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University Of Texas Fraternity Suspended For Anti-Gay Discrimination - VIDEO

Lambda Phi Epsilon

The University of Texas (UT) has temporarily suspended a fraternity following reports that a student had been denied a bid due to his sexual orientation, reports The Daily Texan.

The UT Austin chapter of Lambda Phi Epsilon is under investigation by its national board after civil engineering senior Diwu Zhou said he rushed for the fraternity this fall but was asked a “derogatory” question in the initial interview process. He said that the interview panel included members of the official UT chapter along with members who ran an “underground” chapter that operated while the organization was banned from campus 2005-2011.

6a00d8341c730253ef01bb0794b2d4970d-800wiThe seven year ban came about after Phanta ''Jack'' Phoummarath, a freshman pledge at the fraternity, was found dead after a fraternity house party.  His body had been defaced from head to toe with tags including “FAG,” “I’m gay” and “I AM FAT.”

The fraternity restarted at UT in fall 2013 and is on probation this year.

Zhou said that when he was told he did not receive a bid, a member of the fraternity told him the reason he was not selected was because he is gay.

Charles Andrean, the fraternity’s national president, said:

“We have received a complaint about the undergraduate chapter, and our priority right now is a full investigation and finding out everything that potentially could have occurred here.”

Phil Butler, sorority and fraternity life advisor for the Office of the Dean of Students, confirmed that Lambda Phi Epsilon is currently banned from conducting any activity on campus but added that he is not aware of an “underground” fraternity organization.

David Chen, business graduate student and officer and media contact for the UT chapter, declined to comment on behalf of the fraternity.

Back in April, a student at the Central University of Florida claimed that he was rejected by the Beta Theta Phi fraternity because he is gay.

As part of their legal settlement following the death of Phoummarath, fraternity members participated in the production of an educational anti-hazing video which you can watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "University Of Texas Fraternity Suspended For Anti-Gay Discrimination - VIDEO" »


University of California to Adopt New Guidelines for Trans Students

  New-UC-President-Janet-Napolitano-600x393

In more good news out of California for LGBT people, the University of California school system will adopt new considerations for its students.

Out of concern for transgender students and employees' comfort, UC will add preferred names to student records and change exisisting single-stall restrooms to be gender-neutral.

Via San Jose Mercury News, said UC president Janet Napolitano (pictured) of this decision:

UC should be the gold standard where these issues are concerned...We want to look at not only what we are doing now, but also in the medium and long term for our students, our staff, our faculty and the communities where our campuses are situated.

The changes come from a new LGBT advisory council Napolitano established in June. The council's next move is to develop proposals for improving employee training on LGBT issues, and to develop a conference to "showcase faculty research into issues of sexual orientation and gender identity."


Obama Mentions LGBT Victims of Sexual Violence at 'It's On Us' Campaign Rollout: WATCH

Rollout

On Friday President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced the White House’sIt’s On Us” campaign designed to heighten the public’s awareness of sexual assault. Working in collaboration with Generation Progress, a progressive political non-profit focused on college campuses, It’s On Us is the latest addition to the White House Task Force on Sexual Assault’s broader initiative to standardize the processes through which rape and sexual assault are reported and addressed in college settings.

In April the Task Force published a 20-page reportd detailing steps that university leadership should take to more effectively engage with their students, faculty, and security personnel in the on-going conversation about rape-culture.

“An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years -- one in five.” Obama said during Friday’s press conference. “Of those assaults, only 12 percent are reported, and of those reported assaults, only a fraction of the offenders are punished.”

Obama made a point of highlighting the prevalence of sexual assault across multiple demographics, adding that while discussion of rape-culture tends to focus on women, men and members of the LGBT community also deserve the same kinds of protections.

“[W]hile these assaults overwhelmingly happen to women, we know that men are assaulted, too. Men get raped. They’re even less likely to talk about it. We know that sexual assault can happen to anyone, no matter their race, their economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity -– and LGBT victims can feel even more isolated, feel even more alone.”

It’s On Us’s emphasis on bystander prevention and encouraging men to talk about their own experiences marks the White House’s future plans to further expand the Task Force’s focus to K-12 schools, representatives asserted.

“Obviously, many of these habits do not begin as young people arrive on college campus – it begins earlier than that,” explained a senior White House representative. “Today’s announcement is a critical part of the administration’s work to prevent sexual assault, but it is not the final step.”

Watch It's On Us's firist video PSA featuring actors Jon Hamm, Kerry Washington, Rose Byrne and others AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Obama Mentions LGBT Victims of Sexual Violence at 'It's On Us' Campaign Rollout: WATCH" »


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.

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