Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.07.25
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
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1. Hamilton College News - A Glimpse into the Gay Black World
2. The Chronicle of Higher Education - U. of Illinois Adjunct Dismissed for Comments on Homosexuality Was Picked and Paid by Church
3. The Chronicle of Higher Education - Augusta State U. Is Accused of Requiring a Counseling Student to Accept Homosexuality
4. Atlanta Journal-Constitution - College punished her for anti-gay views, student claims
5. The Augusta Chronicle - ASU student says gays have 'identity confusion'
1. Hamilton College News, July 18, 2010
198 College Hill Road, Clinton, NY 13323
A Glimpse into the Gay Black World
By Alexandra Ossola
Edgy, scary, stylish, sinful: gay culture is viewed in different ways by different communities in the United States. But for black men in the LGBTQQI community, their doubly marginalized status creates tensions in all of the communities to which they belong. Working with Associate Professor of Africana Studies Angel Nieves, Randall Mason ’11 is using his Emerson grant to investigate the lives of black gay men.
Mason was inspired by Jennie Livingston’s famous documentary, Paris Is Burning. Filmed in the late 1980s in New York, Livingston captured on film the underground ball culture (from which voguing became most famous), which was dominated by black and Latino men. “I want to do this project because [Livingston] did her field work, got the credit and forgot about her subjects,” Mason said. “I want to go back and treat them not as subjects but as people. I want to get their story as to how they identify themselves as opposed to how they’re identified.”
But a lot has changed since the late 80s, and the ball culture has come out from the underground. Instead of focusing on gay black men in the underground, Mason is interviewing “gay-lebrities,” or gay celebrities, to hear about some of the challenges they have faced. He has talked with ex-basketballer DeMarco Majors, actor Dwight Allen O’Neal, and rapper Bry’Nt. Although these gay-lebrities are in different professions and from different parts of the country, Mason is most interested in asking: which community has been the most hostile to you?
Anyone in the LGBTQQI community can talk of their alienation from mainstream “hetero” culture; the language, lifestyle, gender roles, and identity politics create a distinct culture of the LGBTQQI community. But for a LGBTQQI black man, feelings of marginalization are doubled. “Within the internally-displaced African diaspora is another diaspora that isn’t really talked about,” Mason said. “[Members of the] African diaspora are looking for a place they belong, and the gay subgroup is looking for its place in Black America as well as in society in general.” Studying the history of black male sexuality and turning to authors such as E. Patrick Johnson and E. Lynn Harris to give him a context of black gay America, Mason is beginning to see racial differences even within the LGBTQQI community. Many of these differences are embodied in the LGBTQQI organizations that center upon different racial groups, creating dissonance within the community.
One of the most divisive forces between gay and straight subcultures within the black community is the church. For example, a feud has been raging between Donnie McClurklin, a pastor who was “delivered” from homosexuality, and Tonex, gay singer/producer who records gospel music. The community’s reactions have varied widely, but homophobic voices are still loud within the black community, especially coming from the church.
To help men who feel lost because of their extreme marginalization, Mason will also compile a list of organizations, web sites, books, and movies that cater to gay black men. One such organization is GMAD (Gay Men of African Descent), located in Brooklyn, which Mason has visited to find scholarship. “There are plenty of organizations like that but how they’re advertised is different from the white LGBTQQI organizations,” Mason said. Although hundreds of organizations exist, some are more successful than others. But they all represent a movement to support black gay men who feel “isolated, invisible and alone.”
Mason has also received additional guidance from Associate Professor of Philosophy Todd Franklin and Associate Professor of History Chad Williams.
Mason is a graduate of Proctor High School in Utica, N.Y.
2. The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 19, 2010
1255 Twenty-Third St, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037
U. of Illinois Adjunct Dismissed for Comments on Homosexuality Was Picked and Paid by Church
The controversy over the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's dismissal of an adjunct professor for his teachings in a course on Roman Catholicism has been exacerbated by word, reported in today's Chicago Tribune, that the instructor was selected to teach the course and was paid by the church, through the campus's St. John's Catholic Newman Center, which is financed by the diocese of Peoria, Ill. The adjunct, Kenneth Howell, was dismissed after a student complained to the university that Mr. Howell's remarks on Catholic doctrine on homosexuality constituted "hate speech." A university panel is now reviewing the situation, to determine if Mr. Howell's academic freedom or free speech were violated.
A separate committee will look into the university's 39-year-old partnership with the church, in which the latter largely determines how Catholicism is taught in the otherwise-secular religious-studies department -- certainly an unusual arrangement for a public institution to enter into. Mr. Howell told the Tribune he considered himself an agent of both the church and the university, even though he sought a mandatum from the Peoria bishop, a pledge of loyalty to church doctrine and to speaking on its behalf.
3. The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 22, 2010
1255 Twenty-Third St, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037
Augusta State U. Is Accused of Requiring a Counseling Student to Accept Homosexuality
By Peter Schmidt
A graduate student in school counseling is accusing Augusta State University in federal court of violating her constitutional rights by demanding that she work to change her views opposing homosexuality.
In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Augusta, Ga., the student, Jennifer Keeton, argues that faculty members and administrators at the university have violated her First Amendment rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion by threatening her with expulsion if she does not fufill requirements contained in a remediation plan intended to get her to change her beliefs.
Ms. Keeton's lawsuit accuses the university of being "ideologically heavy-handed" in imposing the requirements on her "simply because she has communicated both inside and outside the classroom that she holds to Christian ethical convictions on matters of human sexuality and gender identity." It argues that her views, which hold that homosexual behavior is immoral and that homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle, would not interfere with her ability to provide competent counseling to gay men and lesbians.
An Augusta State spokeswoman, Kathy D. Schofe, declined on Thursday to comment on the litigation, saying that the university had not yet been served with the lawsuit and officials there would need time to devise a response.
Ms. Keeton is being represented by lawyers affiliated with the Alliance Defense Fund, a coalition of Christian lawyers. The group has brought a similar lawsuit on behalf of an Eastern Michigan University graduate student who alleges she was dismissed from a counseling program for her beliefs about homosexuality. In 2006 the group extracted major concessions from Missouri State University in settling a lawsuit filed by a former social-work student who refused to respect a class project's requirement that she sign a letter to the state legislature in support of homosexual adoption.
In a news release announcing the lawsuit against Augusta State, David French, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, said: "A public-university student shouldn't be threatened with expulsion for being Christian and refusing to publicly renounce her faith, but that's exactly what's happening here. Simply put, the university is imposing thought reform."
The lawsuit says Ms. Keeton has stated in classroom discussions and written assignments that she believes sexual behavior "is the result of accountable personal choice," that people are born male or female, and that homosexuality is a lifestyle and not a "state of being." It says faculty members at Augusta State confronted her about her beliefs based on such statements and on a student's claim that Ms. Keeton has advocated "conversion therapy" for homosexuals in conversations with her peers—an allegation that Ms. Keeton denies.
The lawsuit says Augusta State faculty members developed a remediation plan specifically for Ms. Keeton and told her she would be expelled from the College of Education's counselor-education program if she did not fulfill its requirements. The plan calls on Ms. Keeton to attend workshops on serving diverse populations, read articles on counseling gay, lesbian, and bisexual and transgendered people, and write reports to an adviser summarizing what she has learned. It also instructs her to work to increase her exposure to, and interaction with, gay populations, and suggests that she attend the local gay-pride parade. Ms. Keeton has refused to comply.
4. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 23, 2010
223 Perimeter Center Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30346
College punished her for anti-gay views, student claims
By Laura Diamond
A graduate student has filed a lawsuit accusing Augusta State University officials of violating her constitutional rights by ordering her to change her views opposing homosexuality.
Jennifer Keeton, a graduate student in the school of counseling, says in her court filing that the school threatened to expel her if she didn't complete a remediation plan that includes diversity sensitivity workshops. Keeton had said in and out class that, according to her Christian beliefs, homosexuality is immoral and a lifestyle choice, according to her suit.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Augusta. The university has not been served with the lawsuit and officials declined to comment on the case, spokeswoman Kathy Schofe said Friday. She did say that the university does not discriminate and has policies in place to protect students if they believe they have been discriminated against.
Keeton is represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, a coalition of Christian attorneys. The suit accuses Augusta State officials of violating Keeton's First Amendment rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion.
"A public university student shouldn’t be threatened with expulsion for being a Christian and refusing to publicly renounce her faith, but that’s exactly what’s happening here," David French, senior counsel for the defense fund, said in a news release. "Abandoning one’s own religious beliefs should not be a precondition at a public university for obtaining a degree."
Keeton, who is pursuing a master's degree in the education college's counseling program, was told her beliefs are incompatible with the prevailing views of the counseling profession, her attorneys said in a news release. The lawsuit argues those beliefs would not affect Keeton's ability to counsel gays and lesbians.
The defense fund has filed similar lawsuits against Missouri State University and Eastern Michigan University.
5. The Augusta Chronicle, July 24, 2010
725 Broad Street, Augusta, GA 30901
ASU student says gays have 'identity confusion'
By Stephanie Toone
A student who is suing Augusta State University says she considers gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender lifestyles as "identity confusion," and shared those views in class discussions and written assignments.
Jennifer Keeton, a 24-year-old graduate student, said in an e-mail Friday that she had told Paulette Schenck, an ASU assistant professor named as a defendant in the suit, that homosexuality is a behavioral choice. However, Keeton said allegations by college officials that she would encourage conversion therapy on students or her clients is false.
ASU and state Board of Regents officials said Friday they couldn't talk about the lawsuit, which claims ASU professors demanded Keeton suppress her views on homosexuals to remain in a counseling program.
School spokeswoman Kathy Schofe said the university has not been served with the legal paperwork but officials are aware that Keeton is suing the university.
John Millsaps, a Regents spokesman, said the lawsuit has muzzled both the university and state officials.
Schofe said much the same, but added: "Hopefully, I'll be able to comment soon, because we're being slammed."
She said commenting on Keeton's academic standing would violate the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. She also said university faculty do not discriminate in regards to religious or moral beliefs.
The counselor education program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs, and more than 250 students have graduated from the program, Schofe said.
The counseling program follows the American School Counselor Association's ethical standards, which specify that counselors in training must "recognize and accept" individual differences, cultural diversity and alternative points of view.
In her suit, Keeton, who wants to become a school counselor, claims Mary Jane Anderson-Wiley, an ASU associate professor, requested that Keeton take part in a remediation plan because of her beliefs about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues.
Keeton was ordered to take part in diversity training and write two-page reflection papers monthly on how "her study has influenced her beliefs," according to court documents. The lawsuit claims that Keeton will be removed from the ASU counseling program if she does not comply with the plan.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a legal alliance that supports religious freedom, filed the suit for Keeton in U.S. District Court in Augusta on Wednesday. The agency has declined to allow Keeton to be interviewed, but she has responded to submitted e-mail questions.
Elizabeth Evans, of Louisville, said she had a similar experience when she began the counselor education program at ASU in 1995. After taking three courses, Evans said she was interviewed by a panel of professors who questioned her religious beliefs.
"I told them I think homosexuality is wrong. The Bible speaks against it," she said. "I was not admitted to the program, because of my beliefs. When I read the article, my heart hurt for Jennifer."
Evans said she decided to pursue a master's degree in early childhood education at the university. She is currently pursuing a doctorate degree.
Though she found her calling, she said Christian students at the university should not be treated as Keeton has.
"I can't believe they suggested that she go to the gay pride parade," Evans said. "I hope she sues the pants off of them."
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