Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.11.28
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. The Chronicle of Higher Education - For Grinnell’s New President, Tense Negotiations Over Sheet Cake
2. The Star-Ledger - Fervor around Seton Hall gay marriage course has died down
3. The University Daily Kansan - Transgenders share stories of perseverance
4. The News Record (University of Cincinnati) - UC students honor those killed by hate crimes
5. Central Florida Future - Drawing attention to the transgender plight
6. The Arizona Republic - University of Arizona considering mixed-gender housing
7. The Rebel Yell (University of Nevada-Las Vegas) - EDITORIAL: Taking a vital step toward transgender equality
8. The Harvard Crimson - Students Call for LGBTQ Funding
9. The State Press (Arizona State University) - POINT: Colleges should implement gender-neutral housing
10. The Good 5 Cent Cigar (University of Rhode Island) - Gay-Straight Alliance president unhappy with URI administration
11. WNCT - ECU Chancellor Calls Dorm Attack: "Sexist & Homophobic"
12. The Daily Princetonian - Speaking out on coming out
13. Excalibur (York University, Canada) - York events commemorate transgender violence victims
14. The Wall Street Journal - Lesbian cadet who quit seeks return to West Point
15. The Commercial Appeal - Colleges debate applicant questions that ask students to answer about sexuality, gender
16. San Jose Mercury News - LGBTQ prom set for Cabrillo: Funding controversy does not stall event
1. The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 18, 2010
1255 Twenty-Third St, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037
For Grinnell’s New President, Tense Negotiations Over Sheet Cake
By Lawrence Biemiller
Grinnell, Iowa — It’s not every day that you see a college president in the thick of negotiations over a make-or-break issue—especially not an issue so serious that he invites the other party, perhaps a little bit threateningly, to “step outside.” But even before Raynard S. Kington, Grinnell College’s new president, sat down near me at a recent community dinner at a local school, he clearly had his hands full.
I mean that literally. He came in to a room crowded with school-lunch tables carrying his 18-month-old son, Basil, while his 4½-year-old, Emerson, raced ahead, darted back, vanished, reappeared, and vanished again. By the time Dr. Kington worked his way through the line and carried a tray loaded with tortilla casserole to one of the few empty seats, Basil was squirming and Emerson was already asking for cake. Dr. Kington, a physician and public-health researcher who came to Grinnell this summer after a stint as deputy director of the National Institutes of Health, spent the next 10 or 15 minutes negotiating with Emerson over how much casserole he would have to eat before he could have any of the sheet cake, which celebrated the 10th anniversary of the city’s community dinners.
With a gravity that would have been appropriate in a Congressional hearing, Dr. Kington insisted on a five-bite minimum. Emerson, with the impetuousness of a 4½-year-old (or perhaps a senator), sulked and cried and wailed until finally Dr. Kington suggested that it was time for the two of them to step outside. Basil, meanwhile, was eating enthusiastically in the lap of the college’s communication director, Kate Worster; Dr. Kington’s spouse, Peter T. Daniolos, a child psychiatrist, was still on his way back to Grinnell after his first day in his new job at the University of Iowa.
It’s been an interesting year for Dr. Kington, who is not just Grinnell’s first openly gay president but also its first black president, its first president with both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees, its first president from Baltimore, and so forth. He likes telling the story of a meeting around the time of his appointment in which someone started a long, serious-sounding paragraph about the comfort levels of people in the community—”Uh oh, here it comes,” Dr. Kington was thinking. But the paragraph ended with a punch line: “Not everyone is really open,” the speaker said with a grin, “to Unitarians.” (Dr. Kington is also, indeed, the college’s first Unitarian president.)
He had been recruited for several other presidential searches—not all of which he went forward with—before he was asked about taking the job here. “I thought a lot about this,” he said. “It would’ve been pretty easy to go to a large research university,” but he liked the intellectual atmosphere of Grinnell and he and Dr. Daniolos liked the town and the people they met. “It’s a beautiful town physically, and everything is close by. I save an hour-and-a-half a day in car time.” There is, he adds, “more diversity than you might predict, though less diversity than anyplace I’ve ever lived.”
His appointment was announced in February, and he and his family moved here over the summer. Since then he’s been highly visible around town, eating with Dr. Daniolos and the kids in the dining hall about once a week, or taking Emerson for his swimming class. Dr. Kington made one of the pans of tortilla casserole for the community dinner himself the night before, after returning from a college trip. Students have great expectations for him—even the students conducting a low-key protest outside his office because they thought the administration should have reacted more forcefully to an incident of anti-gay speech earlier this semester.
“The great thing about this school is that it’s not in crisis,” he told me. With one of the largest endowments among liberal-arts colleges, Grinnell has not had to lay anyone off, although the president says that “even though we have a fairly healthy endowment, the inflow isn’t keeping up with the outflow for the long haul.” Among his goals, he said, are doing a better job of reaching out to alumni and developing a clearer understanding of what makes Grinnell unique and how to attract students who can not only prosper here but then go make the world a better place.
All that, however, was on hold until Emerson ate five bites of casserole, tearfully, and finally got cake (which, for sheet cake, was quite tasty). Dr. Daniolos strolled in just a few minutes before it was time to leave for swimming lessons, and after introducing himself he barely had time to grab a plate of food.
Then more negotiations ensued: Emerson wanted to ride to swimming lessons in Dr. Daniolos’s car. “There’s always a down side to being the physical embodiment of any abstract concept,” Dr. Kington said loftily when I asked about his being the first black gay Unitarian physician from Baltimore to serve as president here. But is that more of a challenge than raising kids? I’m betting it’s not.
2. The Star-Ledger, November 21, 2010
1 Star-Ledger Plaza, Newark, NJ 07102
Fervor around Seton Hall gay marriage course has died down
By Kelly Heyboer
It is the class that wasn’t supposed to happen.
In the basement of Jubilee Hall at Seton Hall University, 24 undergraduates meet twice a week for a course known as "Special Topics in Political Theory: Gay Marriage."
Most of the tension that surrounded the first few weeks of class has disappeared. The security guard who stood outside the door the first week is gone. The death threats against the professor have died down.
But a few students still haven’t told their families they are taking Seton Hall’s most talked-about and controversial course.
"A couple of students said they are not going to tell their parents they are taking a class like this because they don’t want the controversy," said W. King Mott, the associate professor teaching the course. "But it’s a very lively class."
The three-credit course made headlines last spring when Newark Archbishop John J. Myers questioned whether a Catholic university should be teaching students about a topic the church opposes.
"The course is not in sync with Catholic teaching," Myers said at the time.
Seton Hall’s board of trustees, which includes Myers, convened a committee over the summer to look into the proposed course. For a time, many on the South Orange campus assumed the class would be canceled.
But when the semester started, Mott was permitted by Seton Hall administrators to teach the class over the objections of the church.
Mott, who is one of Seton Hall’s few openly gay professors, spent weeks fielding "hate-filled e-mails and phone calls" from anti-gay and pro-Catholic protesters around the country who opposed the class. Several of the threats were specific enough to notify South Orange police, and a security guard was briefly assigned to his classroom door, he said.
Though the class has gone on without incident, Seton Hall officials have repeatedly declined to publicly discuss the controversy surrounding the course. Seton Hall also declined to allow The Star-Ledger to observe or photograph the gay marriage class or interview students, though the university has regularly allowed media coverage of undergraduate classes in the past.
"To allow press presence in a small class on a sensitive topic about which there is significant public debate could stifle the atmosphere of freedom of discussion that Seton Hall faculty aspire to create and preserve for their students," said a statement released by Seton Hall Provost Larry Robinson’s office.
Church officials also declined to discuss the gay marriage class, except to say Myers still believes Seton Hall should not offer the course.
"His position has not changed," said James Goodness, Myers’ spokesman.
NOT ABOUT ADVOCACY
Mott has a reputation of clashing with church officials on gay rights issues. In 2005, he was demoted from his post as associate dean of Seton Hall’s College of Arts and Sciences after The Star-Ledger printed his letter challenging the church’s view on homosexuality.
The veteran professor said he designed the gay marriage course to explore a public policy issue, not to advocate for one side. Mott is in a civil union with his partner, who works in real estate. The couple have four daughters — a 21-year-old junior in college in New York and 17-year-old triplets in high school.
The gay marriage class includes a mix of gay and straight students and a few undergraduates who oppose some aspects of same-sex marriage, the professor said. But class discussions have always been respectful.
"No one is demonizing gay people," Mott said.
Students have read several books on the history of marriage and studied the gay marriage court case in California. They will end the semester by taking a final exam and writing an ethnography — a paper describing what it was like for them to take the controversial class. Mott hopes to have the student papers published.
The course also has included guest lecturers, including a speaker who is in a gay marriage and an attorney who deals with legal issues related to same-sex unions.
Hudson Taylor, an assistant wrestling coach at Columbia University and an activist for gay equality in college sports, spoke to the class last month. The former All-American wrestler lectured about being a heterosexual athlete working in the gay rights movement.
"It was a great experience to be able to sit down, to really get some insight and perspective on what these kids’ questions are," Taylor said.
A PERMANENT CLASS?
Despite all of the controversy, Mott plans to teach the class again next fall. Under Seton Hall’s rules, if a special topics class is taught three times, the professor can propose it become a permanent class. Mott said he would like to have the gay marriage class offered every year as long as the issue is part of the national debate.
"People can demonize me all they want to," Mott said. "The important thing is to examine the idea."
3. The University Daily Kansan, November 21, 2010
2000 Dole Human Development Center, 1000 Sunnyside, Lawrence, KS 66045
Transgenders share stories of perseverance
By Samantha Collins
Saturday marked the 12th anniversary of the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. Held every year on Nov. 20, the day is set aside to remember the transgender people who were killed in hate crimes and those who have attempted or committed suicide.
Here are the stories and experiences of two transgender people and how they persevered through hard times to find happiness.
He said he chose his new name, Avery, because it was gender neutral, and the fact that it meant “adviser to elves” in French was perfect. It fits his quirky, outgoing personality.
Avery Dame, a graduate student from Tuscaloosa, Ala., is a transman. He was born into a woman’s body, but he is trying to pass as a man. Growing up, he didn’t understand why he was different. He said he never felt he was born into the wrong body when he was a child. However, he knew something was wrong, and his mother constantly told him.
“At one point she told me that I walked like a farmer and I was like ‘what?’” Dame said.
He experienced a lot of those instances growing up in Alabama. He said he started to believe that whatever he was was wrong, and he started to have suicidal ideas.
“I was wrong and I didn’t really deserve to exist,” Dame said.
One night years later, about a month after his sophomore year started at the University of Alabama, Dame took a large amount of over-the-counter pain killers with alcohol. He said he couldn’t remember what triggered it, but he attempted suicide that night. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 41 percent of transgender people have attempted suicide.
“People do not accidently take half a bottle of pain killers and a large amount of alcohol,” Dame said. “This never happens on purpose — people just don’t do that.”
As the night passed, Dame began to think that committing suicide was a bad idea and called one of his good friends, Betty. Betty threatened that if Dame didn’t call poison control center then she would call the campus police. He called the poison control center.
He said the woman at the center eventually hung up on Dame because she was too busy that night. It had been about two hours since he took the medication.
“So much of that night was fuzzy,” Dame said. “I know I did it, but I don’t remember the specific details of it.”
He remembered finding some activated charcoal, which is used to absorb poisons in the stomach, and headed to a friend’s house. He said the first thing his friend said to him changed his life. She said “How could you think that I wouldn’t care?” He said that someone cared and validated his identity; however they did it, was huge for being transgender person.
“It’s so easy for the rest of the world to invalidate you because somehow you are breaking the rules,” he said.
Now, Dame said that although his life has become easier, it still has difficulties passing as a man. He binds his breasts and “packs” by putting a penis-shaped item in his pants. He said the most difficult part of passing his finding clothes to hide his female shape.
“I have child-birthing hips,” he said. “It’s sometimes hard to cover them up.”
He will start taking testosterone later this week. He said he won’t try to act masculine; he would act like himself. He said the hormone would make up for the fact that he was not willing to change his behavior for society. He said he did not plan on having sexual-reassignment surgery because of the risk of being ostracized at home.
However, he said he now feels his life is starting to become more balanced. He knows he can now be more like himself.
“I feel a lot more whole,” Dame said.
She was born in 1957 in Lawrence. She said the very first thing she knew about herself was that she was a little girl born into a little boy’s body. She didn’t have the words to explain how she felt when she was five or six, but she knew she was different.
Therefore, Stephanie Mott, a Topeka resident, would have to pretend to be a little boy everywhere she went. She said when she wanted to express herself as a little girl she had to be in the “shadows and in the closet in the dark.”
“It was horrible,” Mott said.
It was only after her family moved to a large farm outside of Eudora that she could secretly express herself as a girl. However, she said she still couldn’t talk about it.
“It’s like the heat during the summer — the torment, the stress, the shame and the disconnect of having to pretend who you are, and feeling alone,” she said.
In 1969, when the first space shuttle landed on the moon, she said when little boys would dream about becoming an astronaut, she had a different dream. She hoped that if she could make the Russians mad enough, they would break into her room and force her to change into a girl.
“It was just a fantasy,” Mott said. “Fantasies were all I had.”
When she hit puberty, her body started to change. She said the line between being a boy and girl became far more obvious in a physical sense. When she turned 13, she said she found that because of Renee Richard, a tennis player who was a transgender from male to female like Stephanie, that transitioning from a male to a female was possible. However, she would not make that change for almost 35 years.
She started college at the University at 17 years old. During her sophomore year at the University she discovered alcohol.
“Alcohol changed the way I felt.” Mott said. “For the first time I didn’t feel that fear.”
She drank abusively for years. By 2005, she said she managed to drink herself homeless and ended up in a rescue mission in Topeka. Soon she realized that she needed to change.
“My sisters were tired of watching me kill myself,” she said.
She said things finally got bad enough that she realized she needed to stop pretending to be a man. She joined a church in Topeka where she met a transgender woman for the first time. After talking with her she believed that she could finally transition. It took her 35 years and she was finally ready. She said she thought it would be too hard, too much money. She said she feared that her loved ones would disown her or that she would lose her job. That fear was gone.
“I wasn’t alone anymore,” she said. “That changed the nature of my problems.”
In July 2006, she went from Stephen, her given name, to Stephanie.
“It was like somebody turned on the light switch and I was no longer living in the dark,” Mott said. “I was born for the first time. I was really living.”
Edited by Anna Nordling
4. The News Record (University of Cincinnati), November 21, 2010
2600 Clifton Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45221
UC students honor those killed by hate crimes
By Benjamin Kitchen
Students at the University of Cincinnati and members of the community paid respect to transgender individuals killed as a result of hate crimes as part of the National Transgender Day of Remembrance Nov. 18 at Hebrew Union College.
Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded the Transgender Day of Remembrance in 1998 to honor Rita Hester, a transgender black woman whose murder in 1998 led to a candlelight vigil and an Internet project entitled "Remembering Our Dead."
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is hosted each November and is observed in cities worldwide. This is its in Cincinnati. The Greater Cincinnati chapter of the Human Rights Campaign, the Greater Cincinnati Commitment and Crossport, a local gender support group, sponsored the local observance.
The program also included musical selections, reflections from members of the community and a candlelight vigil paying tribute to those who have been victims of anti-transgender hostility and violence. Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls served as the keynote speaker at the event.
"The event let people know that transgender people are like every other person," said Hillary Washington, UC Alliance member and a first-year biology and chemistry student. "They shouldn't be treated differently because they identify as transgender."
There have been at least 6,000 transgender murders since 1969. Most cases are left unsolved, and, when a murderer is convicted, the sentences are usually minimal.
Last year, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law, expanding the United States' federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender identity, sexual orientation or disability.
Paula Ison, Diversity Committee co-chair of the Greater Cincinnati Human Rights Campaign, served as the de facto coordinator of the event.
"In the LGBT community, the ‘T' is the weakest link in terms of political support, legal protection and monetary support," Ison said. "If the LGB and straight allies can fortify the ‘T', then the entire community can benefit. We're all in this together."
Qualls reinforced the idea of change. Qualls and Mayor Mark Mallory, who could not attend, are notably LGBT-friendly, promoting acceptance of diversity in Cincinnati. Mallory voted against Ohio's 2004 gay marriage ban and led the 2010 Cincinnati Gay Pride Parade.
Qualls quoted the 14th Dalai Lama, pushing for heroic perseverance in the face of adversity and intolerance. Michael Hollenbeck of the Human Rights Campaign's Diversity Committee cited Mohandas Gandhi in his opening reflection. "Let us be the change we seek in the world," he said.
The message was clear. As members of the LGBT community and their allies mourn, they were urged to organize and promote acceptance, tolerance and respect.
"Let us go forth and create a world in which every individual can become, know and love themselves, and live their lives," Hollenbeck said. "A world in which those who once perpetuated intolerance, hatred and violence have come to understand that our world has many faces, many expressions and many genders. Each of them a valued and worthy reflection of a beautiful and diverse."
5. Central Florida Future, November 21, 2010
11825 High Tech Ave. Ste. 100, Orlando, FL 32817
Drawing attention to the transgender plight
By Brittany Blackshear
More than 20 students lied with their bodies spread out on the concrete ground on Friday in front of the Student Union, drawing expressions of shock, confusion and sympathy from on-lookers.
However on-lookers perceived their actions, the students remained planted on the ground to represent the statistic of a deadly hate crime committed against a transgender individual every nine days.
"I knew they were doing some kind of protest," said freshman micro and molecular biology major Crystal Hebert, who passed by the group paying respect to the loss of transgender people from hate crimes.
The public demonstration, which took place from noon to 2 p.m., was put on by Equal at UCF and Come Out Orlando, a group of local gays and supporters of gays dedicated to achieving equal rights and protections for Central Florida's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
Junior event management major Meshia Wright was present in support of the event where some performed songs dedicated to the victims and read out a list of names of victims.
"I'm here to remember my brothers and sisters who got taken away just for being who they are," Wright said.
The public demonstration was a part of a weeklong series of events leading up to Saturday, the national Transgender Day of Remembrance.
On Monday, Come Out Orlando held "A Night of Appreciation" at the GLBT Center, where they recognized the movers and shakers in Orlando's transgender community. Tuesday they held a panel of transgender and allied individuals at UCF's Equal meeting. Valencia Community College held an event on Wednesday that included a screening of Boys Don't Cry, a transgender panel and a vigil. For the national Transgender Day of Remembrance, Come Out Orlando also held a candlelight vigil at Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando.
Alexander Sierra, co-director of Come Out Orlando and a junior biology major, said the purpose of the event was to reach out to the UCF community that isn't aware of transgender issues or what Transgender Day of Remembrance really is and bring it to the forefront.
"It is important to note that we are very glad to hear of the recent addition of gender identity and expression to UCF policy, and this demonstration is not directed at UCF or the leadership thereof," Sierra said. "The day was created to pay homage to the transgender lives that have been lost due to hate crimes and ignorance. It is their memory that we are honoring."
National Transgender Day of Remembrance has been in effect since the 1998 murder of Rita Hester, a transgender woman. Since Hester's murder, various ceremonies, candlelit vigils and public demonstrations have taken place nationwide to remember victims of deadly hate crimes.
"There are lots of simple ways to make a difference. Sometimes just being open and honest about who you are can really save a life," Sierra said. "It is immensely helpful to someone struggling with their identity to see that it's OK and that there are people like them. UCF students could also start getting involved with Equal at UCF, their own LGBT organization on campus, to meet others like them, or SAFE (a branch of Equal) which is involved in more political endeavors."
Hunter Monahan, a Valencia Community College student, came to UCF to participate in the demonstration and offer support.
"We do everything the same just like everyone else," Monohan said. "We have the same struggles as any non-transgender individual."
6. The Arizona Republic, November 22, 2010
200 East Van Buren, Phoenix, AZ 85004
University of Arizona considering mixed-gender housing
By Anne Ryman
The University of Arizona is considering a pilot program that would allow students of the opposite sex to live in the same dorm room, an option designed to make gay students feel more comfortable living on campus.
University officials say if they decide to go forward with the "gender-inclusive housing," the option would be available to a limited number of students beginning next fall. Any student could apply to live there.
"We want to make sure that everyone feels safe and everyone feels welcomed and any kind of educational benefit is available to all," said Jim Van Arsdel, UA's assistant vice president for student affairs and university housing.
Research shows students who live on campus their first year generally are more successful in school.
Also known as gender-neutral, open housing or mixed-gender housing, the option is a growing trend on U.S. college campuses. It is offered to a varying degree at more than 50 colleges and universities, from elite private schools such as Dartmouth College to large public universities such as the University of California-Berkeley. Most of the policies have been enacted in the past five years.
Supporters say the option provides comfort and a feeling of security for groups that are vulnerable to harassment, such as students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning their sexuality.
But the movement is unpopular with conservatives, who worry the change will eventually result in increases in sexual assaults and sexual harassment. They say that by offering gender-neutral housing, universities are trying to take the ideological position that gender is arbitrary and socially meaningless.
"That's completely at odds with common sense," said David French, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Scottsdale-based Christian organization that seeks to preserve family values.
Critics also say universities shouldn't be subsidizing "poor choices" by mixing different sexes in the same rooms. College students already struggle with plenty of issues, including binge drinking, depression and anxiety, French said.
"You mix all those together and then say, 'Hey, guys and girls, why don't you just go ahead and room together?' and it seems to be asking for an even greater degree of trouble than already exists," he said.
UA officials are still working out details on the possible gender-neutral option. The university provides housing for about 6,000 students in Tucson, the majority being freshmen. The pilot likely would be limited to 22 students and located in the wing of a residence hall. Students would have to request the option. Officials said they don't plan to ask about a person's sexual orientation in the housing application.
UA officials expect to make a decision on whether to offer gender-neutral housing before the end of this semester.
Officials also are considering whether to offer a separate wing in another dorm for transgender students, some of whom may prefer to live apart from gay, lesbian and bisexual students.
University officials acknowledge that choosing a roommate of the opposite sex could lead to friction between students and their parents. Most colleges that offer gender-neutral housing, such as the private University of Chicago, require students who are under 18 to get their parents' permission. If they are over 18, they can legally make their own decisions.
Tyler Diaz, a junior majoring in psychology at UA, hopes the university will decide to offer gender-inclusive housing.
Diaz, who is gay, transferred from a community college this year and opted to live alone off campus because of worries over safety and concerns about whether he would feel uncomfortable around his roommate.
The 21-year-old said he would definitely consider living on campus next year if the university offered the option.
Officials at Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University said they are not considering changing their policy to allow students of the opposite sex to room together.
"As far as I know, it hasn't come up as an interest. But if it did, we would discuss it," said Eliza Robinson, a marketing specialist with ASU's University Housing.
A group of ASU students said they are researching gender-neutral policies at other colleges. They hope to present a proposal next semester, said Taylor Heller, an ASU junior majoring in accounting and the president of Gender WHAT?!, a group that promotes awareness of gender issues.
The trend toward gender-neutral dorms is just the latest evolution in on-campus housing.
Colleges used to have separate dorms for men and women. Then in the 1970s and '80s, many dorms went co-ed with men and women living on alternate floors or wings. Today, many colleges also offer what are called "checkerboard" living arrangements where men live next door to women in the same dorm. It's also common for some dorms to have themes where blocks of rooms are set aside for honors students, international students or those with similar majors.
About a decade ago, some liberal-arts colleges in the Northeast began allowing students of the opposite sex to live together in the same room.
Now, at least 54 offer some form of gender-neutral housing, said Jeffrey Chang, co-founder of the National Student Genderblind Campaign, which promotes the housing option.
Momentum for offering these options has picked up this fall, he said, in the wake of a high-profile incident in which Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi committed suicide after a sexual encounter with a man in his dorm room was secretly taped and streamed online.
"We're seeing college administrators kind of becoming more open" to the idea, Chang said.
Supporters say they aren't pushing to make entire college campuses gender-neutral. They just want universities to make that option available.
"What we're advocating is really not that radical," Chang said.
Reach the reporter at anne.ryman@arizonarepublic .com
7. The Rebel Yell (University of Nevada-Las Vegas), November 22, 2010
4505 S. Maryland Pkwy., Box 2011, Las Vegas, NV 89154
EDITORIAL: Taking a vital step toward transgender equality
By Editorial Staff
The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has gotten a well-deserved boost in visibility on college campuses in the past few days.
On Wednesday, an event called “That’s So Gay! How to Deal with Bullies and How Not to be One” was held on the College of Southern Nevada Charleston campus. The event addressed the level of bullying and violence taken against people of such orientations and focused on tolerance and open-mindedness.
Another event followed it on Saturday, as the 12th annual Human Rights Campaign Transgender Day of Remembrance took place. The event commemorated those that had been killed in acts of violence against transgendered people.
The Straight Allies For Equality’s two events on Friday and Saturday at the Metropolitan Community Church and Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Las Vegas, respectively, were some of the more notable events memorializing the day.
Though the intents of each event were slightly different, both were held in order to celebrate and honor the memories of people who have been killed by anti-transgender actions.
While the subject is not one that is talked about on a regular basis, it is good to see that it has been brought to the forefront, if only for a short time.
It is important to condemn any acts of hate and violence against groups and fight for the rights of all. On our college campus, we have the opportunity to meet people from all different backgrounds. If one thing can be learned from those experiences, it is that, for much of the time, no one exactly fits the stereotypes that might be ascribed to them by others.
The fact is, however, that not enough is done to make the general public aware of the violations of personal human rights that are committed against members of the LGBT community specifically.
A quick Google search will reveal numerous case studies of bullying or violence against members of specific groups of people, the LGBT community not excluded. Stories like that of Asher Brown, a 12-year-old from Texas who shot himself after his classmates bullied him, are only now being taken seriously by the American public.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, bullying leads to the third-highest number of deaths for people between the ages of 15 and 24. This statistic ranks behind only accidents and homicides.
One of the only effective ways to help alleviate this excessively large number is to educate the public and allow them to have open minds about other people’s lifestyles and choices. High-impact events like these drastically increase the likelihood of this goal being achieved.
At the same time, education is important for members of the LGBT community as well. They need to know that, among other things, resources are available to help them cope with the psychological stress bullying can cause.
Places like The Trevor Project, a toll-free, confidential, nonprofit service is available 24/7 to help students get through these situations. However, many more resources are needed before the ugly realities of targeted bullying and violence can be dissolved.
8. The Harvard Crimson, November 22, 2010
Massachusetts Hall, Cambridge, MA 02138
Students Call for LGBTQ Funding
By Alice E.M. Underwood
This fall, queer issues at Harvard have become an institutional priority. But following a series of College-organized open forums and the creation of the BGLTQ Working Group in October to review resources for the LGBT community, students have voiced concerns that more University resources need to be devoted to LGBT support.
The current Queer Resource Center—the only space on campus dedicated solely to LGBT issues—is closeted in the basement of Thayer and entirely run by students who work to maintain the cozy room decorated with various rainbows where people can meet, find movies and books, or stretch out on the couches between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.
"The QRC is a universal place that’s not just for queer or queer-friendly people, but for everybody. But it differs from other lounge places in that it goes without saying that you can be open about your sexuality," says Felice S. Ford ’11, one of the QRC coordinators. "If you feel the need to hide elsewhere, you don’t have to here."
Yonatan J. Kogan ’12, another coordinator, says that for the students who work to ensure the continued availability of the QRC and the resources it provides, it can be difficult to negotiate the time spent running the QRC with other time commitments.
"It’s fantastic having a space where we can get together in the Yard, but the QRC isn’t everything it could be if it had funding, the support of full-time staff, and the full commitment of the University," he says. "Planning and resource acquisition and development shouldn’t all fall on students’ shoulders."
LACK OF CENTRALIZED RESOURCES
In addition to providing a welcoming and safe environment, the QRC offers safe sex supplies, candy, a meeting place for student groups after hours, a library full of advice books and LGBT literature, and a collection of DVDs. Three student coordinators and 11 volunteer staff members are responsible for the entire operation and maintenance of the QRC, which receives its funding from The Open Gate, a non-profit organization established by the LGBT alumni group, the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucus.
QRC staffer Tevin L. Colbert ’14 says he was surprised to learn that the QRC receives no funding from the University, as many colleges have institutionally funded LGBT space and administrative support. Though he had expected Harvard to have more visible LGBT resources prior to coming, he says that he has been generally pleased with the atmosphere at the College.
"Harvard as a community has been really accepting—I feel almost like I could skip down the sidewalk waving a rainbow flag," he says, but adds that while he feels comfortable in the general environment of Harvard, locating specific information and resources can be a difficult task.
"My concern is for people who may need help and don’t know where to get it, for students who don’t know where to turn," he says. "You can find happiness and support, but you have to be willing to look for it."
AN IMPOSSIBLE BURDEN
Despite the dedication of the coordinators and staff, the fact that the QRC is entirely operated by students means that maintaining consistent personnel and institutional memory is a continuous struggle.
"If something is completely student-run you run the risk every year of losing the people who actually have the drive to keep it going," says Ford. "We’ve been lucky in the past, but that’s no indication of what’ll happen in the future."
Tom Bourdon, the current director of Tufts’ LGBT Center, emphasizes the importance of university support not only for LGBT space, but for full-time staff support as well. At Tufts, the LGBT Center was established in 1992, four years after the first staff coordinator to serve LGBT students was hired in 1988.
"Student groups often do great work, but if students are expected to fully and holistically take on all of those responsibilities, they are being asked to take on an overwhelming and impossible burden," he writes in an e-mail. He adds that official university support at Tufts enables not only physical space and staff, but can provide funding to allow for experts to be brought in and for students to attend conferences on LGBT issues.
Schools that have staffed LGBT centers, he writes, make a statement that "the university recognizes and respects the LGBT community, understands that there is professional-level work which needs to be done, and is proud to show their support."
CAMPUS COMMITMENTS TO DIVERSITY
According to Bourdon, there are currently about 150 institutions of higher education with professionally staffed LGBT centers. Many LGBT students and allies acutely feel the lack of this resource at Harvard.
"The space and organizations we have are great, but university support would be a very positive step in terms of highlighting Harvard’s commitment to diversity," says Jia Hui Lee ’12, a member of the Transgender Task Force who frequents the QRC, referring to the advantages other campus LBGT centers have.
"There’s a gap between the resources the QRC provides and the resources the College provides," he says, adding that because of this divide it can be difficult to find information about a range of LGBT issues.
As the director of LGBT Services at MIT, Abigail Francis staffs the Rainbow Lounge—the campus’ LGBT space—and works to ensure that everyone can access the resources they need.
"Students need to be students first and foremost," she says. "In terms of a comprehensive supportive approach to LGBT issues on campus, a staff member is really key to building community and cultivating leadership so students are empowered."
Joubert X. Glover, an MIT senior who is president of the MIT LGBT group G@MIT, says that the Rainbow Lounge has offered LGBT students a home away from home.
"I’m honored to say I go to MIT because of its ability to recognize diversity issues and help make sure we have spaces and resources," he says, adding that Francis helps students address difficult issues as they arise by being available to listen to concerns and offer advice and information. "Just looking at the suicides on high school and college campuses, it’s clear that there is a need for some sort of support, and I’m glad MIT sees the need for that."
AN OVERFLOWING NEED
Kogan says that while he enjoys having a space that gives students a sense of ownership as well as a place to hang out, the LGBT community is taking a stand to get more resources from Harvard.
"The QRC is a well utilized space, and that speaks to fact that this is something that there’s a demand for on campus," he says. "Still, there’s not that much visibility on campus which can be frustrating, and that’s something we’re trying to work on."
As part of this push for visibility, members of the Harvard LGBT community will be gathering on the Science Center lawn at noon today to demonstrate the need for more LGBT resources by cramming into an exact outline of the QRC. By overflowing the only space on campus specifically dedicated to LGBT issues, the event announcement states, "we want to convey the need for the improvement of Queer resources on campus."
Ford says that she hopes this action, as well as the outcome of the BGLTQ Working Group, will lead to better allocations for the LGBT community for future students.
"We can only do so much in our hours of 11 to five, and in the end, that’s not enough," she says. "As far as specific queer resources and support go, we are it."
Staff writer Alice E.M. Underwood can be reached at email@example.com.
9. The State Press (Arizona State University), November 22, 2010
950 S Cady Mall, Tempe, AZ 85287-1502
POINT: Colleges should implement gender-neutral housing
By Brittany Morris
School systems tend to be the perfect pilot ground for civil rights movements, from bridging racial and gender divides. Now it’s time for LGBTQ rights.
Universities and colleges across the nation, such as Dartmouth and the University of California at Berkeley, have allotted gender-neutral housing in which both males and females can share a room. And recently, the University of Arizona announced it might be jumping on the bandwagon.
While the accommodations are open to anyone who may be interested, the goal is to make LGBTQ students comfortable living on a college campus. The desegregation of schools during the Civil Rights Movement (although it was slow going) shed light on the African American community and their similarities, as well as their right to assimilate with the rest of the population. By creating housing for the LGBTQ community, we’re allowing that grouping to thrive amongst their peers, rather than hiding out in fear of discrimination.
Considering the suicide at Rutgers University, these decisions couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. In the month of October, an astounding five gay teens committed suicide in the short span of three weeks, including Tyler Clementi.
In a situation such as this, the positives outweigh the negatives, and extremists on either side will use outrage to publicize their belief that this proposal is the supposed demise of university housing. Contrary to that assumption, this is simply a part of the evolutionary chain that has been measured at universities.
Many dorms went co-ed in the 1970s. It was previously unheard of, but women and men became neighbors, and today this is very common. Not only that, but colleges have also set aside halls and even communities, for special interests such as honors students and particular majors.
Therefore, if colleges are willing to allow one student over another live in a particular dorm because of his or her unique characteristics, why would this differ for a gay or lesbian student who feels that his or her situation is unique?
Social discrimination aside, LGBTQ students pay tuition and deserve the same college experience and consideration. In an attempt to ensure that every student has the most paramount learning experience possible, research shows that students are likely to perform better in their studies if they live in on-campus housing.
Endless amenities prepare for the student’s success including social events, media labs and libraries. Not only that, but students who live on campus their first year are far more likely to live on campus their second year because of the connectivity they feel with their peers and professors. By facilitating to the LGBTQ community, universities are merely trying to meet their need to prosper.
A move in the right direction, the stint that has been given to the gay community is being lifted and thoughtfulness is taking its place. Universities are starting small by giving the plan a test drive. More likely than not, the University of Arizona will only be accepting 22 students into its first LGBTQ wing of the roughly 6,000 students it offers housing to, according to an article by the Arizona Republic.
The slow-going acceptance of the gay community is being seen everywhere, in the potential lifting of “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” and now in the college sphere. Universities are merely facilitating to a population with special needs to assure that they receive the best education possible; the unnecessary and unprecedented reprieve is being lifted.
Reach Brittany at firstname.lastname@example.org
10. The Good 5 Cent Cigar (University of Rhode Island), November 23, 2010
125 Memorial Union, 50 Lower College Road, Kingston, RI 02881
Gay-Straight Alliance president unhappy with URI administration
By Brian Stack
To the Cigar,
The University of Rhode Island Administration has failed in its obligations to students. This is evidenced by the students involved in the recent GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender) protest. They were promised multiple deadlines for the renovation of a new GLBT center, increased programming and changes in compensation.
Students and administrators have been in discussion over two possible locations for a new GLBT Center. One location is on Upper College Road and one is on Lower College Road.
Multiple deadlines as to the decision, purchase and renovation of any of these locations have passed. The procrastination of the administration has done nothing to increase the safety of LGBTIQQ (Lesbian , Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Inter-sex, Queer, Questioning) people.
The University has not begun work to hire a second full time GLBT Center staff person as they had promised. The administration agreed to allow students to be involved in discussions pertaining to the job title and responsibilities for that person. None of these discussions have occurred.
Student workers for the GLBT center have not received fair compensation for the work they do. Human Resources has instead recommended a decrease in GLBT Center student staff compensation. President Dooley had offered to make the decision as to whether student staff would receive increased compensation, but in the weeks since HR's decision he has refused to act.
The agreement for increased faculty, staff and RA training has not seen any progress. Students have not been allowed to be involved in discussions pertaining to any kind of faculty or staff training. Despite an agreement for immediate RA training on LGBT issues, this will not occur as promised.
Instead of addressing the issues, the administration has been feigning commitment and ignoring them. President Dooley's attendance of the last PFLAG Parents, Families and friends of Lesbians and Gays) meeting highlights this. There are other services that will help the president clear up his "uncertainty" about the sinfulness of GLBT people. PFLAG is a service that gives support to families struggling with accepting GLBT people in their personal lives. Using a support group as a good-press photo opportunity is incredibly disrespectful to anyone who needs the excellent support PFLAG offers.
Students protested the need for their safety on campus. The safety of LGBTIQQ students should not be played around with by the administration. False agreements and photo opportunities do nothing to combat the problems facing LGBTIQQ students.
Part of having an inclusive environment on campus involves working hard. Momentary acts with no follow-through do nothing to make GLBT people safe. Administrators have consistently promised to resolve these issues, and they made their voices even more clear during the protest.
Unfortunately for students, administrators have not put action to their voices. Their obligation to keep all students safe has been consistently and purposefully ignored.
- Brian Stack
URI Gay Straight Alliance President
11. WNCT, November 24, 2010
3221 South Evans Street, Greenville, NC 27834
ECU Chancellor Calls Dorm Attack: "Sexist & Homophobic"
By Jim Niedelman
Click link for video.
East Carolina University officially responded to an attack against two women on campus that some consider a hate crime.
Chancellor Steve Ballard issued a statement that called the anti-gay verbal and physical abuse, "unacceptable behavior." His remarks come more than a month after it happened. They got a positive reaction from the campus gay community.
Three weeks after E.C.U. students took a stand against hate crimes across the country, Chancellor Steve Ballard took one of his own regarding the attack on two women outside Tyler Hall in October. A group of students blasted them with sexist and homophobic slurs.
"This type of behavior is completely inappropriate and will not be tolerated. The campus community has every right to be bothered by this act and my administration shares in their frustration and disappointment,” Ballard said in his statement.
A leader in the student gay and lesbian community praised the move.
"For the chancellor of E.C.U. To actually say something and address the situation says a lot of the character of who he is and what kind of campus he wants," said Katy Ross, president of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered Student Union at E.C.U.
Ballard says those involved have been identified and will be subject to university punishment. Criminal charges have been filed against Bryan Berg. Ballard's statement falls short of condemning it as a hate crime. Sexual orientation is not included in North Carolina's hate crime statute.
"It's kind of a sticky situation, especially for us and especially for him as the chancellor," Ross said.
Chancellor Ballard also stressed the creation of a special task force to address bias against homosexuals while also improving education and awareness.
"It's gonna be an easier transition from less hate to more love," Ross said.
It's a change this group thinks can only lead to brighter days. Ross did not criticize Ballard for waiting almost a month and a half after the incident to issue the statement. She said he probably had his reasons.
12. The Daily Princetonian, November 24, 2010
P.O. Box 469, Princeton, NJ 08542
Speaking out on coming out
By James Chang
Click link for video.
"It gets better.” The simple three-word phrase forms the inspiration for an eponymous nationwide online video movement to offer hope to struggling and scared lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
In a recent YouTube video, eight openly LGBT University students added their voices to the “It Gets Better” Project, describing their deeply personal journeys to understand and embrace their sexual orientation.
Princeton’s video and the larger project are a response to several high-profile LGBT teenage suicides across the nation. Begun in September, the larger project now includes more than 5,000 videos that have been viewed more than 15 million times.
Though Princeton’s video has yet to gain official approval from the project, it has garnered more than 4,000 views in just a week.
“I didn’t expect it to be so noticed by people,” said Jack Thornton ’13, an LGBT Center peer educator who edited the video. “I thought that if it just reached one person in a very powerful way, then that would be enough.”
Participants in the video hoped that it would not only offer a message to those struggling with their sexuality, but also raise awareness of the current situation facing LGBT youth.
For many gay teenagers, embracing or announcing their sexual orientation — or simply having others aware of it — can lead to bullying and harassment. In September, at least five gay teenagers took their lives.
“They basically broke my heart,” Sitraka Andriamanantenasoa ’11 said. “For me, partaking in the video was not an easy decision to make, but it was a responsibility I felt. It ... was a way for me to share the gift of an abundant life ... which I have enjoyed to the fullest, but which many kids out there cannot.”
On Sept. 9, 15-year-old Billy Lucas died nine days after hanging himself from a tree at his grandmother’s home in Indiana after his schoolmates began bullying him because of his sexuality.
A few weeks later, 18-year-old Rutgers undergraduate Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after his roommate filmed him having a sexual encounter with another man.
And the very next day, 13-year-old Asher Brown shot himself in the head after what his parents said was constant bullying by his peers.
But taunting and discrimination is not always so overt. Andriamanantenasoa pointed to a quieter sort of discrimination and a much more general, nationwide trend of homophobia.
“I’ve been trying to ask people ... to share [the video] with their networks,” he said. “But ... a lot of the people I know actually told me that they cannot, that the message would not be welcome in any way.”
That attitude is less prevalent at Princeton, the participants said, crediting the University’s community for its warmth and welcoming attitude toward LGBT students and concerns. Some attested to the active presence of the LGBT Center and the University’s caring administrators.
Nonetheless, these same students spoke of a subtle unease on campus.
“I think that there is a divide between what we ... accept in the abstract versus what happens when we encounter gay people living gay lives,” said Elizabeth Borges ’11, a video participant and LGBT Center intern. Though the LGBT Center always sends a powerful and supportive message to the gay community, she said, certain social groups on campus are less accepting.
Andriamanantenasoa tried to pinpoint where in University culture that divide lies. He said that the predominant ethos on campus emphasizes “seeming and appearing” over actually “being” something. Notions of belonging and membership are especially strong, he said, and dictate many of the decisions students make.
“I know of many queer people who will never come out as long as they are here at Princeton because of their surroundings and social zones they are part of,” he said.
Alison Goldblatt ’12, an LGBT Center peer educator who initially felt nervous about participating in the video, said in an e-mail that social expectations often temper communication between straight and LGBT communities.
“Even if someone is completely supportive and wonderful and relatively knowledgeable about LGBT life on campus, there is no way to be on the same page exactly,” she said.
Goldblatt has first-hand experience with both pages: Her bisexuality means that she is sometimes cut off or objectified by both worlds.
Some males on campus, she said, are “completely turned off” by her bisexuality, which cuts off many opportunities for her to relate to them. She added that she feels “uncomfortable” and sexualized when confronted by males who “think it is hot to see girls making out.”
On the other hand, Goldblatt said that her interactions with straight women are colored by the perception that she cannot understand their feelings for males in the same way. She explained that she also automatically became an outlet for “bi-curious” girls to experiment, which she said was just another form of objectification.
Having a foot in each realm, she said, isolates her from both.
“In a community where non-straight relationships are harder to come by, this can be incredibly emotionally draining and confusing,” she said. “It’s hard to know anyone’s orientation for sure, and it’s hard to know when people see interactions as an experiment or game.”
Thornton said she struggled with her sexuality throughout high school. Her life was limited to a conservative neighborhood where she experienced open discrimination, so she became a very “closeted” person.
It was only during her Princeton admission interview that she began to get a taste of the wider world. She discovered that her interviewer was a lesbian, and before the conversation was over, she came out for the very first time.
“She really inspired me to push through the hard times to get to the better times,” Thornton said. “She assured me that wherever you go to college, whatever you do, it does get better.”
Like Thornton, some students come to campus already comfortable with their sexuality. But many wrestle through the long arc of the coming-out process.
Rodrigo Munoz Rogers ’12, who identifies as bisexual, grappled extensively with coming out early in his undergraduate career. Hailing from a conservative, Catholic background in Alabama, said he was “terrified” of the LGBT Center and those who were out.
“As a freshman, I actually drank a lot,” he said. “That was my way of coping with it. I’d go out to the Street and hope that I’d run into another LGBT person who wasn’t out somehow, and I’d hook up with them.”
This cycle of sleeping around wore on his sense of self-worth, he said.
Rogers said the 2008 film “Milk,” about gay-rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, inspired him to be vocal in the LGBT community. In his sophomore year, he decided to apply to be a peer educator at the LGBT Center. Checking the bisexual box on the application was his first external, open acknowledgement of his sexual orientation, he said.
Initially afraid of being seen as “too LGBT,” Rogers is now heavily involved with the center, working as both a peer educator and a Pride Alliance officer.
“I know my place on campus; I know where I’m comfortable,” he said. “I know what kind of people I feel comfortable being around.”
For some, the process of coming out during their four years at Princeton is even more gradual.
During her freshman year, Borges came out to many of her close friends but was not very vocal about her sexuality.
By her junior year, she reached a stage where she would not necessarily bring up her sexuality but would not deny or lie about it if asked.
“There are various stages and shades of being out,” Borges said, adding that she now corrects people when they incorrectly assume she is looking for “Mr. Right” at Princeton.
Borges said she is someone who “doesn’t look particularly gay,” and that she finds herself making these corrections often.
Those involved with the video have said they have received strongly positive responses from both the LGBT and straight communities.
“A lot of people are reacting very positively to it,” Borges said. “That goes to show, for me, how this message of self-love and self-acceptance is ... a universal theme. I am glad that it is resonating with people who aren’t gay.”
Participants said they hope that the video continues to spark conversation around campus and in the larger community. Thornton is currently pushing for the administration to post the video on the University homepage. Meanwhile, other LGBT-oriented video projects are in development.
But before those new ventures come out, Andriamanantenasoa had a comforting maxim for those still in the closet.
“Those who mind don’t matter,” he said. “Those who matter don’t mind.”
13. The Excalibur (York University, Canada), November 25, 2010
420 Student Centre, York University
York events commemorate transgender violence victims
By Brittany Goldfield-Rodrigues
A student group and York’s student union joined forces and hosted a Trans Remembrance Day Nov. 18.
The series of events held by the Centre for Women and Trans People at York and York Federation of Students (YFS) remembered victims of violence against transgender people.
“It’s critical to raise awareness around transphobia because it’s something we collectively as a society play a role in,” said Darshika Selvasivam, vice-president of campaigns and advocacy at the YFS.
Selvasivam explained that a day of commemoration “is an opportunity for [York students] as a community to remember those who lost their lives as a result of transphobia.”
The events began in the Vanier Senior Common Room, with a round table discussion hosted by a panel of guest speakers including Trish Salah, Canadian feminist writer; Syrus Ware, a transgendered visual artist; Dr. Savannah Garmon, physicist and social activist; and Ruth Bramham, trans advocate for 25 years.
The panelists spoke about their experiences, as well as their work and thoughts regarding trans activism, alongside trans awareness and treatment in a university setting.
Bramham, a York employee, said “we are people like everybody else and deserve the same treatment in terms of human rights and accommodations.”
Bramham, who has identified herself as a trans person since 1993, and had previously spoken at York in the past she said she had no problems opening up to students about her past experiences.
“Initially it was very emotional but you get used to it after a while. As you go into your revised role it’s a matter of dusting off the old and putting on the new,” said Bramham.
Throughout the day, lunch and crafting sessions were held at the York University Student Centre. The chain of events ended with a vigil outside Vari Hall, held in memory of trans victims of transphobic violence.
This event also featured an open microphone for those who wished to share their thoughts, feelings and past experiences.
Reflecting on her own experiences, Bramham described her experiences at York as “very good,” explaining that her being a trans person never had an impact on her job.
Selvasivam said the series of events showed “solidarity for trans students and people in our community and on our conference to say that they are not alone and they are allies who are committed to continue the fight against transphobia.”
14. The Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2010
1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036
Lesbian cadet who quit seeks return to West Point
The Associated Press
FINDLAY, Ohio — Katherine Miller got pretty good at hiding her sexuality in high school, brushing off questions about her weekend plans and referring to her girlfriend, Kristin, as "Kris."
She figured she could pull it off at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, too. After all, "don't ask, don't tell" sounded a lot like how she had gotten through her teen years.
But something changed when she arrived at West Point two years ago. She felt the sting of guilt with every lie that violated the academy's honor code. Then, near the end of her first year, she found herself in a classroom discussion about gays in the military, listening to friends say gays disgusted them.
"I couldn't work up the courage to foster an argument against what they were saying for fear of being targeted as a gay myself," Miller told The Associated Press in an interview this week. "I had to be silent. That's not what I wanted to become."
What she has become is an unlikely activist for repealing the ban on gays serving openly in the military. She resigned from the academy in August and within days was one of the most prominent faces of the debate. Yet her greatest hope now is that she can return to the place she just left.
For that to happen, President Barack Obama must make good on his promise to gay rights groups that he would push to repeal the 1993 law by the end of the year. The U.S. House already has signed off on the idea, and the Senate is preparing to debate it in the coming weeks.
The Defense Department on Tuesday will release a report that will help shape what Congress decides. The study has examined whether lifting the ban can be done without disrupting the armed services and current war efforts and includes a survey of about 400,000 troops.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff both have said they would rather see Congress change the law than have it struck down by the courts and risk losing control of how the changes would be put in place.
Adm. Mike Mullen told ABC's "This Week" this month that asking people to lie about themselves goes against the integrity of the armed forces.
Miller, 21, grew up in rural northwest Ohio, where she was captain of her high school softball team and voted most likely to become president.
She started dreaming of going to West Point around the time she turned 16 — more than a year before she came to accept that she was gay. Even after that, the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was no more than a passing concern.
She wanted to be a leader at the academy, someone with honor. She excelled, ranking near the top of her class of more than 1,100 cadets going into their third year. But Miller also was hiding in fear. "I realized that I wasn't becoming the leader of character that I wanted to be," she said.
Other gay cadets in her small circle of friends tried to persuade her to stick it out. Conforming, after all, is a tenet taught in the military.
"It was definitely an option," Miller said. "I just chose not to live my life that way. I'm pretty stubborn in my values. I needed to get out and declare who I was."
She still wonders whether she should have stayed and tried to survive under the policy. "At the same time, I don't think that I would've made nearly the impact that coming out publicly made," she said.
What hurt the most after her resignation were negative comments from people in her hometown. Some were hateful. Some accused her of wasting the military's time and money. Some called her selfish for taking a spot in the academy from someone else.
"My intentions were honorable. It wasn't to become a gay rights activist," she said. "It was something I was forced to think about once I got there."
Miller resigned a week before she would have been required to commit to finish her final two years and serve five years in the military. Cadets who withdraw in their first two years don't owe the government service or compensation for the education and benefits they've received.
There was no answer Friday at the academy's public affairs office. A West Point spokesman said in August that Miller had done very well academically, militarily and physically while at the academy.
The harshest criticism from her former classmates came after she wore her dress whites while walking the red carpet with Lady Gaga at the MTV Video Music Awards. They felt she was using her uniform to make a political statement.
Miller doesn't regret the decision. But she doubts she'll wear her uniform again — at least not until she's back at the academy.
"I'm trying to get back into the military," she said. "I'm not trying to make that difficult when that occurs."
She calls strangers "sir" and "ma'am." She wears her black hair tightly pulled back.
Miller is now preparing her application to the academy in case Congress acts quickly on "don't ask, don't tell." She knows not everyone will welcome her back but thinks the military will become a stronger institution for it by opening up to all qualified candidates.
"There's going to be hostility toward me, and that's inevitable," she said.
For now, Miller is attending Yale University and taking three classes, including U.S. lesbian and gay history and sexual gender in society — courses not found at the academy.
She has found freedom in the school's gay community and likes staying up late. Still, her heart is in West Point.
She misses the respect, the hierarchy — everything but one rule.
15. The Commercial Appeal, November 26, 2010
495 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103
Colleges debate applicant questions that ask students to answer about sexuality, gender
By Richard Morgan
More than 400 of the nation's 3,000 colleges use the Common Application to help high school students who want to apply to many schools at once.
This year, the application added an option for students to detail their religious beliefs. Now, Common Application members are debating the addition of questions about sexuality and gender expression.
Six Tennessee schools — all of them private — participate in the Common Application: Rhodes College in Memphis; Belmont University; Fisk University; Sewanee: The University of the South; and Vanderbilt University.
The Common Application is a 35-year-old, nonprofit organization that provides a college admission application — online and in print -- that students may submit to any of its 415 members. According to the organization's website, last year almost 2 million applications were submitted to Common App Online.
Among the changes being considered is further dividing the mandatory male/female question to accommodate transgender, transsexual and intersex students. And questions of sexual orientation may be added to a series of optional questions about ethnicity, religious beliefs, marital status and veteran status.
Decisions on both points are likely in January.
Admissions officers at Tennessee schools deferred comments about personal questions on Common Applications to Rob Killion, the Common Application's executive director.
"Generally everyone's hearts and minds are in the right place. But kids will worry about this," said Killion. "They might worry about filling it in. Or leaving it blank.
"There will be lots of uncertainty. If they know they're gay, but mark themselves as straight, is that an honor code violation? Have they just lied on their application?"
The decisions will come in the wake of a semester that began at both the high school and college levels with a string of students nationwide who committed suicide after being bullied or humiliated for being gay or perceived to be gay.
In Tennessee, two gay controversies have erupted at colleges that use the Common Application: Belmont University, a Christian institution, denied recognition to a gay student group; and two members were kicked out of a Christian fraternity at Vanderbilt University, according to the student newspaper, allegedly for being gay.
All Common App modifications must be brought to the table by at least two member institutes. The University of Pennsylvania and Dartmouth College both sought the sexuality question; Connecticut College and Tufts University already ask for clarification of gender expression.
"Today, students are more comfortable and expressive than in the past," said David Hawkins, director of public policy and research at the National Association for College Admission Counseling. "But even with that, I'm not sure a student who is out would see it as a comfortable thing to declare."
16. San Jose Mercury News, November 27, 2010
750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, CA 95190
LGBTQ prom set for Cabrillo: Funding controversy does not stall event
By Tovin Lapan
APTOS - When Elizabeth Habara finally got the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning club Leading Out up and running on Cabrillo Community College's campus this semester, she and the other group members knew they should announce their presence with an eye-catching event.
"We asked ourselves: 'How can we show people we are here, and they have support in the community?'" Habara said. "Then it came to us. A lot of people come from areas where it was against the rules to go to their high school prom with a same-sex date, or maybe they just felt intimidated. So we thought we'd give people a second chance."
Before Leading Out was born this fall, there were no LGBTQ student groups or organizations at Cabrillo.
Not only would this be a second chance at prom, it was going to be prom 2.0. Habara and the Leading Out members had visions of DJs, two live bands, a drag show and karaoke.
The prom planners lost some shine on their sequins when $700 approved for the event from the Student Senate was later vetoed by the Associated Students of Cabrillo College President, Theo Offei. The president has no vote on the senate, but can veto their decisions.
"I really want to emphasize that I am a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community," Offei said. "I might go to the prom. I have marched with the LGBTQ community, and I have gay and lesbian friends. I have the broadest respect for civil rights. I'm black, and it wasn't until a few decades ago that blacks had equal rights. I understand."
In an open letter explaining the veto, something he had never done before, Offei raised several concerns. First, he said that since the prom had received $1,000 in funding from the Inter Club Council, which in turn gets its funding from the student senate, that the request for more funding from the senate amounted to "double dipping." He also raised doubts that the prom event alone would benefit the entire student population of Cabrillo. Finally, he took issue with the fact that one of the senate members who voted to approve the funding, Joseph Gomez, is also a member of Leading Out.
The initial decision to approve the funding for the prom passed seven to one, with four members abstaining.
"It would have passed anyway," said Gomez, who is also the Inter Club Council chair, said. "I wasn't being biased, I wanted it to pass because its good for the college."
Gomez said many student groups in the past have received funds from both the student senate and Inter Club Council, including the Latina Leadership Network and Organization of Latin Americans.
Offei added that he asked Leading Out, both in his letter explaining the veto and in person to Habara, to resubmit their request and have the budget committee consider other sources of funding. He says he did realize his decision might be seen negatively, but that it is part of his initiative to be fiscally responsible and to prevent the "double dipping" clubs had done in the past.
"I did think about how my decision would be perceived," Offei said. "I think it was the right thing to do, even if it is misconstrued. Sometimes leadership takes the courage to do something that's not popular, but is right."
Habara believes Offei targeted Leading Out because of personal issues between the two of them stemming from past disagreements. Offei, while acknowledging they have had a "past disagreement," said that had nothing to do with his decision.
Meanwhile, donations have kept coming in from on and off campus, including a $700 gift from Google. The prom has a budget of $2,283, enough for a lot of amenities such as a videographer and two DJs, if not the bands, drag performers and karaoke system initially envisioned.
"It will build community at Cabrillo and make for a stronger campus," Habara said.
IF YOU GO
DON'T WORRY BE HAPPY, I'M COMING OUT PROM
WHAT: The Cabrillo LGBTQ student group Leading Out is sponsoring a prom open to the public
WHEN: 6 p.m. to midnight, Dec. 3
WHERE: Cabrillo Community College, Aptos campus cafeteria
TICKETS: $25 for one, $35 for two
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