Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.11.21
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to email@example.com
1. WSBT - Gay-allied Greek group initiates 15 IU members
2. The New Hampshire (University of New Hampshire) - Gender Identities Awareness Week brought to UNH by Transgender N.H.
3. Sports Illustrated - Acceptance of GW transgender basketball player a good life lesson
4. The Michigan Daily - ACLU-UM slams DPS for banning Shirvell from campus
5. The State Journal-Register - Benedictine president weighs in on gay employee's departure
6. The Observer (Notre Dame and St. Mary’s) - Living up to the “Spirit of Inclusion” at ND
7. The Washington Post - Court ends group's challenge to Calif. law school
8. Royal Purple (UW-Whitewater) - Students encouraged to wear ‘Legalize Gay’ shirt to campus
9. Channel 3000 - Reward Fund Set Up For Leads On UW-Whitewater Hate Crimes
10. The Washington Post - NJ senator introduces college anti-bullying law
11. The Michigan Daily - With Transgender Awareness Week, 'U' aims to educate about gender expression
12. Montana Kaimin (University of Montana) - Transgender community remembers, celebrates
13. The Ranger (San Antonio College) - Sociology instructor says gay marriage needs to go from ideal to real
14. The Crusader (Susquehanna University) - Bullying hits home on campus
1. WSBT, November 15, 2010
1301 E. Douglas Rd., Mishawaka, IN 46545
Gay-allied Greek group initiates 15 IU members
By Bertrand Teo
Bloomington, Ind. — Gay-straight allied fraternity Sigma Phi Beta will initiate its first set of 15 Indiana University students at a closed-door ceremony Saturday at IU.
The group will be a colony for the fraternity based at Arizona State University, and the beginnings of the first Greek society at IU for gay, straight, bisexual and transgender men.
Presiding over the initiation ceremony at the IU campus is the fraternity’s national president, Nathan Arrowsmith, who flew in Friday night from Tempe.
“What is really special about the guys in Indiana is that they were dedicated and hardworking,” he said.
“We’re thrilled every time we get contacted by people,” Arrowsmith added. “But when we communicate our requirements, many are overwhelmed. This group — they stuck with it. They had a lot challenges, but they kept with it.”
The potential chapter creates a safe space where members can be themselves, be accepted and practice the fraternity’s core values of diversity, service, scholarship, leadership and brotherhood, Arrowsmith said.
“We are creating a place where members can better themselves and build character,” he said.
In October 2009, the fraternity announced the formation of an interest group at IU when five IU students registered with the fraternity’s national headquarters, requesting a chapter on campus.
To upgrade the status of the group to a colony, the group contacted the IU’s Greek Life office, recruited potential members, identified a board of advisers and submitted a mission statement to the fraternity’s national headquarters.
Two months ago, the group petitioned the fraternity’s national board and attained recognition as a colony.
The fraternity then launched an inaugural six-week pledge education program for the IU students, teaching the fraternity’s history, values, management and teamwork skills.
“It’s been two years in the making,” said Jake Porter, one of the original five who made up the interest group, who will be initiated today. “It’s really validating and it’s finally here. I feel honored to be a part of it.”
Porter said that the interest group had wanted to be part of a fraternity but could not find one suitable on campus. They then sought to establish a gay fraternity chapter, and found only two on the national-level.
They choose Sigma Phi Beta because of their high expectation of excellence in academics.
Another founding member of the IU colony, Joshua Thomas, said that the environment of IU, being home to one of the oldest and largest college fraternity systems, was also a factor in deciding to set up a chapter.
“Having a large system is beneficial,” Thomas said. “I feel like we’re going to fit well in IU.”
Today’s ceremony will grant the colony voting rights at Sigma Phi Beta’s national convention, where the election of national officers and votes on national fraternity policy take place.
Once the colony has demonstrated an ability to successfully recruit and educate new members about the mission, values and purpose of the fraternity, the national headquarters could grant the IU group recognition as an official chapter charter.
For more information about Sigma Phi Beta fraternity, visit www.sigmaphibeta.org.
2. The New Hampshire, November 16, 2010
Gender Identities Awareness Week brought to UNH by Transgender N.H.
By Caitlin Andrews
Many events will be held for this year's first-ever Gender Identities Awareness Week at UNH from Nov. 15 to Nov. 19, including a vigil, lectures and a luncheon.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance: Program, Vigil and Reception is an international event that focuses on hate crimes committed against those who identify as transgender. The affair, sponsored by Alliance and Transgender New Hampshire (TG-NH), will be held on Tuesday in MUB Theatre I at 7:30 p.m.
There will be a discussion on the subject as well as clips shown, followed by a candlelight vigil in the MUB front office. Participants will engage in a moment of silence as names of past victims are read.
A reception in room 203 of Huddleston Hall will follow.
Joelle Ruby Ryan, lecturer in the women's studies program and director of TransGender New Hampshire, feels that the demonstration will call attention to violence against gender-variant people.
"I think we live in a society in which transgender people are consistently rendered invisible and often devalued, denigrated and despised," Ryan said. "Students should expect to learn about gender identity and expression, the diversity of different transidentities and the need to expand and transform our current limited bipolar gender system."
As a whole, the week will be focused on educating students on the variations of gender that are present in today's culture. Students should expect to learn about gender identity and expression, as well as how transidentity can overlap with other social aspects, such as race and class.
Other programs will be featured along with the vigil. A screening of "Mind If I Call You Sir?" and "Tal Como Somos", exploring the Latino history with trans-gender identities, will be shown on Tuesday, Nov. 16 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in MUB Theatre I.
Wednesday will showcase a Queer studies seminar with Professor Robin Hackett from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Hamilton Smith Hall faculty room. Following the seminar, there will be a showing of the movie "Two Spirits" from 2:15 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in MUB Theatre I, and a keynote panel on wellness in the Trans community will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in Murkland 115.
Events on Thursday, Nov. 18 will include an opening hearing with UNH's Bias Response Team from 12:45 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. in MUB rooms 334 and 336. A social dinner put on by TG-NH will be held at Mei Wei from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., followed by Gender Jam, an open mic session, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Waysmeet Center on Mill Road.
A lunch will be held on Friday with members of the Transgender Policy and Climate Committee from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in MUB rooms 334 and 336, addressing issues pertaining to gender diverse people.
Saturday will feature an off-campus Day of Remembrance at the Grace Episcopal Church at 106 Lowell St. in Manchester, as well as an open house for TG-NH and the NH Coalition for Transgender Equality.
"There is such a need for the UNH community to recognize and understand the multiplicities of gender," Hannah Ovaska, an intern for Ryan, said. "I think mostly any college campus could benefit from having a week of events focused on gender identities, but there is an urgency on this campus for it, especially after the teen suicides."
Ryan said that the suicides in the past year are a wake-up call concerning the climate for LGBT people.
"I think the teen suicides help to remind us that the climate for LGBT people, especially youth, continues to be very hostile and oppressive," Ryan said. "Whether it is a suicide or a hate crime, too many of our LGBT brothers and sisters are dying, and the bottom line is that it doesn't have to happen."
3. Sports Illustrated, November 16, 2010
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
Acceptance of GW transgender basketball player a good life lesson
By Dave Zirin
So what happens next? George Washington's Kye Allums made history last weekend by becoming the first openly transgender player in NCAA hoops history to suit up in a game when the Colonials played a pair of games in a tournament in Minnesota.
For those with transgender family or friends, a sigh of relief was audible, especially when Allums was received warmly by the Twin Cities crowd. Allums is biologically female, but identifies as male. Allums has changed his name from Kay-Kay to Kye and has plans to undergo a medical gender transition after college. Kye is holding off on the procedure because he wants to be able to keep his scholarship on the women's team and just wants to play ball. The reaction by both the NCAA and GW has been unconditionally positive.
"I didn't choose to be born in this body and feel the way I do," Allums said in a statement. "I decided to transition, that is change my name and pronouns because it bothered me to hide who I am, and I am trying to help myself and others to be who they are. I told my teammates first, and they, including my coaches, have supported me. My teammates have embraced me as the big brother of the team. They have been my family, and I love them all."
It's a good story, but what happens next? For Allums, the situation should be on solid ground. He has the support of friends, family, teammates and George Washington. The situation for away games should not be viewed with excess apprehension. John Feinstein, the best-selling author of numerous college basketball books said, "The fact is that there is just considerably less bile in the stands for women's college basketball, compared to men's. Outside of Tennessee and UConn, you're just not going to get the kinds of crowds where people will chant derogatory, awful things." Feinstein does point out that because some away games will be played in front of small crowds in big arenas, "it would really only take one drunken yahoo to be heard. Security will need to be on its toes."
I spoke with a college coach who asked not to be named and said that Allums might have a tougher time on the court. "Do the men players talk more trash? Absolutely. But do the women also talk their share? You better believe it," the coach said. "The refs will have to be on point to squash any of that talk. The NCAA has made their position clear that we are to support Kye. The refs need to follow that lead."
Yes, Allums should be able to look forward to playing his season with minimal tension. But, to look ahead, the implications of Kye Allums' public and proud existence are even more profound for the future of amateur sports. Dr. Ann Travers, a sports sociologist at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver said, "The presence of openly transgender athletes in sport tears at the normalcy of the idea that we have to have boy athletes on one side and girl athletes on the other -- and that this is the most effective way to group people who want to play sports. The assumption that there are only two sexes has no basis in science and is, rather, a product of culture. Kye Allums' participation on an NCAA women's team inherently necessitates a challenge to this custom of segregating people according to assumptions about sex difference. This situation is critical not just to protect both his rights to an equal education and sport participation, but because it will have bearing on all future transgender athletes."
It's also difficult to not think of the Kye Allums story in light of the vile attacks against South African runner Caster Semenya for not meeting biological norms of how international track defines "female." The facts are that we live in a world where gender is fluid: biologically, psychologically and socially. Sports, with its rigid separations of locker rooms, bathrooms, and teams, will need to figure out a way to confront this reality in the years to come.
As Keith Gill, the Director of Athletics and Recreation at American University said, "The fact is that we're in the education business. That means two things: Anytime we can support a student and the way they choose to live there life, it can only be a positive thing. This is also going to be an educational experience for the rest of us as well."
4. The Michigan Daily, November 16, 2010
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
ACLU-UM slams DPS for banning Shirvell from campus
By Hillary Bok
The University’s undergraduate chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union condemned the Department of Public Safety for its trespass order against Andrew Shirvell — the former Michigan assistant attorney general notorious for his blog attacking Michigan Student Assembly President Chris Armstrong.
The trespass order was put in place after Shirvell started showing up at campus events Armstrong was attending.
In addition to its condemnation, ACLU-UM also called for a review of DPS’s trespass policy in a letter sent to University President Mary Sue Coleman and DPS director Ken Magee last week.
In a press release issued yesterday, ACLU-UM officials stated that they believe DPS’s current trespass policy allows the director “wide discretion in issuing trespass bans.” The release also calls the trespass policy unconstitutional.
Mallory Jones, chair of the University’s undergraduate chapter of the ACLU, said in an interview that she believes the trespass warning placed on Shirvell demonstrates a fundamental problem with the policy.
Once a trespass order is issued it can only be lifted or modified through a meeting between the person it is issued against and the DPS director.
“We feel it is an example of where power is being abused,” Jones, a former news editor for The Michigan Daily said. “We feel that way because there are no charges pending against (Shirvell) and Chris Armstrong has withdrawn his request for a restraining order. We don’t think it’s necessary for the University to still have restrictions placed against him.”
DPS originally issued a trespass warning barring Shirvell from setting foot on the University’s Ann Arbor campus on Sept. 14. The order was modified on Nov. 5 to allow Shirvell on campus, except for at events where it is reasonably assumed that Armstrong will be present. In addition, if Shirvell sees Armstrong at an event where he is present, he must leave.
The letter sent to Coleman and Magee criticizes the trespass order against Shirvell stating that “the First Amendment intentionally and necessarily defends Shirvell’s offensive and appalling speech. Our Constitution gives a citizen the right to be a bigot and to freely express his bigotry.”
Jones said in the interview that she believes that the wording of DPS Policy and Procedural Order on Trespass is too vague and that this ambiguity allows for an abuse of power to take place.
She also expressed concern about the way the appeals process is structured.
“Right now, if you’ve been banned from campus and you want to appeal that decision, you appeal that straight back to the director of the Department of Public Safety — who is the person who issued you the ban,” she said.
The goal of the letter, according to ACLU-UM officials, is to start a dialogue and begin revising the trespass policy with DPS and the University.
DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown said “the Department’s official statement is that we have received the letter and we will be reviewing it.”
Shirvell started a blog in April called Chris Armstrong Watch that criticized the MSA president and accused him of promoting a “radical homosexual agenda.” In addition, Shirvell appeared at multiple events where Armstrong was present including an MSA meeting, where Shirvell called for Amrstrong’s resignation.
Shirvell’s criticism of Armstrong gained national attention in September, and Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox fired Shirvell last week for what he said was "conduct unbecoming of a state employee."
Armstrong and his lawyer have also filed complaints with the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission against Shirvell alleging that he violated the state’s professional conduct code for attorneys.
5. The State Journal-Register, November 16, 2010
P.O. Box 219, Springfield, IL 62705-0219
Benedictine president weighs in on gay employee's departure
By Pete Sherman
Benedictine University president William Carroll posted an “Open Letter to the Community” on the university’s Website Monday reaffirming his position on a decision that cost a gay administrator at the university’s Springfield campus her job last month.
Laine Tadlock was Benedictine’s education program director when she ran a wedding announcement in The State Journal-Register in July celebrating her recent marriage to her spouse Kae Helstrom, who also teaches at the Springfield campus. The two had wed in Iowa, which recently began permitting same-sex marriages.
The Lisle-based university had said that by printing the wedding announcement, Tadlock had publicly taken a stance against church doctrine.
“As a Catholic institution, we subscribe to a particular set of values and teachings springing from our Catholic and Benedictine heritage and tradition,” Carroll writes in his open letter, dated November 15. “One of the fundamental teachings of this tradition is that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman.”
Although Carroll writes that he respects individual privacy and the church’s vocation to embrace and love “all people,” he emphasized the need for those working in Catholic institutions to uphold the church’s beliefs.
“If a person does not ascribe to the belief system held by the Church, a Catholic institution may not be the appropriate place for that individual to work,” Carroll writes.
6. The Observer, November 17, 2010
P.O. Box 779, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Living up to the “Spirit of Inclusion” at ND
By Alex Coccia
Acceptance comes from both the top down and at the individual level. To truly create a spirit of inclusion at Notre Dame, there are things that both students and the administration can do. The administration must add "sexual orientation" to the nondiscrimination clause. True, these are just words. But words send a powerful message. Certainly the University does not condone violence or harassment towards gay, lesbian or transgendered students, but the lack of "sexual orientation" in the nondiscrimination clause seems inconsistent with these beliefs. Second, the University should begin a course selection on Queer Studies.
Queer Studies would enable the students of Notre Dame to educate themselves further about the nature of homosexuality, would provide the administration a forum to thoroughly teach the Church's position on homosexuality, and it would enable students to decide for themselves their opinion after being thoroughly taught about the issue. Third, students can become active in the CORE Council on campus. Heterosexual students can become Allies, standing up for the rights of their fellow students.
This year, the students of Notre Dame have another opportunity to stand for the dignity and respect due to all persons, including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered students. This opportunity is presented in fighting for "sexual orientation" to be added to the nondiscrimination clause. When shirts were worn last year saying, "Gay? Fine by me," opponents wore shirts saying, "Gay? Go to Hell." The University quickly responded saying that it did not tolerate such a horrific remark. However, when it came time for the petition for "sexual orientation" to be included in the nondiscrimination clause, the University rejected it. One wonders if these T-shirts would have been made had the phrase already been included.
The petition for "sexual orientation" to be added to the nondiscrimination clause is nothing new. The Officers of the University issued a letter to the Notre Dame community on Aug. 27, 1997, addressing the issue and laying out the University's reasoning for not adding "sexual orientation" to the nondiscrimination clause:
1. "The church distinguishes between homosexuality as an orientation and sexual activity between homosexual persons. The church teaches that homosexual orientation in a person is neither sinful nor evil. The call of the gospels is a call to inclusiveness."
2. "The Church also teaches that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are called to live chaste lives in accordance with their vocations ... Neither heterosexual union outside the permanent bond of marriage nor homosexual union is morally acceptable."
3. "We deplore harassment of any kind as antithetical to the nature of this community as a Christian community. Our discriminatory harassment policy specifically precludes harassment based on sexual orientation."
4. "The University exists, however, within a social and cultural milieu that does not always accept gospel values as normative ... Within society at large, the phrase "sexual orientation" sometimes becomes a term that does not admit of distinction between sexual orientation and the manner in which people live out their sexual orientation — a distinction that is critical to us as a Catholic institution."
5. "Institutional nondiscriminating clauses are highly stylized statements which are legally binding. Neither federal nor state law mandates that sexual orientation be included in nondiscrimination clauses. Thus, like a number of other institutions, our clause does not currently include sexual orientation."
6. "After considerable reflection, we have decided not to add sexual orientation to our legal nondiscrimination clause. To make the change requested would mean that our decisions in this area would be measured by civil courts that may interpret this change through the lens of the broader social milieu in which we live. This, in turn, might jeopardize our ability to make decisions that we believe necessary to support Church teaching. We wish to continue to speak to this issue in the Catholic content that is normative for this community."
The main argument that the University makes for not including "sexual orientation" in the legal nondiscrimination clause is that while the Church distinguishes between sexual orientation and sexual conduct, the rest of the American public would not limit the language of "sexual orientation" to excluding sexual conduct. For this reason, the University cannot include the phrase because it could compromise their "ability to make decisions... necessary to support Church teaching." First, along with adding sexual orientation to the nondiscrimination clause, the University has the power to make clear that it is distinguishing between sexual orientation and sexual conduct. If it is thus distinguished in the University's legal statement, then it will be clear upon interpretation by the courts. Instead of protecting its own ability to make decisions by coupling its interpretation of sexual orientation to the nondiscrimination statement, the University fails to extend its protection uniformly by excluding gay members of the community. Notre Dame specifies that a number of institutions do not include the phrase in their nondiscrimination clauses. This is true, but many also have added it since 1997. 22 of the 28 Jesuit Universities in the United States include sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination clauses. These schools include Wheeling Jesuit, Loyola University of Chicago, John Carroll, Fordham University, Duquesne University and Boston College. After reading these schools' nondiscrimination clauses, and then turning one's attention to Notre Dame's, the omission of "sexual orientation" is obvious.
While the distinction between sexual orientation and sexual conduct is critical to Notre Dame as a Catholic institution, the University, by not including sexual orientation in the nondiscrimination clause, itself does not distinguish between the two phrases. Instead, it errs on the side of discrimination against members of the gay community because it fears that the rest of the American community will not distinguish. However, if the University advocates that all sexual activity must be abstained from until marriage, and enforces this via parietals and educational programs on campus, then adding sexual orientation to the nondiscrimination clause will not be a problem for the University with respect to distinguishing on campus between sexual orientation and sexual activity. It would appear then, that the University is in fact not changing the nondiscrimination clause for fear of what the outside community will think; however, Lance Gallop said it well in his letter to The Observer, "There but for the grace of God go I (Oct. 11)": "[Gay members of the community] need a University which is brave enough to say, ‘It doesn't matter if our donors or our trustees walk away because we choose to accept you. If we lose money and power and prestige because of you, we do not care. We love you more than this.'"
With the increase and prominence of teen suicides of people thought to be gay, there has come an increased focus on bullying based on sexual orientation. What happened at Rutgers University to Tyler Clementi could happen to someone at the University of Notre Dame. Rutgers was just about to implement workshops as a part of Project Civility, to teach students to be tolerant and accepting of others. Notre Dame cannot stand idly and pretend that this could not happen at the University. Rutgers has the right idea. They already have "sexual orientation" in the nondiscrimination clause, and the planned Project Civility is a great idea. Notre Dame is behind in this respect. Adding "sexual orientation" to the nondiscrimination clause is the first step.
In 1997, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops published the pastoral letter, "Always our Children." Addressed to parents and pastors of homosexual children, the letter read in part: "First, don't break off contact; don't reject your child. … Your child may need you and the family now more than ever. He or she is still the same person. This child, who has always been God's gift to you, may now be the cause of another gift: your family becoming more honest, respectful, and supportive." It is time the University of Notre Dame became more honest, respectful and supportive of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered members of its family.
Alex Coccia is a freshman. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not
necessarily those of The Observer.
7. The Washington Post, November 17, 2010
1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071
Court ends group's challenge to Calif. law school
The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court has shot down another attempt by a Christian student group to force a California law school to formally recognize it, despite the group's refusal to allow gay members.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the University of California Hastings College of the Law could legally deny funding and other benefits to the Christian Legal Society.
The high court ruled that the society's First Amendment rights were not violated.
The group later raised a more specific claim, arguing that the law school singled it out for discrimination rather than accusing the school of general free speech violations.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out that claim Wednesday, saying the new argument was raised only after the group lost in the Supreme Court.
8. Royal Purple, November 17, 2010
Students encouraged to wear ‘Legalize Gay’ shirt to campus
By Rob Gauler
Leaders of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and their Allies community are hosting a campus-wide event at noon tomorrow at the University Center.
Seniors Laura Steigerwald, Katka Showers-Curtis, junior Kari Jo Freudigmann, and Ken Fager from the office of Residence life organized the event.
UW-Whitewater students who own a "Legalize Gay" T-shirt are encouraged to wear them throughout the day. Students who do not own a shirt can pick up a free T-Shirt at the IMPACT office located in the UC.
Students will meet by the Fiskum Art Gallery to be in a group picture of students wearing the T-shirt.
"These photos will be used in positive ways to show that our campus does not tolerate hate crimes," the Facebook page said. "The people who commit them are just a few bad eggs on our campus."
9. Channel 3000, November 17, 2010
7025 Raymond Road, Madison, WI 53719
Reward Fund Set Up For Leads On UW-Whitewater Hate Crimes
A fund has been established to offer rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the recent hate crimes on the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus.
Sometime on the night of Nov. 8, three vehicles parked in two residence halls were damaged, according to the university. The tires were slashed and the phrase "KKK" was written in spray paint on the doors and hoods. The targeted vehicles are owned by black students at UW-Whitewater, the university said.
On Nov. 7, a UW-Whitewater student said she was shoved up against a fence on campus by a man who made a comment suggesting she was gay. In September, a woman was punched in the face on campus while wearing a pro-gay T-shirt.
According to a UW-Whitewater news release, anyone can contribute to the UW-Whitewater Reward Fund at either Commercial Bank of Whitewater or First Citizens State Bank of Whitewater. The reward funds have been established at the main offices of both banks. Commercial Bank is located at 200 S. Fremont St. First Citizens is located at 207 W. Main St.
"I am grateful to community members for their willingness to assist us in solving these crimes that have deeply affected our campus community," said Chancellor Richard J. Telfer, in the news release. "We hope that the offer of a reward will encourage anyone who has information about these incidents to come forward."
Tips on the crimes can be reported anonymously through the UW-Whitewater campus police at 262-472-4660 or Crime Stoppers at 262-723-2677.
10. The Washington Post, November 18, 2010
1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071
NJ senator introduces college anti-bullying law
The Associated Press
TRENTON, N.J. -- New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg has introduced legislation to require colleges to adopt a code of conduct that prohibits bullying and harassment.
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act is named for the 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman who committed suicide in September after his gay sexual encounter in his dorm room was broadcast online.
The measure introduced Thursday by Lautenberg, a Democrat, would require colleges that receive federal money to adopt policies that prohibit harassment based on a student's sexual orientation, race, gender and other factors.
It also would provide funding for schools to establish or expand programs to prevent harassment of students.
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, a fellow New Jersey Democrat, introduced identical legislation in the House of Representatives.
11. The Michigan Daily, November 18, 2010
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
With Transgender Awareness Week, 'U' aims to educate about gender expression
By Michele Narov
According to transgenderdor.org, 30 people worldwide were murdered this year as a result of their gender identity or gender expression. And in actuality this number is a gross underestimate, because the website only lists the deaths that have been reported.
In recognition of those victims and to increase awareness about gender expression on campus, the University’s Spectrum Center is currently hosting Transgender Awareness Week.
William Sherry, assistant director of the Spectrum Center, said the week — which occurs annually — is essential in educating the University community because gender expression is commonly misunderstood.
“A lot of people can say I know someone that’s gay or lesbian but when we go out and do presentations we get a lot of questions about gender identity,” Sherry said.
The week began on Monday Nov. 15 and continues through this coming Monday and features a variety of activities including sessions on transgender and gender-neutral language and film screenings about people who faced obstacles as a result of their gender identity.
In addition to the activities, volunteers visited Ann Arbor restaurants with gender-neutral bathrooms and gave them window decals that indicate the presence of those bathrooms.
“This way, when people are walking around looking for somewhere to eat they can know where there’s a restroom they can feel safe using,” Sherry said.
In addition to the Spectrum Center, LGBTQ student groups like OUTbreak — an organization that works to bridge the gap between the LGBTQ and School of Public Health communities — put on various events for the week.
“I think for this year our goal was to make sure that students are putting on the events that they want to see,” Sherry said. “We try to have a diverse group of people — people who identify as transgender, people who identify as allies, people with other varying identities — to get a multitude of perspectives.”
Sherry said overall, the group of participants has been very diverse.
“We had undergraduate students, graduate students, community members,” he said. “There really is a strong transgender community in Ann Arbor and we’re sort of capitalizing on the strength of that community.”
Students who hadn’t participated in LGBTQ community-sponsored events in previous years also took part in the week’s events.
LSA junior Garrett Descoteaux-Friday said he decided to attend a screening of the film “Transgeneration” as part of Transgender Awareness Week after hearing about it from his Sexuality in Western Culture professor.
“I was just hoping to learn more in general about the topic,” he said.
Tonight there will be a ceremony commemorating people who lost their lives because of their gender identities. The ceremony recognizes the International Transgender Day of Remembrance — an event that’s been taking place for 15 years.
This year marks the ninth time the University has commemorated the day. The names of those who died will be read at the ceremony, along with a brief description of what happened to them. Last year, 100 people attended the event.
The goal of the week, as well as an overall aim of the Spectrum Center, is to educate all students, regardless of their involvement with the LGBTQ community, Sherry said.
“We are a space where you can come and sort of admit what you don’t know,” he said, “and talk to someone whose job it is to help you to understand things that you may not have ever been exposed to.”
12. Montana Kaimin, November 18, 2010
Don Anderson Hall, Suite 207, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812
Transgender community remembers, celebrates
By Kate Whittle
The transgender community that, as recently as two years ago, was invisible in Montana now has a network of support.
On Wednesday, The University of Montana hosted the second annual Transgender Day of Recognition, put on by nonprofit Montana TDOR and sponsored in part by the UM women's and gender studies department, the Lambda Alliance, and the Women's Resource Center. Events included an art showing in the University Center, a Gender Alliance meet and greet, and a candlelight vigil on the Oval.
"What we're doing today, five years ago I didn't even know existed," said Bobbi Zenker, the first and only openly transgender lawyer in Montana. Zenker was one of six panelists at a Day of Recognition discussion on trans issues.
Trans woman Erin Armstrong came from San Francisco to speak on the panel. She talked about growing up in a Mormon family in Provo, Utah, and said she wanted to be a girl since she was about four years old. When Armstrong was a teenager, she told her mother she was trans. "Mom suggested I move," she said. Armstrong decided to leave Utah for New York City.
Feeling lonely in New York, Armstrong made a video about being trans and posted it on Youtube. She figured it would get about five hits.
"Five years later, that video has almost half a million views," she said. Since then, she's documented her transition, marriage to her wife and moving to San Francisco. "It's such a privilege to let other people know they're not alone," she said.
One of those YouTube viewers was a lonely, depressed person in Montana. Trans woman Bree Sutherland is now director of Montana TDOR, but a few years ago she, was living as a gay man, feeling something was wrong. "I found Erin's videos, and she was the one to put a name to what I felt," Sutherland said. Sutherland moved to Missoula and found a "humongous" trans community soon after.
All the trans panelists described feelings of depression and alienation before they transitioned. Trans man Acton Seibel, who is now editor of the LGBTQQI publication Out Words, said he remembers being a very young girl watching "Sixteen Candles." "I wanted to take Molly Ringwald to prom and have Jake Ryan's abs," he said. "I locked those things away to never see the light of day."
The panelists came to accept themselves in different ways. Zenker said she came to peace with her identity by praying and going to church. She said while attending a Catholic mass, she had a vision of Jesus. "And Jesus says to me, would you like to dance?" she said. Zenker had her surgical transition a few weeks later.
Some of the discussion centered on the acronym LGBTQQI, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex. One audience member, Tawnie Riekena, stood up and said she thinks the trans community hasn't been well served by the gay and lesbian community and should be separate. "People are lumping in gender identity with the LGB community, which is about sexual preference," she said.
"Historically, trans people have always been part of the gay community," said Seibel. "I don't believe we should be separated."
Panelist David Herrera, a two-spirit man who is co-director of the Western Montana Gay and Lesbian Center, agreed.
"The same people against civil rights for LGB people are against civil rights for trans people," he said.
Audience member Ninia Baehr, a member of the board of directors at the ACLU, said she was impressed with the local resources like the Missoula Gender Alliance. "I'm really sad that we don't have that at MSU and hopeful that we could."
13. The Ranger, November 18, 2010
Loftin Student Center, San Antonio College, San Antonio, TX
Sociology instructor says gay marriage needs to go from ideal to real
By Stefania Malacrida
In August, a federal judge in California delivered a landmark ruling affirming the right of same-sex couples to marry. Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that California's ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.
Then, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals put a stay on Walker's ruling, pending an appeal. Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 6.
This college's sociology department, especially Instructor Cynthia Flores-Martinez, await with great interest the outcome.
"Although the decision was appealed, and, therefore, the results are still to be seen, California has proved to be a very liberal state," the marriage and family instructor said.
Consensual homosexual acts are illegal in Texas. The law does not specifically define what is illegal, but it is understood by the courts, sexual acts deemed unnatural.
"Gay people can't kiss each other in public or can't even have sex in their own privacy," she said. "On the other hand, everybody knows that this happens in real life."
In other words, there is a gap between what is real and what is ideal, Flores-Martinez said.
"The Texas government doesn't feel that it is important to face this reality, even if our society has changed dramatically in the last 15 years."
In her classes every semester, Flores-Martinez documents changes in the concept of family. "At the beginning, students seem frightened by the concept of marriage," she laughed. "But then they understand that today's definition of family is much broader than in the past and includes single parents, extended divorced families, cohabitations and civil unions."
The textbook, "Marriage and Families: Making Choices in a Diverse Society," dedicates a chapter to gay marriage.
"The book I'm using is very neutral. It provides arguments for both points of views against and in favor of same-sex marriages," she said.
The main argument against gay marriage concerns the adoption of babies. "Gay-marriage detractors say that children growing up in a gay family will become homosexuals themselves. Recent studies have shown that this is not true."
Flores-Martinez said there is no proof the sexual orientation of the parents and the children will end up the same.
Research in the past about gender identity has already shown that a parent, regardless of sex, can be perfectly capable of transmitting different aspects of a personality: the nurturing side traditionally attributed to mothers and the more aggressive, active side traditionally attributed to fathers.
"I personally think it is an unjustified stigma not to allow homosexuals to marry and have children," Flores-Martinez said. "Sociology is not about what I think, what is wrong or right, but about what is happening.
"Unfortunately, discrimination against gays is still strong," she said.
For more information, call Flores-Martinez at 210-486-1328.
14. The Crusader (Susquehanna University), November 19, 2010
514 University Avenue, Selinsgrove, PA 17870
Bullying hits home on campus
By Kelly Stemcosky
In the early morning of Nov. 5, a Midd-West high school student took his life by darting in front of a tractor-trailer on Routes 11 and 15. The reason, 14-year-old Brandon Bitner stated in his suicide note, was bullying.
According to Dena Salerno, director of the Center for Diversity and Social Justice, bullying is a problem for most students from the time they start grade school. She said, however, that physical bullying is not the problem in most cases. "A lot of it is constant slurs, comments, remarks," she said.
The Patriot-News and other sources reported that Bitner's suicide note stated that he had been called a "faggot" or "sissy" by classmates. The Daily Item also reported that there was an incident in the school cafeteria involving someone dressed as the school mascot harassing Bitner.
Wesley Knapp, the school district superintendent, said he only heard briefly about that incident, and did not know how much Bitner was tormented. He told The Patriot-News: "We can't be too conscientious [about bullying]. If we see a kid who seems to be hurting, we need to single them out [for help]. The fact they don't report it doesn't let us off the hook. We need to reach out to kids. We're going to try and do a better job."
Midd-West High School in Middleburg, 11 miles west of Selinsgrove, held an anti-bullying seminar the day before Bitner committed suicide. The Daily Item reported that the seminar was not held for a specific reason, just that the school board had felt it was necessary.
According to The Daily Item, Bitner felt he was harassed for his dress and his sexuality, although his friends told the newspaper he was wrongfully thought to be gay.
Eric Lassahn, Director of Residence Life and Volunteer Programs, noted that "the potentially tragic consequences of bullying have hit home or closer to home for many more members of our community."
Salerno said bullying is not just an LBGT (lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender) problem. She commented that the recent seeming increase of gay teen suicides may have been because of the media.
Senior Tearsa Brown, president of the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA), said the build-up by the media on the suicides may send the wrong message to people having similar problems. Since September, there have been at least 11 suicides of gay teens reported nationally. "It may say to them that it's OK to give up because others are," said Brown.
According to brandonbit-ner.com, the news of Bitner's death has been covered by The Daily Item, The Patriot-News, ABC27, WNEP, The Advocate, Long Island Press, Fox News, The Washington Post, CBS, Perez Hilton, The Boston Globe and Philadelphia Daily News, among others. Celebrities including Jenni "Jwoww" Farley from "The Jersey Shore," Goldie Hawn, Wilmer Valderrama and Andrew Jenks from MTV have been using Twitter to spread Bitner's story.
Bitner's classmates started a Facebook page titled "RIP Brandon Bitner," which by Tuesday had more than 5,600 people "like" it. The page also highlighted Midd-West students' plans to take a stand against bullying. Last Thursday, they memorialized their classmate's death by wearing black and participating in a school-wide remembrance. According to the Facebook event, more than 300 people were attending.
"I found the response by students at Midd-West, as covered in the Daily Item, to be particularly inspiring," said Lassahn.
Salerno said the Bias Response and Education Team (BRET) at Susquehanna is planning to hold workshops and lectures at local middle and high schools, including Midd-West, to talk about bullying. She said though it will not be the focus of the talks, LGBT issues will be included in the talks.
"Gender norms are tough, especially for guys, in terms of dress, emotions, etcetera. Girls can get away with a lot more with those issues. It can be cruel for those guys," Salerno said.
BRET works to combat situations of bias about anything from race, sexuality, gender, religion, impairments, among other issues. "A lot of people are concerned. Student groups across the campus are concerned," she said.
Lassahn highlighted the candlelight vigil held by GSA in light of the earlier suicides and also the statement by President Lemons concerning the issue.
Lassahn said he hopes more will be done. "I wish that more students, staff and faculty were discussing and addressing this issue [of bullying] here on our campus."
Salerno said the solution "doesn't need to be something big. There just needs to be a commitment to not standing for it in order to make this place better."
Something people can do, she said, is stand up as bystanders. In terms of the Bitner suicide, Salerno said someone had to know he was being bullied. "If people know about things, they should come forward," she said. "There are always more people involved than the victim and the perpetrator."
Salerno said college is the perfect environment to start practicing actions of "civil discourse." However, she said the current social and political status of the world does not send a good message of how to handle disagreements or people with lifestyles different than one's own.
According to several newspaper articles, Bitner was bullied for his dress, which some described as "gothic" or "punk" and for his involvement in music. His family wished that any gifts in memory of him be made to Susquehanna University Youth Orchestra, through which Bitner played the violin.
According to the statement released by President Lemons, which can be read on mySU, Bitner was also in the Susquehanna's music preparatory program. Lemons wrote, "As members of this community, it is our individual and collective responsibility to confront bullying, intimidation and discrimination at every turn. If you are witness to or are a target of bullying and/or intimidation, I urge you to take action."
In the statement, Lemons mentioned BRET as an excellent source for bullying concerns, as well as the Department of Public Safety, the Dean of Students' Office, Residence Life, the Center for Diversity and Social Justice, the Counseling Center, the President's Office, the Provost's Office and the Chaplain's Office.
Lassahn said to combat bullying "we must continue to raise awareness about and stand together against bullying. Interrupting this behavior when it occurs could make all the difference in the world. Reaching out to support someone who has been bullied can break through the isolation that is commonly experienced by those who are harassed."
The Counseling Center also helps with bullying issues, emotional distress and suicide prevention, and has online resources.
According to Anna Beth Payne, director of the Counsel-ing Center, "Bullying isn't just one kind of behavior. It is pernicious because bullies convey the message that the victim doesn't belong."
She urges anyone who wants to help to stand up and speak up. She said: "If you want to help, speak up. Stop using gay-bashing words, even in jest. Cut out racist and sexist jokes. When you witness this stuff, ask 'Why would you say something like that?'"
A community discussion in anti-bullying matters is occurring tonight at "A Forum on Bullying," hosted by The Rev. Ann Keeler Evans, preacher of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Susquehanna Valley (UUCSV). The panel will take place tonight at 265 Point Township Drive (Route 11), in Northumberland, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Panel members will include Cynthia Hutchinson, Principal of Midd-West high school; Harvey Edwards, a Selinsgrove High School teacher and founder of Tolerance Troupe; Chris Blockus, guidance counselor at Midd-West; and Brent Bobb, an investigator for the Pennsylvania State Police. Sharlene Gilman, who has a doctorate in school climate and adolescent identity, will serve as the moderator.
In an e-mail notice of the event, Evans wrote: "What would be most tragic about Brandon's suicide is if we refused to learn from it and take steps to make the world safer, more aware and more respectful. Particularly for those of us who are not intimately associated with the loss of this young man, it is important for us to work together to stop this senseless violence."
Payne voiced similar views on acting to stop bullying and violence. She advised: "Share that it bothers you, and ask the other person to think with you about what you can do to stop the bullying you see. Get others involved. Create the community you want to live in."
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