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Colorado College Defends Use Of 'Queer' On Job Application


Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado has come under fire due to its use of the word "queer" on a job application for a position recently posted on the college's website.

When asked to fill out the section "Voluntary Demographic Data" the application lists five options under "Gender": Not disclosed, Male, Female, Transgender or Queer. John Kichi, a gay Pennsylvania man, brought attention to the college's use of the word after applying for the position of Database Specialist at the school.

ColoAs The Denver Post reports, Kichi was none too pleased with the college's use of the term: "I couldn't believe it. I thought I was going to have a stroke," Kichi said. "It's totally from the Dark Ages...If them including it on applications isn't against the law, it should be." However, Colorado College views the matter differently, believing that offering "Queer" as an option when it comes to gender identity is actually an inclusive move that should appeal to the LGBT community:

As far as Colorado College is concerned, using the term on applications is "intended to represent the college's commitment to and acknowledgment of diversity related to gender," according to a statement from the school. "Colorado College is very much committed to diversity, and is very open about sexual orientation."

The school's office of Minority and International Students uses the following definition of queer in its training: "An umbrella term describing people who have a non-normative gender identity, sexual orientation, or sexual anatomy—includes lesbians, gay men, bisexual people, asexual people, transgender people, intersex people, etc."

While the school acknowledges that the term is used as a slur by some, it adds: "Others have reclaimed it and are comfortable using it to describe themselves."

Still some have been quick to point out that the term may be polarizing depending on a person's age:

Kichi, who was angry enough to send a complaint to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, is 66 years old.

Charles Irwin, the executive director of Colorado Springs Pride, a gay rights organization in the city, said that Kichi's age may be the reason behind the differing viewpoints.

"Queer is a challenging word, a word that's in transition," he said. "But today's youth embraces it very well."

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  1. I haven't heard too many people using it as a slur. More often than not, it's it word that people have been using to self-identify. I agree that people who are more likely to react badly to this are older generations. They won't change it because a significant number of people self-identify as "genderqueer."

    Posted by: Phillip | Nov 9, 2013 10:07:23 AM

  2. Unlike many in my generation I have evolved along with the meaning of the word "queer". I have watched it move from a slur to an empowering affirmation of self. Colorado College (I live in Colorado Springs) is absolutely committed to diversity and furthering understanding in the community. I would ask everyone to take this opportunity to evolve with the word. - Queer when it wasn't cool.

    Posted by: Diane | Nov 9, 2013 10:20:33 AM

  3. "An umbrella term describing people who have a non-normative gender identity, sexual orientation, or sexual anatomy—includes lesbians, gay men, bisexual people, asexual people, transgender people, intersex people, etc."

    Um, "non-normative?!" Escuse me but straight people's orientation is "non-normative" to me.

    Posted by: JerzeeMike | Nov 9, 2013 10:22:06 AM

  4. "five options under "Gender": Not disclosed, Male, Female, Transgender or Queer." Are those supposed to be mutually exclusive? How absurd to treat "Queer" as a gender.

    Posted by: Joel | Nov 9, 2013 10:22:41 AM

  5. Yes, the use of the word "queer" is a personal choice and how you view the word, whether positively or pejoratively, is also a personal choice. However, the college is misguided in its use. It's offensive when an impersonal thing like an institution uses it, and the college's response is also ageist. Equally egregious.

    Posted by: Sean Maloney | Nov 9, 2013 10:23:22 AM

  6. Uhh.. there are people out there who identify as gender queer. The people objecting to this just sound ignorant.

    Posted by: JMC | Nov 9, 2013 10:25:38 AM

  7. The school really should have been more precise by genderqueer since queer is used to describe ones non-normative sexuality as well. Twenty-five years after Queer Nation, I have a hard time believing that Kichi is unaware of the terms current use. By saying "I almost had a stroke" he parodies the figure of the grumpy old man.

    Posted by: Eugene X | Nov 9, 2013 10:27:28 AM

  8. I should add that having "transgender" as an option removed from male and female seems really strange, though..

    Posted by: JMC | Nov 9, 2013 10:28:49 AM

  9. I think it is time someone pop their ivory bubble - the word is hardly "reclaimed".

    Of course if there were a section on race, ethnicity and/or religious affiliation on their application form that includes other "reclaimed" words I might argue differently - but I very much doubt that this is the case.

    The linked article states that a representative of the college claims the questions "is akin to determining if someone prefers to be known as black or African-American". They are fooling themselves. While not exactly analogous, it is MORE along the lines of asking if someone prefers to be identified as black, African-American or N*****.

    I am not opposed to the use of the term Queer across the board, but I do find it telling that its most vocal supporters tend to be those whose spot on the LGBT spectrum is furthest away from the ones to whom the slur is traditionally used.

    Posted by: Canadian Observer | Nov 9, 2013 10:30:39 AM

  10. The Q-word is a slur, and even those who argue that it isn't a slur have to concede that it's slang. Not appropriate on any kind of job application or application for membership!

    This, as well as the rank falsehood that only "old folks" reject the Q-word, is yet another attempt by a hipster elitist clique to shove this highly polarizing term down everybody's throat. It's as asinine as telling Black people that they should approve of the N-word because it's been "reclaimed". I agree . . . words like "queer" and "n*gger" are indeed being reclaimed, by the dumbass types who coined them in the first place! And unfortunately, dumbassery is in very much in vogue nowadays.

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Nov 9, 2013 10:37:13 AM

  11. Canadian Observer.. no black people identify their race as the N word. Tons of LGBT+ people identify as queer. Your attempt to force a comparison between the two honestly just reads as ridiculous.

    I don't like queer being used as a blanket term for LGBT+ people because many still have a problem with the word, but it's a valid personal identity and I'm sure it's wonderful for genderqueer students to receive proper representation on something like this when they basically never do otherwise. Just tick the box that applies to you and stop trying to rob others of being able to do the same.

    Posted by: JMC | Nov 9, 2013 10:38:39 AM

  12. Yeah I'm not on the queer as an umbrella term bandwagon. I probably never will to be honest.

    Posted by: Derrick | Nov 9, 2013 10:41:18 AM

  13. There are full-on "Queer Studies" courses and even majors at many colleges/universities across the nation, and have been for up to two decades now…what rocks have people been living under?

    Posted by: shanot | Nov 9, 2013 10:50:41 AM

  14. Empowering affirmation of self? It's a synonym of "strange" and "abnormal," and I am neither.

    Posted by: Joey Y | Nov 9, 2013 10:54:12 AM

  15. I have a problem with the word. i remember it being used by bigots when I was growing up. Yes I'm an old man, but if the young want to use it, fine, just don't call me it.

    Posted by: terryp | Nov 9, 2013 11:03:47 AM

  16. Queer is fine... please for the love of god stop referring to me as LGBTXYZABCEXOXO

    Posted by: Homo Genius | Nov 9, 2013 11:08:55 AM

  17. Wait... its under GENDER????? WTF.

    Posted by: Homo Genius | Nov 9, 2013 11:10:29 AM

  18. lol, it's a liberal arts mental meltdown.

    Posted by: jeo | Nov 9, 2013 11:17:15 AM

  19. even though, I am older, the use of "queer" on a formal job application is inappropriate and could be construed as a negative..........

    Posted by: Bernie | Nov 9, 2013 11:17:50 AM

  20. When did gender evolve/devolve into what one's sexual orientation they identify with? Gender has nothing to do with whether you're gay or straight.

    Posted by: Joseph Singer | Nov 9, 2013 11:18:27 AM

  21. Maybe in New York, maybe in California or some of the other bastions of 'progressive' thinking the word "queer" or "a queer" may be used to refer to one of us.
    Let me assure you all that in Europe if you call this gay - or any gay- 'a queer' you get a dig in the face.

    Yeah @ SHANOT,we are living under rocks because we will not be called queers; yeah, @JMC, we're all ignorant because we won't have 'queer' studies.
    Yes, the word 'queer' is a slur, it has always been a slur; and some of you trying to talk yourselves into a cocked hat will not change that.
    And all the dressing up of the word in your PC dialectics still leaves the word quacking like a duck.
    We have the word 'gay'......that took long enough to get the radical-seekers don't know when they have a success. Accept it; we will never allow the word 'queer' to describe who or what we are.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Nov 9, 2013 11:21:11 AM

  22. I didn't say anything about queer studies? I said it's ignorant to not realize there are people who identify as genderqueer, which it unquestionably is. Neither Europe nor your personal feelings about the word are are at all relevant to the gender identity of people in Colorado and obviously should not keep people from being able to identify themselves as they are on a job application. No one's making you tick the queer box, Jack.

    Posted by: JMC | Nov 9, 2013 11:29:37 AM

  23. "Queer" has been in popular use with the queer community for almost thirty years. Thirty years! It is so completely common and accepted that colleges frequently use it in class and study titles. This is beyond old news.

    In this instance, it's used in relation to gender, because you are being asked to voluntarily state if you are genderqueer, which is a very common and accepted gender identification of how a certain culture identifies their gender.

    This is not even progressive on the part of the college. They're only keeping current with the times and reality. Unfortunately, it's not the least bit surprising that an elderly gay man was offended by it.

    These kids and their damn "queer"!

    Posted by: oncemorewithfeeling | Nov 9, 2013 11:34:17 AM

  24. Some people identify as Queer (as a gender identity and/or a sexual orientation). Why should Colorado College be condemned for giving people the option to voluntarily identify themselves AS THEY CHOOSE??

    This Kichi character needs to get a grip. If he doesn't self-identify as queer, then he doesn't have to. No one is making him!

    Posted by: Lars | Nov 9, 2013 11:40:35 AM

  25. Typically , "queer" is not used as a gender, though--as JMC pointed out--some people identity as gender queer. Some older people who distinctly remember queer mostly or only as a slur are, not surprisingly, not fond of it being adopted by our community. Certainly, queer studies and the non-pejorative use of queer--on collage campuses but not only--have been around long enough for anyone to understand the change in usage, even if they don't like it.

    The College's use of it was clearly not from the Dark Ages or intended as an old slur sneaked in among the other terms. That Kichi thought it was means he's out of touch. I wasn't born yesterday, but it doesn't bother me at all and hardly should inspire a stroke.

    Posted by: Ernie | Nov 9, 2013 11:45:21 AM

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