Discrimination | Education | News

Morehouse College Bans Cross-Dressing Because of Five Students 'Living a Gay Lifestyle'

Morehouse College launched a new dress code this week that is getting a lot of attention. The new guidelines at the all-male college forbid "wearing hats in buildings, pajamas in public, do-rags, sagging pants, sunglasses in class and walking barefoot on campus". They also ban cross-dressing:

Bynum "The dress-wearing ban is aimed at a small part of the private college's 2,700-member student body, said Dr. William Bynum, vice president for Student Services. 'We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men,' he said. Before the school released the policy, Bynum said, he met with Morehouse Safe Space, the campus' gay organization.' We talked about it and then they took a vote,' he said. 'Of the 27 people in the room, only three were against it.' There has been a positive response along with some criticism throughout the campus, he said."

Gaywedding Morehouse was recently in the news for firing an administrative assistant after she sent an email from work computers that reportedly contained derogatory remarks about the photos of a gay wedding.

At the time, Morehouse President Robert Franklin sent out an email about the school's anti-discrimination policies. Said the note: "The views expressed in the e-mail entitled, 'The WTD of the Week,' (September 28, 2009) were the personal views of one individual and do not reflect the values or policies of Morehouse College. Morehouse College has a no-tolerance position on discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the College has taken great strides toward building a diverse and tolerant community. After investigating the matter, the College has disciplined the persons involved in the incident, and one of the implicated employees is no longer with the College. In addition, the College has reminded its staff that the Morehouse e-mail system is College property, should be safeguarded as any other College property, and that e-mails that are discriminatory, inflammatory, or derogatory to any group are prohibited at the College."

Watch CNN's report on the new dress code, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Don't like something? Then just legislate it out of existence!

    What a powerful message for a university to be teaching its students!

    Posted by: elcamino | Oct 18, 2009 10:43:25 AM

  2. I think the part of it that is the most disappointing, is that only 3 out of 27 fellow LGBT (or LGBT friendly) students stood up for their classmates. Such a bizarre incident. Then again, I don't really understand the purpose of all-male universities.

    At the end of the day, it's a private university and they have the right to set a dress-code. Not mush else to say. Private universities are pretty untouchable.

    At least Morehouse isn't kicking out queer students like a lot of "Christian" universities.

    Posted by: Aaron Rowland | Oct 18, 2009 10:56:56 AM

  3. I agree with Aaron.

    But are we talking about cross-dressing, or going around in drag? Two different things.

    Either way, not wearing a dress on campus for 4 years seems like a small price to pay for getting to do away with those horrible droopy pants!

    Posted by: Kevin | Oct 18, 2009 11:05:39 AM

  4. 24 voted for the ban out of a sense of black (heterosexual) solidarity I'm sure. Those three that stood their ground did the right thing.

    Does Morehouse have a policy against saggy jeans and large jewerly and XXXL t-shirts?

    Posted by: Bill | Oct 18, 2009 12:35:51 PM

  5. Bill, if you had read the article, you would see the types of clothing and attire that were banned, of which cross-dressing was only one. And yes, saggy jeans are on the list.
    It's a private men's college, but looks like it's pretty open. They have a gay alliance club on campus, the administrators consulted the gay group before adding the cross dressing ban to the policy.

    How many colleges out there, esp the private ones, even acknowledge that they have gay students, or allow them to be openly gay?

    Private instutitions are allowed to set dress codes. Not that big a deal.

    Posted by: Rolph | Oct 18, 2009 12:55:41 PM

  6. How threatening are FIVE students?! OUT OF 2700?!

    Morehouse sounds like the crazy religious right Ex-Gay movement who believe telling you what to wear and teaching you how to throw a football is what makes you a heterosexual male. Or in this case a proud, strong black male.

    This report is ridiculous. IT'S NOT ABOUT DRESS CODES AT MOREHOUSE BUT GAY STUDENTS RIGHTS BEING TAKEN AWAY. Both the reporter and the guest (proud, professional, bougie, assimilationist types) already made up their minds Morehouse was right and students are wrong so what's the point of the interview? Did we get the other side of the story? Was there any journalism involved? Why no contrasting interview or debate with a Gay student or expert?

    Have Harvard or Yale instituted similar dress codes? Have they felt the need to tell student they can't wear baggy clothes or do-rags? Why is Morehouse SO insecure about black male identity?

    Morehouse and CNN should be embarrassed.

    Posted by: Mark | Oct 18, 2009 12:56:12 PM

  7. Private institutions certainly do have the right to set specific rules for their members. BUT, I do wonder how far that can reach into their private liberties. It seems to me the policy says they can't dress this way in PRIVATE, not just on campus. Am I reading this correctly?

    Posted by: princely54 | Oct 18, 2009 1:03:38 PM

  8. Morehouse has the right to tell its students what to wear, and let's be realistic, the list includes pajamas, do rags, over-sized clothing and no covers while in a building. You don't like the dress code? DON'T GO.

    Clearly the gay students don't think this is an issue.

    Posted by: DR | Oct 18, 2009 2:08:44 PM

  9. Wow. Starting with MLK and Julian Bond, and ending at totalitarian control and bigotry. That's quite a decline.

    And why do they keep calling these students children? They are adults who have paid thousands to go to this place.

    And what is with this biased interviewer? Did someone from FOX escape to CNN?

    Posted by: Randy | Oct 18, 2009 3:03:31 PM

  10. @ DR

    Unlike "pajamas, do rags, over-sized clothing" wearing dresses and cross dressing is not aimed at the ENTIRE student body but:

    1) aimed at a entire class of people

    2) betrays remarkable bigoted ignorance about what Gay people are

    Posted by: Mark | Oct 18, 2009 4:47:15 PM

  11. did anyone happen to watch that CNN Report?
    The Reporter could not have kissed up to the guest anymore with lines like "good to see your tie" "how bad are things now that a school has to go to this level" the reporter is so on the side of the school and doesnt even touch on the cross-dressing angle on this story.
    How can CNN's workers even remotely be called Journalists.
    CNN- #3 and falling.

    Posted by: more haus | Oct 18, 2009 5:23:37 PM

  12. I wish CNN showed as much respect for gay people in this report as Morehouse College did in establishing this policy, although I wish they had not included cross-dressing among other undesirable clothing. It's an all-male college, so it is fair to ask students to dress as men. If dressing as a woman is important to you, you can reasonably be required to choose a campus where women are allowed, especially since your options in that regard are not exactly limited. I have some problems with calling students who dress as women on a daily basis "gay," although I know some people identify that way.

    It's clear that Morehouse is committed to actively discouraging discrimination against gay people from their decision to fire an employee over a bigoted email. Although I share the disappointment that many here have expressed that so few gay students voted against the policy, I think that vote shows that the policy is in keeping with the mission of the campus as it is understood by its gay students. That is ultimately what is most important.

    I have come to have tremendous respect for the way Morehouse is navigating the distance between its tradition and the modern world. I wish all institutions were doing half as well.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Oct 18, 2009 5:55:13 PM

  13. I don't quite understand why traditional African American schools are so opposed to gay and white students. Not only is there this anti-gay stuff but whenever a white student attends the school and receives high honors it is frowned upon. A white girl won homecoming queen at a southern traditional black school and other students and alumni were "outraged" ... Outraged at what? It's ok to have traditions but white racists used to try and use it as an excuse to have their "white-only" functions, too. It's time to move on from this.

    Posted by: KFLO | Oct 18, 2009 6:00:11 PM

  14. The Director of Student Services is a PhD? LOL! I just love how everyone at Morehouse is a "Dr" and addressed as "Dr". Are the janitors and groundskeepers all PhDs too? Even the guest "education contributor" is "DR" Steve Perry.

    "DR" Steve Perry states, "There is no absolute freedom" AS BOTH HE AND TJ INVOKE THE LEGACY OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING??!! I wonder how MLK would feel about Perry's statement "there is no absolute freedom" and TJ's refusal to question that AS A JOURNALIST AND AS A BLACK MAN.

    "DR" Steve Perry equates cross-dressing with being UNDRESSED. How is that relevant or responsible AND how does TJ HOLMES miss that unless he does not care?

    All other parts of the Morehouse dress code were ALREADY IN PLACE AND NOT BEING DEBATED, that includes proscriptions against pajamas, do-rags and baggy clothes. The only thing being debated and added TO the Morehouse dress-code was the anti-Gay cross-dressing part. YET we get NO discussion of that when it is SUPPOSED to be the topic of this report. That is pretty stupid for a whole bunch of PhDs and "DRs" to miss.

    TJ Holmes is such a tool. He argues that b/c MLK went to Morehouse students must dress better. Well, JFK went to Harvard and I don't see Cambridge freaking over cross-dressing. What a bougie tool

    Check out TJ:

    "I was trying to find a way to play devil's advocate on this thing but, man, I am so glad to see this policy put into place."

    I see TJ. Admitting some anti-Gay hatred? Let's just throw journalism out the fucking window and ADMIT on-air during your report, TJ, that you don't give a shit about staying objective and reporting on the RIGHTS of Gay students. Wow. Fuck you TJ Holmes.

    Both TJ and "DR" Steve Perry argue "respect for the campus" of Morehouse is more important than the Morehouse administration's respect for it's GAY students.

    Posted by: Mark | Oct 18, 2009 6:07:09 PM

  15. Contact the anchor if you feel it was too biased:

    Posted by: KFLO | Oct 18, 2009 6:09:55 PM

  16. Thanks KFLO.

    Posted by: Mark | Oct 18, 2009 6:13:40 PM

  17. KFLO,

    Aren't you being biased yourself? You say that traditionally black colleges are biased against whites and gays but don't present any statistical facts to back up your claim. You provide an anecdotal story about one homecoming queen.

    You've also just delivered a blanket condemnation of tens of colleges. That makes you either ignorant of how to argue through facts or maybe just a little bigoted.

    Had you not been so lazy or bigoted, a simple Google search would disprove your assertions:



    The National Center for Education Statistics tracked students, by race, attending historically black schools from 1976 to 2001 and recorded an increase in nonblack students attending the schools over that time.

    In 1976, 9.5 percent of students were white. Twenty-five years later, in 2001, 12 percent of students enrolled at historically black institutions were white. Percentages of Hispanic students in that same time increased from 1.5 percent to 2.3 percent, and Asian/Pacific Islanders from 0.3 percent to 0.8 percent.

    A total of about 285,000 students attend HBCUs every year.

    The trend toward more diverse student bodies can be attributed to both black schools' active recruitment of nonblack students and incentives such as scholarships, smaller class sizes and cheaper tuitions than white schools, said Lezli Baskerville, president of the National Association of Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, an advocacy group for the country's 118 HBCUs.

    Posted by: Mario | Oct 18, 2009 7:08:28 PM

  18. I'm waiting for the comments on those wedding photos.

    Moorhouse sounds like a police state if people get fired over one e-mail, and they are worried about clothes on a few students.

    Posted by: Pete | Oct 18, 2009 7:19:40 PM

  19. Please. Amusing to see the posters on here try their very best to make Morehouse look good by comparing them to others. If Morehouse was a 'Christian' predominantly white (or historic 'white' college the way Morehouse is an historic 'black' college) the venom would be foaming and dripping. What you see here is 'progressives' once again giving one group a pass because they either feel sorry for them or are patronizing them.

    BTW: The Morehouse guy said cross-dressing wasn't a way 'Morehouse Men' should behave.

    As for Morehouse being more gay friendly than other 'Christian' colleges; well, the black elite in our country are connected at the hip with powerful white 'Progressives' who demand African American leadership give at least lip-service to gay rights or they won't support them in other areas. Don't kid yourself; African American culture, based primarily with poor rural southern roots obsessed with 'Honor' and pentecostal, evangelical Protestantism and Baptist, is VERY anti-gay and 'homophobic'.

    Posted by: John in Boston | Oct 18, 2009 7:59:26 PM

  20. And why is 'cross-dressing' always universally associated with homosexuality or bisexuality? I know MANY gay and bi men; NONE are cross dressers, by far most have masculine traits.

    Posted by: John in Boston | Oct 18, 2009 8:05:20 PM

  21. @ Mark:

    First off, give it a rest. Of 2700 students, THREE have a problem with it. As a matter of fact, 24 other gay men AGREED with the policy! that's a pretty significant portion of their gay community.

    Secondly, like I said, if you don't like it, you don't have to go. The college and its students have the right to decide what standards they want to set and how they choose to define aspects of their campus life.

    Thirdly, if this was nothing more than banning thuggish clothing, would any of you even care? Oh, right, no. But because it prevents some guy from donning a dress, the world is coming to an end?

    Get over yourselves. Seriously.

    Posted by: DR | Oct 18, 2009 8:50:34 PM

  22. Do you people realize that Morehouse is an all male school?

    Posted by: justaguynatl | Oct 18, 2009 11:36:27 PM

  23. @ DR

    THREE is NOT a "pretty significant portion of [the Morehouse] gay community." Are you really dumb enough to think the 27 people present at the Morehouse Safe Space meeting represent the entire "gay community" of Morehouse college?! You have NO idea how many faggots either didn't show or simply don't get involved with campus activism.

    That is just like calling someone who is half black a white person BECAUSE YOU CAN'T SEE IT.

    Oh and, DR, banning "thuggish clothing" WAS ALREADY PART OF THE MOREHOUSE DRESS CODE. This story IS NOT about that. So STOP CHANGING THE SUBJECT.

    Banning cross-dressing IS NOT aimed at the entire Morehouse student body. It is ONLY aimed at Gay male students. So, yeah, you're right - if this WERE about banning thuggish clothing, AND IT'S NOT, we would not care as that would be directed at ALL Morehouse students. NOT JUST THE FAGGOTS YOU HATE.

    "...like I said, if you don't like it, you don't have to go."

    You sound like Orville Faubus at Little Rock High School.

    Posted by: Mark | Oct 18, 2009 11:58:23 PM

  24. Ah, the tyranny of the majority.

    Posted by: Bryan | Oct 19, 2009 12:41:52 AM

  25. Ah, the facade of hypermasculinity. This report was dim and uneducational. Morehouse College fears nothing but Morehouse College.

    This institutuion is feeling the heat and this is their retaliation. The students should not be penalized for the actions of one ignorant staff member.

    These adults have chosen Morehouse as their primary choice for higher learning and suddenly their too inept to decided which attire's appropriate for an 8:00am class? You've now reached yet another tipping point Morehouse. What happens next?

    Posted by: Isaac | Oct 19, 2009 4:00:03 AM

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