Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2011.01.02
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
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1. The Tennessean - Belmont flap over gay coach puts professor/councilwoman in middle
2. The Bryan-College Station Eagle - Discharged Aggie tells his story
3. AnnArbor.com - University of Michigan students push for gender-neutral housing
4. The Queens Courier - Hate crime rocks Queens College club
5. The Washington Post - 'Don't ask, don't tell' has been repealed. ROTC still shouldn't be on campus.
6. Bangor Daily News - Former ROTC cadet: Repeal ends the lies
1. The Tennessean, December 25, 2010
1100 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
Belmont flap over gay coach puts professor/councilwoman in middle
By Nate Rau
The controversial departure of Belmont University's women's soccer coach has prompted Metro government officials to consider an array of new policies that would extend the city's nondiscrimination policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
None of the proposals, however, have come from Metro Councilwoman Kristine LaLonde, who is a professor at the university and whose district encompasses the school near Hillsboro Village.
Potential conflicts of interest were a concern for some residents of District 18 when LaLonde ran for office nearly two years ago. LaLonde replaced Keith Durbin, who became the first openly gay elected official in the history of Tennessee.
Since the highly publicized exit of openly gay Belmont soccer coach Lisa Howe, LaLonde said she has concentrated on working in her role as a Belmont faculty member to amend the school's nondiscrimination policy. Some of LaLonde's colleagues say she has played an important role in that process. But some constituents question whether working for the university has created an impossible conflict of interest.
Howe departed from the university earlier this month and according to some of her players, she was fired because of her sexual orientation. Howe's partner is pregnant with the couple's first child. Neither the university nor Howe have said publicly what led to her departure.
The incident has brought a wave of local and national media coverage. Some city officials have responded by proposing to extend Metro's policy that prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Mayor Karl Dean requested that Metro agencies that act autonomously from the city, such as the Airport Authority and the Metro Development and Housing Agency, adopt the policy.
Metro Councilmen Jamie Hollin and Mike Jameson have gone one step further. They're preparing a proposal that would require private contractors to adopt the nondiscrimination policy as well. The councilmen also have proposed rescinding the city's contract with Belmont allowing the school to use E.S. Rose Park for some of its athletics events.
Instead of pursing new policies such as these, LaLonde said she worked with Belmont's faculty senate, which announced earlier this month it supported forming a new written policy protecting gay students, faculty and staff members.
"If I were an outsider to Belmont and only had one way to influence what they do, then I would look for that one way," said LaLonde, who revealed she was going through the tenure application process with the university when the controversy unfolded. "But I'm not an outsider to Belmont."
'Conflict Of Interest'
But some politically active constituents of LaLonde's affluent district say she should have been leading on the issue.
John Green chairs the Belmont Neighborhood Advisory Group, a panel of residents that meet to discuss planning issues between the university and its surrounding community.
Green said he supported LaLonde when she ran in 2009, but now he wonders if a conflict of interest exists that makes her job as a district council member too difficult. Green pointed to the university's proposed changes to 15th Avenue South to accommodate a new law school. Some neighbors fear the proposal could take away too much parking and lead to traffic problems in the future.
"A concern I have is I think she has an awkward situation wearing two hats," Green said. "I think it creates a real question, and I'm not sure she's been able to figure it out in her own mind, too."
LaLonde Has Support
But one of LaLonde's colleagues said she handled the situation correctly by working internally to call for changes to Belmont's own policies.
"I would say that leaping forward is not always the best course of action, especially when you understand the intricacies of the way institutions work," said Belmont associate professor of English Bonnie Smith Whitehouse, who also lives in the district. "I think her choices exhibit mature, smart leadership."
She Favors Metro Idea
LaLonde, who has not announced whether she's running for re-election next year, said she supports the proposal to require city contractors to adopt Metro's nondiscrimination policy. Admitting the past few weeks have been challenging,
LaLonde said the ultimate goal is to prevent future discrimination.
LaLonde said it would be difficult to continue working at Belmont if the school's policies didn't protect gay students, faculty and staff.
"If the goal is we want everyone to be welcome and treated equally at Belmont, what is the best way for me to help Belmont get there?" LaLonde said.
"I absolutely felt like the best way for me to do this is to work as a faculty member, to hopefully set a path that we'll quickly get there."
Nate Rau can be reached at 615-259-8094 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. The Bryan-College Station Eagle, December 26, 2010
1729 Briarcrest Drive, P.O. Box 3000, Bryan, TX 77802
Discharged Aggie tells his story
By Vimal Patel
Three little words threw Aggie Danny Hernandez's life into a whirl: Are you gay?
In fall 2009, as Hernandez served as a reservist in the Marine Corps while finishing his last semester at Texas A&M, the startling inquiry came from his first sergeant in Waco when the superior got word Hernandez had told others about his sexuality.
He felt all he had worked toward slipping away. He considered lying but saw a stack of papers on the sergeant's desk, the top two appearing to be handwritten witness statements.
Hernandez answered truthfully.
Raised in Paradise, Texas, Hernandez wanted to be a Marine since he was age 14. So he enrolled at one of the nation's most military friendly schools, Texas A&M, because of its Corps of Cadets.
There, he dove into Aggiedom, serving as a Fish Camp counselor and in the Corps of Cadets. He also was in the famous Aggie Band and elite Ross Volunteer Company, the Texas governor's honor guard.
While a student, the communications and sociology double major worked in the marketing and communications department and was even an Aggieland Visitor Center tour guide, walking would-be Aggies across campus and scooting VIPs in a golf cart.
"I fell in love with the school," he said.
'I was scared'
He confided in cadets at Texas A&M that he was gay, and in all his time in the Corps, an issue never arose. During his junior year, he enlisted as a reservist in the Marines.
In fall 2009, he confided in two men in his reserve unit that he was gay. One told another, Hernandez said, and word spread and reached the first sergeant, and eventually commanding officer.
"I was scared," Hernandez said. "I didn't know how to answer, and I said 'yes.' He told me he knew what I had told those two other Marines, and that he had asked them to write statements on everything I had talked to them about, and they complied. They used that as credible evidence that I had in fact told somebody."
His commanding officer, Hernandez said, informed him that he would be discharged from the military.
Weeks away from graduation, he thought his career in the military was set, so he hadn't been applying for any jobs, and now, he had nowhere to go after A&M. Also, he said, his contract had stated that the Marines would pick up his student loans, so he didn't bother applying for scholarships, but now was stuck with some $15,000 in loans.
"Everything I was planning was basically crumbling during this short period of time," Hernandez said.
And he felt alone. Though he had confided in close friends that he was gay, he was far from open. He was raised a devout Catholic and was worried family members wouldn't take it well, so he didn't tell them.
After graduation, he headed to Washington, landing work at a non-profit and eventually joining the staff of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a non-profit founded to advocate for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He's working there now as a development assistant.
'...be faithful to me'
On April 28, nine weeks after he was discharged, Hernandez wrote a letter -- reluctantly -- that was posted on the SLDN website to President Barack Obama, who had promised as a candidate to end the policy.
He wrote of his willingness to still die for the country that wouldn't allow him to serve, of his shattered dream of being an officer, of the Marine Corps motto Semper fidelis, meaning always faithful.
"I have remained faithful to my country," he concluded. "Please be faithful to me."
He was scared again after the posting.
He still hadn't told his family, but the defense network website had 150,000 hits that day, and the letter -- part of a project titled "Stories From The Front Lines: Letters to President Barack Obama" -- was carried by several media outlets.
He called home that night. His family -- he was raised by his aunt and uncle -- took the news exceptionally well and have been supportive since, he said.
"My family's biggest disappointment they voiced was they wished I was upfront with them so they could have at least been there with me as I was going through it," Hernandez said.
This month, he was in the Senate gallery as the Senate voted 65 to 31 to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, clearing the last hurdle to repeal the policy born 17 years ago when newly-elected President Bill Clinton was caught between a campaign promise to allow gays to serve in the military and an unexpected level of opposition to the idea.
"I was sitting with SLDN board members and veterans affected by the policy. I've been involved with this movement for a few months. A lot of the people I was with were involved for 17 years," Hernandez said. "It was incredibly momentous and just very emotional."
Last week, he met Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, an advocate of repeal (the last year connected him with another powerful woman, pop star Lady Gaga, who he met in D.C. and allowed him to speak before her at a September repeal rally in Maine).
"I feel like I've grown up more this past year than I have throughout the rest of my life, and I think that's all positive," Hernandez said. "But at the same time, it is an injustice. Something that I was struggling with, something that was such a small part of my life at that point, was the reason that I lost so much of what I had worked for."
He's at a crossroads, now. Plan A is to go back into the service once a pending legal matter related to his discharge is resolved, and the policy -- which remains in effect -- ends. And Plan B is law school. He took the LSAT last month and doesn't know yet how he did.
The 23-year-old's journey is one of some 14,000 stories of discharges under the policy, according to SLDN.
"People think gay, and they think effiminate, or they think not manly, or they think crazy, radical, liberal activist, and I wouldn't really consider myself any of those things," Hernandez said. "I'm a Texan, and I'm an Aggie, and I'm just like everyone else, aside from that one aspect of my life -- that I'm gay."
3. AnnArbor.com, December 28, 2010
301 E. Liberty St., Suite 700, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
University of Michigan students push for gender-neutral housing
By David Jesse
A proposal to allow gender-neutral housing in the University of Michigan’s residence halls is now awaiting review and action by U-M’s housing department.
A group of students formed the Open Housing Initiative and drafted a proposal, which was recently submitted to the university’s housing administrators.
Their goal is to give students — especially those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities — more choices when they pick where they want to live and with whom while going to school.
Currently, students are assigned roommates of the same gender, although the university has exceptions for transgender students.
“University Housing received the Open Housing proposal, and we appreciate the considerable effort and thought the students have put into the proposal,” housing spokesman Peter Logan said in an e-mail. “Their recommendations are being reviewed and discussed among representatives of the student group, Housing and Student Affairs, and we expect that process to continue for awhile. At this point, I am not aware of any timetable.”
The students have been working for several years on the plan and have made revisions to it over time.
The current plan offers a couple of options, said Rebecca Egler, a student working on the initiative.
The first, and preferred option, would be to allow students of different genders to room together. In that case, the students would have to cross-match, or ask to room with a specific person.
The philosophy behind that is that students themselves are best equipped to make decisions about whom they should live with, Egler said.
Making students ask for a specific person of a different gender, rather than just a generic person of a different gender, should help alleviate safety concerns, the students believe.
The other option would be to make a floor of a dorm gender-neutral. But that’s not ideal, Egler said, because students would feel like they were being set apart and not included in the overall community.
The university has some female-only housing options, but the majority of its housing options are co-ed.
The university already has a policy on gender-neutral living.
It says, “University Housing works to provide a safe, comfortable and supportive living experience for all students living in Michigan’s residential facilities. We offer gender-neutral housing that is supportive of transgender individuals.
“If you are interested in a gender-neutral room or apartment space, we ask that you contact the Housing Information Office as soon as possible. We can provide you with a personal and confidential assessment of the available options."
Egler said most students are supportive of the move.
However, it has sparked controversy before, including from alumnus Andrew Shirvell, who criticized current student body President Chris Armstrong for his support and advocacy for the change.
David Jesse covers higher education for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at email@example.com or at 734-623-2534.
4. The Queens Courier, December 29, 2010
Schneps Publications, Inc., 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361
Hate crime rocks Queens College club
By Jano Tantongco
When Deborah Lolai first saw the messages of hate, she started bawling.
On Tuesday, December 7, homophobic messages defaced student artwork in a club for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) youth in the Student Union building at Queens College.
Lolai, president of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Alliance (GLASA), saw the words “fag,” “dyke” and others unfit for print written in her place of solace. For many LGBT students at the college, GLASA is the safe haven where they can be themselves.
“I just fell on the floor and started bawling,” said Lolai, 23. “I have never felt that sort of hatred at Queens College towards us before.”
After involving campus police, the city police were called, and the 109th Precinct’s Hate Crimes Unit responded.
Behind one of the larger paintings, the word “dyke” was fashioned with the club’s purple duct tape. Under another painting, the word “dike” was punched in with a pin, one hole at a time. Lolai speculated that the people who did this took their time to write the slurs in several media. The different spellings of the word “dyke” suggest that there were multiple individuals involved, Lolai said.
“The way whoever did this . . . makes it a lot more terrifying,” said Lolai. “Thinking about someone sitting there and poking the wall is really creepy and really scary.”
James Robinson, communication director for GLASA, initially found the words “No fags” written behind a poster that listed the club’s rules.
Trent Carroll, 18, felt physically ill at the discovery.
Carroll and Jenn Polish, another GLASA member, searched the room for more slurs.
Lolai would not have been as disturbed if the words were out in the open. Instead, they were carefully crafted, hidden behind deeply personal pieces of art. On Lolai’s oil painting depicting strength through unity, “dike” was written on the reverse side of the canvas. The painting also represented the struggle that LGBT people face, Lolai said. In dealing with her identity, she said she was hospitalized for a year in high school, suffering from anorexia and bulimia.
“Those are the words – ‘fag,’ ‘dyke’ and ‘tranny’ – they’re the last words that people hear when they’re beaten to death,” said Lolai.
City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, himself an openly gay man, condemned the vandalism.
“Sadly, tragically, there are still ignorant people in the world,” said Van Bramer.
Calling GLASA a “very strong, visible LGBT student group,” Van Bramer asked QC students to stand against the hate.
President of QC James L. Muyskens stated that the college does not tolerate homophobia or any kind of harassment.
“I assure you that anyone found to have committed such acts on our campus will be held accountable. The tragic rash of suicides nationwide by gay youth who have been bullied is a call to action to all of us to make sure that this kind of conduct ends,” Muyskens wrote.
Lolai said that there is usually someone in the office. Most of the club members left the space to host the AIDS quilt that came to the college on Wednesday, December 1, which was also World AIDS Day. She believes the perpetrators would have had an opening at that time.
There are several security cameras in the basement of the building, where the clubs are situated. However, there are none in the area where GLASA’s space was located. Since the incident, GLASA has moved to a new room.
5. The Washington Post, December 30, 2010
1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071
'Don't ask, don't tell' has been repealed. ROTC still shouldn't be on campus.
By Colman McCarthy
Now that asking and telling has ceased to be problematic in military circles, ROTC has resurfaced as a national issue: Will universities such as Harvard, Yale and other Ivy League schools be opened to Reserve Officers' Training Corps since colleges can no longer can argue that the military is biased against gays and therefore not welcome?
The debate reminds me of an interview I conducted over parents' weekend at the University of Notre Dame in 1989. I sat down with Theodore Hesburgh, the priest who had retired two years earlier after serving 35 years as the university's president. Graciously, he invited me to lunch at the campus inn. During our discussion, he took modest pride at having raised more than a billion dollars for Notre Dame, and expressed similar feelings about the university's ROTC program. More than 700 student-cadets were in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Few universities, public or private, had a larger percentage of students in uniform then. The school could have been renamed Fort Hesburgh.
When I suggested that Notre Dame's hosting of ROTC was a large negative among the school's many positives, Hesburgh disagreed. Notre Dame was a model of patriotism, he said, by training future officers who were churchgoers, who had taken courses in ethics, and who loved God and country. Notre Dame's ROTC program was a way to "Christianize the military," he stated firmly.
I asked if he actually believed there could be a Christian method of slaughtering people in combat, or a Christian way of firebombing cities, or a way to kill civilians in the name of Jesus. Did he think that if enough Notre Dame graduates became soldiers that the military would eventually embrace Christ's teaching of loving one's enemies?
The interview quickly slid downhill.
These days, the academic senates of the Ivies and other schools are no doubt pondering the return of military recruiters to their campuses. Meanwhile, the Pentagon, which oversees ROTC programs on more than 300 campuses, has to be asking if it wants to expand to the elite campuses, where old antipathies are remembered on both sides.
It should not be forgotten that schools have legitimate and moral reasons for keeping the military at bay, regardless of the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." They can stand with those who for reasons of conscience reject military solutions to conflicts.
They can stand with Martin Luther King Jr. and his view of America's penchant for war-making: "This madness must cease," he said from a pulpit in April 1967. Even well short of the pacifist positions, they can argue the impracticality of maintaining a military that has helped drive this country into record depths of debt. The defense budget has more than doubled since 2000, to over $700 billion. They can align themselves with colleges such as Hobart, Earlham, Goshen, Guilford, Hampshire, George Fox and a long list of others that teach alternatives to violence. Serve your country after college, these schools say, but consider the Peace Corps as well as the Marine Corps.
Will the Ivies have the courage for such stands? I'm doubtful. Only one of the eight Ivy League schools - Cornell - offers a degree in peace studies. Their pride in running programs in women's studies, black studies, and gay and lesbian studies is well-founded, but schools have small claims to greatness so long as the study of peace is not equal to the other departments when it comes to size and funding.
At Notre Dame, on that 1989 visit and several following, I learned that the ROTC academics were laughably weak. They were softie courses. The many students I interviewed were candid about their reasons for signing up: free tuition and monthly stipends, plus the guarantee of a job in the military after college. With some exceptions, they were mainly from families that couldn't afford ever-rising college tabs.
To oppose ROTC, as I have since my college days in the 1960s, when my school enticed too many of my classmates into joining, is not to be anti-soldier. I admire those who join armies, whether America's or the Taliban's: for their discipline, for their loyalty to their buddies and to their principles, for their sacrifices to be away from home. In recent years, I've had several Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans in my college classes. If only the peace movement were as populated by people of such resolve and daring.
ROTC and its warrior ethic taint the intellectual purity of a school, if by purity we mean trying to rise above the foul idea that nations can kill and destroy their way to peace. If a school such as Harvard does sell out to the military, let it at least be honest and add a sign at its Cambridge front portal: Harvard, a Pentagon Annex.
Colman McCarthy, a former Post columnist, directs the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington and teaches courses on nonviolence at four area universities and two high schools.
6. Bangor Daily News, December 30, 2010
P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402-1329
Former ROTC cadet: Repeal ends the lies
By Matt Wickenheiser
For Neal Snow, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy was a step forward.
President Bill Clinton initiated the policy in 1993, allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military, as long as they remained “in the closet.” While don’t ask, don’t tell, or DADT, tacitly OK’d gays in the military, that was not the case before 1993.
Before that, military applicants had to sign forms acknowledging that they were not homosexual.
It was that form that changed Snow’s life.
In 1992, as an Air Force ROTC cadet at the University of Maine, Snow told his commanding officer he was gay, and was subsequently dismissed from the program — technically for lying on the form about his sexual orientation.
Snow publicly came out of the closet with a press conference on the steps of the university’s Memorial Union, where he talked about his dismissal from ROTC. His story made regional and national news.
“Do I wish things had been different? Absolutely. I do dream about being in the military a lot. When something is taken away from you, you do miss it. It was my peak; I was having a great time, I was doing really well,” Snow said. “Unfortunately, at the time I was coming to terms with my sexuality, and that was at odds with the policy.”
In a recent interview with the Bangor Daily News, Snow said that, at the time, he was struggling internally, while trying to show a brave face publicly and share with the public how this policy was discriminatory. “I could have easily not made it public — I could have been discharged and quietly slipped away,” said Snow, now 39. “I didn’t want to lose the opportunity to try to make a difference.”
Looking back, Snow doubts he had any real effect on the national debate over gays in the military. But, he said, it’s possible a few people heard his story and “maybe opened their eyes a little bit.”
Snow, who grew up in Sebago, joined ROTC in the second semester of his freshman year at the suggestion of a friend. He took to the military system, enjoying the efficiency of the Air Force organization and the way everyone worked as a team in a structured environment. Then, as a senior, he was in training to work on a student crisis help line. One of the presenters talked about the challenges of being a gay student, and his friends taking the training with him kept talking about how they didn’t know anyone who was gay.
Snow told them he was gay. Within a week, he came out to his commanding officer.
“It’s all about being able to live with yourself,” Snow said. “I couldn’t live with myself being quiet and hiding.”
When Clinton started DADT the following year, Snow was heartened. It meant gays could serve, and “you didn’t have to sign the form, you weren’t a liar.” Further, the policy was meant to be a transition to full and open acceptance of gays in the military. Clinton, at the time, talked about making that transition in a year.
Snow didn’t think he could reapply to the military because the core reason for his dismissal was that he lied on a form. But he knew the situation would improve for gays in the military.
“I knew it would get better later,” Snow said. “I didn’t know it would take 20 years.”
So what happened?
“We had Republicans in office, that’s what happened,” said Snow, who said he used to be registered in that party, but quit over what he saw as anti-gay stances taken in George W. Bush’s presidential bids.
First, Clinton had to contend with a Republican Congress. Then the White House was Republican for two terms. Then President Barack Obama took office, pledging to end DADT. An effort led by Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman made that a reality earlier this month.
“It’s shocking. I still don’t understand it completely,” said Snow. “’I understand that it’s the right thing — it’s just surprising it happened.” Collins and Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, were two of eight Republican senators who joined with Democrats to repeal DADT.
Snow said he never met with any of his elected officials when he was a UMaine student. Snowe was a sitting congresswoman, and was elected to the Senate in 1994. Collins was first elected in 1996.
In a statement, Collins pointed out that more than 14,000 people were discharged from the military under DADT. She called the loss of those service members “especially disturbing” at a time when the military is stretched thin.
Collins said she decided to fight for the repeal based on testimony from some of those service members, as well as on conversations she had with Chick Rauch, a retired Navy rear admiral from Glenburn, and Dugan Shipway, a retired rear admiral and former president of Bath Iron Works, “who gave me compelling first-hand knowledge that dismissing brave, dedicated, and skilled service men and women because they are gay is wrong.
“The bottom line is we should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable of serving our country,” Collins said.
According to Collins’ office, once the president, secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that the military can function with the DADT’s repeal, former members of the military who were dismissed under the policy are eligible to re-enlist.
Snow today has been legally married to Dean Haspela for six years in Massachusetts, where he works as a professional in the retail field in Boston. He thinks the average gay person in the military just wants the change to happen quietly, without chaos.
He sees this change in the military as leading the way in society. When the military integrated blacks and whites, he said, it became a model for implementation in real society. The same thing will happen with gays serving openly, he said.
“I just want people to absorb this change, let it happen, see that the world doesn’t end,” Snow said.
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