Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.10.31
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. Journal Star - Cindy Lange-Kubick: LGBTQ students talk about it getting better
2. Daily Nebraskan - Eighth annual dinner to support Lincoln’s LGBQTA community
3. The Register Citizen - Winsted club provides forum, fellowship for many types of students
4. The Daily Reveille (Louisiana State University) - ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ remains a hot issue for students
5. The DePaulia - DePaul, Catholicism and homosexuality: Assistant Director of Catholic Campus Ministry, talks to The DePaulia about LGBTQA students on campus
6. Compass (Ohio University) - University community assembles to support LGBT community
7. The Michigan Daily - Armstrong withdraws request for personal protection order against Shirvell
8. Leader-Telegram - Conciliatory statement issued by two involved in in UW-EC gay-lesbian memo flap
9. UAB Kaleidoscope - Students speak out on Spirit Day
10. The University News (University of Missouri - Kansas City) - A call to end bullying
11. The Emory Wheel - Gay Student Dragged From Frat Party
12. Inside Higher Ed - Quick Takes: New Anti-Bullying Efforts by U.S., New Jersey
13. Centre Daily Times - High school anti-gay taunting gives way to acceptance for PSU students
14. Daily Bruin (UCLA) - UCLA needs to show more support to LGBT community and reach out to high school students
15. The Lariat - Spirit Day: purple to honor gay teen suicides
16. The Reader - Transgendered in Nebraska: Facility serves and educates about minority group
17. The Loyola Phoenix - Loyola steps out of the closet
18. Daily Trojan (University of Southern California) - USC’s LGBT community says ‘It gets better’
19. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - Alleged anti-gay incident at Emory frat party attracts national spotlight
20. Inside Higher Ed - U.S. Hits Hard on Bullying
21. The Miscellany News (Vassar College) - College prepared to prevent suicide
22. CU Independent - Opinion: Let’s brag about drag
23. WMU News (Western Michigan University) - Talks address gay civil rights, spectrum of sexuality
24. The Emory Wheel - Incident Sparks Mixed Opinions
25. The Emory Wheel - CC Discusses LGBT Life
26. WABI-TV - University of Maine Celebrates Diversity
27. The New York Times - 2 Linked to Suicide Case Withdraw From Rutgers
28. The Michigan Daily - Armstrong, attorney file complaints seeking possible disbarment for Ass't AG Shirvell
29. Redlands Daily Facts - Gay, lesbian Cal State San Bernardino students fight bullying
30. Connecticut College - College takes on discussion of homophobia, bullying in wake of recent suicides by gay teens around the country
31. The Washington Post - Montgomery College inaugurates a new leader
32. OutSports.com - Indiana University hosts LGBT Appreciation Day at football game
33. QNotes - Regional: Colleges highlight suicide prevention
34. Out & About Newspaper - GLBT alumni of Carson-Newman College join forces
1. Journal Star, October 12, 2010
926 P Street, Lincoln, NE 68508
Cindy Lange-Kubick: LGBTQ students talk about it getting better
By Cindy Lange-Kubick
Three weeks ago, an 18-year-old male Rutgers University student engaged in an intimate encounter with another student, also male.
The encounter in his dorm room was secretly captured by a webcam and streamed live.
Three days later, Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.
The national media took notice.
Jason Lucht's mom took notice.
She picked up the phone in Gretna and called her son in Lincoln.
Jason is her baby. He's 21. He's gay. He was bullied in high school. He attempted suicide, twice.
Karen Lucht remembers what that was like. Jason being depressed and not wanting to talk about it.
Her shock when he said the words, I'm gay.
"He kept most of it quiet in high school," she says. "The best thing I did was educate myself."
Jason is a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln now. He has a double major, and he works at the LGBTQA Resource Center on campus. He's happy.
He knows it gets better.
Which is why he listened to his mom when she called with a question.
What are you going to do?
Jason didn't know what she was talking about.
What was he going to do about what?
He didn't know about Clementi's public suicide.
He'd been busy with school, he says Monday. He'd been busy with work. He'd been busy organizing the You Are Loved Chalk Message Project and other events for LGBTQ History month.
So he hadn't paid attention to the news about Clementi or the September suicides of other gay teenagers, which were calling attention to the reality that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered young people have suicide rates far above those of their heterosexual peers.
"It floored me," he says. "I had attempted suicide twice in high school and it brought back memories of that."
Like some of his peers -- including those who completed their suicide attempts -- Lucht was bullied.
Pushed into lockers. Called queer. Called the F-word.
He had teachers who ignored his plight and teachers who protected him.
"There were a couple of other kids who'd come out, so I knew I wasn't alone."
And he had older sisters who supported him and parents who did their best to learn.
And so when his mom called to ask what he was going to do, he did something.
He organized a vigil, and more than 100 people skipped Big Red football on ESPN on Thursday night and showed up at the Student Union instead.
Jason read a poem.
Another student talked about his own suicide attempt.
People held glow sticks in the silence.
They played "It Gets Better" videos. Celebrities and others talking about being young and gay.
They heard actor Chris Colfe. They listened to the stories of a community of young people in San Francisco.
And that night at the union, students began taping their own "It Gets Better" stories.
Jason hasn't taken his turn yet, but he will.
He's not sure exactly what he'll say, but he'll talk about coming to college and finding the LGBTQA Resource Center and its director, Pat Tetreault. (The acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning and Allied.)
"I'll say that I found a community and it just got completely better," Jason says.
On Monday, Jason and Pat had an interview at the campus radio station to talk about bullying -- and the educating they are doing on campus.
In the broadcast studio, he told the story of his mom's call.
"What a cool mom you have," the host said.
Karen Lucht thinks she has a cool son, too.
"He's happy and he's doing what he loves -- I'm just so proud of him."
A young man who went from being bullied to being heard.
Reach Cindy Lange-Kubick at 402-473-7218 or email@example.com.
2. Daily Nebraskan, October 19, 2010
20 Nebraska Union, 1400 R St., Lincoln, NE 68588-0448
Eighth annual dinner to support Lincoln’s LGBQTA community
By Daniel Holtmeyer
More than 200 guests are expected to attend the eighth annual LGBT History Month dinner Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Lincoln. The event is organized by the LGBTQA Resource Center of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and will include several presentations and speakers.
The dinner has been held during October, designated as LGBT History Month, every year since 2003. It is one of several events the resource center has planned to commemorate the month.
Those in attendance will consist of staff, faculty, alumni and students of UNL, as well as many people from the broader Lincoln community, including several members and clergy of a few local churches.
The program will start with a welcome and a video of coming-out stories collected by the resource center and UNL's Queer-Straight Alliance, now named Queer Ally Coalition.
Other figures appearing include Jammin' Judy Holmes, a local musician; Ann Craig, director of Religion, Faith & Values at GLAAD, or the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; and keynote speaker Jewelle Gomez, a poet, author, activist and founding member of GLAAD.
Pat Tetreault, assistant director of the LGBTA programs and services, said she has seen the dinner's attendance steadily rise over the past few years.
"I think the first one I did had 138 people," she said. "That was an increase from the year before, but then the next year it went up, the year after that it went up."
This year she estimates there will be about 210 people in attendance.
LGBT History Month started in 1994, when Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, came to believe that LGBT history, including the lives and accomplishments of the LGBT community, wasn't given the credit it deserved.
He worked to establish a month in honor of this history under the banner of the Equality Forum. According to the forum's website, LGBT Month "teaches our heritage, provides role models, builds community and makes the civil rights statement of our extraordinary national and international contributions."
Tetreault has been assistant director of UNL's LGBTQA Resource Center since 2007. Many underrepresented groups have a history that doesn't get adequate attention, she said. Sometimes the groups themselves aren't even familiar with their heritage.
"You really have to search out your own history, and, well, you can learn from history," she said. "It also helps make us visible and aware of our own contributions and our culture."
The month helps people both learn and educate others about LGBT history, she said.
Such history features several prominent politicians and public figures in the United States alone, including Harvey Milk, California's first-elected openly gay man, and Matthew Shepard, whose murder helped inspire a hate-crimes bill recently approved by Congress.
The resource center, which is run by five undergraduate employees and at least a dozen volunteers and is located on the second floor of the Nebraska Union, has several events planned for October in addition to the dinner Thursday.
Some have already happened, such as the You Are Loved chalk project in front of the Nebraska Union, various lectures and a vigil remembering several recent suicides of LGBT teens who suffered immense pressure of anti-gay sentiment and bullying.
After the dinner, a movie night is planned on Oct. 27 at the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center. It will feature "Byron Chief-Moon: Grey Horse Rider," which focuses on a Native American "two-spirit," or bisexual, roughly translated.
These are all on top of the resource center's normal services, which include maintaining a small library, coordinating programming and events throughout the year, and providing information and counseling to LGBT students or others simply working on a paper or project for a class.
"Anybody who wants to learn about sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or social justice can come here," Tetreault said.
The dinner is just one more piece along that mission.
"I actually think (the dinner) is a great way to bring a wide variety of people together, to help celebrate and learn about our history and culture," she said, adding with a smile. "Everybody should come!"
3. The Register Citizen, October 24, 2010
P.O. Box 58, Torrington, CT 06790
Winsted club provides forum, fellowship for many types of students
By Jason Siedzik
WINCHESTER — Two years ago, a group of students at Northwestern Connecticut Community College saw a need and decided to fill it.
Since then, the REAL Club has provided a forum for various students — and faculty — to share their experiences and promote equality regardless of their sexual orientation. Tim Haskell, one of the group’s faculty advisors, noted that recent events have given the club plenty of discussion fodder.
“We’re an active group,” said Haskell, “particularly now that we’re looking at the recent teen suicides and ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”
Nick Dionne, one of the founding members of the REAL Club — which stands for Respect, Equality, Alliance and Liberation — has experience with establishing gay-straight alliances in high school. Seeing no such club at Northwestern Connecticut Community College, and remembering the positive effects his former club had, Dionne and the rest of the founders set out to establish an “open forum,” according to Haskell, and found a receptive audience.
“It was just a good place that people were able to open up and not feel threatened,” said Dionne of the high school gay-straight alliance.
Dionne said that there is a relative lack of gay and lesbian clubs at the community college level, but he found an enthusiastic supporter in Northwestern Connecticut Community College president Barbara Douglass. One of the club’s goals is to raise awareness, a mission furthered by a display case on-campus spotlighting prominent figures in the gay and lesbian community.
“We’re trying to get awareness out there,” said Haskell, “of people who have been able to overcome obstacles.”
The members of the REAL Club have been active in community service and collaborative outreach; the REAL Club is co-sponsoring a Halloween dance Friday night with the Northwest Deaf Club. Additionally, members have expressed interest in giving back, returning to their high schools to help launch gay-straight alliances.
“One of our advisors went through a difficult time in his life,” said Dionne, “and the one group of people that supported him and got him back on track was the gay and lesbian community. He’s a huge advocate and supporter. He owes them a debt of gratitude.”
The REAL Club is also active in reaching out to larger, more established entities in the LGBTQIA community. Dionne said the group is attempting to book the Stonewall Speakers Association, and members have attended the True Colors youth conference in the past. The 18th annual conference is scheduled for March 11 and 12, 2011 at the University of Connecticut.
“It’s a very good, hard-working group of people that really care about this issue,” said Dionne. “Before it was established, there were no resources here. No one knew where to go, and we didn’t have a group of cohorts to discuss common issues. It made a big impact.”
Although the REAL Club is not the first time a club of its kind at Northwestern Connecticut Community College, it has staying power thanks to its members. Randi Camirand, another faculty sponsor, praised the membership’s tenacity and passion, saying the students “are very proactive and very energetic.” The REAL Club’s growing list of members and supporters helps their work, though.
“When different issues come up, we try to spread awareness about that,” said Dionne. “Sometimes, it’s as simple as an email to staff and students”
A series of awareness and support campaigns have taken off in recent weeks. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation promoted Spirit Day on Oct. 20, urging supporters of the LGBTQIA community to wear purple. Inspired by Brittany McMillan and the idea of Spirit Weeks in high schools, the event took on more poignancy after a rash of teenagers committing suicide — after being bullied and harassed — made national headlines.
“Spirit Day honors the teenagers who had taken their own lives in recent weeks,” GLAAD said on their Web site. “But just as importantly, it’s also a way to show the hundreds of thousands of LGBT youth who face the same pressures and bullying, that there is a vast community of people who support them.”
The Trevor Project, started in 1998, has also gained increased attention. Started by the filmmakers behind Trevor, a 1994 Academy award-winning short film, The Trevor Project operates a crisis and suicide prevention hotline targeted at LGBTQ youth.
Advice columnist Dan Savage also sought to reach out to gay and lesbian teenagers who were being bullied and ostracized, starting the It Gets Better Project. The mission of the It Gets Better Project is to share personal stories, lifting the spirits of gay and lesbian teenagers who are being bullied; as Savage wrote on the It Gets Better Project’s Web site, “As adults, we now know what too many young, isolated, bullied LGBT kids do not: it gets better. Life gets better, and one day you find happiness.”
Savage posted the first video — recorded with his husband, Terry — on Sept. 21, and urged other adults to share their experiences and encouragement. One month later, the It Gets Better Project channel on YouTube exceeded 20 million views, drawing similar videos from celebrities such as Adam Lambert, Perez Hilton and Ke$ha, as well as parents of bullied teenagers and other gay or lesbian adults — or even those perceived to be gay.
“It is never acceptable for us to be the cause of any child to feel unloved or worthless,” said Fort Worth, Texas city councilman Joel Burns during an Oct. 12 city council meeting.
“The bullying and harassment has to stop. We cannot look aside as life after life is tragically lost.”
The REAL Club meets Fridays at noon in Founders Hall, Room 202. For more information, contact Randi Camirand at (860) 738-6356 or Tim Haskell at (860) 738-6376. The It Gets Better Project can be found at www.itgetsbetterproject.com and www.youtube.com/user/itgetsbetterproject. The Trevor Project can be found at www.thetrevorproject.org.
Jason Siedzik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us online at www.registercitizen.com or on twitter.com/registercitizen.
4. The Daily Reveille (Louisiana State University), October 24, 2010
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ remains a hot issue for students
By Kate Mabry
Though U.S. Military recruiters can now accept openly gay applicants, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is still a hot topic among University students.
A federal judge granted an immediate injunction Oct. 12, prohibiting the policy's enforcement. The 17-year-old policy banned openly homosexual men and women from serving in the armed forces.
For years, LGBTQ — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer — students in ROTC have been apprehensive about their future in the military, said Kat Barry, English senior and president of Spectrum, the University's LGBTQ student organization.
Barry said LGBTQ ROTC students feel conflicted about protecting their country, because they're excluded for sexual orientation.
Spectrum has members who were in the military as well as those planning to go into the military once they graduate, Barry said.
Clay Curry, international studies freshman, said he believes Americans willing to put their lives on the line to fight for freedom need to be recognized.
"A soldier's sexual preference does not have any bearing on his or her ability to perform great deeds," Curry said.
Trever Thibodeaux, fashion merchandising senior, also said he believes the policy is unfair.
"Sexual orientation should not matter," Thibodeaux said. "The military is scrapping for servicemen and have no right to discriminate anyone for their sexual orientation."
According to Cpt. William Conger, Army ROTC enrollment officer, recruitment numbers for all services have met their mission for the 2009-10 year. Acceptance into the armed forces is exclusive, and applicants must meet several standards, including particular test scores, height, weight and legal and financial background checks, Conger said.
Barry said the University's ROTC program makes it clear there is no place for openly gay students in the program, and they are often encouraged to quit.
But Conger said he is "confident no one has been kicked out of the ROTC program for their sexual orientation" since his arrival at the University seven years ago.
The University's ROTC program has never done anything to exclude anyone, and there has never been a problem or argument about the program's policies, Conger said.
"ROTC follows military policies, and changes in these policies would be reinforced through ROTC," Conger said. "I have taken an oath to the president of the United States and the Constitution to uphold orders."
Barry said the elimination of the policy would be a monumental victory.
"A repeal of the policy would energize the LGBTQ community on a national scale," Barry said. "Public opinion polls have been encouraging, and we are noting the change the younger generations are making."
The anxiety generated by "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" isn't limited to cadets in the ROTC program but extends to any LGBTQ person or straight ally planning to dedicate their career to military service, and the situation is even more stressful for LGBTQ students wishing to join the military as a way to pay for school, Barry said.
With a state judge and two federal judges agreeing the policy is unconstitutional, many hope the repeal of the policy will ring in a new era of LGBTQ rights, Barry said.
Jarod Mardis, political science freshman, said he believes the government should take action now against the law.
"I believe we cannot hope to end the unfounded hate and discrimination directed toward the LGBTQ community until our government takes a definite stand against ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and other laws and policies like it," Mardis said.
Contact Kate Mabry at email@example.com
5. The DePaulia, October 25, 2010
DePaul, Catholicism and homosexuality: Assistant Director of Catholic Campus Ministry, talks to The DePaulia about LGBTQA students on campus
By Dominic Zinn
The DePaulia: How should an LGBTQA student feel about attending a Catholic university like DePaul since there are often divides between the gay and Catholic communities?
John DiMucci: I think DePaul starts off viewing Catholicism through our Vincentian lens, the tradition of both the Vincentians and of the Church. The very first thing we do is recognize the dignity of the individual. We see every person as an individual created in the image and likeness of God. Regardless of who they are, regardless of what their sexual orientation is, regardless of whether Catholic or not Catholic, we focus on and stress the dignity of the individual person, allowing for each person to develop and come to an understanding of who they are at the same time. As a part of higher education, it is our goal help people develop. There shouldn't be pressure at any university; there should be respect for the dignity of the individual.
TD: On the issue of Tyler Clementi, do you believe gay and lesbian students who are in distress should seek guidance from a religious source?
JM: It depends. Within different religions there are different responses to how they deal with gay, lesbian and bisexual issues. Fundamentalist Protestants deal with it in one particular way. Conservative Jews deal in a different way. Orthodox Jews deal a third way. Within Catholicism there are certain criteria that you would do on a pastoral level. You would operate out of a pastoral concern for the person, looking out for the needs of that particular person in that particular situation. I think as a university ministry team, especially those of us in Catholic campus ministry, we would encourage all of our students to exercise their sexuality in a healthy, holistic and life-giving way, regardless of what their orientation is. If they were having issues, I would say, 'Let's talk about it. Let's talk about you as a person.' In the church there are rules. There are canon laws and policies, but there's also pastoral practice.
TD: Since there are not many other Vincentian universities, can you say more about the way our Vincentian mission makes us stand out on this issue?
JM: I think as a Vincentian university DePaul is welcoming to a whole variety of people, who either agree or disagree with particular Catholic teachings. I heard someone say once that we're the largest Catholic university in the country, but we're not the largest university of Catholics in the country. DePaul is here to meet the needs of and service those who are here. I think that's a pretty uniquely Vincentian outlook. Regardless of what the student's background is, it could be anything, any area of diversity, I think there is going to be an inherent respect for that person and an understanding of who that person is. They call it Vincentian personalism: being able to really reach out to that person.
TD: Is there much collaboration between University Ministry and the office of LGBTQA student services?
JM: I've just started my third year, and at different times there have been different collaborations and opportunities for education; opportunities for discussion. I don't think there's a regular, consistent program. Of course, whenever we're asked to contribute and participate, we often help out in different ways, however we're needed and wherever there's need.
TD: Do you believe that Catholic universities should take it upon themselves to offer programs for their LGBTQA students?
JM: I can't speak for other Catholic universities. They would have to come to a decision themselves. What works best for their students? How do they view their own mission? How do they view their own student population and environment? We're situated in a major city, an urban environment, so the way we educate is for our particular situation.
TD: What other thoughts do you have on Campus Ministry and how it ties into this discussion of sexual orientation at DePaul?
JM: I would just say that any DePaul student, whether they consider themselves gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning, should know that they can reach out to anyone in the University Ministry. We're here. We're available. We're always a good resource. My experience has been that our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning students have often found university ministry as a good place to come and talk about their questions about how to live their life. Not just in the area of sexuality, but how to live their life in general. And I think, rather than focusing particularly on one aspect of a person's life, [you should] look at the holistic aspect of the person. A lot of students find this to be just a safe place to be; a place where they're able to have those discussions and talk through their issues and the different questions they might have.
6. Compass (Ohio University), October 25, 2010
University Communications and Marketing, Athens, OH 45701
University community assembles to support LGBT community
By Kyle Raffell
Last Wednesday, Ohio University students gathered on College Green to participate in a candlelight vigil to honor the memories of the young members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community who have taken their own lives in recent months because of harassment and bullying.
LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Center Director Mickey Hart assembled the approximately 300 students in a circle and offered the opening remarks.
After Hart's words, the men and women lit their candles. The flickering lights revealed that many were holding hands, posters, and flags and embracing each other.
"The turnout for the vigil spoke to me most because it illustrated the importance of promoting civility and rejecting ignorance and hate for many members of our community," said Vice Provost for Diversity, Access and Equity Brian Bridges. "The over 300 people in attendance indicates the concern we have for those who often suffer in silence."
The crowd silently marched to Scripps Hall, and reflected on the events that brought about this vigil. The sounds of Court Street were a backdrop to the performance of a cellist who performed behind candles in the shape of a heart.
After the music, student groups who helped organize the vigil took turns reading short biographies of each of the 12 young adults who have committed suicide in recent months.
Guest speakers included: Reverend Evan Young, United Campus Ministry; Matt Peterson, residential coordinator with Residential Housing and an out gay man; and Elizabeth Chinn, commissioner for LGBT affairs in the Graduate Student Senate.
Dean of Students and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi, Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith, and Staff Clinician Jonathan Mosko from Counseling and Psychological Services were all present to show their support
"There are certainly students who experience bullying for their sexual orientation, and it is important for me to be here and let students know that Counseling and Psychological Services here at OU are here for them when they need someone safe to talk to," Mosko said.
President Roderick J. McDavis reinforced the University's support for LGBT students and for diversity in general.
"Ohio University is a welcoming, eclectic, progressive community because of our students, faculty and staff who represent diversity in all of its forms," McDavis said. "We reaffirm our commitment to foster a community that encourages all diversity on our campuses, because it is who we are and it is at the heart of what our community values, supports, and celebrates."
7. The Michigan Daily, October 25, 2010
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Armstrong withdraws request for personal protection order against Shirvell
By Kyle Swanson
A court official in the office of Washtenaw County Trial Court confirmed yesterday that a petition for a personal protection order brought by Michigan Student Assembly President Chris Armstrong against Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell has been dismissed.
The official, who works in the office of Judge Nancy Francis, the judge assigned to the petition, said the case was dismissed without prejudice by the petitioner, meaning Armstrong is free to re-file a personal protection order against Shirvell in the future.
Earlier this month, Shirvell called for Francis to step down because her sister, who is a public official, had openly criticized Shirvell. Francis ultimately did not remove herself from the case.
A hearing was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. yesterday to consider the petition, after the original Oct. 4 hearing was postponed. Court officials cited a “service issue” as the reason for the re-scheduling.
The request for a personal protection order stems from the controversy surrounding Shirvell’s blog, Chris Armstrong Watch, in which Shirvell accuses Armstrong of promoting a “radical homosexual agenda” and calls Armstrong an “elitist” and “racist.”
The controversy received national media attention from media outlets like CNN, with Shirvell and his boss Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox both appearing on the network. Cox came under scrutiny for employing Shirvell on the public's dime in light of Shirvell's actions. Shirvell later took a voluntary leave of absence and has since closed off his blog from the public. Armstrong has remained relatively quiet on the issue, but did appear on Anderson Cooper 360 to discuss the situation.
In the personal protection order petition filed with the court, Armstrong wrote that Shirvell posed "a threat to my own personal safety" and that Shirvell had protested at events Armstrong attended. Armstrong added that Shirvell had called Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi's office during his summer internship to speak with his supervisor about his membership in Order of Angell — a senior honor society on campus with a controversial past.
In a statement released last night, U. Ashwin Patel — Armstrong’s attorney — explained why Armstrong dismissed his petition for a PPO.
“The petition for a personal protection order was dismissed by Chris Armstrong because he received assurance that he will no longer be contacted by Andrew Shirvell,” Patel wrote. “At this time, Chris would like to focus on his classes, finishing his senior year and his work with MSA.”
Philip Thomas, Shirvell’s attorney, said in an interview yesterday that though Armstrong has been portrayed as the victim, he believes Shirvell is the true victim of the story.
“I really believe that my client has turned out to be a victim of the liberal media,” Thomas said. “I looked at all the Anderson Cooper tapes … nobody ever said ‘Oh there should be a hearing, a determination should be made as to whether this is legitimate or not.’”
Thomas continued, “This is the United States of America, we have a right to free speech. If the standard applied in this case were to applied in our society, then President Obama could go and get a PPO against Rush Limbaugh or the Tea Party or against any of the different political action groups and that’s not what PPOs were designed or intended to protect against.”
Thomas added he didn’t feel the circumstances warranted a PPO because Armstrong said in a police report that he was feeling “somewhat harassed” by Shirvell.
“That’s not what PPO law is designed and intended to guard against, not somebody feeling somewhat harassed,” Thomas said.
“It’s designed to protect people who have been threatened and who have had people show up at their work and sending them text messages and all of that.”
Thomas also said he feels the dismissal of the PPO petition, which he called a “fair outcome,” should lead to the withdrawal of the University’s trespass order against Shirvell and disciplinary hearing with the state that is scheduled for Nov. 5.
The University's Department of Public Safety issued a trespass warning for Shirvell on Sept. 14, banning him from the University’s Ann Arbor campus. Prior to the ban from campus, Shirvell protested at several events where Armstrong was in attendance, including at a Michigan Student Assembly meeting during which he called on Armstrong to resign.
DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown confirmed this morning that the trespass warning is still active. She said the ban from campus could only be lifted after a review of the warning in a meeting between DPS Chief Ken Magee and Shirvell.
Brown said Shirvell requested such a meeting shortly after the trespass warning was issued, but that it has not yet been scheduled and that Magee is currently out of town.
Thomas said yesterday that he is not happy with the lack of progress in moving the appeal forward to lift the trespass order on Shirvell. However, he said he hopes the withdrawal of the petition for PPO will help expedite the process, though he said he’s not sure it will.
“I would like to see the U of M say, ‘Hey, we’re going to dismiss this notice and we’re going to dismiss it because the application for a PPO was dismissed or we’re going to expedite it,’” Thomas said. “But while I want to see those things happen, I can’t say for sure that it is going to happen.”
8. Leader-Telegram, October 25, 2010
701 S. Farwell St., Eau Claire, WI 54701
Conciliatory statement issued by two involved in in UW-EC gay-lesbian memo flap
By McLean Bennett
A UW-Eau Claire faculty member and the school's student body president are trying to clear the air after a bout of controversial e-mails and letters regarding gay and lesbian relations on campus caused a stir this month.
Tom Hilton, chair of the information systems department, and Dylan Jambrek, president of Student Senate, the university's student governing body, issued the statement today apologizing for their roles in the controversy.
In September, Hilton sent an e-mail to student Crystal Kazik and another university staff member urging them to reconsider plans to publicize a class trip this summer to San Francisco in which students participated in gay-pride events. That trip culminated early this month in the first-ever gay-and lesbian-friendly Eau Queer Film Festival. Kazik attended the trip and helped organize the local festival.
UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich chastized Hilton in a written statement released Oct. 12, calling Hilton's e-mail "hurtful and condescending" and promising that the university would handle the matter administratively.
Several days later, Jambrek sent a letter to Hilton urging him to resign because of his statements. Jambrek posted copies of the letter to his Student Senate-affiliated Twitter acount and to his Facebook account.
In today's statement, Jambrek and Hilton apologized for the situation and said they both will help the university "stand in support of fruitful dialogue no matter how fundamentally we disagree."
Jambrek's and Hilton's joint statement was posted today on the university's website at www.uwec.edu/news.
Bennett can be reached at 715-830-5832, 800-236-7077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. UAB Kaleidoscope, October 25, 2010
HUC 135, 1530 3rd Avenue South, Birmingham, Alabama 35294-1150
Students speak out on Spirit Day
By Heather Caygle
Students raised awareness for teen bullying and suicides by wearing purple in honor of Spirit Day on Wednesday, Oct. 20.
According to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD), Spirit Day was created by Brittany McMillan with the goal of “everyone rallying together.”
“In high school I saw that people were treated badly just because they were different. In high school I stuck up for them so this was my opportunity to take a stand in college to show that it’s not okay to bully,” said Regina Johnson, a sophomore who wore a purple shirt and hair ribbon for Spirit Day.
The goal of Spirit Day was to not only honor teenagers who have committed suicide but to also show support for young people affected by bullying.
According to the GLADD website, purple was chosen because it symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag.
“I wanted to participate because I was bullied in high school and I knew other people that were bullied,” said Adam Hand, a junior majoring in public relations.
Hand not only wore a purple shirt, but he also painted his face and hair purple. In addition, he wrote “Stop Hate” on his arms.
According to Hand, the idea to paint himself was spontaneous.
“I was shopping for a Halloween costume the night before and I saw purple paint in the store,” he said.
“I wrote ‘Stop Hate’ on my arms because that’s what any type of bullying is—it’s just negativity and hatred—and it’s not really necessary,” added Hand.
According to Hand, the reactions he received from other students were mostly positive.
Other students asked questions, allowing Hand to talk to them about Spirit Day.
“People would ask me why I was painted and I could tell them that I am against bullying and against people getting tossed to the side by society because they are different,” said Hand.
According to Elizabeth Casswell, president of the Gay Straight Student Alliance (GSSA) on campus, she was excited to see not just campus but national participation but also wants students to take action in other ways.
“Equality Alabama had an online forum where you could submit a call to action to your senator through the Facebook event and I think that made it more effective because I don’t really myself see why wearing purple makes any difference but if you combine it with something else I think that’s good,” said Casswell.
Currently Casswell is working with Safezone and Student Affairs on a long-term education program.
“I know from experience that the more gay people they meet, the more likely people are to support us,” said Casswell.
Students nationwide, celebrities and even President Obama participated in Spirit Day.
Obama released a video encouraging young people to “be true” to themselves.
“Each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own versions of happiness, make the most of our talents, to speak our minds, to not fit in, most of all, to be true to ourselves,” said Obama.
10. The University News (University of Missouri - Kansas City), October 25, 2010
5327 Holmes St., Kansas City, MO 64110
A call to end bullying
By Nathan Zoschke
It’s easy to be apathetic when you’re ignorant.
Three weeks ago, Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, jumped to his death from a bridge after he was recorded having sex with another male in his dorm room.
The video was posted on Twitter by Clementi’s roommate, who invited his 150 followers to a chat session where he streamed a live feed of Clementi’s same-sex encounter.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) individuals, like most any minority groups, are easy targets for discrimination.
I can’t say I haven’t made a few gay jokes and used derogatory terms in the past, but now I regret it.
I reasoned it was okay to make these jokes because I was telling them to other straight people who wouldn’t be offended.
The problem is that there’s no way to identify a gay person or straight person unless they tell you.
After seeing shocking statistics about LGBT suicide via other people’s facebook status updates, I quickly learned how harmful a seemingly innocent joke about someone else’s sexuality can potentially be.
After having met a few people who were attracted to the same sex (and learning a few of my friends and family members were gay), I began to realize the reason I made jokes and used derogatory terms was out of ignorance.
It’s easy to have a faceless enemy and it’s easy to be a playground bully when you don’t see your victim hurting.
I believe most of the discrimination we see against homosexuals is not as visible as discrimination against other groups. Unlike race, gender and ethnicity, external qualities that can’t be easily concealed, being attracted to the same sex is something people can, and often do, hide.
A friend recently told me he was gay and he felt worthless because he was afraid he’d never have a normal life. When he told his parents, they told him he needed special therapy. He hasn’t told most of his friends yet for fear of losing them and being excluded from cliques.
It’s difficult for me to understand why people in 2010 have such a hard time accepting others who are different.
The reason I believe most people make these jokes is because they don’t realize how offensive and hurtful they can be.
Having gay friends led me to realize LGBT people are often treated like victims of a psychological disease who need a cure.
The ones who don’t express remorse for being attracted to the same sex are called “abominations.” They made an evil “choice.”
What I would like to know is how can people possibly think the hundreds of LGBT teens and young adults who kill themselves every year made a “choice” to like members of the same sex?
People don’t choose to be persecuted. They don’t choose to be stereotyped and mocked.
People don’t suddenly wake up one day and say, “Hmm. I think I’m going to be gay today,” any more than you or I wake up and decide to like members of the opposite sex.
Let’s put an end to the gay jokes and name-calling.
11. The Emory Wheel, October 25, 2010
Emory University, Drawer W, Atlanta, GA 30322
Gay Student Dragged From Frat Party
By Asher Smith
Editor's note: Adam Smith's comments were added online after the story went to print. For reference, the print version is available as a PDF.
Please see the Wheel editorial board's response to this article and the reactions it provoked, which ran in the Oct. 29, 2010 issue. We hope that the Oct. 29 staff editorial can clarify the intentions behind and address concerns raised by the original story.
An incident occurring at around midnight Saturday morning — during which a gay Emory student was forcibly ejected from a party at an off-campus home inhabited by members of the Sigma Nu fraternity — has raised questions concerning the extent to which Greek life at Emory is welcoming toward the University’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community.
According to the alleged victim, his admission that he was gay instigated his forceful removal from the premises. His ejection was accompanied by anti-gay slurs and followed by what he termed “affirmative cheering” from many in attendance.
The student, who has not yet filed a police report and wished to remain unnamed for this story, attended the party at Sigma Nu’s off-campus house with multiple friends after first venturing out to Eagle Row. His particular choice of costume — a lime-green jacket, red pants and a wizard hat — meant that he stood out immediately among the crowd at the house, the student acknowledged.
“At first, when I walked into the party, some people were taking pictures of me and appreciating, if you will, what I was wearing,” he said.
About half an hour later, however, another attendee — confirmed by multiple witnesses as recent alum Adam Smith (’10C) — took the student’s wizard hat and began questioning him.
“This guy approached me and asked why I was wearing my hat. ... I said that I like the hat, just as you like your pink shirt. He then asked me if I was gay, and I said I was. He then started choking me with his elbow and put me into a head lock, and he dragged me out of the party by my neck,” he said.
After the student was allegedly dragged the approximately 10 to 15 feet from the house’s common area to the door and thrown onto the front lawn, Smith was overheard telling other attendees “Hey, this kid’s a f****t.”
Adam Smith tells a slightly different story.
"This kid was at the party, and was acting kind of ridiculous. I went over, took his hat and started dancing around," he said.
Smith then said he asked the student: "Why are you wearing this gay ass hat?" According to Smith, the student replied that it was for the "same reason you're wearing your pink shirt."
Smith said that he then asked if the student was implying that he (Smith) was "f***ing gay or something." Hearing an affirmative reaction, Smith then admitted to putting him in a head lock and ejecting him from the party.
College junior Sabrina Bernstein, who attended the party with the student, echoed the student's account of the altercation and of the approving reaction of those who realized what was going on.
“[Someone] said something along the lines of ‘Good, now we got that taken care of,’” Bernstein said.
She conceded, though, that most students at the party did not realize what was going on and did not react to what they most likely presumed to be an isolated scuffle. According to the alleged victim, most witnesses appeared confused by what happened. He said Smith then told security that he was trying to start a fight and should no longer be allowed at the party.
Bernstein expressed regret that she did not call the police and report an assault but cited her desire to tend to her friend. She explained that she reached out to University administrators, including Emory University President James W. Wagner, the next day.
When reached for comment, Wagner wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel that he had nothing to say other than to reiterate his disappointment at what he termed an “alleged act of disrespect and intolerance.”
Sigma Nu chapter President Khurram Dara wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel that: “We’d like the Emory community to know that we are taking this allegation very seriously. We have reviewed the limited information made available to us in an effort to learn as much as we can.”
The statement refers to the alleged victim as “an uninvited Emory student [who] was not known by anyone who lived in the residence.” The statement continues on to say that Smith was asked to leave as a direct result of the altercation.
“At this point,” the statement concludes, “we believe this to be an issue of personal, not fraternity, conduct.”
Yesterday, the student met with Dean for Campus Life Bridget Riordan, Director of LGBT Life at Emory Michael Shutt and Director of Greek Life Buck Cooke.
Riordan would not comment specifically on the content of her meeting with the student but said: “Any student on this campus who feels in fear needs to reach out, and we need to try and get that student help. He believes he was treated terribly, and we need to do something about that. So we’re going to try to support him any way we can because our students always need to feel safe.”
Riordan added that it was fortunate that the student came to the proper administrators.
“Any time any of our students are assaulted or harassed because of who they are we have to take very strong action, and that’s why I’m appreciative that he has come forward. We have to keep a safe community here for everybody, and we need to do everything we can to make sure that everyone feels safe here,” she said.
This occurrence follows on the heels of several high-profile incidents at a number of American universities, including the Sept. 22 suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi. While in a previous Wheel article Emory administrators conceded that instances of violence have been less visible on Emory’s campus, Michael Shutt, director of LGBT Life at Emory, acknowledged then that the effort continues to implement policies, provide resources and develop programs aimed at providing Emory with an inclusive atmosphere.
When contacted yesterday, Shutt said that he was still in the process of gathering information and did not wish to comment at that time.
Bernstein, for one, expressed a belief that Emory’s Greek life is in need of further education.
“I think it’s something that could have happened at — not every fraternity, because there are differences between the fraternities — but I think there are definitely some fraternities where it would not be completely surprising that it would happen. I guess what was so surprising was the physical nature of it. I would not have been shocked by verbal abuse. You hear things, you hear hate and discrimination from people’s mouths, especially amongst the fraternity population.”
Bernstein added that specific fraternities do not provide a particularly welcoming environment for gay individuals.
“We talked about going to another fraternity that evening, and [the alleged victim] said that he would not be let in. ... I think there are definitely fraternities that are known for being discriminative not only against gays, but against different people in general.”
When asked about this issue specifically, Riordan mentioned the fact that a significant number of Emory students who have participated in Greek life at Emory are openly gay.
“It’s not uncommon for someone to bring a [same-sex] partner to a formal or to an event,” she said.
However, she acknowledged that the need still exists to provide education for students both in and out of Greek life.
“We have new people every year. Every year we have another class of students. And so that’s when we tend to realize that we may have everything going well with some people, but it has not hit everybody yet,” she elaborated.
When asked about Greek life at Emory as it pertains to gay students, Cooke — who is in his first semester working at Emory — declined comment, saying that he was still in the process of learning about Emory culture.
12. Inside Higher Ed, October 26, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
Quick Takes: New Anti-Bullying Efforts by U.S., New Jersey
The U.S. Education Department is today sending a letter to schools and colleges reminding them of their obligations to prevent the harassment of students, The New York Times reported. While the letter is the result of a year-long review, it is being released amid a public debate over reports of bullying in schools and colleges of gay students or of students perceived as gay. “I am writing to remind you that some student misconduct that falls under a school’s anti-bullying policy also may trigger responsibilities under one or more of the federal anti-discrimination laws,” says the letter.
In New Jersey on Monday, lawmakers introduced a bill that would require all public colleges to have specific anti-bullying policies in their student codes of conduct, The Star-Ledger reported. The suicide of a Rutgers University student, Tyler Clementi, after other students broadcast his encounter with a man in his room, has led to a particular focus in New Jersey on anti-gay bullying.
13. Centre Daily Times, October 26, 2010
3400 E. College Ave., State College, PA 16801
High school anti-gay taunting gives way to acceptance for PSU students
By Ed Mahon
In seventh grade, one of Tom Bierly’s Bellefonte classmates put thumbtacks in his hand, then patted Bierly on the shoulder, causing him to bleed down his back. The pushing, tripping and shoving continued for years.
In middle school, Yvette Lerma’s basketball teammates team called her a dyke repeatedly. She became depressed and attempted suicide at the age of 12.
Teasing and verbal abuse throughout high school led Julian Haas to try and change who he was. He joined the football team and changed how he dressed, talked and acted.
“I became a person I didn’t like, a person I didn’t even know,” he said.
All three were bullied because of their sexual orientation — or before they acknowledged being gay, for their perceived orientation.
In the wake of national attention about suicide and bullying among gay teenagers, three Penn State students shared their experiences of being gay, and bullied, in middle and high school.
Two of them attempted suicide. One didn’t come out of the closet until after graduating from high school. All three say life got better — a refrain that’s gained national attention through an online video project started by writer Dan Savage.
Launched in September, the project’s goal is to prevent suicide by teenagers, by having gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adults share stories about how their life improved after dark periods. Many straight people, including President Barack Obama, have posted messages of support, too.
It’s a lesson that Bierly, Haas and Lerma all learned firsthand.
“There were a lot of really low points in my life, but I think it’s because of those low points that I’ve fought so hard and was able to achieve all the high points and amazing experiences I’ve had in my life,” said Bierly.
In a Lancaster County high school, Julian Haas saw the two openly-gay students ridiculed and picked on regularly. So he decided to deny that he was gay.
“Even though I didn’t come out, I was still bullied pretty much daily. It was so bad that I would come home crying on the bus. I would often leave classrooms, and I would go hide out in other parts of the building.”
He didn’t bother much with the school counselor. He tried to laugh off the taunts and ignore them. He joined the football team to try and fit in, the school theater club because it was fun.
Those activities led to more bullying, but they also helped him push through — that plus family support.
“If my parents had been busy working all the time, and had not been as present, I don’t know if I would have made it through high school,” he said.
At Penn State, it took a semester before he mustered the courage to walk into Room 101 of the Boucke Building, Penn State’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally Student Resource Center.
“It was as if my life got a boost. And I went from kind of just moseying along ... and just keeping to myself to coming into the center,” said Haas, now a 20-year-old sociology major with a minor in sexuality and gender studies. “They gave me the tools I needed here to transform my life and accelerate who I was.”
Like Bierly and Lerma, Haas got involved with several programs run by the LGBTA center. He’s organized and participated in Straight Talks — panel discussions in classrooms and residence halls where students talk about sexual orientation, gender identity, oppression and diversity issues.
Occasionally, students from surrounding high schools will come to the center looking for help.
“They’re blown away that so close to their home, there is this safe haven, this place of solace for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender individuals ... and there’s people that are like them,” he said.
He encourages them to support their gay-straight alliance groups. Although, in many cases, students are often afraid to take what can seem like a frightening stand. He tells them it’s OK to just push through, too.
“On the high school level, the amount of change one student feels they can do is very small. When in reality if they came together, they could do a lot,” said Haas. “... We have to keep reminding them, when it gets really hard, just remember it will get better.
Bierly, 22, came out of the closet in elementary school — for less than an hour.
One of his classmates — “the most popular girl in all of fourth grade”— decided to re-enact a scene from “Titanic,” so she ran across the playground and kissed a boy on the cheek.
Bierly told another girl he wanted to do the same. She listened, then forgot about it 15 minutes later.
“So there I was out and right back in again,” said Bierly, who grew up in Bellefonte.
But at the time, Bierly didn’t really understand what any of the feelings meant.
In middle school, as puberty started and as classmates started throwing around “gay” and “faggot” as common insults, he started figuring it out.
“I always told myself, ‘It was a terrible thing. It was bad. It was disgusting. I can’t do this,’ ” Bierly said, later adding, “I couldn’t handle it. I had no one to turn to.”
The physical and verbal abuse started in middle school and continued through high school. He took karate — he’s a black belt now — and when he fought back he and his attacker would both end up in trouble because of the district’s zero-tolerance policy. He couldn’t explain to his parents why he was being targeted, because he didn’t want to tell them he was gay.
He attempted suicide in middle school, downing bottles of Tylenol and ibuprofen. One day, in 10th grade, he stayed home from school and wrote an online suicide note. He planned to end his life at night, under the stars, because he thought it would be somehow romantic.
But a classmate saw the note and told a teacher, who contacted the authorities. Police arrived at his house that afternoon, and he spent a week at the Meadows Psychiatric Hospital.
“It was actually a really good experience for me, because it got me away from my family, my peers, my community and everything I had ever known and gave me a chance to focus on who I am and what I wanted out of life,” he said.
After that, he stopped considering suicide. He joined the school’s drama club and worked with the lighting equipment.
Later that year, he decided to tell 12 of his friends he was gay.
The next day, it seemed like everyone in the school knew. Many of the classmates who had bullied him didn’t know how to react.
“They had always accused me of being gay and everything, but I think they were, to some degree, shocked that I actually was,” he said. “So there was a week where nobody made fun of me. Nobody said anything.”
“And then it started up again, but three times as worse,” he said.
Some teachers helped, giving him support, letting him hang out in their classrooms when he needed some downtime. Others ignored the problem, he said.
“So one kid in one class gets yelled at for calling me a faggot. And then we’d go to the next class, and the next teacher’s completely apathetic,” he said. “So it starts up again. It’s not like it ever ends. It’s not like there’s an actual message coming from the school, saying ‘This is not tolerable.’ ”
In recent interviews, Bellefonte school principals have said they’ve worked to put in strict discipline policies and research-based anti-bullying programs, investigate all issues reported to them and encourage input from others on how they can improve.
In 12th grade, a school administrator directed Bierly to the LGBTA center. Like Haas, Bierly found it life changing, a community where he fit in.
In May, he graduated from Penn State with degrees in information science and technology, and security and risk analysis. He had turned to computers during his teenage years as way to search for friends.
At Penn State, he was involved in several LGBTA center outreach services and was elected student body president of his college. In December, he plans to move to Melbourne, Australia, with his boyfriend, an NCAA champion athlete who’s training for the Olympics.
“It’s ridiculous. Life has improved so much,” Bierly said. “I would have never believed I would be going to Australia with a boy back in middle school.”
In sixth grade, Yvette Lerma joined the majorettes. It was her mom’s idea.
“She thought me being a baton twirler would make me girlier and more sociable, I guess,” said Lerma, 22, who grew up in a small Arizona border town, south of Tucson. “So I did, and I loved it.”
She also fell in love with one of her teammates, who didn’t come out of the closet until four years later. After being a majorette, she decided to join the basketball team, hoping to find some other people like her.
“It turned out to be the opposite. ... That was actually like the worst situation I could have been in, because any insult that went your way had something to do with this ‘dyke-this, dyke-that,’ ” Lerma said.
The verbal harassment made her realize she wasn’t accepted. Then came depression, and a suicide attempt. Afterward, she went into counseling and school administrators learned she was gay.
“They actually asked me to stay in the closet, because they didn’t want the perception of their honors students to be ruined,” she said.
Still, that status — as one of the academic “Eagles of the Year” — helped, too.
“I was kind of protected by the fact that I was one of the higher achieving students, because the administration would stick up for me if anything did happen,” she said.
Quitting the basketball team helped. And her life improved in the larger high school. There, her academic success and her involvement in a host of activities shielded her. She was in ROTC; the math, science and engineering club; the theater group; the National Honor Society; and Future Business Leaders of America.
“I think that just helped people to get to know me before they realized that I was gay,” she said, “and I think that led to them sticking up for me more.”
Still, she knew her girlfriend at the time was harassed. Students spread false rumors about two gay guys younger than her.
“The gossip about them was horrendous. Most of it was of a sexual nature. They both had never been with anyone else. They had never done anything besides kiss someone.”
During senior year, a classmate founded a gay-straight alliance group. Lerma, who said she was confident enough to stick up for herself in high school, went to all the lunch-period meetings without hesitation.
“I wasn’t nervous about it, but you could tell that people trying to get to the meetings would ... make excuses for why they were going somewhere else during lunch,” she said.
Now a sociology major, she’s been involved in another long list of activities. Among others, she’s been president of Rainbow Roundtable, a coalition of gay advocacy groups, and Undertones, a gay advocacy organization for students of color on campus.
She expressed mixed feelings about the recent national attention on bullying and suicides. She worries about copycat suicides. But the message that it gets better is
something she hopes teenagers realize.
“It’s true, everything that people say. It does get better. It might take a while. It might suck for a long time, but it does get better,” Lerma said. “... At the age of 18, I came out to my mom, and it took her four years to accept it. So it’s just a matter of time in a lot of situations.”
-Penn State’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally Student Resource Center is located 101 Boucke Building on the University Park campus. For more information, visit www.sa.psu.edu/lgbtor call 863-1248.
-The Trevor Project is a national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth. The number is 866-488- 7386.
Ed Mahon can be reached at 231-4619.
14. Daily Bruin (UCLA), October 26, 2010
UCLA needs to show more support to LGBT community and reach out to high school students
By Salim Zymet
What do Barack Obama, Ke$ha and Hillary Clinton have in common?
They’ve all posted “It Gets Better” videos on YouTube. Moved to action by the recent and tragic suicides of six gay teens, celebrities and politicians alike have come out in full force to send a powerful message to gay teens – bullying exists, it’s horrible, but you can survive it and you can live a happy life in this country. Vice Chancellor Janina Montero joined their ranks when she sent out an e-mail to the student body deploring the tragedy and pointing students towards the proper campus services.
UCLA should be commended for its response to the suicides, even if it lagged behind other efforts.
All six suicides occurred in September, and the first “It Gets Better” video was posted on Sept. 21 by Dan Savage, a sex columnist. Since then, millions of views have racked up on YouTube. Of the six suicides, two were 13-year-old boys in middle school, two were high school students and two were college students.
UCLA should have reacted sooner to such an important national tragedy. Twenty-two days into October is 22 days too late. UCLA is considered by most to be a liberal campus, and such assertions seem to ring true, but the campus could still do more to create a friendlier environment for the gay community.
There are more than 1,000 suicides committed each year on college campuses. One in six students admits to being bullied multiple times each month. Gay students are four times more likely to commit suicide, at least in part because of said bullying. This is the story the statistics tell. But it isn’t the story of UCLA.
If this campus is any indication, this does not have to be the nationwide story playing out as we speak.
UCLA already has tremendous services for the gay community on campus. But if there’s more room for improvement at UCLA, it would have to do with the way colleges and universities reach out to high school students, said Micheal Boucai, a fellow at the Williams Institute. The Williams Institute is the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual arm of UCLA’s School of Law and frequently publishes research on the subject.
“The admissions office could do a better job at conveying to high school students just how rich and diverse the LGBT community is on campus. The ‘It Gets Better’ message is something universities are in a very good position to tell potential students,” Boucai said.
Indeed, the chancellor himself ought to post an “It Gets Better” video on his Facebook page. Following that, UCLA needs to do more to reach out to middle and high school students. At the very least, prospective students need to be made fully aware of the services UCLA provides through advertising of the university’s services in high schools and through orientation.
UCLA could send liaisons to various high schools in the L.A. area to get the word out about gay rights issues in general and what UCLA does to combat them. If middle and high school students are aware of the existence of such a gay-friendly university, they may be less likely to get depressed and commit suicide in the first place. While we’re in high school, it’s easy to think that life begins at 15 and ends at 18, and such thoughts are particularly dangerous for LGBT students who are bullied.
For UCLA to be a resource to Southern California as a place where homosexuality is accepted and respected, it must broaden its outreach to those least likely to know about the ample services the university provides. Working closer with high school counselors who deal with LGBT issues is a step toward achieving this goal.
Anyone who attends UCLA would agree that we’re a gay-friendly campus. The centers, the clubs and the students in general are all generally supportive of the LGBT community. Despite that, the campus isn’t perfect, and the LGBT Resource Center is well aware of that fact. Random or not-so-random acts of violence and anti-LGBT demonstrations right outside the center’s doorstep have both occurred in the past, Adelin Lo, office manager for the LGBT Resource Center, said.
To combat anti-gay sentiments, the LGBT center, in conjunction with Counseling and Psychological Services as well as other organizations, has put on two events in the past month which dealt directly with the recent suicides and other LGBT issues.
The center also provides its own counseling services for students who are dealing with issues of homosexuality.
UCLA is well equipped to deal with issues facing the gay community but needs to respond to national issues sooner and do a better job at reaching out to students who don’t have the benefit of attending the university.
Are you LGBT friendly? E-mail Salim at email@example.com. Send general comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
15. The Lariat, October 26, 2010
28000 Marguerite Pkwy, Mission Viejo, CA 92692, SSC 224
Spirit Day: purple To honor gay teen suicides
By Dylan Lujano
Last Wednesday was dedicated to Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual (LGBT) youth in honor of the recent teen suicides due to homophobic abuse in the home and schools Oct. 20.
Wednesday was a day dedicated to the eight teens that committed suicide in the recent months who were abused and harassed for being homosexual. According to gayrights.change.org, LGBTQ Spirit Day was started by Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan, who used her Tumblr account to spread the message to support the teens.
Many Facebook groups were also created to support the "Spirit Day," which was to show the hundreds of thousands of LGBT youth who face the same pressures and bullying, and that there is a vast community of people who support them.
One of the Facebook groups posted a message on the group page, "Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that's exactly what we'd like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality."
Laura McGinnis, a spokeswoman for the Trevor Project, a national organization focused on suicide prevention for LGBT youth, told USA Today that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teenagers are four times as likely to commit suicide than straight teenagers.
Some schools have been taking part in the fight against the bullying, with programs and clubs to support LGBT youth, for high school and college students.
Students have spoken out about the suicides.
"I think it's a good thing that people are taking notice of this gay-bashing leading to emotional instability," said Mikel Mitchell, 20, business. "But I don't like that it took such extreme matters to get here."
The Human Rights Campaign has many ways a student can get involved, such as The Youth & Campus Outreach Program, which provides tools, facilitates connections, and empowers Generation Equality to fight for LGBT equality on campus and beyond.
A message on their official website said, "Generation Equality, the current group of high school and college-aged young people, is more supportive of LGBT equality than any other generation in our country's history. As young people work to attain the goals of the queer community on their campuses, it is our hope that we can help by providing tools and facilitating connections with other LGBT student activists across the country."
For more ways to help go to www.hrc.org.
16. The Reader, October 27, 2010
2314 M St., Omaha, NE 68107
Transgendered in Nebraska: Facility serves and educates about minority group
By Hilary Stohs-Krause
For many, the word “transgender” calls to mind the murder of Brandon Teena in Humboldt in 1993, an incident that inspired the 1999 Academy Award-winning film Boys Don’t Cry.
Fast forward almost two decades, however, and services offered at a facility in the same city where Teena was born could have saved his life.
“If Brandon were going through today what he went through back in the early 1990s, he’d still be with us,” says Ryan Sallans, health educator at Lincoln’s Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, 2246 O St. “One of the reasons he left was lack of support in Lincoln.”
Planned Parenthood has been offering support groups for transgendered or questioning individuals for the last three and a half years, and the facility began offering hormone prescriptions in January. Sallans also offers training for agencies and organizations who work with transgender populations, including domestic violence shelters in Lincoln and people training to be alcohol and drug counselors.
For transgendered people, health care can be a complicated, uncomfortable and costly process. Because of the anxiety many transgendered people feel about their bodies, Sallans says, they often simply avoid sexual and reproductive health care.
Procedures and general care are often explicitly excluded from health insurance policies, and the costs can be daunting. Those who offer services can be few and far-between. And even if patients want and can afford health care, their experiences with doctors and providers are overwhelmingly negative, he says.
Results released Oct. 13 from a survey by the National Center for Trans Equality and the Gay and Lesbian Task Force from a sample of about 6,500 people found that 19 percent were refused health care because of their nonconforming gender status.
An additional 28 percent says they suffered harassment in medical settings. And 2 percent — or about 130 people — reported being victims of violence in the offices of those meant to keep them safe and healthy.
Ignorance is also an issue — half of respondents reported having to teach their medical providers about being transgender.
This is why Planned Parenthood’s services are so important, says Jamison Green, member of the board of directors for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and chair of the organization’s public policy, advocacy and liaison committee.
“Across the country, trans people are often very much discriminated against in terms of accessing even basic health care that has nothing to do with their [sexual] transition process,” he says.
Alex and Jamie, who requested their real names not be used, began their transitioning processes from female to male through Lincoln’s Planned Parenthood. (Read more about Alex and Jamie in Up Front at right.)
The concept of transgenderism is something Jamie never encountered until he came to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for college. In the small town where he was raised, Jamie says, such things were never discussed.
Though the facility is based in Lincoln, Sallans says the 25 or so clients Planned Parenthood has served come from across the state.
“The majority come from Omaha or Lincoln, but we have people from smaller rural areas who are also seeing us,” he says. “Some people travel three hours to see us.”
It’s the same in San Francisco, where Green’s based, he says.
“People travel from Sacramento, which is over 100 miles away, way down into the Central Valley in order to come to these places” that offer health care, he says. “If it’s happening here in California, I imagine it’s happening in the Midwest, where resources are even less available.”
While not comprehensive, a search on the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association’s website listed only five providers in Nebraska; only one specifically listed transgender services as a specialty. All were located in Omaha.
“There aren’t many resources out there,” Jamie says, “especially in Nebraska.”
Support is also a key component of transgender health care — while the reported attempted suicide rate for the general population is about 1.6 percent, it skyrockets to 40 percent for transgendered individuals, Green says.
“Many trans people suffer from post-traumatic-stress disorder, just because of the way they’re treated because of gender variance,” he says. “Depression and anxiety are very common.”
Lincoln’s Planned Parenthood offers two support groups: one for female-to-male transgendered people; and one for those born female but questioning their gender.
While Alex’s co-workers, family and friends have been supportive, his story is not the norm — and even with that support, he says meeting with other FTM transgendered people helps.
“We share the same experience, but we don’t share the same life,” he says. “It’s been a good eye-opening experience.”
Jamie says he was grateful for the services Planned Parenthood offers.
“It’s just nice to have somebody out there,” he says. “Maybe it isn’t the most popular thing to do, but they’re doing it anyway because they know it’s right.”
17. The Loyola Phoenix, October 27, 2010
Loyola steps out of the closet
It's the best of times and it's the worst of times for anyone who falls under the category of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or ally (LGBTQA) at Loyola.
A glance at almost any newspaper from the past few months reveals that the spirit of the gay community nationwide has recently been dampened due to a number of issues. Although the upcoming election will be the first since the 1990s without a measure to ban gay marriage on any state ballot, the campaign trail is still littered with opposition to two openly gay candidates who are running for Congress. The debate about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has intensified after a U.S. District Court judge tried to halt its application, a decision that only spurred an appeal by the federal government. In response, a gay rights group called the Log Cabin Republicans has asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to let the lower court's order stand.
Worst of all are the recent series of suicides committed by young people who were bullied because of their sexual orientation. Those students included a Rutgers University freshman named Tyler Clementi who jumped from the George Washington Bridge in New York after discovering his roommate secretly recorded him during a sexual encounter with another male student.
While all these occurrences are saddening, the unfortunate national news hovering over the queer community serves as a reminder to us of how thankful we are that the Loyola community responds positively to LGBTQA students on campus.
For example, October at Loyola is a 31-day celebration of LGBTQA Heritage month.
Heritage month is sponsored by ADVOCATE - a group that works to create a safe and comfortable environment at Loyola for LGBTQA students - and the Department of Student Diversity and Cultural Affairs. This month's celebratory events range from a drag show to "ally training" sessions for heterosexual students and staff to learn how to be more sensitive toward the gay community. All of which are supported by the administration.
There is also momentum for a new initiative that will ensure RAs receive training about how to assure every person staying in the residence halls is sensitive in their behavior toward LGBTQA students living amongst them.
In the past year, a Queer Christian Living Community has started up on campus - a huge step for a Catholic university.
The Phoenix Editorial Board applauds these efforts and is pleased with the safe and accepting atmosphere that has been created for the queer community on campus. However, we think there are still some important improvements that can be made for LGBTQA students.
For instance, ADVOCATE members strongly recommend the construction of a queer resource center - a common feature at other college campuses - where LGBTQA students could go to access everything from books about negotiating a queer identity in college to information about doctors in the area who give STD tests and employers who are looking for people to work in the field of queer activism.
Additionally, the presence of transgender students on campus calls for the installation of bathrooms without sex labels and new housing standards so no one is put in an uncomfortable situation if they are placed in a dorm with someone of the opposite gender due to being classified by the sex they were assigned at birth.
A few weeks ago, sex columnist Dan Savage launched the "It Gets Better" campaign online with the goal of informing young people who are tormented for their sexual orientation that, although they may not be able to envision it now, life will get better as they move into adulthood.
It has since resulted in hundreds from the gay community flocking to YouTube to post videos sharing their personal "best times and worst times."
We hope that as this campaign continues to flourish, the campus-wide campaign of "Loyola Supports Love" will flourish here, giving the state of the gay community a chance to improve with each year passing.
18. Daily Trojan (University of Southern California), October 27, 2010
USC Student Union 421, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0895
USC’s LGBT community says ‘It gets better’
By Rachel Bracker
Student organizations are collaborating with the university to make an “It Gets Better” video as part of a nationwide campaign to voice support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens after a string of suicides among gay youth.
“It Gets Better” is an online video project started by Dan Savage, a journalist known for his internationally syndicated sex column “Savage Love,” in which people post videos online supporting LGBT youth.
“People can post videos talking to LGBT youth, talking about their own experiences coming out or talking about their life now,” said LGBT Resource Center Director Vincent Vigil. “It’s to let them know that you have tons of support. Try to find support that’s out there. It will get better, please use resources. Don’t take your life.”
The LGBT Resource Center, Lambda LGBT Alumni Association, the LGBTQ Faculty and Staff Alliance and the Queer and Ally Student Assembly are all working on the video. Vigil said about 30 students, as well as some faculty and alumni, were interviewed for the project.
“My hope is for people to know online and people that are here at USC that we’re a safe and affirming environment for them if they identify as LGBT,” Vigil said. “It’s a positive message to send out to our students to let them know that they have resources here and if they’re feeling depressed or lonely, to please stop by our center and utilize the resources we have on campus.”
Vigil said he plans to post the video on the “It Gets Better” YouTube page and on the USC YouTube page.
“Once it’s finished, we’re going to try and get it to go viral [and] have people on Facebook send it from friend to friend to friend, post it on people’s walls so that it spreads,” Vigil said.
Chris Berry, a graduate student studying math, shared his story about growing up in a conservative environment in Orange County. Berry said he believes that growing up would have been easier if he experienced more visible support, like the “It Gets Better” videos.
“I basically said that anyone growing up in a place where they don’t fit in, things will get better. They will go somewhere and find a community,” Berry said. “We as a university are a caring community and we support those who are part of our community and it shows that we want to have an impact in peoples’ lives and be an element for change for the better.”
Greg Oertel, a sophomore french horn performance major, said he talked about the difficulty of belonging to a Mormon family and coming out, considering the church’s conservative stance on homosexuality.
“I was in a really depressed state, but eventually my family was able to be OK with it, or if they weren’t, be OK with it around me and support me. It ultimately made me a happier person,” he said. “It was great to know I had the love and support of my family.”
Oertel said he looked to the news and popular media to find visible support.
“I didn’t know anybody personally to talk to about this issue,” Oertel said. “I did look to celebrities as a beacon, like Ellen DeGeneres, and the life that she lived, but I didn’t know anybody, I was in an environment where we didn’t talk about gays.”
Vigil said that although the main purpose of the video is to reach out to struggling LGBT youth, he said he also hopes the video will show prospective students a glimpse of USC’s welcoming community.
“If I’m a prospective student and I see that USC put this video together, it’s going to say a lot to me, especially if I’m the mother or father of a prospective student and see how welcoming USC is,” he said.
Vigil said the LGBT community at USC has become more visible over the past few years.
“We’re come a long way if you look back 10 years, up until now. USC has the stereotype of being very conservative … but students would argue that it is a very liberal and inclusive place,” Vigil said.
Jenny Ham, an undecided sophomore, said that she became involved as an ally through her work as a Undergraduate Student Government residential senator.
“This year, being in USG really opened my eyes to the types of people out there and understanding their day-to-day struggles,” she said. “QuASA has grown so much. Their events and their support are everywhere. Everywhere you go you’ll see LGBT students, and you can’t deny that they’re not there or that they’re not like you because they’re not straight.”
The overall purpose of the video is to tangibly show support for the LGBT community at USC and LGBT youth around the world, Ham said.
“Things like this [video] make USC a stronger community. USC recognizes the slight differences among people, but at the same time accepts them as a whole, because we’re USC students — we’re Trojans,” Ham said. “Whoever you are — whether you’re gay or straight or bisexual or whatever — we embrace you and won’t exclude you in any way.”
19. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 27, 2010
223 Perimeter Center Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30346
Alleged anti-gay incident at Emory frat party attracts national spotlight
By Christian Boone
Student leaders met into the night Tuesday to prepare a response. Emory University's administration also weighed in, sending a campus-wide e-mail promising an investigation into the incident, first reported by the campus newspaper and picked up by countless blogs, including the popular Gawker website.
At issue: a scuffle early Saturday morning at a frat party involving a gay student and an Emory alum. No one was injured and no police report was filed.
A year ago, the story would've likely remained within the Emory bubble. But recent high-profile incidents targeting gay youth, including the Sept. 22 suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, has started a national conversation on bullying. Now, the Emory tussle has become a part of that dialogue, merited or not.
As reported by the Emory Wheel, an openly gay student attending a Sigma Nu party was forcibly removed from the house after intimating that his alleged attacker was also homosexual.
Recent Emory graduate Adam Smith admitted being riled by the inference that he was gay and acknowledged dragging the student -- dressed in a lime green jacket, red pants and a wizard hat -- out by his neck, throwing him onto the front lawn of the off-campus residence.
The gay student, whose identity has not been revealed, told the student newspaper several of the partygoers showered him with homophobic slurs as he was being ejected -- a charge that has not been corroborated. One witness told the Wheel that, while many revelers cheered Smith on, most did not know what prompted the scuffle. Smith and his accuser did not respond to interview requests forwarded by the Emory newspaper on behalf of the AJC.
Though questions linger about the fight, the reaction to it has been swift and certain.
"This gives us an opportunity to have discussions that need to take place," said Beth Brandt, president of Emory's Student Government Association. Brandt said she was surprised this particular incident, in which no one was injured, received so much attention but, "in the context of what's been going on nationally, I understand."
In a statement sent to students and the media, Emory's senior vice president for campus life John L. Ford said the university is "supporting the student involved in the incident" and "has no tolerance for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."
Brandt said a coalition of student leaders, including representatives of Greek and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) groups, will address the controversy in a joint letter to be published in Friday's edition of the Wheel.
"This is a very inclusive community, but Emory's not perfect and not as inclusive as it could be," Brandt said. "The incident itself is very sad, but we hope to use it as a catalyst for change."
Some students expressed concerned about a rush to judgment.
"No one really knows what happened," said Savan Shah, president of Emory's College Republicans, though he adds Smith appears to have overreacted. "Adam handled it wrong, and if people were cheering, they shouldn't have been, but we don't know that they were cheering because it happened to a gay student."
20. Inside Higher Ed, October 27, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
U.S. Hits Hard on Bullying
By Dan Berrett
A student at Emory University told a fellow reveler at a fraternity party early Saturday morning that he was gay. In return, he was allegedly showered with anti-gay slurs and dragged out by his neck as onlookers cheered, according to the Emory Wheel. Though the incident is still under investigation, it has already prompted calls for greater campus harmony.
Incidents like this, and the suicide last month of the Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, could grow rarer, say legal experts and student advocates, following the U.S. Department of Education’s release Tuesday of anti-discrimination guidelines.
The "guidance letter," reportedly in the works for months, tells schools, colleges and universities that bullying should be treated as more than just a breach of campus codes; it also must been seen as a possible violation of federal law.
“I am writing to remind you,” wrote Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights, “that some student misconduct that falls under a school’s anti-bullying policy also may trigger responsibilities under one or more of the federal antidiscrimination laws enforced by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights.”
Though Ali’s letter did not stake out any new policy ground, it did signal the Obama administration’s tighter embrace of its duty to police civil rights infractions.
It also more conclusively fleshed out how existing laws will be applied. Most pointedly, it made clear that campus officials must take immediate and appropriate action to impartially investigate harassment allegations and respond in a way that is “reasonably calculated to end the harassment, eliminate any hostile environment and its effects, and prevent the harassment from recurring.” If not, the full powers of the Department’s Office of Civil Rights will be called upon, Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned. “Are we putting people on notice? The answer is yes," he said. “If we have to, we’re more than prepared to step in.”
In the Emory case, the university already has affirmed its commitment to providing a “safe, inclusive and welcoming environment” for everyone, as well as its intolerance for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, according to a statement attributed to John L. Ford, senior vice president for campus life.
The student, unnamed by the campus newspaper, wants to use the incident as a learning opportunity for Emory students, according to Michael D. Shutt, director of Emory’s office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender life. Such campus-wide efforts are welcome, according to the Department of Education’s letter. It recommends not just separating the victim and perpetrator, but also rewriting policy, if necessary, and educating the wider community.
“If there’s a culture toward being discriminatory or whatever ‘-ism’ you want to insert there, if there’s a culture there, the institution as a whole has a responsibility to shift that culture or at least educate people,” said W. Scott Lewis, president of the Association for Student Conduct Administrators and a partner in the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management. “In the world of student conduct, everything is about accountability and education.” He viewed the letter’s release as properly framing bullying and harassment in the context of civil rights.
Advocates for gay and lesbian students and for Jewish students enthusiastically greeted the release of the letter as bolstering protection of victimized groups. “This is a bold step,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, a Charlotte, N.C., group advocating for safer college environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Windmeyer was especially pleased that the department signaled its willingness to use Title IX, the 1972 law barring sex discrimination, to guard against abuses based on sexual orientation.
Though federal law does not explicitly protect students on the basis of sexual orientation, the letter spells out a more expansive view, one that says sex discrimination can be punished if students are harassed “for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic for their sex, or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity.” To Windmeyer, such language is “a great step forward.”
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., hailed the letter for applying Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to incidents of anti-Semitism. Though Title VI does not apply to religion, the letter, here too, stakes out an expansive view. It cites as actionable discrimination against students on the basis of “actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.”
“The policy is now clear,” Sherman said in a statement. “Colleges and universities will no longer be permitted to turn a blind eye when Jewish students face severe and persistent anti-Semitic hostility on their campuses. The schools will now be compelled to respond.”
Colleges' responses are mandatory, even if a student does not formally file a complaint, according to the letter. In fact, college and university administrators are on the hook for addressing harassment incidents about which they know or “reasonably should have known,” wrote Ali. Such an expectation is troubling to Ada Meloy, general counsel for the American Council on Education, especially because the letter applies both to K-12 schools and to colleges and universities.
“Certainly, in a K-12 environment, there are teachers who come and go in hallways. It’s different from a higher ed situation,” said Meloy. “It’s very difficult for institutions to meet a ‘should have known’ standard -- especially when it’s often applied in hindsight.”
The emphasis on K-12 creates other problems for higher education institutions looking for guidance on how to respond. Sorting through what qualifies as harassment and what doesn’t depends largely on the specific facts, department officials emphasized. When campus officials receive guidance letters such as the one released Tuesday, they rely on the examples, culled from actual events, that are cited in these guidelines.
Tuesday’s letter, however, cited four examples -- and none dealt with higher education. “The new guidance reinforces the complexity for colleges and universities, as well as K-12 schools, in addressing peer-to-peer harassing behavior,” said Ann H. Franke, a lawyer who consults nationally with colleges and universities on academic freedom, workplace issues, and student affairs. “The more fact patterns they put in front of us the more detail we get.”
Others saw in the letter an even more unwelcome blending of assumptions of the roles played by K-12 and higher education institutions. The letter urges a paternalistic stance that is inappropriate for colleges and universities and would impinge on the First Amendment right of free speech, wrote Will Creeley, director of legal and public advocacy for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, in Philadelphia.
“At an institution of higher education, students may range in age from 17 to 67 and beyond, and must be treated like the adults they are,” Creeley wrote in an e-mail. “Our nation's colleges and universities have a legal duty to respond to instances of true harassment. They must also respect the expressive rights of their students. These dual obligations to protect free speech and prosecute actual harassment need not be in tension.”
21. The Miscellany News (Vassar College), October 27, 2010
Box 149, 124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
College prepared to prevent suicide
By Jillian Scharr
No one likes to talk about it, and yet statistically speaking, one in 10 students has thought about it. Suicide is an ever-present concern on college campuses. For Assistant Dean of Residential Life Luis Inoa, who worked at New York University (NYU) when six students committed suicide over the 2003-2004 school year, "[suicide] is something that's always been on our consciousness."
Such concerns have been compounded by a rise in college suicides. During the last academic year, six students committed suicide at Cornell in six months. This academic year, Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi became a household name after his suicide sparked a rush of media coverage, celebrity attention and the proposal of stronger anti-cyber harassment legislation.
Indeed, college suicides have tripled since the 1950s, and suicide currently stands as the second most common cause of death among college students. But what does this inflation mean for the individuals responsible for campus health? "In some ways that doesn't matter; what we need to focus on is alerting the entire campus on how to prevent a suicide, and learning to identify signs or even express concern," said Associate Dean and Director of Psychiatric Counseling Sylvia Balderrama, "And that's well worth it no matter if the trend is up or down."
At Vassar, administrators strive to support students and prevent suicide via a Student Concern Group, a committee which includes the Dean of Students, Dean of Dtudies, Dean of Freshmen, the Directors of Health Counseling and Health Education, the assistant dean of Residential Life and the Director of Disability Services.
This committee discusses individual students who have "come on the radar" in any of the departments represented at the committee. "Basically what we're trying to do is find the best way of helping students and providing the kind of support they need to have, rather than five different offices worrying independently about the same student," said Dean of Students David "D.B." Brown. At their meetings, the committee discusses a group strategy for reaching out to the student. "When students set up a red flag—because of our size here as an institution, even a yellow flag or an orange flag: student missed a couple of classes, student hasn't left their room, someone has been referred over to Drug and Alcohol Edu—it's that group's responsibility to say, ‘here's something going on in that particular student's life and we want to make sure we develop a strategy to support that student,'" said Inoa.
Despite the enormous impact that a suicide can have on a campus, and due to the furtive nature of the development of suicidal tendencies, it is nearly impossibly to quantify just how prepared Vassar can be at any time to cope with such tragedy. "I don't know how you measure something like that [Vassar's preparedness]," said Brown. "What I will say is when we know there's someone at risk, we respond pretty quickly."
"We [at Vassar] are generally plugged into one another: organizations, academics, houses, student fellows, administrative offices, [such] that we get a lot of information about students," said Inoa. "For me that is one of the things that's different here than at a place like NYU—that I can count on students being plugged in, and that collectivity."
Clementi's death has raised the issue of LGBTQ suicides in particular. A range of statistics have been proffered, but most analysts agree that LGBTQ students commit suicide at higher rates than their heterosexual peers.
Inoa, expresses hope that students, and LGBTQ students in particular, feel comfortable and accepted at Vassar, "If…a student couldn't be open [about his or her sexuality], and they come to an institution like Vassar, I have to imagine that that's liberating psychologically. ‘I've got a lot of other stuff I have to deal with here but this is not one of them. I can unpack being gay or lesbian here very freely.'"
But Vassar's tolerant reputation could be a double-edged sword if it leads to the assumption that all students are happy and accepted. "The overriding ethos is that those kinds of things couldn't happen here," said Balderrama, "I don't believe that. I believe that it could happen here…and then I worry that someone might not seek help if that's the ethos that [he or she] is feeling on campus."
The College plans to launch a suicide prevention program called Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR), intended to reference CPR, in which students can receive training on how to reach out to their peers.
While Vassar's support network continues to grow and adapt to students' needs, some concerns remain. "There is high stress [here]," said Brown in reference to a concerning aspect of Vassar culture "It can come from the system, it can come from families. Students are here because they're good students; you don't come here because you just want to coast. So there's a lot riding on doing well." But Inoa suggested that the competition and emphasis on individual success present in other high-ranking institutions is less prevalent at Vassar. "Here, students are certainly high-achieving, but I don't get the same notion of competitiveness [compared to other colleges]. My sense is that [Vassar] students try to support one another through their academic experience." Balderrama's chief concern is "letting things become complacent. Suicide is…not something any of us want to experience…but we can't really ignore it as if it weren't a possibility, and that's what I worry about at Vassar."
"I think students need to know that there are so many resources on campus that are available to them, and it almost doesn't matter how someone gets help: through Residential Life, student fellows, house advisors, faculty, the Dean of Students, Health Services—all of us work together so that Someone will be guided to the appropriate resource," concludes Inoa.
And that, in effect, is the essence of the Student Concern Group. "Students may not know about other people who are having similar problems," said Balderrama, "but we see a lot of students for a lot of different reasons, so no issue is too small, and it's certainly not too big."
22. CU Independent, October 28, 2010
Opinion: Let’s brag about drag
By Chelsea Miller
The opinions represented in this article do not necessarily represent those of the staff of CUIndependent.com nor any of its sponsors.
It’s that time of year again, when glitz, glamour and glitter take the stage at CU.
Being held Thursday night, the CU drag show will bring freedom for all to be flamboyant.
Student drag kings and queens will lip sync their hearts out for the local community at 8 p.m. in the Glenn Miller Ballroom in the UMC at the Kings and Queens of the Jungle 2010 Drag Show.
Drag queens are males that portray themselves as women through dress, appearance and performance to entertain. Drag kings are females that dress and act as men.
Whether a king or a queen, in the world of drag, the performer does not have to be gay, straight, transgender or fall under any other social labels to participate.
It is a common misconception that participation in drag acts is limited to only gay males. All individuals within or outside the community are able to perform drag acts for the purpose of entertainment and gender expression.
A similar explanation is used for the difference between individuals who cross-dress and drag queens.
A cross-dresser is an individual who chooses to express their gender in a way that is not representative of their sex assigned at birth. For example, male cross-dressers may choose to wear women’s stockings and heels because they enjoy the feeling of wearing this feminine attire. It is important to note that cross-dressing is a form of gender expression, and is not in any way tied to sexual orientation or gender identity.
On the other hand, drag queens and kings dress as they do for the purpose of showmanship, rather than satisfaction from wearing certain clothing. Of course, who wouldn’t feel sexy in a tight, red dress? But drag queens and kings are performers and should not be defined by sentiments attached to clothing associated to a gender binary.
Drag is a fun and comical form of entertainment. A skit, song or dance is performed for the sake of a stereotype or an impersonation of a certain celebrity.
Whatever the act, drag is about the experience and not the statement. Enjoyment of drag shows is not limited to the gay community, but is a witty and amusing experience for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
When picturing a typical drag queen, many visualize gaudy eyelashes, flamboyant clothing, big wigs and a strut to match the confidence of a prized model.
However, not all queens and kings fit this stereotype. Many CU students, gay or straight, have decided to come together to perform at the CU Drag Show. This event is hosted by the university’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA).
Margot Ripley, a 20-year-old junior international affairs and political science double major, is also a diversity mentor on the SPECTRUM floor of Hallett Hall and the CU GSA president.
“The GSA’s drag show is meant to be a fun, shared event,” Ripley said. “That being said, exposing people to gender bending is often educational and can break down barriers.”
She explains that the purpose of the drag show is to introduce students to the many elements of gender expression.
“I think the queer community at CU benefits from the exposure, and the fact that the community comes together to support the performers … the straight community also benefits in this way, because drag is in no way a purely queer phenomenon,” she said. “Many straight individuals enjoy dressing up as well, in drag as well as biodrag.”
Biodrag is a form of drag that emphasizes the features and characteristics of the gender you identify with.
Annually, the drag show is the largest student group event on campus, Ripley said.
“One thousand people every year come to support the drag community, and many of the attendees have their eyes opened and their ideas challenged surrounding gender and gender performance,” Ripley said.
The drag show is free, but seating is limited.
Involvement in any event or group on campus is not limited to sexual orientation or expression of identity, and anyone is welcome.
Students of all color, identities, orientation and status will be participating in this gender bending experience.
Tickets will be distributed at 6 p.m. in the Glenn Miller Ballroom, with doors opening at 7 p.m. Come and watch the diverse students of the university dance, sing and show off just how fab-u-lous a CU Buff can be!
View the photo gallery from the show.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Chelsea Miller at Chelsea.email@example.com.
23. WMU News (Western Michigan University), October 28, 2010
Office of University Relations, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433
Talks address gay civil rights, spectrum of sexuality
Media Contact: Jeanne Baron
KALAMAZOO--Activist and professional speaker and workshop presenter Robyn Ochs will discuss variations in sexual identity and related topics Thursday, Nov. 4, at Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University.
Presentation at K College
"Imagining Our Lives"
Thursday, Nov. 4, 4 p.m., Mandelle Hall, Olmsted Room
This program will provide words of encouragement in today's conflicted times, when advances in and popular support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights are increasing at the same time that homophobia is on the upswing and progress in some areas is being rolled back.
Presentation at WMU
"Beyond Binaries: Identity and the Sexuality Spectrum"
Thursday, Nov. 4, 8 p.m., Bernhard Center, North Ballroom
This interactive program will look at different experiences of identity and the complexity of attraction as well as the relationship between experience and self-identity and self-identity and the way people are "read" by others.
Ochs has taught courses on LBGT history and politics in the United States, the politics of sexual orientation, and the experiences of those who overstep such binary categories as gay/straight, masculine/feminine, black/white and male/female.
Her writings have been published in numerous anthologies, and she is the editor of the "Bisexual Resource Guide." Ochs also co-edited the second edition of "Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World," a new 42-country anthology containing 220 essays that explore bisexual identity.
Her Kalamazoo visit is being sponsored by Kalamazoo College, the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center, and WMU's Gender and Women's Studies Program and Office of LBGT Student Services.
For more information, visit wmich.edu/lbgt or contact Sarah Stangl, coordinator of WMU's Office of LBGT Student Services, at (269) 387-2123.
24. The Emory Wheel, October 28, 2010
Emory University, Drawer W, Atlanta, GA 30322
Incident Sparks Mixed Opinions
By Roshani Chokshi
Many students and student leaders — Greeks and non-Greeks alike — expressed the belief that Emory’s Greek Life is approachable and not intentionally uninviting, but acknowledged that more progress can always be made. Others, however, retained the belief that parts of Eagle Row remain inaccessible to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
This discussion was prompted by allegations of intolerance that followed an incident early Saturday morning when a gay student was dragged out of an off-campus party hosted by Sigma Nu (SigNu).
College senior and President of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) Daniel Kmetz said he was concerned that Monday’s article in the Wheel concerning this occurrence, “Gay Student Dragged From Frat Party,” presented an unfair blanketing statement, particularly from a source who said homophobic attitudes are common in Greek Life.
“I think there’s a pretty large presence of LGBT people on campus, especially compared to other schools I’ve visited,” Kmetz said. “Events like these aren’t totally uncommon, and I think that because it happened here, where there’s a large presence of that group, possibly makes it more shocking ... Emory is as open as any other place, if not better.”
College Council President and College senior Shifali Baliga also agreed that casting all of Greek Life as homophobic is a generalizing blanket statement.
“When you look at the row, you certainly see differences within the houses,” Baliga said. “I don’t think we can just pinpoint Greek Life.”
Baliga commended Greek leaders on assuming responsibility and not playing defense in an effort to not only be inclusive, but also be more approachable for LGBT members.
“I think what we need to do now is show that this isn’t all of Emory, and this probably happens more than we know about. But the majority of Emory students are caring, thoughtful and tolerant people, and we need to make sure that students who feel targeted can feel as though Emory is their home,” Baliga said. “While we’ve succeeded a great deal, we still have a lot of improvement to do.”
Concerning allegations that the student was dragged from the party because of his sexuality, Kmetz said he questioned the context of the altercation between the former SigNu brother and the student and added that getting thrown out of a party is generally due to behavior as opposed to sexual identity.
“There’s always a fine line based on how [someone] is acting or how much of a risk they are [at a party],” Kmetz said. “I’ve never seen this happen at parties. We’ve had people that are not necessarily gay but being really obnoxious, and if they’ve gotten too out of control, we’ll kick them out.”
While behavior is a call for attention, other students have pointed to the gay student’s choice of style at the party — a wizard’s hat —, which may have drawn negative attention.
“Some people have very different or unique styles; I don’t think he was asking for it,” Joe O’Geen (‘10C), an openly gay former member of Emory’s chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp), said. “I’m not saying there was alcohol or not, but I think in a setting where there would be alcohol involved, people would be less inclined to come to that person’s aid, and avoid the situation. But then again, I could be wrong.”
College sophomore Peter Boudreau expressed surprise at the idea of the student’s attire inciting a negative reaction.
“If you’re going to a SigNu place, you shouldn’t feel as if you have to turn into something else,” he said. “That’s just stupid to me.”
Despite his positive experience in Greek Life, O’Geen said other openly gay students suffered from what he believes is an incidence of black-balling, where certain Greek organizations did not accept students based on sexual identity despite the fact that “there’s a good handful of fraternities” who accept individuals based on their individual fit within the fraternity.
“There are some fraternities where I’ll tell you point blank they would hands down not accept gays in their organization,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair, but it’s their loss.”
Like O’Geen, Dave Kerin (‘10C) said his fraternity experience was not only positive, but also “one of the best decisions I made.”
As an openly gay former member of Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT), Kerin said he brought his boyfriend to formal and was greeted with acceptance and kindness.
“I certainly didn’t hear anything about it, but I can imagine situations in other fraternities where that would not be accepted,” Kerin said.
Concerning debate of whether or not the campus provides a safe space for members of the LGBT community, Student Government Association (SGA) President Beth Brandt said Emory is a relatively safe space.
“I think Emory has done a fairly good job at inclusion, and one thing I think is very important and impressive about Emory is that we take ownership when we do have issues as opposed to sweeping them under the rug,” Brandt said.
Baliga said there needs to be a concerted effort to reaffirm to LGBT students that the weekend’s incident is not representative of Emory and that the student government does not tolerate those acts.
“It really needs to be a safe space all the time, and in terms of that I think Emory really is committed to that [ideal],” she said. Despite efforts to reach out to students, Baliga said this might be an example of where [leaders] have fallen short. She added that the incident led them to “take a step back and see what’s not in place and working toward students feeling more included and accepted.”
On the other hand, some students believe that going out at night requires withholding certain parts of their personality or style.
“There are certain areas on campus where I feel that I have to edit myself,” Boudreau said. “I consciously think, ‘Okay, I can’t be crazy, I have to tone myself down.’”
He said Greek Life is an entirely different realm of the school and represents a subculture within Emory.
“I don’t think a lot of them are really inclusive to LGBT people,” Boudreau said.
Concerning the SigNu incident, Boudreau called it “unfortunate,” but added that it will hopefully change “and there will be a lot more cohesion and communication between Greek Life and LGBT people.”
“I have friends who are in fraternities and sororities, and I don’t think it’s [the assailant’s] personality per se, but perhaps he drank too much and took it too far,” he said.
Beta Theta Pi President and College senior Michael Reardon said he was hopeful about relations between the Office of LGBT Life and Greek organizations in the future. He added that although he felt the occurrence was unsettling, a positive reaction and outcome can come of it.
“We’re trying to make clear that it was definitely an isolated incident and that people aren’t thinking of this as a reflection of Greek Life as a whole,” Reardon said. “We’ve had gay kids in the past, and nothing like this has ever happened. We want people to know that it’s okay to be on campus and that they shouldn’t be feeling threatened or scared.”
Regarding the University’s response to the issue, some students said they wish the response was stronger.
College senior Ashley Husbands said she was disappointed by the indifferent nature of the University’s statement.
“They’re trying to cover it up and keep their prestige,” Husbands said. “If you’re going to a school, this is going to be their community, and if you don’t feel comfortable, then why would you go?”
O’Geen said the statement was lacking despite its crafted diplomacy.
“Regardless of any occurrence, the University operates in the same way, and I think that’s partially to protect the students involved and keep the climate in a very neutral zone,” O’Geen said. “It’s not [University President James W. Wagner’s] job to answer to every crisis, but I think this is something he could’ve spoken out a little bit more on.”
25. The Emory Wheel, October 28, 2010
Emory University, Drawer W, Atlanta, GA 30322
CC Discusses LGBT Life
By Jordan Friedman
The 55th College Council (CC) discussed on Wednesday the student government’s role in addressing potential issues encountered by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) students on campus, in reaction to the publication of a Wheel article on Monday.
The article described an incident in which a gay student at an off-campus fraternity party was dragged out of the house by a recent alum of the fraternity after the two engaged in what began as a discussion about the victim’s outfit.
Leia Clement, president of Intersorority Council, noted that Greek Life and LGBT have plans to collaborate on the issue to ensure that all students feel comfortable on campus.
“We do not support any sort of behavior like this or any discrimination in the community,” Clement said. “We are taking a serious look at the matter.”
Clement also said that both Greek Life and LGBT are “hoping to increase communications between governing bodies and different chapters” in an effort to handle the matter properly.
The meeting on Wednesday evening also included guest speakers who discussed the controversy regarding how gay students feel on campus, as well as future plans to ensure that all LGBT members are treated with respect.
The guest speakers expressed desire to spread awareness of LGBT life at Emory by possibly establishing a Sexualities Studies major.
26. WABI-TV, October 28, 2010
35 Hildreth Street, Bangor, ME 04401
University of Maine Celebrates Diversity
by WABI-TV5 News Desk
Orono - The Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender(GLBT)services at the University of Maine is an outlet for students in the community to find support and self confidence.
This week they are coming together for their annual, "Coming Out Week," which promotes tolerance and acceptance among students.
"We want to create an environment where you can be who you want to be and it's also about sexuality and diversity of all kinds," said senior, Edie Hansen.
The week is full of fun events including potluck dinners and bake sales. Tomorrow night, at 6:00 p.m., a candle light vigil will be held on the campus Mall to remember those who took their own lives as a result of bullying.
Student Rebecca Hickman is working hard for the cause, and hopes students will join her at the ceremony. "We're having the vigil to show support for those affected by bullying in school and for those who lost their lives to bullying."
Even though the week will eventually come to a close, community members hope its message is remembered.
27. The New York Times, October 30, 2010
620 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018
2 Linked to Suicide Case Withdraw From Rutgers
By Sam Dolnick
The two Rutgers students charged with invading the privacy of a fellow freshman who killed himself after his romantic encounter with another man was streamed on the Internet have withdrawn from the university, their lawyers said on Friday.
A lawyer for Molly Wei, one of the students, said she had withdrawn out of concern for her safety. Rutgers officials would not say whether the university had asked the students to leave.
Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman from Ridgewood, N.J., jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22. Prosecutors say he had discovered that his roommate, Dharun Ravi, surreptitiously streamed images of him “making out with a dude,” as Mr. Ravi described it on Twitter.
The case has set off a debate over tolerance and privacy in the Internet age that has raged across the country, and on the university’s Busch Campus in Piscataway, N.J.
Rubin Sinins, the lawyer representing Ms. Wei, said his client was concerned about her safety, but he would not say whether she had received any threats. He would not discuss whether she planned to return to Rutgers, or any other details of her plans.
Mr. Ravi’s lawyer, Steven D. Altman, would say only that his client had withdrawn from Rutgers. But The Asbury Park Press quoted Mr. Altman on Friday as saying that Ms. Wei and Mr. Ravi “were given the option of withdrawing, and they can reapply.”
“Realistically, they couldn’t go back, no matter what,” Mr. Altman said. He added that Mr. Ravi “definitely plans to go somewhere else.”
Rutgers officials declined to comment on the withdrawals.
The Middlesex County prosecutor’s office has charged Mr. Ravi, 18, of Plainsboro, N.J., and Ms. Wei, also 18, of West Windsor, N.J., with two counts of invasion of privacy for using “the camera to view and transmit a live image” of Mr. Clementi. Mr. Ravi was charged with two added counts for trying a similar live feed on the Internet the day before the suicide, prosecutors said. The most serious charges carry a maximum sentence of five years.
The investigation is continuing, and prosecutors are considering bringing hate-crime charges, based on Mr. Clementi’s sexual orientation.
Ms. Wei’s lawyer said that his client was innocent of the charges, and that any bias charge would be baseless. “I have no reason to believe they will be charged with that,” Mr. Sinins said. “There would be no foundation.”
Some gay rights advocates applauded the news that the suspects had left Rutgers. “The separation of these students from the university is unequivocally the right thing,” said Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality. “When there is devastating harm, there must be consequences.”
“Universities and all institutions must send a message that bullying and harassment is unacceptable,” Mr. Goldstein said.
Shane L. Windmeyer, the executive director of Campus Pride, a national group for gay students, said that Rutgers’s responsibilities in the matter did not end with Mr. Ravi’s and Ms. Wei’s exits from campus.
“Rutgers has the opportunity to create change that its gay students are asking for,” he said, including the establishment of a residence hall for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.
But there has also been sympathy for Mr. Ravi and Ms. Wei. A local group called Queering the Air has begun a campaign urging that while the investigation is proceeding, the public not rush to judgment or demonize the defendants for homophobia.
“As a queer group, we are standing up and saying it’s not their fault,” said Tammer Ibrahim, a member of the group. “It’s a systemic problem of the institution and the society at large.”
Serge F. Kovaleski contributed reporting.
28. The Michigan Daily, October 30, 2010
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Armstrong, attorney file complaints seeking possible disbarment for Ass't AG Shirvell
By Kyle Swanson
Michigan Student Assembly President Chris Armstrong and his attorney filed a pair of complaints today against Andrew Shirvell, a Michigan assistant attorney general, seeking an investigation and possible disbarment for attacks Shirvell made against Armstrong.
The complaints, filed with the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, allege Shirvell violated multiple rules and guidelines in the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct — a set of ethics standards that every attorney in Michigan agrees to abide by as part of becoming licensed to practice in the state.
Armstrong and his attorney Deborah Gordon each filed separate complaints with the board.
“I felt that I could not stand by and let Mr. Shirvell continue his reckless, bullying behavior,” Armstrong said in a statement.
The allegations stem from an ongoing controversy surrounding a blog, Chris Armstrong Watch, on which Shirvell accused Armstrong of promoting a “radical homosexual agenda” and being an “elitist.” Shirvell also showed up at several events on campus where Armstrong was in attendance, including an MSA meeting at which he called for Armstrong to resign.
When contacted for comment on the complaints, Shirvell’s attorney, Philip Thomas, said he had not been notified about them being filed, but said he was “shocked” by the news.
“I don’t understand it, I don’t understand what they’re trying to accomplish. I think they fear that they’re striking out because they think that they’re losing ground,” Thomas said, citing the recent resolution of a personal protection order against his client and denial of a stalking complaint against Shirvell.
“My client is the victim in all of this,” Thomas said. “The only thing this poor guy ever did, the only thing Andrew ever did was exercise his Constitutional right to protest. And he did that. And I just think this smells to high heaven, I really do.”
Gordon told The Michigan Daily in an interview this afternoon that the complaints allege violations of rules 8.3 and 8.4 of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct.
“We’ve filed formal complaints,” Gordon said in the interview. “I feel very strongly that Shirvell has violated these rules and if you do you can lose your license to practice law.”
Armstrong’s complaint centers around rule 8.4, which defines “misconduct” under the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct, according to a press release issued by Gordon.
“The Rule states, in part, that ‘it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to … engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or violation of the criminal law, where such conduct reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer,’ ” Gordon wrote in the release.
In addition to rule 8.4, the complaint filed by Gordon also focuses on rule 8.3, which requires that a lawyer must report another attorney to the Attorney Grievance Commission if they have knowledge of a “significant violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer.”
On top of the complaints, Gordon told the Daily she is also sending a letter to Shirvell’s attorney.
“(We’re) asking for retractions of all the lies and defamation, asking him to ensure that he does not tamper with evidence, that he maintain his hard drive, computer and so on.”
Gordon, who was an assistant attorney general in Michigan early in her career, said there’s been no decision on whether to pursue further legal action at this time, but made it clear that litigation hasn’t been ruled out.
“The request for the retraction is the first step in the process. We have not made a final decision on (litigation),” Gordon said. “I’ve been retained now.
I’m a lawyer that brings litigation typically.”
Gordon continued: “It’s unfortunate that is has to come to this, and maybe it won’t, but at this point something has to be done to stop this person.”
A call to Armstrong was not immediately returned.
An official at the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission said she could not confirm whether or not the complaints had been filed because all filings are confidential.
Shirvell was banned from the University's Ann Arbor campus on Sept. 14 by the Department of Public Safety. Shirvell and his attorney requested a hearing to appeal the trespass order, which was heard today, according to DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown.
Brown said a decision on the appeal is expected in the next several days. She said possible outcomes could include denying the appeal, revoking the trespass order all together or modifying the scope of the order to allow Shirvell on certain parts of campus.
Daily News Editors Stephanie Steinberg and Devon Thorsby contributed to this report.
29. Redlands Daily Facts, October 29, 2010
700 Brookside Ave., Redlands, CA 92373
Gay, lesbian Cal State San Bernardino students fight bullying
By Josh Dulaney
SAN BERNARDINO - Visitors to the Pride Center at Cal State San Bernardino find a safe space on campus where gay and lesbian students hang out and talk about the typical things that affect those who have most of their lives ahead of them.
Some crack jokes while others do homework. Others lounge on a couch or gather around a laptop.
And on a recent Thursday afternoon, inside a cramped office with a rainbow-colored blanket draped over a sofa and a poster with a pink triangle hung on a wall, graduate assistant Angela Romagnoli is on the phone with a panicked mother of a teenage boy who is the victim of bullying at a local school.
He's bullied because he's gay.
Romagnoli, a 30-year-old who has heard taunts about her own sexuality for years, directs the mother to local organizations that can help.
There aren't many.
Romagnoli is reminded again of the paucity of nearby help centers, just as she is when the news of young homosexuals killing themselves dominates the national discourse, like it did recently when a Rutgers University student jumped off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River after two fellow freshmen allegedly streamed online a secret video of him having sex with another man.
"It's a terrible thing to have happened, but it has drawn really useful attention to very severe needs," she says, referring to the issues that students in grades K through 12 face.
Romagnoli speaks briefly of a high school friend who killed herself after she "came out" to her mother, and received a "horrid reaction."
DeeJay Brown, 23, who also identifies himself as gay, says he came out to family and friends when he was in middle school.
While some gay and lesbian kids won't go as far as taking their own lives, Brown says the stigma of the lifestyle can cause them to use drugs and alcohol to cope with being different.
"I remember feeling like that, like there was no one there that I could identify with, that looked like me," Brown says. "I know people that refuse to come out. They turn to drugs because they refuse to come out. They don't feel like they live in a world where that's comfortable."
At the Pride Center, college students, many of whom didn't reveal their homosexuality until they graduated high school, say they have found a refuge from the juvenile taunts of some, and the attempts at Christian proselytizing from others.
In a climate broiling with bitter politics and personal tragedies - the stories of suicide have been piled on top of the stinging rhetoric surrounding the state's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage and the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy - Romagnoli says the center has "probably quadrupled" in the number of participants.
Indeed, two students stop by to ask what the place is all about.
"I think so many people after Prop. 8 were so crushed that our families and our friends voted against us having rights, that it really drove students, it drove adults across the planet to come out and support us," Romagnoli says.
Part of that support is the result of the center's various outreaches on campus. Those include sitting in on panels and conducting AIDS awareness activities.
Judi Cruz, the center's coordinator, says the center has gone from a place tucked away for safety reasons, to a "vital, active center" on campus.
"The center has become de-mystified," she says. "If you're on this campus and you're seeking that safe place and you're looking for that group of people that's not judging you and not putting you into those little categories, I think that's what they've created here."
But that hasn't always been the case.
Even last school year, the students found a flier left at the center that contained Bible verses, including one from the Old Testament that said if a man lies with a man, they must be put to death and their blood will be on their heads.
"There are other entities on campus that are notoriously homophobic," Romagnoli says.
To help combat harassment and bullying on campuses, the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday warned schools, colleges and universities that they may be in violation of students' federal civil rights if they do not properly fight the problem.
A letter explained to educators their legal obligations to protect students from student-on-student racial, nationality, sexual, gender and disability harassment.
The letter provided examples of harassment, and showed how a school should respond in each case.
But for some, making peace with those of a different persuasion need not stem from a government directive.
Indeed, at CSUSB, there are plenty of what gay and lesbian students call "straight allies" - heterosexual students and friends who support the center's members and mission.
"I have friends that are allies and they're encouraged to come over and check it out and then that way they get more exposure, and then they see this is a cool place to hang out," says Jonathan Navarrete, 24.
Among the center's straight allies is 22-year-old Joseph Luna.He stretches out on a couch and jokes about having to bat off of his gay friends who find him attractive.
"These are my friends," Luna says. "I don't usually associate myself with those people that would give me flak for that."
30. Connecticut College, October 29, 2010
270 Mohegan Ave., New London, CT 06320
College takes on discussion of homophobia, bullying in wake of recent suicides by gay teens around the country
More than 200 students, faculty and staff crowded into the 1941 Room recently to discuss homophobia, bullying and suicide. Spurred by recent suicides nationwide by teenagers and young adults who have been bullied about being gay, Jennifer Manion, assistant professor of history and director of the college's LGBTQ Resource Center, pulled together the Teach-In to give the community a chance to learn and to reflect. "I decided to host a teach-in because I am so devastated and I am so angry," Manion said after telling the crowd more details about recent suicides by young people who had been bullied or harassed about being gay. "It seems that our work is never done. No matter where we are, we can never do enough."
James Downs, assistant professor of history, kicked off the event via Skype from his fall semester sabbatical post as the Mayers Fellow at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California. His full comments have been published as an essay, "Between Earth and Heaven: Ode to Tyler Clementi," in the Huffington Post.
Manion worked with Mab Segrest, the Fuller- Matthai Professor of Gender & Women's Studies and chair of the gender and women's studies department, and a group of students to organize this four-hour event that included personal stories from students, professors and deans and welcome remarks by Connecticut College President Leo I. Higdon Jr.
"A college campus is a natural setting for this kind of meaningful discussion," Higdon said. "I hope that everyone here learns something this evening - and that you will share these lessons with your friends who couldn't be here. Every person should be able to live in an environment free from harassment, bullying, stalking or other forms of targeting. Thank you for helping to make Connecticut College such a place."
The audience listened intently as professors and deans shared personal reflections, outlined on- and off-campus resources available and encouraged the College community to continue to build an atmosphere of respect and understanding for all. But it was the students' personal stories that seemed to move the audience most.
Jessica Bombasaro-Brady '11 shared her own experience with bullying and self-destructive behavior. "The tragedy now is that I'm so used to queer people killing themselves that I don't even think it's a big deal. If we don't do something now, we'll all be numb to suicide," she said.
Dvora Walker '11 said she had been a victim of cyberbullying. "It totally broke me down and took me apart. If you're struggling with this, I want you to know it does get better," she said. "We all make different choices and we all need to be respected for that. If you write something online, there's someone on the other side reading it. I'm on the other side and it hurts me."
Currie Huntington '11 added, "Sometimes that any of us made it past high school seems miraculous."
After a buffet dinner catered by local favorite Mirch Masala, the crowd broke into groups to discuss specific topics, including, "Getting Stronger, Assessing Strengths: For LGBTQ Youth," "How to be an Ally," "Supporting Gender Non-Conforming People," "Dismantling Heterosexism in the Classroom," "Suicide Prevention: How to Help a Friend," "Homophobic Taunting & Athletics," and "Bystander Intervention: Challenging Homophobia & Heterosexism."
"You all have brought an honest discomfort into the room," Segrest said during the wrap-up. "Thank you for engaging in questions that have not been engaged on before on this campus."
For media inquiries, please contact: Amy Martin, 860-439-2526, firstname.lastname@example.org OR Deborah MacDonnell (860) 439-2504, email@example.com
31. The Washington Post, October 30, 2010
1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071
Montgomery College inaugurates a new leader
By Daniel de Vise
Montgomery College, the largest two-year institution in Maryland, inaugurated DeRionne P. Pollard as its new president Friday.
Pollard was named in May to replace interim administrator Hercules Pinkney and is the first permanent president of Montgomery College since the removal of Brian K. Johnson last fall. She had been president of Las Positas College in Livermore, Calif.
At 39, she's one of the youngest community college presidents in the nation and is one of a few who are openly gay. She started work in Rockville on Aug. 2 as the ninth chief executive in the college's 64-year history.
Montgomery College has a reputation -- mostly deserved -- as one of the finest two-year colleges in the nation. Rather than simply invoke that reputation, Pollard challenged it, reciting some sobering statistics:
“In Maryland, community colleges average a completion rate of 14 percent. Add in the statewide transfer figure of 20 percent, and the average success rate for Maryland community colleges is 34 percent.
And where is Montgomery College? Fourteen percent of our full-time, degree-seeking students earned a degree or certificate within three years. Another 32 percent transferred to four-year colleges or universities. Our total success rate is 46 percent.
Folks, among Maryland community colleges, fourth place is not good enough. It's time to take first.
This is our wake-up call. Yes, our rates don't include those who attend part time or those who are studying for an industry-based certification or taking a few classes to improve their work opportunities. Many of those students do accomplish their goals without a degree.
Still, the state and federal governments measure our success by our 14 percent for graduation rate and our 32 percent for transfer rate. We should aspire to do better.
We must do better.
We will do better.”
Pollard shared details of her life and of her uncertainties about what path to follow in her education and career, an experience not unlike that of the typical college student:
“It may come as a surprise to some of you, but I didn't always plan to be a college president. In fact, it took me a while before I found my calling. Like many college students, I changed my mind a few times.
I considered being a Marine, a minister, and later an attorney. I fell for the written word and chose to major in English.
And then I hit that wall of self-doubt. I considered dropping out and becoming a nanny. But one of my mentors--a college professor--made me realize that I was running away from my future, that I was afraid to shine. She gave me the insight and the courage to follow my dreams and complete college.”
Pollard indirectly answered her legislative critic, Del. Patrick L. McDonough (R-Baltimore County), who called a news conference earlier this week and alleged that Montgomery College is breaking the law. The college is apparently the only higher-education institution in the region that admits illegal immigrants as resident students, charging them lower in-county rates if they come from local public schools.
Pollard touched on this topic at least twice:
“We pride ourselves on being inclusive. On being fully relevant to our entire community. On being relevant to each individual student.”
“Montgomery College is an open-access college. We welcome everyone who can benefit from college, no matter a student's background, age, or skill set.”
32. OutSports.com, October 30, 2010
Indiana University hosts LGBT Appreciation Day at football game
By Ross Forman
Indiana University is taking yet another ground-breaking step forward with its athletic department’s strong pro-LGBT stance.
The Hoosiers play host to Northwestern University on Saturday, Oct. 30, and the football game will be LGBT Appreciation Day at Memorial Stadium on the Bloomington campus.
“The idea was to use football as a symbol that would send a message to all people (that), ‘Indiana University Welcomes You!’” said Jon Kitto, 52, an IU associate director. “I felt it would send a powerful message of acceptance to have an area that has historically been associated with homophobia, sponsor a festive event for gay, lesbians, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people.”
And yes, “we do hope to make this an annual event of some type,” Kitto added.
IU’s athletic department jumped on the pro-LGBT campaign with both feet earlier this year, setting up June 12 at Pride Fest in Indianapolis.
“Indiana has always been on the fore-front of acceptance and inclusion,” Kitto said. “Reaching out wasn’t on their radar, but neither was not reaching out. The short answer is that they were asked, and said ‘yes.’”
Kitto said IU’s pro-gay stance has been received very well, even with a sense of excitement within the athletic department. “The four straight members of the (athletic) department who volunteered to work the department’s booth at Pride were so excited that they proposed an athletic department float at the next Pride,” Kitto said.
IU’s campus in Bloomington is 45-minutes by car from Indianapolis.
“Indiana University has long had a sizeable LGBT population,” Kitto said. “Under the 70-year tutelage of Herman B Wells, Indiana promoted research and understanding in the area of sex and sexual orientation. Wells was very active in hiring diverse faculty and staff, so the university community has been accommodating for many years. Estimates are that there are approximately 10,000 LGBT people in the Bloomington community.”
During the 2010 Indianapolis Pride, four IU athletes went to the athletic department’s booth and identified themselves as gay to the personnel. “They said that the presence of the department sent such a strong message of acceptance that they came out to the department for the first time,” Kitto said.
IU football coach Bill Lynch, on his own, with no prompting, has volunteered to serve on a diversity panel and he was a judge in the “Mr. Out at Kelly” contest for the IU Business School, Kitto said.
IU also is extending the welcome mat to Northwestern’s LGBT fans.
Kitto said organizers are not expecting any protesters at the game—“absolutely none.” And they’ve even received support from some of the players.
IU quarterback Ben Chappell sent Kitto an email saying, “Thank you for all you are doing for Indiana University,” Kitto said.
33. QNotes, October 30, 2010
PO Box 221841, Charlotte, NC 28222
Regional: Colleges highlight suicide prevention
By Lainey Millen
STATEWIDE — North Carolina State University (NCSU), the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Appalachian State University (ASU) held awareness events in October to pay homage to the recent suicide deaths of LGBT youth across the nation.
On National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11, more than 200 gathered at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Pit for a candle lighting vigil. It was hosted by the school’s Gay Lesbian Bisexual, Transgender and Straight Alliance and the multicultural Theta Nu Xi sorority. “‘It allows us a chance to publicly be visible and to share a moment to support one another and to call each other to action,’ said Terri Phoenix, director of UNC’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Center,” The Daily Tarheel reported.
On Oct. 19, NCSU’s Director of CSLEPS Michael Giancola and Director of Campus Activities Deb Luckadoo partnered to hold a rally to show the LGBT community there were allies at the school.
According to the Technician, “It’s a rally of sorts, with people being there to say ‘we visibly support the GLBT community,’” said Justine Hollingshead, director of the GLBT Center. “‘The students that Justine Hollingshead works with couldn’t get the energy up to do the rally because of all the teen suicides,’ Luckadoo said. ‘They were feeling oppressed because, people with whom they identify felt so lost that they committed suicide,’” the Technician concluded.
A community candlelight vigil was held at ASU on Oct. 28 in the Sanford Mall.
They “lifted their lights in the spirit of love, support and tolerance” for the memory of the fallen teens.
It was sponsored by the LGBT Center, Sexuality and Gender Alliance and TransAction.
Equality NC developed a School Violence Prevention Act Implementation Toolkit to address the issues of bullying in order to create a safe school environment. To get one, visit equalitync.org.
STATEWIDE — Individuals and congregations from the Jewish community are being asked to sign the Do Not Stand By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives in response to the injustices of homophobia and transphobia.
The call focuses on the Jewish community’s “commitment to human dignity, pluralism, respect, emphathy and deep caring for one another and all of humanity.”
The campaign was spearheaded by Keshet (which means rainbow in Hebrew) which offers support, training and resources to “create a Jewish community that welcomes and affirms GLBT Jews.”
They are hoping to reach 18,000 pledges by the end of 2010.
Havurat Tikvah, a Reconstructionist welcoming synagogue in Charlotte, has become a signatory.
To sign, visit salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/1285/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=2580.
34. Out & About Newspaper, October 31, 2010
617 Hart Lane, Nashville, TN 37216
GLBT alumni of Carson-Newman College join forces
By Blake Jonathan Boldt
A collection of past alumni at Carson-Newman College, a small, private, Baptist college located in Jefferson City, Tenn, have begun a group aimed at increasing GLBT awareness and fostering an environment of inclusion on campus. A new scholarship, independently created by these alumni, is now being offered to assist students who are advancing those ideals.
The LGBT Alumni of Carson-Newman College was started on Facebook by alumnus Tom Cogburn over a year ago, and has now grown to its current 16 members who are are located across the country. Straight allies are also welcome to join the group.
The group is not affiliated with the university in any way, but Cogburn feels that many faculty members would welcome the opportunity to openly integrate LGBT students. He isn't aware of any reaction from the college so far.
"I firmly believe that the attitudes of Carson-Newman administrators and professors mirror greater society's attitudes when it comes to LGBT issues," Cogburn said. "So far there hasn't been any negative backlash from the college. Of course, we're not sure that the college even knows about our group or our scholarship. It's likely that word will eventually reach college administrators."
In January 2010, member D. Brian Ailey of Chattanooga made the suggestion that the group establish a scholarship to help a Carson-Newman student who demonstrates the qualities that further group’s values of inclusion, education and spirituality. The LGBT Alumni of Carson-Newman College Scholarship was created a few months later.
This summer the group became aware of a young person who had been sent to Carson-Newman by parents who hoped the school’s Christian atmosphere would “straighten” their child out. The student, who prefers to remain anonymous, chose a major in the creative arts field.
The recipient's parents, who disagreed with this academic choice, decided that they would support the student’s basic educational expenses---mainly room and board---but not pay for the textbooks associated with the student’s field of study.
As soon as the alumni group heard of this student’s plight, there was immediate discussion that the scholarship should be awarded to this student to cover the costs of textbooks. The funds were quickly raised by the members of the LGBT Alumni of Carson-Newman College—many of whom sent generous donations.
The first LGBT Alumni of Carson-Newman College Scholarship was awarded to this student not only as a means of meeting the student’s financial needs, but also to send a message of support and encouragement by Carson-Newman’s LGBT alumni.
"We have hope that current students might feel comfortable enough to join the group," said Cogburn. "Since it is an open group, membership in our group does not indicate sexual orientation of any kind."
Ailey says that previous attempts to form a group of this nature had been met with resistance. A message board inquiring about former GLBT alumni was instituted in the past, but a former alumnus and preacher had the board deleted.
"My (college) experience there was not too bad," Ailey said. "We even tried to start a gay-straight alliance back in 1983 and even had a faculty sponsor, but the college wouldn't allow it. I was able to live fairly open to my friends, but I know other people felt uncomfortable."
Cogburn agrees that the disapproval from some corners is discouraging, but he feels moved to assist young people who may be struggling with issues related to their sexuality.
"Our ultimate goal is to help support the LGBT students at Carson-Newman," Cogburn said. "We know that there are openly gay students who are in attendance. We believe that by approaching the student body with a scholarship, instead of edicts and demands, it will ultimately prove helpful in integrating LGBT students and pro-LGBT issues into the school’s population. With Carson-Newman’s anti-LGBT history, it's our goal to reach out to these students to let them know they are not alone."
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