my journey as an openly gay athlete. The support I have received from my friends, family, teammates and the university has empowered me in more ways than I have yet to realize.
If I could leave a piece of advice for other LGBT collegiate athletes, I would say to never forget that a teammate is a teammate, regardless of their color, creed, or sexual orientation. There is a strong bond between teammates that cannot be destroyed. You kill yourself out on the track, or field, every day alongside them. You sweat, you bleed, and you cry for the same cause—to win for your school, for each other, and for yourselves. As a result, your teammates will be your best friends forever. Your sexual orientation will never change your goals and your dreams unless you allow it.
Oh and by the way, that 800-meter race I mentioned at the start? I ran my fastest time ever.
5. The Maneater (University of Missouri), April 27, 2010
N223 Memorial Union, Columbia, MO 65211
Court hears California gay, lesbian discrimination case
By Jade Earle
A national Christian campus organization is suing a California law school for not funding the religious group because it will not accept members of the gay and lesbian community in voting and leadership roles.
In Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the U.S. Supreme Court heard from the Christian Legal Society chapter at the University of California Hastings College of the Law on Monday in a case that brings rights for gay and lesbian people in campus organizations to the forefront.
The case brief stated that though all students can attend and participate in meetings and activities regardless of their sexuality, CLS officers and voting members must sign a CLS Statement of Faith and adhere to the pledge.
Officers must show the highest standards of morality for their profession of faith to be credible, the brief stated.
CLS legal counsel Gregory Baylor said the group adheres to the Christian belief of marriage between a man and woman.
"Accordingly, the mere experience of same-sex sexual attraction does not undermine a person's eligibility for leadership or voting membership," Baylor said in an e-mail.
MU Triangle Coalition Vice President Sean Jarvis said the issue does not only involve gay and lesbian discrimination.
"You're discriminating against queer Christians," Jarvis said. "How is that not religious discrimination in and of itself?"
Jarvis said he has friends who are gay and identify themselves with a religion.
"I think that it's really disrespectful to (those) people when (others) just sort of make the broad base assumption that if you're queer then you have to be an atheist," Jarvis said.
Baylor said CLS takes into account a person's belief even if they have never engaged in a gay or lesbian relationship.
"Even if a person does not engage in immoral sexual behavior, their belief and advocacy, say, that same-sex sexual intimacy is not wrong would undermine their eligibility for a leadership position," Baylor said in an e-mail.
Hastings College is responsible for funding organizations reflecting the various interests and viewpoints of the student body. It grants these groups the title of a "Registered Student Organization," the brief stated.
Hastings College lawyer Ethan Schulman said the institution's policies ensure social and educational opportunities in registered student organizations are granted to all students.
"They protect the school's students from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and other grounds," Schulman said in an e-mail.
He said he knows student organizations understand they have the right to select their own members.
"But, (they are) not entitled to be exempted from neutral policies that apply to all student organizations," Schulman said in an e-mail.
Jarvis said he has not experienced discrimination from organizations or programs at MU, but he knows there are people who have endured some form of mistreatment.
"I know that there are a lot of people who find themselves where there is something specifically that they want to do," Jarvis said. "To accomplish that, they have to be in a particular context that involves taking a particular amount of abuse, it just really sucks that that's how that works now."
Baptist Student Union Director Jerry Carmichael said the union must follow MU guidelines and rules to be an official organization. All officially recognized MU organizations must comply to a non-discrimination policy.
"We don't get money from MU, but we are recognized," Carmichael said. "MU has policies and non-discrimination is one of them."
6. The Maneater (University of Missouri), April 27, 2010
N223 Memorial Union, Columbia, MO 65211
Editorial: Public institutions should not fund discriminatory groups
The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case involving the rights for people who are gay and lesbian in campus organizations.
In the case Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the Christian Legal Society is suing the University of California Hastings College of the Law. The school refused to fund the religious group, because the group would not accept people who are gay or lesbian as voting members or leaders.
Basically the group believes the LGBTQ community cannot adhere to Christian values, which it expects of its leaders and voting members. The group believes same-sex marriage should not be allowed.
This case is especially unfortunate, because it discriminates based on sexual identity regardless of self-identified religion. Even people who are Christians would not be allowed to lead or vote in the group if they identify as gay or lesbian.
In addition, allies would also be discriminated against. According to CLS legal counsel Gregory Baylor, those who support same-sex marriage would also be barred from leadership or voting roles in the organization because they violate Christian values. That group is not only discriminating against the LGBTQ community, but those who don't condemn them as well.
The question is not about the Christian values, but rather if public institutions should fund groups that discriminate based on sexual identity.
We think not. Student groups should adhere to the same discrimination policy as the university itself if it's receiving funding, especially at public universities. At MU, this is the case. Student groups can add more non-discrimination policies, such as gender identity, like many groups did last spring, but all must include those outlined in the MU policy.
In addition, we hope to see the Supreme Court rule in favor of the University of California Hastings College of the Law because it is simply not right for public institutions to fund discriminatory groups.
In fact, we'd like to see MU adopt the gender identity inclusion clause so faculty, staff and students will all be protected. Discrimination in any form is unacceptable, and the Board of Curators should recognize this and pass the additional inclusion clause. The MU student governments already include gender identity in their non-discrimination clauses, and the student referendum showed substantial support from the student body.
7. The Daily Orange (Syracuse University), April 27, 2010
744 Ostrom Ave., Syracuse, NY 13210
Change to change: Penn expands health care to provide for student sex changes
By Katie McInerney
The University of Pennsylvania will extend its health insurance coverage beginning in the fall to cover the costs of a gender change for undergraduate students.
The coverage will include unlimited psychological coverage, such as therapy sessions and hormonal treatments. Surgeries, called gender confirmation, up to $50,000 will also be covered. The decision comes after two years of planning and will only increase student health insurance costs by a few cents.
The Lambda Alliance pushed for the change in policy, said Tyler Ernst, a sophomore chemical and biological engineering and finance major and the chairman of the Lambda Alliance, Penn’s main LGBT organization. The idea was not proposed to fight the administration, he said, but to address an issue that affects a small yet significant portion of the Penn community. The idea for funding gender confirmation surgery was in the works for around two years, Ernst said.
“It started with the LGBT Center and the former Lambda chair, and it’s been in the works for a while,” Ernst said. “It’s really something we had to push for. We are doing something meaningful. It’s a small community of people, but the impact is really huge.”
The Lambda Alliance was required to pitch the concept to the Student Health Insurance Advisory committee at Penn. Lambda did its own research and decided $50,000 was a reasonable amount to request for surgery coverage, Ernst said. Costs for gender confirmation surgery can reach around $50,000 for a male-to-female transformation. Costs are less for female-to-male transformations but still significant.
“SHIAC did its own independent research and came up with a similar number,” Ernst said. “It raised prices by maybe seven cents a student.”
Bob Schoenberg, the founding director of the LGBT Center at Penn, said the low price raise makes the plan less objectionable to some.
“I would guess that even the students who would oppose it in principle wouldn’t be troubled by the premium,” Schoenberg said.
Students at Penn are required to be covered by health insurance, according to Penn’s health insurance policy brochure. If they opt not to pay for the Penn Student Insurance Plan — the plan under which the coverage will be added that is distributed by Aetna — they must prove they are covered under another health insurance plan.
When people feel as if they are living in the wrong body, it is technically known as gender identity disorder. But Adrea Jaehnig, the director of the LGBT Resource Center at Syracuse University, said that is just the technical term.
“Although gender identity disorder is listed as a mental illness by the (American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), we don’t refer to transgender or transsexual people in this way,” Jaehnig said.
Schoenberg worked at Penn for 28 years and began the center in 1982. The Philadelphia campus is transgender friendly, much like SU, he said.
Ernst said he agrees the Philadelphia campus is transgender friendly, but he believes there are still issues that need to be addressed, such as the need for gender non-specific bathrooms and gender-neutral housing for freshmen.
“As far as the university goes, it’s totally top of the line,” Ernst said. “But there’s a difference between the positive and negative. The support is definitely there, but there are issues we are still trying to overcome.”
Schoenberg said he encountered people who claim the option Penn now funds will be life-changing, as they would not be able to afford the surgery otherwise.
Individuals who identify as transgender but who don’t have the ability to get the surgery can be deeply affected, Jaehnig said.
“The lack of access to proper health care treatment can result in depression, emotional turmoil or even suicide,” Jaehnig said.
The plan at Penn covers only undergraduate students now, but Schoenberg said there are plans in the works for coverage of the rest of the Penn community. The university supports the inclusion of transgender-related coverage in at least one of the different insurance plans available to faculty and staff, he said. But the plans for faculty and staff coverage are still about a year away, he said.
“By and large, Penn is a very open, welcoming, intelligent, understanding place,” Ernst said. “All of this makes it a very reasonable decision.”
8. The Daily O’Collegian (Oklahoma State U), April 29, 2010
LGBT community at OSU needs to expand with center
By Megan Sando
OSU officials agree that student organizations on campus support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community but that it needs a community center, clubs and entertainment venues in Stillwater to make OSU a more hospitable place compared to universities in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
“I think a lot of the LGBT people may be somewhat driven away from Stillwater. Students might go to Oklahoma City or Tulsa where there are a lot more resources that are supportive of LGBT students,” said Scott Ottinger, vice president of the OSU sexual orientation diversity association.
Nearly 1 in 9 unmarried households are made up of same-sex couples, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. According to the last major census, the South makes up the largest portion of those couples- who are three times more likely to live in a bigger city rather than a small town.
Because of the influence of Oklahoma City and Tulsa about an hour away, OSU faculty, staff and students hope that resources for the LGBT community will continue to grow.
In fall 2009, the Stillwater Presbyterian Church hosted discussions called “Loving Our LGBT Neighbors.” Ottinger said part of the conversation was discussing why people would be driven away from Stillwater.
“With the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas you have a lot more places like LGBT community centers, bars and clubs, and other venues that attract predominantly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” he said.
It’s important to know you’re not alone, he said.
“The support aspect of our organization is important, especially seeing how this issue ends up driving LGBT people to depression and sadly sometimes even suicide,” Ottinger said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gay, lesbian and bisexual youth are considered more at risk for suicidal behavior. Support from other adults in the community besides family can help prevent suicide among LGBT youth, according to the CDC.
The University Counseling Center offers Safe Zone Workshops so that people can display a symbol of their knowledge of LGBT issues. Safe Zone is free, open to the public and offered once or twice a semester.
Being a part of Safe Zone and showing the symbol doesn’t mean that you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
“Safe Zone focuses on increasing people’s cultural competence and sensitivity with all sexual orientations and gender presentations,” said Tamara Richardson, ph.d, licensed psychologist and senior clinical counselor.
The workshops receive contributions from Lee Bird with the Division of Student Affairs, the Academic and Career Development Center and the Inclusion Center for Academic Diversity.
“We have been fortunate to develop a stronger program,” Richardson said.
Another counselor, Rich Zamora, thinks OSU is an overall supportive campus.
“From my experience, my department and faculty have been great,” Zamora said.
Zamora is doing research about gay men, lesbians and bisexuals. He hopes to better understand how LGBT individuals experience relationships to have a better understanding of counseling gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and couples, Zamora said.
About 230 people have participated so far with the help of social networking sites like Facebook and organizations like PFLAG, GSA, ACA and the APA. He plans to leave the online study open until the end of May.
Students may seek additional support from Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, which holds meetings at the First United Methodist Church. The Unitarian Universalist Church openly gives out information like “A Religious Home for Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender People” and “Is Our Church Gay? Answering Children’s Questions About Homophobia and Sexual Orientation.” Reverend Carol Fincher has been on and off at the church for nearly 22 years and studied at the Starr King School for the Ministry at Berkeley.
“God loves everyone,” she said, “and wouldn’t punish anyone, not gays, not lesbians, not anyone.
Yet, community resources may not be as readily available to students compared to other colleges. “We are the only land grant Big 12 school without a women’s resource center and one of two without an LGBTQ center. In the Big 12 overall, we are one of two without a women’s center and one of six without an LGBTQ center,” said Jen Macken, coordinator of women’s programs.
Regardless of sexual orientation, students across colleges seek some kind of support from the university — whether recreational, spiritual or cultural. OU is now considering having a “gender neutral” housing option that acknowledges the issue of safety that LGBT individuals face. In Oklahoma City and Tulsa, students may attend Pride celebrations in June and take advantage of entertainment venues in downtown bars and clubs.
“It can be understandable why someone might want to go to say OU, Oklahoma City University, UCO or TU as opposed to here. They just don’t see Stillwater as a particularly gay-friendly area,” Ottinger said.
Organizations like SODA and PFLAG create a vital sense of social support for the gay community in Stillwater, and there is hope that officials on campus want to create a community movement that focuses on the diversity of OSU and its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.
9. The Lamron (SUNY Geneseo), April 29, 2010
10 MacVittie Circle, Box 42, Geneseo, NY 14454
'Gay? Fine by me ... ' panel lightens hearts, opens minds
By Jesse Goldberg
On April 22, Wadsworth Auditorium hosted a panel of speakers discussing issues facing the Lesbian Bisexual Gay Transgender Queer Questioning Intersex community in a presentation and discussion entitled "Gay? Fine by me …"
Junior Richie Jaquith hosted the discussion and the panel included junior Dan Hart, associate professor of foreign languages Joaquin Gomez, senior Isobel Connors, high school teacher Shauna Marie O'Toole, School of Education graduate assistant Juliana White and communicative disorders and sciences lecturer Irene Belyakov.
Hart spoke first, presenting a brief history of the event, which was started at Duke University after the college was voted the most homophobic campus in America in 2003. Since, "Gay? Fine By Me …" has evolved from an event organized by 10 students to one in which over 200 schools across the nation participate.
Hart cited Geneseo's Pride Alliance as just one example of the progress in the fight for gay rights and the strength of collective activism. "This is going to be an uphill battle, but look at all that we can do if we stand together," he said.
Gomez, who spoke second, discussed his experience growing up under fascism in Spain and what he feels his role and responsibilities are as a gay professor at Geneseo. "One of my biggest obstacles to coming out to myself was struggling with my own homophobic feelings that I developed from my society," he said. "I believe my private life should be private, but I do think that we have a social responsibility to help people feel comfortable enough to come out."
Connors discussed issues of identity and the dichotomy created by language, explaining that terms such as "bisexual" and "queer" are often inadequate in describing sexuality. "Sexual identity, to me, is private and political," Connors said.
"The whole event was really interesting and there's so much going on," sophomore Claire Littlefield said. "I thought Isobel Connors was great. She is just so intelligent when she talks about gender theory."
O'Toole delivered a humorous but deliberate account of her experiences as a transgender individual who successfully completed surgical transition. She described the "discord between body and soul" that leads an individual to desire transition and relayed that the risk of going through with such a procedure is profound and has meaningful economic and emotional impact.
"Being comfortable in your own skin is worth the risk," O'Toole said. "I didn't choose to be transgender; I didn't choose to live as a woman. I chose to reconcile the discord … I chose life instead of death."
White began by stating that the struggle for rights begins with education. She emphasized that the key to being an ally is to not remain satisfied. "Multicultural curriculum will help build the foundation of acceptance and understanding of diversity," she said.
Last to speak was Belyakov, who shared her personal story of growing into her current sense of self. She had been married to a man in Soviet Russia, but after coming to the United States divorced him to be with a woman. Her experience with her current partner of over 20 years served as a catalyst for a discussion of gay marriage.
"I never realized that checking the 'married' box on a form could get me over 1,100 rights at the federal level," she said. But Belyakov's ultimate message was simple: "When consenting adults fall in love, it's nobody's business. When people are happy, it's good for everybody," she said.
Free T-shirts bearing the slogan "Gay? Fine by me …" were distributed to students who came to the panel.
10. The Star-Ledger, April 30, 2010
1 Star Ledger Plaza, Newark, NJ 07102
Newark archbishop questions plan for Seton Hall University gay marriage class
By Kelly Heyboer
SOUTH ORANGE -- Seton Hall University’s governing board is debating whether to cancel a course on gay marriage after Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said the class conflicts with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
The course is scheduled to begin next fall for upperclassmen in any major on the South Orange campus, university officials said. It is designed to explore the controversial issue without advocating for either side.
Myers said news that Seton Hall students will be studying gay marriage "troubles me greatly."
In a statement, the archbishop said the church teaches that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
""This proposed course seeks to promote as legitimate a train of thought that is contrary to what the Church teaches. As a result, the course is not in synch with Catholic teaching," Myers said. "Consequently, the board of trustees of Seton Hall have asked the board of regents to investigate the matter of this proposed course and to take whatever action is required under the law to protect the Catholicity of this university."
As archbishop, Myers does not have the authority to cancel a class. But the conservative archbishop serves as chairman of Seton Hall’s board of trustees and president of the school’s board of regents, the governing body that oversees academic issues.
Larry Robinson, Seton Hall’s vice provost, said the course was approved by both the political science department and the dean’s office.
"The initial review at the departmental level and at the dean’s level suggests that the course is not an advocacy course ... but a ‘special topics’ course to objectively examine a significant current public policy issue," Robinson said. "Thus, we fully anticipate that the Catholic position on same-sex marriage will be explored."
W. King Mott, the Seton Hall associate professor of political science scheduled to teach the course, told The Setonian, the campus newspaper, he didn’t think it was unusual for a Catholic university to offer a class on an issue the church does not support.
"The best schools offer controversial classes," Mott told the Setonian in a story published earlier this week. "The class is not about advocacy, but about studying the issue from an academic perspective. It’s about awareness."
Mott, who is gay, has clashed with the church and university officials before. In 2005, he was demoted from his post as associate dean of Seton Hall’s College of Arts and Sciences after his letter challenging the church’s view on homosexuality was published in The Star-Ledger.
School officials objected to Mott signing the letter with his Seton Hall title, causing confusion about whether he was speaking on behalf of the university. The letter said the church unfairly scapegoats gay men for the clergy sex abuse scandal.
Faculty members protested Mott’s demotion, arguing school officials violated his academic freedom when they punished him for writing a letter. But Seton Hall’s provost upheld the demotion and Mott, who has tenure, remained on campus as a prominent professor.
He currently serves as the chairman of university’s faculty senate and as one of 12 members of the search committee looking for Seton Hall’s next president.
11. The Record, April 30, 2010
1 Garret Mountain Plaza, Woodland Park NJ, 07424
Students might want to consider sexual orientation in choosing a college
By Audrey Kahane
Some colleges are now reaching out to prospective students who may be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and letting them know that they will find a welcoming environment on campus.
Times have changed, and there are many LGBT-friendly colleges. But some campuses are more comfortable than others, and students need to make sure they are choosing a college where they will feel safe and accepted.
While college applications don't ask about a student's sexuality, some applicants write essays that indicate they are gay or are interested in LGBT issues. Admissions officers at the University of Pennsylvania arrange for such newly admitted students to be contacted by members of Lambda Alliance, the gay umbrella group on campus, so they can get answers to any questions.
Students at Penn, for example, will find numerous support groups, including Jewish Bisexuals, Gays and Lesbians, Queer Christian Fellowship, Penn's Athletes and Allies Tackling Homophobia, Queer People of Color, Queer Student Alliance, Queer Undergraduates in Engineering, Science and Technology, and Wharton Alliance.
In the application supplement for Dartmouth College, students can indicate their interest in a number of areas, including gender identity and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied community.
If they have indicated interest, students receive information about LGBTQA events and resources. The admissions office has also produced a video chat that highlights LGBTQA student life at Dartmouth.
While Penn and Dartmouth do active outreach, they are hardly the only schools to provide a welcoming environment for LGBT students.
In addition to private schools like Oberlin College, Ithaca College and American University, a number of public universities, including University of Maryland, University of Michigan, and Penn State University, receive good report cards from the LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index.
Colleges receive up to five stars for overall campus climate, and for factors such as academic life, student life, housing, campus safety, recruitment and retention for LGBT students. Go to www.campusclimateindex.org to access the rankings and more detailed information about more than 200 colleges.
But don't just rely on rankings to identify LGBT-friendly colleges. You can look through a school's catalogue (available on the website) for courses with gay and lesbian themes. When you visit the campus, you can also stop by the LGBT resource center, if there is one.
Check the student life section of the school's website for a list of student organizations, and contact the LGBT organizations to learn more about campus life. If there isn't an LGBT organization on campus, the school might not be LGBT-friendly.
In addition to researching the environment on campus, you need to check out the town. Is there an active gay community in the area, with LGBT-friendly businesses?
Several organizations provide scholarships to LGBT students. The Point Foundation offers scholarships based on academic achievement, leadership skills, financial need and other factors. Competition is stiff. In 2009, Point received 2,463 applications and awarded 11 scholarships. Application instructions for the 2011-12 academic year scholarships will be available in September at www.pointfoundation.org/scholarships.
The LEAGUE Foundation has scholarships for graduating high school seniors. The application deadline is today, and applicants need to submit a transcript, two recommendations, two short essays, and a list of community service and civic involvement activities. For more information: leaguefoundation.org/scholarships.
Audrey Kahane is an independent college counselor. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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