Thursday, January 27, 2011

QNOC Digest 2010.12.05

Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.12.05

Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals.

Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at

Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to

1. The Dallas Voice - Hate is not an Aggie value
2. NOH8 Campaign - Thanksgiving Texas-Style
3. NOH8 Campaign - Messages of Hope
4. Boulder Daily Camera - CU-Boulder employees express 'deep concerns' about Bill McCartney
5. The Daily Tar Heel - Cyberbullying affects onlookers
6. The Independent Florida Alligator - Serving in Secrecy
7. Yale Daily News - Library acquires LGBT records
8. The Washington Post - Transsexual graduate to get new Dutch diploma
9. The Grand Rapids Press - GVSU students lobby for coed dorm rooms
10. The Harvard Crimson - Dems, QSA Debate Impact of DADT Repeal on ROTC at Harvard
11. MIT News - LBGT@MIT launches new "You are Welcome Here Campaign"
12. The Tennessean - Belmont disputes gay coach was fired: Sexuality brought ultimatum from school, players say
13. The Harvard Crimson - Institutionalize Safe Spaces: Harvard must institutionalize LGBT resources soon
14. The Washington Post - At George Washington University, coed quarters becoming option for all

1. The Dallas Voice, November 29, 2010
4145 Travis, Third Floor, Dallas, TX 75204
Hate is not an Aggie value
By Camden Breeding, Vice President, GLBT Aggies

A recognized student organization since 1985, GLBT Aggies are part of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie family, too.

This was the statement we made by attending the Nov. 19 Midnight Yell. As an organization, we proudly displayed rainbow flags and “Hate is Not an Aggie Value” buttons as we joined in the chorus “BTHO Nebraska.” Unfortunately, that chorus was interrupted by the voice of hate as members of GLBT Aggies were harassed for expressing who they are.

“Put the rainbow flags away, faggots,” one Midnight Yell participant shouted across hundreds of people down an exit ramp toward members of GLBT Aggies. Shortly thereafter he continued the harassment by yelling “faggots” multiple times into the same group.

This is not an isolated incident, nor is it even uncommon at Texas A&M. Earlier this semester, in the College of Engineering, I was branded “fudgepacker,” while “fag” bounced across classrooms in the Zachry Building like a game of pong.

Karla Gonzalez, president of GLBT Aggies, experienced similar harassment in the College of Construction Science her freshman year, where she says the first words spoken to her in the college were “fag” and “dyke.”

The reality is, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students feel unsafe and unwelcome at Texas A&M. Some might contend that by wearing GLBT related T-shirts and carrying rainbow flags, we brings the harassment upon ourselves. I would argue that I see people on campus, every day, expressing important parts of their identity by wearing shirts that convey their religious beliefs or affiliations, their cultural identities, and that promote organizations on campus and political ideas. I cannot agree to expect harassment on the campus that I love because I want to express an important part of who I am. I expect more from the Aggie family, and I know your fellow GLBT Aggies deserve more from the Aggie family.

Your fellow Aggies deserve more than the constant threat of verbal and physical harassment. Your fellow Aggies deserve more than to be targeted by bullies on a daily basis. Your fellow Aggies deserve more than to feel unsafe and unwelcome walking across campus. Your fellow Aggies deserve more than to think that suicide is the only option because they are afraid to come out in a hostile environment.

Your fellow Aggies deserve more than your indifference.

The time is NOW to speak up and stand up for the dignity of your Aggie brothers and sisters. Speak out against hate speech on campus, visit the GLBT Resource Center in Cain Hall C-118, become an Aggie Ally by registering for a free workshop at Speak up, Aggies. Never let them say you weren’t at Texas A&M, never let them say you weren’t there for your family, never let them say hate is an Aggie Value, and remember the Aggie Honor Code:

An Aggie does not lie about who they are, cheat someone out of a positive experience, or steal someone else’s dignity.

2. NOH8 Campaign
Thanksgiving Texas-Style

Thanksgiving is a day above all other days to focus on the positive and be thankful for what you have and the progress you've made. It's a day for all of us to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and be thankful to have what we do. Politics and work are trumped by love and togetherness, and we can only hope we can use Thanksgiving as a model for how we should treat each day.

This year, we at the NOH8 Campaign are incredibly humbled and thankful for each and every one of you out there who has shown us support. Whether you've come out to a photo shoot, shared our message with your friends and family, or simply followed us on Twitter- that support speaks volumes to us. We've received messages of thanks and hope from - literally - all over the world, and all of you inspire us to continue to do what we do in raising awareness and acceptance for equal rights and treatment for everyone.

few months back, a gentleman by the name of Lowell Kane reached out to us on behalf of the GLBT Resource Center at Texas A&M University. He asked us how it might be possible to bring NOH8 to their campus and send the message that Hate is NOT an Aggie Value. Just a few months later, Team NOH8 was boarding a flight to College Station, Texas to set-up our campaign for a day on the campus of Texas A&M.

College Station's LGBT community was so happy to have us there, and we were truly touched by how thankful they were to us for bringing the campaign to their town. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to travel to cities like College Station where we can really make a difference, and that's why we want to share some of the incredible photos from the Texas A&M shoot with you today.

3. NOH8 Campaign
Messages of Hope

This year, the NOH8 Campaign scheduled its open shoot in College Station, Texas to coincide with the You-Are-Loved Chalk Message Project. While people were getting their NOH8 photos taken on-stage at the Rudder Theatre, others were taking the time to write their own messages of support. Texas A&M University's GLBT Resource Center helped us coordinate the project, spreading a roll of black construction paper and colored chalk along the edge of the stage. As the holiday weekend comes to a close and we all prepare to return to work, we wanted to leave you with this banner to reflect on.

The You-Are-Loved Chalk Message Project is a suicide-prevention awareness event held each October that encourages the public display of positive messages of hope - via sidewalk chalk - intending that the message will positively affect someone passing by the message. Check out USA Today's article on the Project here.

By spreading positive, affirming messages like the ones in the Chalk Message Project, we increase the chances that somebody who is feeling lonely, confused, or desperate will see the messages and gain some hope. Knowing that someone out there is on their side - even if they don't necessarily know who - it can really give people a sense of empowerment and community.

Thank you again to all our friends at Texas A&M for their incredible help. You guys are doing incredible things for your community; keep up the great work!

4. Boulder Daily Camera, November 29, 2010
PO Box 591, Boulder, CO 80306
CU-Boulder employees express 'deep concerns' about Bill McCartney
By Brittany Anas

Click link for video.

Saying former University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney used his position to push anti-gay and sexist agendas, some employees at CU are asking that he be ruled out as a candidate for the open coaching position.

A search committee is looking for candidates to replace Dan Hawkins, who was fired earlier this month. McCartney coached from 1982 to 1994, winning three consecutive Big Eight Conference titles, and is now stumping for the head coach job.

"Coach Mac," now 70, led the Colorado Buffaloes to their only national title 20 years ago.

But Chancellor Phil DiStefano has received 15 to 20 letters from members of the campus community who have expressed "deep concerns about Coach McCartney's candidacy," said CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard.

The chancellor has forwarded the messages along to the search panel, led by engineering professor David Clough.

Meanwhile, a flier is circulating by e-mail among faculty and staff members that raises questions about McCartney's off-the-field remarks on abortion and gay rights, as well as the criminal records of his players.

From a CU podium in 1992, McCartney referred to homosexuality as "an abomination against almighty God" in support of Amendment 2, which prohibited laws protecting gays from discrimination.

Sports Illustrated ran an article in 1989 showing that from 1986 to 1989, two dozen CU football players were arrested on suspicion of charges including sexual assault.

At the height of his CU coaching career, in 1990, McCartney started the Promise Keepers. The male Christian group attracted more than 50,000 men to Folsom Field in 1994 before it moved to Mile High Stadium in Denver to accommodate larger crowds.

In 1985, the university adopted a policy that "coaches should not organize or conduct religious activities, including promotion of prayer or Bible readings by players or coaches." The policy was adopted after complaints of team prayers and organized religious activities conducted by McCartney.

Glenda Russell, who earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from CU and now works as a psychologist on the campus, says people should consider McCartney's full history while at CU.

"McCartney has every right to have his own beliefs," she said. "But he stepped over the line on a number of occasions when he used his position at the university to promulgate those beliefs and insist that other people join him in behaviors that were associated with those beliefs."

Hiring McCartney for the job, she said, could cause a chilling effect on the recruitment of students and employees.

"We've done a lot of work on this campus to embrace diversity -- and we have more work to do -- but I think that diversity can't really thrive unless all members of the community are welcomed."

In a letter to the editor of the Camera, Bill Taggart, of Boulder, suggested that McCartney be hired as head coach emeritus and Brian Cabral, who is leading the team in the interim, be an "assistant head coach."
Taggart said in an interview that he's not bothered by the controversy surrounding McCartney during his last coaching stint.

"It's so long ago, I had forgotten about it," Taggart said. "What happened upwards of 20 years ago has to be looked at in the light of today. Times have changed. He could bring a lot more -- in my opinion -- to the program with his experience."

Sociology professor Joanne Belknap wrote a letter to Athletic Director Mike Bohn and Chancellor DiStefano earlier this month urging against the hiring of McCartney, saying she's worried about his history regarding the treatment of women.

"Even his Promise Keeper values are very sexist ones," she said in an interview. "They aren't about protecting women, but disempowering women."

The National Organization for Women protested Promise Keepers events in the late 1990s, saying the all-male religious group's leaders were sexist because their mission included addressing the "moral problems" of teenage pregnancy, unwed mothers and women as spiritual leaders.

The Promise Keepers' Web site says it is a "Christ-centered organization dedicated to introducing men to Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, and then helping them to grow as Christians."

Last year, for the first time, women were invited to gather at Folsom Field for a Promise Keepers conference.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or

5. The Daily Tar Heel, November 30, 2010
151 E Rosemary St, Chapel Hill, NC 2751
Cyberbullying affects onlookers
By Jen Serdetchnaia

UNC alumnus John Mundell was bombarded with anti-gay slurs every few minutes for more than two hours on his Twitter home page earlier this month.

None were directed at Mundell, but they were there for him — and all others on the Internet — to see.

And in a public forum, there is no limit to the impact.

Mundell, who identifies as gay, detailed the events in an e-mail to The Daily Tar Heel as the Tweets were posted.

According to Mundell, public Tweets by two UNC alumni targeted a UNC student. The messages attacked the student’s sexuality, inviting him to hook up with a choir director, audition for a musical and get an AIDS test.

They also threatened violence.

Cyberbullying recently garnered national attention when a student at Rutgers University, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide in September after his roommate allegedly streamed an online video of him having sex with another man.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer centers at universities across the nation are actively working to change campus culture through education.

“Education is the key,” said Danny DePuy, the assistant director of the UNC LGBTQ center.

Teaching the appropriate use of social media is especially important because it is viral and can be taken easily out of context, Mundell said.

He said he recognizes there might have been an argument between the two parties and that he is unaware of the whole situation. Those involved declined to comment on the incident.

“But don’t they read the news?” Mundell said.

In light of recent episodes of cyberbullying, the “Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harrassment Act of 2010” was introduced to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives by U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., and U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., on Nov. 18.

The bill is the first of its kind and requires institutions of higher education to establish anti-harassment policies.

It was introduced days before both houses of the New Jersey state legislature passed an Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights to address cyberbullying in the K-12 system.

This bill is not new — it has been in the works since the beginning of the year, said N.J. Rep. Valerie Huttle, D-Bergen.

“Bullying has been around through the ages on the school ground, but you go home and you feel safe,” Huttle said.

“Cyberbullying is in a world beyond school grounds,” she said.

Unlike with traditional bullying, there are no safe zones, Huttle said.

When a child gets home from school, he is free of traditional bullying. But there are no safe zones because he can still open his Facebook or Twitter, she said.

And it doesn’t stop at personal attacks — observers might be equally affected.

Mundell said he was troubled by the references to sex and threats of violence Tweeted by the UNC alumni.

“I was having issues reading those,” Mundell said. “His tweets are not private and they’re there for the whole world to see.”

It reminded him how difficult it had been to come out as gay.

“When I was in high school, when I came out of the closet my sophomore year, I was bullied a lot both physically and via technology,” he said.

But this was before Facebook and Twitter were widely used. These social media websites add another dimension, Mundell said.

He said the Tweets might just be poorly-thought-out comments and not necessarily targeted anti-gay slurs.

Although efforts are being made at the state and national level, they are not aimed at eliminating bullying completely.

“No one believes you’re going to stop bullying — you can’t outlaw hate and teasing,” said Michael Lieberman, the Washington counsel for the Anti-Defamation League, one of the several groups supporting the Tyler Clementi bill.

“What you can say is that there are standards and there is accountability once you go outside these standards.”

Conversation cannot and should not be banned, DePuy said.

But it’s hard to draw the line between free speech and hate speech, Lieberman said.

The First Amendment is supported by the idea that any hate speech will encourage conversation and enough positive speech will arise to combat it, he said.

“If you’d like to burn a cross in your own field, that’s protected speech,” he said. “If you want to burn a cross on the lawn of the black family that just moved into the neighborhood, it’s a crime.”

Contact the State & National Editor at

6. The Independent Florida Alligator, November 30, 2010
1105 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601
Serving in Secrecy
By Emily Fuggetta

In 1994, President Bill Clinton introduced a policy called “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which lets gay men and lesbians serve in the U.S. military as long as they keep their sexuality secret. The policy, a compromise that allows them to serve despite a ban on gay and lesbian service members, prohibits their superiors from investigating without evidence.
Since then, the policy has been upheld despite widespread opposition from civilians and service members — most recently last month when a U.S. appellate court blocked an injunction on the enforcement of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
But under the strategic discord and political red tape — at the heart of the issue — are the men and women who live under a policy that forces them to live in secrecy. Here, former, current and future service members share their stories.

Michelle is in love.
The 22-year-old Army mechanic considered herself straight when she enlisted but began a long-distance relationship with a girl she knew from home. They broke up, but Michelle soon fell in love with her best friend and roommate, a sweet girl with brown eyes.
“We went and did everything together,” Michelle said. “You never saw us apart.”
Two years later, the two are engaged, and Michelle wants everyone to know how happy she is. But when she talks about her fiance, she changes “she” to “he.”
“It sucks, having to keep my relationship a secret,” she said.
But even if the policy is repealed soon, Michelle doesn’t plan to tell her fellow soldiers. So far, she’s been lucky — the few people she’s told have been supportive. But she’s afraid that if she came out to her whole unit, they might start to treat her differently.
“As much as I would like to tell everyone about me and who I’m with, and as much as everyone else who is gay would like to tell the world, I think it would be best to not lift ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” she said — if soldiers started coming out, she fears it could cause more problems than it would solve.
“What if I come out to everyone, then my roommate feels uncomfortable sharing a room with me?” she said. “My unit will have to either find someone who is OK with it and move me into that room or put me by myself.”
Michelle hates having to lie when people ask why she hasn’t had her wedding yet.
“There are times where I want to tell everyone just so they know,” she said.
But she won’t tell them — not now. Maybe not ever.
Walker Burttschell didn’t tell.
But he didn’t go out of his way to hide his sexuality, either.
“I didn’t feel like I had to,” said Burttschell, a former Marine discharged under the policy. “I just didn’t think it was anyone’s business.”
In high school, Burttschell participated in JROTC, and every summer, he went to a National Guard summer camp. The day after Sept. 11, he dropped out of the University of West Florida to become a Marine.
His roommates and friends knew or suspected he was gay, he said, but didn’t care.
“It was against everything the Marine Corps told me I should be,” he said. “It’s about morals and values and being honest about who you are, but I had to lie about who I am.”
But he had openly gay friends who had served, and he didn’t think the policy was taken so seriously, he said. “I got the wrong impression.”
One day when Burttschell was stationed at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina, he was out of the barracks and another Marine went through his e-mail. He found messages between Burttschell and his boyfriend.
The rumors started. Burttschell knew if his sergeant and others found out, it would eventually get back to his commanding officer. At the same time, a good friend and fellow Marine was being discharged under the policy.
He dreaded being forced to give up the most important part of his life, and he was terrified that his religious, conservative family would find out why he was discharged.
Sick with fear, paranoid and depressed, he was put on suicide watch. Within two months, he was discharged.
Now, he travels with groups like the Human Rights Campaign and Servicemembers United to speak out against “don’t ask, don’t tell” and support equality.
“The most important message is letting people know that sexuality is not a big deal, especially in [my] generation,” he said. “The majority of people I served with — the majority of people I still know who are serving right now — couldn’t care less if you’re gay or straight.”
The number of “don’t ask, don’t tell” supporters is small, he said, and mostly within the religious right.
“Unfortunately, our community hasn’t come together strong enough or powerful enough to fight it.”
Daniel has perfect vision, gets good grades and can sprint half a mile without breaking a sweat. He also likes to dance to Lady Gaga.
When he came out, his friends told him they’d already known he was gay. His mother was reluctantly supportive. His father told him he’d never understand but loved him anyway.
When Daniel, 19, told friends and family of his plans to enlist in the Air Force, they were quick to remind him of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
“It was just an immediate answer of, ‘Well, you can’t do it,’” he said. “And it was just aggravating, the fact that people were so quick to shoot me down.”
But those close to Daniel knew the policy wouldn’t stop him.
“It doesn’t make me angry because I don’t let it,” he said. “I don’t understand why it’s a problem, though. If you’re dying and someone saves your life, why do you care what they’re doing in the bedroom?”
But the people Daniel meets now, as he begins basic training this week, can’t know the secret it took so much courage to tell his friends and family.
He knows that beyond his duty to protect Americans from their enemies, his responsibility will be to protect his fellow soldiers from knowing his sexuality.
For a moment last month, he celebrated. When Judge Virginia Phillips ordered a stop to the policy’s enforcement, Daniel made a relieved declaration on his Facebook page.
“Now that I can say it,” his status read, “I’m gay and going into the military ♥.”
But since a federal court of appeals put a stay on Phillips’ injunction days after her ruling, he has been less open.
Of his eight piercings, Daniel has removed five. He deleted his online accounts so no one can find photos of him and other men and use them against him.
He knows he has to pretend to be someone else to serve his country, but it won’t be easy. The hardest part, he said, will be taking a step back from the dignity he finally felt revealing his sexuality to his family and friends.
“It takes so much to come out and be accepted,” he said. “My whole world changed, and to pretend that never happened … it’s a really sad feeling.”
A vote by the U.S. Senate on whether to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” is likely in the coming weeks. Supporters of the repeal, scrambling to make the most of their time left in Congress this year, have said they will vote in early December after the release of a Pentagon report on the issue.
But if “don’t ask, don’t tell” isn’t repealed, Daniel will still sweat through boot camp, strap on his helmet and get on his plane. And he won’t say a word.

7. Yale Daily News, November 30, 2010
202 York Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Library acquires LGBT records
By Zoe Gorman

Over 30 years’ worth of legal records documenting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history will find a home in Yale’s library.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) is donating many of its legal records to Manuscripts and Archives in Sterling Memorial Library. Most of the resources, which range from photographs to financial records, will be open to researchers in early 2011. Yale will continue to receive records from GLAD as the organization releases more documents over the next 25 years, said Mary Caldera, an archivist at Manuscripts and Archives.

“We think of this as a long term partnership with [GLAD],” Caldera said. “The materials that we’re getting from them are all really interesting and will highlight a lot of issues in LGBT rights work.”

The records cover major social changes and legal developments in contemporary LGBT history, such as political battles over same-sex marriage, the “gayby boom” — or the trend of same-sex couples becoming parents — and the HIV crisis.

George Chauncey, the co-director of the Yale Research Initiative on the History of Sexualities, has been working with GLAD to secure the donation for the past three years. He said the records are an “unparalleled resource” that will help historians understand modern anti-gay discrimination and the legal strategies used to fight this discrimination.

“[GLAD has] really been a pioneering litigation group that has won some very important advances for LGBT people,” Chauncey said, “and when I happened to hear that they had not decided what to do with their records, I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity for Yale.”

GLAD made national news when it successfully pushed for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2004 and in Connecticut in 2008. Clarissa Cunningham, the organization’s director of public affairs and education, said GLAD was still a small organization when gay marriage passed in Massachusetts. GLAD staff were flooded with international media calls, Cunningham said, and volunteers had to scramble to take notes on the pink message pads they had at hand — now preserved as part of the collection.

Caldera said the library has been working to expand its collection on LGBT history — which she described as “one of the best in the country” — for about eight years. Caldera said the GLAD records are the first legal documents concerning LGBT rights that the University has acquired.

“I think it does fill in that gap in the legal component of LGBT study,” Caldera said. “[The records are] really giving a picture of that kind of public policy advocacy, legal advocacy, that is going on in the LGBT rights movement right now.”

Yale will receive GLAD’s records from Bragdon v. Abbott, a 1998 Supreme Court case declaring that people with HIV are protected from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as records from Fricke v. Lynch, a 1980 suit against a Rhode Island school board to allow a male high school student to bring a male date to his senior prom.

Cunningham said one of the most interesting parts of the new Yale collection is a library of notes from GLAD’s legal information telephone line dating back to the organization’s founding in 1978. The calls, which deal with issues such as police harassment, entrapment, HIV, marriage and children, give a vivid picture of the LGBT movement’s grassroots history, Cunningham said.

Cunningham said GLAD respected client confidentiality by soliciting clients to donate their case files to Yale. Most of the clients agreed to share their case files, although some wanted to read them first, she said. The organization will donate more documents over the next year, but some strategic and legal documents cannot be released yet, Cunningham said, especially in cases that are still ongoing or explain legal strategies GLAD still uses.

Chauncey said the University will honor GLAD’s timeline for releasing documents, adding that “it’s entirely up to GLAD which records they want to transfer to Yale at any given time.”

Natalia Thompson ’13, who is majoring in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, said she is excited about the acquisition because many of her fellow WGSS students are also activists.

“For those of us who are interested or active in queer politics, these records will provide a direct connection to recent LGBT rights battles,” Thompson said.

GLAD was founded in 1978 in response to a series of anti-gay government actions in Boston.

Correction: December 1, 2010

An earlier version of this article did not list the class years of George Chauncey ’77 GRD ’89.

8. The Washington Post, November 30, 2010
1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071
Transsexual graduate to get new Dutch diploma
The Associated Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- A transsexual former student has won a battle to be granted a replacement graduation diploma with his new name and gender printed on it, the University of Amsterdam said Tuesday.

Justus Eisfeld will get a new diploma after Education Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt said a law barring universities from issuing replacement diplomas was "interpreted too strictly," university spokesman Paul Helbing said, adding the university is "very happy" to be able to issue the replacement diploma.

The minister's statement Tuesday came on the same day the Equal Opportunities Commission ruled the university's previous refusal to grant Eisfeld a new diploma amounted to discrimination.

The commission's chairwoman, Laurien Koster, rebuked the university, saying it "should have recognized that a gender change is a reason to replace a diploma."

Eisfeld was a woman when he graduated with a degree in political science in 2001, but has since undergone surgery to become a man. He lives in New York and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Helbing said the university tried to call Eisfeld to break the good news but could only leave a message on his voicemail.

He said the university offered in 2008 to give Eisfeld a document confirming he had graduated, but Eisfeld said it was not enough. "It is a question of principle for him," Helbing said.

Suzanna van Rossenberg of the Dutch Transgender Network called the decision "a step forward for all alumni of Amsterdam University."

She said it was not clear how many other graduates had run into the same problem.

9. The Grand Rapids Press, November 30, 2010
155 Michigan St. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
GVSU students lobby for coed dorm rooms
By Dave Murray

ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP — A group of Grand Valley State University students is lobbying to allow opposite sex roommates in campus housing, a move they say will mirror a national trend.
The request is driven by GVSU’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Student leaders say such living arrangements would provide both safety and comfort to students who now often feel they must move to off-campus housing to live with someone who understands them.
About 50 universities nationwide offer such options, including the University of Michigan, according to the co-founder of a national group supporting such efforts.
College leaders said they will listen to the group’s suggestions, as they would from any other student organization, but have no plans to change the current housing assignment policy.
Leaders of GVSU’s Students Advocating for Freedom and Equality said the topic was well-received at a recent panel discussion, and they plan to approach other student groups for support and circulate petitions before taking the request to administrators next semester.
“Living and study habits are more important than gender when it comes to roommate compatibility,” SAFE President Fermin Valle said. “A woman student can be just as messy as a man. We shouldn’t attach stereotypes to gender.”
Jeffrey Chang said he co-founded the National Student Genderblind Campaign about 10 years ago, with the number of colleges adopting gender-neutral policies accelerating in the past three years. He said the recent suicide of a bullied Rutgers University student has sparked a renewed effort on many campuses.
Chang said LGBT students often are uncomfortable when assigned same-gender roommates, fearing harassment.
“It’s really an issue surrounding safety,” he said. “Students are coming out of the closet earlier, often in high school. Yet when they go to college, they often feel as though they have to go back into the closet.”
Chang said campuses have found that very few students have requested opposite sex roommates but believes it’s better to have the option for those who request it.
“It’s very rare to see that the people are romantically linked,” he said. “More likely, it’s someone who they can feel comfortable around.”
A larger issue, he said, is that people should have the right to choose who they can live with.
GVSU students who identity themselves as transgender on their housing applications are offered single-person rooms.
While the campus has coed dorms, students are not allowed to share rooms or apartments with students of the opposite sex. All the apartments have individual bathrooms.
“We try to foster the ‘free exchange’ of a myriad of ideas at the university and, as always, we try to encourage a civil, respectful, and courteous manner for any programs or discussions,” said Bart Merkle, vice provost for student affairs and dean of students. “We review and consider any information that emanates from student discussions, but that does not necessarily mean there would be a change in policy.”
Misael DeJesus, a resident assistant in the campus’ Murray-VanSteeland community, said the idea came from within the LGBT community but could apply to any student who would feel more comfortable sharing a room with someone of the opposite sex.
DeJesus worked with another resident assistant to organize the panel discussion.
“We wanted to clear up any myths that are out there about gender-neutral housing and work with the facts that are out there,” he said. “There are people in the LGBT community who feel they had to move off campus because of problems, and they shouldn’t have to do that. There are studies out there showing that people who live on campus do better academically.”
He said one transgender student told the group that he has been assigned three roommates over the course of the semester because of compatibility issues.
DeJesus said he is cautiously optimistic about the response, noting hundreds of students turned out for a candlelight vigil to remember LGBT students who took their lives, and a campuswide e-mail from President Thomas Haas stressing GVSU’s commitment to diversity and tough stance against bullying.
“GVSU is a progressive campus, and we’ve seen a lot of support,”DeJesus said. “But we know that many of the donors are conservative, and it might be difficult to sway them.”
E-mail Dave Murray: and follow him on Twitter at

10. The Harvard Crimson, December 1, 2010
Dems, QSA Debate Impact of DADT Repeal on ROTC at Harvard
By Alice E.M. Underwood

Following yesterday’s release of a Pentagon report on gay and lesbian service members in the military, members of the Harvard College Democrats and Harvard College Queer Students and Allies gathered to discuss the possible impact of the report on the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and Harvard’s current ban on the Reserve Officer Training Corps.

According to the Pentagon’s report, 70 percent of the 115,000 members of the military and 44,000 spouses who responded to the survey believed that the repeal of DADT would have no effect or a positive effect on military units. A November CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found that 75 percent of the American population as a whole felt similarly.

The report did not include specific recommendations, but did state that the repeal of DADT would be unlikely to jeopardize military effectiveness.

“For queer people who can’t serve openly, it’s not just an inconvenience but a denial of who they are,” said QSA Co-Chair Marco Chan ’11 in reference to DADT.

Dems Treasurer Victoria E. Wenger ’14 said that in addition to marginalizing LGBT members of the military, DADT reflects poorly on the U.S. government.

“DADT is federally sanctioned lying,” said Wenger, adding that the country with the largest and most powerful military in the world should not force gay and lesbian members to lie about their lifestyles and face discharge if they tell the truth.

“The fact that this aspect of the issue is not being discussed scares me as a Democrat and an American as much as the fact that we’re condemning people’s lifestyles and civil rights,” Wenger said.

Attendees agreed that DADT should be repealed, but debated about whether a repeal ought to occasion the re-institution of ROTC at Harvard after over 40 years of being absent from campus.

“Harvard allows recruiting from the State Department and other organizations that do a lot of harm, and that double standard penalizes a lot of people who choose to serve their country through the military,” said Jonathan M. Padilla ’12. “We’re punishing people who are going to put their lives in harm’s way to protect people like us sitting here having this discussion.”

Dems Membership Director James P. Biblarz ’14 said that the U.S. military exhibits significant discrimination beyond that against gay and lesbian service members and that it also lags behind most other Western militaries in integrating female service members.

“Where do we draw the line in supporting ROTC in terms of how the military treats certain groups that are important to Democrats?” Biblarz said, noting that although women may serve in the military and are officially allowed to fill most posts, it is rare that they rise to top leadership positions.

Dems Campaigns Director Katie R. Zavadski ’13 added that students could do more to combat the military’s discrimination from within its ranks than through protest.

“The ROTC students we have here at Harvard are probably very enlightened and egalitarian—the people we would want to be going into the military to make it more welcoming for women and queer people,” she said. “If there are students with a more progressive world view in the military, it will probably become a safer place for women and queer service members alike.”

Staff writer Alice E.M. Underwood can be reached at

11. MIT News, December 2, 2010
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 11-400, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
LBGT@MIT launches new "You are Welcome Here Campaign"
By Abigail Francis

This fall lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LBGT)-related tragedies filled news headlines, including suicides of gay teens and a cyber-bullying attack on the student government president at the University of Michigan. In response to these tragedies, LBGT@MIT launched the newly redesigned “You Are Welcome Here” campaign. The new campaign promotes a very clear message to members of the MIT LBGT community: you are not alone. Support, advocacy, and outreach are available to you.

MIT community members are invited to join the campaign by posting a “You Are Welcome Here” (YAWH) card in their office, living space or workspace.

The cards helps raise awareness and creates visibility and support for members of the LGBT community at MIT. More than an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, LGBT has also been used as an umbrella term to imply the more inclusive acronyms for queer, questioning, intersex and allies. LGBT allies, advocates and supporters of the LGBT community are a very important part of the effort to create a more welcoming campus climate.

More than 50 students, faculty, staff and alumni were involved in the relaunch of the campaign, which is part of MIT’s continuing effort to ensure a safe and supportive campus, free from homophobia, bi-phobia, trans-phobia and any kind of hate, where all are welcome as equals. LBGT@MIT envisions an MIT where all aspects of people’s identities are celebrated and where all individuals are respected for who they are, free from any prejudice, harassment or discrimination.

Ongoing support, education and awareness programs are an important part of this effort. Two such programs are the monthly lbgt@mit e-newsletter and the monthly LGBT Issues Group meetings. For more information about these and a variety of other LGBT, ally and diversity Resources at MIT, please visit: To receive a YAWH card, please e-mail

12. The Tennessean, December 3, 2010
1100 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
Belmont disputes gay coach was fired: Sexuality brought ultimatum from school, players say
By Mike Organ

Belmont University women's soccer coach Lisa Howe is without a job today, and the reason may involve her sexual orientation.

The university issued a release Thursday night with Athletics Director Mike Strickland stating that Howe decided to resign on her own without offering further explanation.

However, several members of the soccer team say Howe told them she was pressured into resigning after telling school administrators and the team she and her same-sex partner were having a baby.

Howe, who has been at Belmont six seasons, informed the team Thursday that she had resigned. She could not be reached for comment but is quoted in the release as saying, "I am at a point in my life where I am satisfied to move on."

Erica Carter, a senior on the team, said Howe told her and her roommate Ashley Hudak, a junior on the team, Tuesday that athletics department officials had given her the choice to resign or be terminated because she had told the team her partner was pregnant with a baby due in May.

"She said she went to the administration to get permission to talk to us about (the pregnancy) so that she could bring us to light on her becoming a mother," Carter said.

"She didn't want us to hear it from other sources. She has never talked about her personal life before. We always hear rumors, speculation and things. She wanted this to come directly from her."

Carter said Howe told her administrators did not immediately give her permission to address the team about the matter. She said Howe said she asked again several weeks later and still was not given permission.

"By then people were finding out, so she went ahead and took the initiative and told us, even though they didn't clear her to tell us," Carter said.

Hudak confirmed that the coach said she was given the choice to resign or be terminated because she had revealed her sexuality by telling the team about the pregnancy.

"She said she needed to resign or she was going to be fired because of the choices she had made with her life," Hudak said. "She said she had tried to clear telling us she was having a baby through the athletic department and they weren't allowing her to."

Team captain Sari Lin said she met with Strickland on Tuesday and he told her Howe had violated a university policy pertaining to individual sexuality.

"He basically said we have the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy and when she told us about the pregnancy, it violated that," Lin said. "She was telling us what her sexual preference is. He said you can hide your sexuality, but you can't hide a baby. He pretty much told me that once the baby was born she was going to get fired anyway, so it's better to do it sooner than later."

Team Wants Answers

Lin, a junior, said Strickland and Betty Wiseman, assistant athletics director/senior woman administrator, scheduled a meeting today with the team's underclassmen.

"My question for them is why should she have to hide her baby?" Lin said. "Why should she have to hide anything about her sexuality? I hope we get some answers."

Belmont President Robert Fisher declined to comment, saying it was an athletics matter and questions should be directed to the athletics department.

Repeated calls to Strickland from The Tennessean seeking comment Thursday were not returned.

When a reporter went to his office for comment, an athletics department employee said he had gone home sick.

Likewise, Wiseman refused to comment when a reporter visited her office.

Only after the Belmont student newspaper reported on its website Wednesday night that Howe had been fired did the university issue a release or respond to requests for comment.

The Tennessee Human Rights Act does not offer protection based on sexual orientation. In the area of employment and public accommodation, the THRA protects against discrimination based on a person's race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, disability and age (older than 40).

Howe, who compiled a 52-48-16 record and whose team won the Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season championship in 2009, was quoted in the release as saying: "I appreciate Belmont University giving me the opportunity to lead the women's soccer program for the last six seasons. I was able to accomplish some career goals at Belmont that will always remain as some of my greatest achievements. I want to thank all the student-athletes who worked so hard for and dedicated themselves to me and the program."

When the players arrived Thursday to meet with Howe, she had written her new e-mail address on a chalkboard along with "No regrets."

"She's very upset and hurt," Carter said. "She's hurt more than anything."

13. The Harvard Crimson, December 3, 2010
Institutionalize Safe Spaces: Harvard must institutionalize LGBT resources soon
By The Crimson Staff

This fall, much attention has been paid to resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students on college campuses across the country, and Harvard is no exception. Recent student activity has called attention to Harvard’s embarrassing lack of institutionalized LGBT resources. Currently, the University only has the Queer Resource Center, a privately funded room in the basement of Thayer that is staffed by volunteer students. This makes Harvard, according to Harvard Queer Students and Allies Co-Chair Marco Chan ’11—who is also a member of the College’s BGLTQ Working Group—the only Ivy-league institution that lacks either a University-funded LGBT resource center or LGBT coordinator. It is unacceptable that Harvard has gone so long without sufficient resources for LGBT students. In light of recent hate crimes—including one at Harvard—and suicides on college campuses across the country, as well as the immense burden that is placed upon LGBT student groups to maintain the current resource center, the risks and needs are too great to ignore this issue.

Indeed, Harvard should begin providing funding for the QRC as quickly as possible. In addition, Harvard should hire a full or part-time coordinator to staff the center, organize queer events, and serve as a point person for queer issues on campus—responsibilities that until now have often fallen to students. The current lack of a clearly LGBT-focused administrator has led to dissatisfaction among many members of the LGBT community over the handling of the hate crime on campus earlier this semester. An official coordinator is also necessary because the QRC, which offers movies, an extensive library, pamphlets, safe-sex supplies, and a place for students to talk, should not rely on student volunteers to remain open. The center should be available for students regardless of other students' commitment to staff it. Placing the burden of providing support for the queer community upon students is unfair.

But beyond shifting the onus away from students, institutionalized University LGBT resources would send an important message to the Harvard community and would work to create a more welcoming, inclusive climate for all students. Like the Women’s Center, the QRC should, with University support and a hired coordinator, begin sponsoring events and hosting dialogues on campus. Further, like the Women’s Center, the QRC need not serve as a political organization, but rather should be a resource for students. Political activism should remain in the domain of the QSA and other LGBT groups on campus—the purpose of institutionalizing LGBT resources is to support a diverse and respectful campus culture.

It is important that these steps to create a more queer-friendly atmosphere on campus are taken quickly. Although we are sympathetic to the unfortunate compactness of the current center, finding a larger space could delay the process. Thus, right now, moving the QRC should not be the priority. Although the administration has shown interest by creating a working group to review LGBT resources, it is disappointing that any decision is unlikely to be made until after March, when the working group is set to submit its report. Harvard should put a lesser emphasis on reviewing resources and a greater emphasis on allocating them immediately; the aim should not be to discuss, but rather to implement. Ultimately, this is not an issue that just merits discussion—it is a necessity.

Sadly, this is an aspect in which Harvard must learn from its peer institutions. The University of Pennsylvania, for example, has had an LGBT center and coordinator since 1982. Harvard also is not included in Advocate Magazine’s guide to LGBT-friendly colleges. Indeed, we hope that Harvard will move quickly and, with the support of a coordinator and a funded resource center, catch up to its peers in institutionalizing safe spaces on campus.

CORRECTION: December 4, 2010

An earlier version of the Dec. 3 editorial "Institutionalize Safe Spaces" incorrectly stated that Harvard is the only Ivy-league institution that lacks both a University-funded LGBT resource center and center coordinator, and attributed this information to Marco Chan '11. In fact, Chan had said that Harvard is the only Ivy-league institution lacking either a University-funded LGBT resource center or LGBT coordinator, and was misquoted in a Crimson news article. The Crimson regrets the error.

14. The Washington Post, December 4, 2010
1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071
At George Washington University, coed quarters becoming option for all
By Jenna Johnson and Daniel de Vise

The long-eroding boundaries that once kept men and women apart on America's college campuses soon will disappear at George Washington University, which this week announced that students can share dorm rooms with anyone they want - regardless of gender.

The decision puts GWU at the forefront of the movement toward gender-neutral housing policies at many of the nation's top schools. But where most have limited coed rooms to some upper-class housing, GWU is opening the option to all students, including incoming freshmen.

The change marks a retreat in the parental authority college officials at many schools once routinely wielded over their undergraduates dating to the days when dorm mothers stopped opposite-gender guests at the front doors of residence halls.

But the policy also signals the rising clout of gay, lesbian and transgendered students, who successfully argued that assigning students by gender was inherently unfair when many of them might be more comfortable with a roommate of the opposite sex. University officials considered opening the gender-neutral option to only some students before deciding to lift the restriction for all.

"Ivy League schools have it. A lot of progressive schools have it. It was time for us to try it," said Michael R. Komo, a senior political science major who is president of the GWU student group Allied in Pride, which lobbied for the change. "I really think it's a win-win for everyone, even for the straight folks who just want to live with their friends."

The proposal, first aired last winter, prompted concerns from some conservative students who argued it could create additional housing costs, especially if many couples became roommates, then later requested room transfers. Some also suggested that the new housing policy might erode morality and trouble some parents.

"This is the liberal administration at the university imposing something on students," said Travis Korson, a senior international affairs major and president of the campus chapter of Young America's Foundation. "None of these systems have been around for more than five years. There's no way to prove they will be successful."

But most students appeared to accept the looming change, scheduled to take effect next fall.

"I feel like gender is irrelevant," said Michelle Marshall, 19, a sophomore international affairs major from California. "I think a lot of people jump to 'Oh my God, people are going to have a relationship,' but that's not the way it is."

Katie McCutcheon, a freshman from Florida, said she and her roommates live across the hall from a group of male students. "We're already living on the same floors. I've fallen asleep in the guys' room. I guess they are making them 'official roommates' now," said McCutcheon.

"It's a nice option to have," she added, "but I don't know how many people will use it. I personally would want to live with my girlfriends."

The push for liberalizing housing policies at GWU began after a small group of male and female students moved in together at an on-campus town house they called Escaping Gender. When that proved successful, the students began lobbying to expand the concept across campus.

Last school year, the student government and some student organizations endorsed the idea. That prompted the university to appoint a committee, which recommended the change. The program will start as a pilot program, and school officials plan to reevaluate over the first three years.

All students will be able to sign up for the program as long as they already know their potential roommates. They then can be placed in nearly any of the school's more than 30 halls, mostly in Washington's Foggy Bottom neighborhood. Students who ask for a randomly assigned roommate will continue to be matched with someone of the same sex.

"We have students saying, 'Can we be matched with someone who will be best for our academic pursuits?' " said Peter Konwerski, the GWU dean of students.

Konwerski said he expects questions from students and their parents about the program, but informal surveys have found that a majority of both groups were comfortable with the idea.

"If what they're doing is giving the students a choice, then I think it's fine. It's just another option," said Dawn Bathras of Severna Park, mother of a GWU freshman. "They're 18. We can't do much about it anyway, if they're away at school."

Mary Beth Cunningham, mother of a GWU junior from Springfield, N.J., said, "The students need to learn to make those decisions based on their own comfort levels."

Cunningham added that she wouldn't be surprised if daughter Erin chooses a male roommate next year: "She says girls are too much work."

Policies about men and women sleeping in the same room vary sharply across the Washington area. Howard University began to ease its policy on overnight guests only this semester, but many other schools dropped such restrictions long ago.

The University of Maryland at College Park has allowed male and female students to share rooms in two campus apartment buildings for the past two years. The University of Maryland Baltimore County does the same and has nine such apartments.

American University has offered coed rooms in apartment buildings since last school year and plans to expand the program. Goucher College in suburban Baltimore offers gender-neutral housing in two dorms, one of them coed by room.

Similar moves are under consideration at Towson University, Washington College and St. Mary's College of Maryland.

This semester, Georgetown University's student senate passed a resolution asking for a discussion about gender-neutral housing, although school officials have said they have no plans to change their policy.

The momentum behind coed roommates might recede as students discover that the reality of rooming with the opposite sex does not always match the vision, said Carl Crowe, director of residence life at Washington College in Chestertown, Md. "I think students like the idea of it," he said, "but after living it day in and day out, they begin to have concerns."

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 regarding fair use of copyrighted work, this material is distributed without profit for information, research, and educational purposes. The Consortium has no affiliation whatsoever with the originators of these articles nor is the Consortium endorsed or sponsored by the originators.

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