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As College Enrollment Dwindles, Schools Aim To Attract Growing LGBT Student Population

CampusPride

University enrollment is slowly dwindling--perhaps because of exorbitant costs and student loans--but a 2013 study from the Pew Research Center shows that twenty, smack dab in the middle of college, is the average age at which LGBT persons are coming out in America. Many schools are perking up their ears, then, and realizing that as attitudes change about sexual orientation in the United States, LGBT students who feel comfortable expressing themselves will need more support and resources available to them than ever before.

Time reports:

“It’s a competitive advantage,” says Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, one of the nation’s first on-campus support centers for LGBT students. “If you want to attract the best and brightest students, you don’t want competitors to get a leg up.”

A growing number of campuses are launching programs to attract and hold onto LGBT students, including college fairs aimed at LGBT applicants, LGBT student-support offices, special graduation ceremonies, and housing and healthcare for transgender students. Colleges and universities are also putting more resources into LGBT student centers, including by hiring full-time employees to direct them.


With Campus Pride and The Princeton Review tracking the level of LGBT-accessibility and friendliness at campuses around the country, it is easier than ever for students to pick and choose the schools they apply to based on criteria specific to sexual orientation. Over 400 schools have taken Campus Pride's index survey, says executive director Shane Windmeyer.

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c6d8d5ca970b-200wi“Campuses today want to be called gay friendly,” Windmeyer says. “They see they’re going to lose students if they’re not, [and] realize the pool of non-LGBT students is dwindling.”

Josh Bergeleen (right), a gay recent graduate of Emory University who found more support from his school's LGBT resources than from his family in Texas, agrees that schools will realize the tide is changing soon enough.

“As there is more awareness of LGBT [people] in the larger community,” he says, “more and more kids are going to want to know what resources and information are available. Schools will catch up.” 

(Photo of Bergeleen via Time.)


Mills College Becomes First All-Women's School to Welcome Transgender Students

Mills hall

Yesterday, Mills College in Oakland, California, became the first all-women’s college in the U.S. to openly welcome transgender and gender nonconforming students, reports Think Progress.

Last December, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill providing unprecedented protections for transgender students in the state.

Mills College is one of 119 single-sex universities across the U.S., 48 of which are women’s colleges.

According to Brian O’Rourke, vice president of enrollment and admissions, about three to five of the college’s 1,000 undergraduates identify as transgender or gender non-conforming every year.

The new policy allows for numerous ways to accommodate transgender students while still maintaining an identity as a women’s college:

  • The college welcome any student who self-identifies as a woman, regardless of what sex she was assigned at birth.

  • Applicants “who do not fit into the gender binary” are welcome provided they were assigned “female” at birth.

  • Female students who enroll but later identify as a man may stay and graduate.

  • The policy does not apply to undergraduate students who were assigned “female” at birth but who already legally identify as a man.

Last month we reported that George Fox University in Oregon and The California Baptist University continue to legally discriminate against transgender students.  Under exemptions, George Fox University can legally discriminate against a transgender student who identifies as a man and was refused permission to reside in housing for male students.  In The California Baptist University case, a scholarship student was expelled by the university on the basis of “fraud” after she appeared on a reality television program to discuss her transgender identity.


Oklahoma Lesbian Student Expelled For Marrying Her Girlfriend

Minard

Southwestern Christian University student Christian Minard has been expelled from the Oklahoma college for marrying her girlfriend, reports Religion News Service.

The university is affiliated with the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in Bethany, Oklahoma, which has consistently opposed homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

ASouthwestern christian university oklahomas part of her admission requirements, 22-year-old Minard, who is one semester from completing her sports management degree, signed a lifestyle covenant that prohibits “homosexual behavior,” harassment, sexual misconduct, pornography, alcohol, tobacco and other “sins.”

Minard and Kadyn Parks were married on March 17. On July 9, a letter from the university’s vice president Brad Davis, arrived at Minard’s parents’ home, telling her she was being expelled.

The letter read in part:

“I was informed that you recently married someone of the same sex and saw a few pictures from Facebook. Of course, this is opposing to our view as an International Pentecostal Holiness denominational university as well as the Lifestyle Covenant that all students must agree and sign.”

Speaking to The Washington Post, Minard said “other students violate parts of the covenant all the time, but they don’t get expelled.”

Although university provost Connie Sjoberg declined to comment, she cited the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, which prohibits colleges from disclosing information about students, even to parents.

(image facebook)


Eastern Mennonite University Defers Decision On Hiring of Gay Faculty

Emu

Eastern Mennonite University' in Harrisonburg, Virginia announced Saturday that it would defer its decision on hiring gay faculty while the Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) community continued its “discernment of human sexuality,” InsideHigherEd.com reports:

Emu2A formal reversal would have reportedly been a first for any member institution for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, although other Mennonite colleges are having similar conversations about allowing the hiring of openly gay faculty members...

Discussions on Mennonite campuses reflect ongoing debate within the Mennonite Church itself. Because the denomination has a strong focus on social justice issues, many members view its non-recognition of same-sex marriage as incompatible with its identity as a whole. Others still believe strongly and exclusively in the biblical definition of marriage: a union between a man and woman.

Currently, faculty at EMU can be gay but have to be celibate and accept certain tenants upheld by EMU to obtain and keep employment:

During the interview process, candidates have to disclose any objections they have to the Mennonite Church’s Confessions of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, which defines marriage as a covenant for life between a man and a woman. Upon hire, faculty members also have to sign the university’s Community Lifestyle Commitment condemning premarital sex (same-sex marriages are not recognized by the state of Virginia).

Back in the fall, the university’s ban was temporarily lifted as EMU created a ‘listening period’ to engage with its students, faculty and ‘vested’ members—parents, alumni and donors—to help guide its decision. EMU President Loren Swartzendruber said it was a rift in opinions between the students/faculty, who supported lifting the ban, and the vested members, who opposed it, that led to the deferment of any action on the subject. 


Vlogger David Levitz Offers Some Good Advice On How To Be Gay In College: VIDEO

David levitz on how to be gay in college

Back in 2012, YouTube vlogger David Levitz offered advice on how to be gay in high school.

Almost two years later, Levitz is back to offer tips on how to be gay in college.

This time around, he advises that new students should “join student groups and once again not necessarily LGBT student groups” and stay safe when going out to clubs.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Vlogger David Levitz Offers Some Good Advice On How To Be Gay In College: VIDEO" »


Christian College Confiscates School Newspaper with Gay Student's Article: 'Why I Must Live in Fear'

Ventriloquist

Cedarville University in Ohio has undergone substantial administrative changes within the past year, including a new President for Student Life and Christian Ministries as well as no longer allowing male students to be taught Bible classes by female professors.

Cedarville UniversityThe newest development is the abolishment of the latest edition of the student newspaper The Ventriloquist after it ran some pro-LGBT articles, one from a student writing about being dismissed from a variety of student leadership positions and another from an anonymous student asking why he must live in fear at the school.

The newspapers were confiscated before they could be passed out, and the university’s Executive Director of Public Relations, Mark Weinstein offered up the excuse, "Our school has policies for soliciting and [students] need permission to distribute. It was checked and [The Ventriloquist] did not have permission.” The Ventriloquist has been distributed since 2010 without any problems and no changes regarding student publications have been made to the student handbook since that time.

You can read a digital copy of The Ventriloquist with the LGBT articles below

 

UPDATE: Cedarville University's LGBT Alliance Cedarville OUT released a statement condemning the crackdown:

CEDARVILLE, OH, April 29, 2014 – The new administration at Cedarville University, a Baptist-affiliated school in southwestern Ohio, has placed new restrictions on free speech activities on campus by forcibly confiscating copies of the independently-produced student paper, The Ventriloquist. Much of the crackdown by university administrators revolves around the paper’s discussions of LGBT issues and the reality of LGBT students’ lives on Cedarville’s campus. The acts of aggression continue to mount, leaving many students fearing for their safety.

Over the past year, several students have felt forced into leaving Cedarville because of their sexual orientation. Others have felt silenced as the university censures those who offer even a modicum of support to LGBT students. Most recently, copies of The Ventriloquist were torn from the hands of students attempting to distribute it around campus by none other than the University President.

Avery Redic told his powerful story of his time at Cedarville in an issue of The Ventriloquist before he felt forced to transfer. Another anonymous student wrote, in reference to Redic: “I’m in danger. When the university administration chooses to strip a gay student of all his leadership and ministry positions (and he ends up at Wright State) because he’s not sure what he believes on the issue, that’s a problem. It means that for the rest of my time at Cedarville, my status is on the line. I have to live in fear of my own ‘Christian’ community and what they might do to me.”

“The reality of LGBT students at Cedarville cannot be ignored,” says Grant Miller, Cedarville OUT member and former student body president. “It is a travesty that staff at Cedarville are allowing these unchecked aggressions to take place, creating a climate of fear.”

If, as Mark D. Weinstein, Cedarville’s Executive Director of Public Relations, asserts, Cedarville University, “supports free thinking and discussions on topics," Cedarville OUT demands that the papers be returned and that LGBT students be offered a safe space to talk about their lives. Cedarville OUT maintains a presence online where current students, alumni and supporters can read stories and share experiences as LGBT individuals and allies authentically living life against the backdrop of religious confusion, misunderstanding, and aggression—but also with the hope and the exhilarating freedom that comes with authenticity.


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