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04/19/2007


Gay College Student Talks About Being Out in a Mississippi Fraternity: VIDEO

Douglas Kennedy

Douglas Kennedy of Millsaps College in Jackson, MS was interviewed by Christian Hendricks for a video project called "South of the Ohio" about his experience of being an out gay man in a fraternity. Being a liberal arts college, Kennedy didn't experience any particular harassment or discrimination, but subtle anti-gay attitudes, such as the pervasive use of "faggot" as a generic insult, tainted a lot of spoken and email conversations between fraternity brothers.

Matters escalated when a friend of Kennedy's sat in on an open meeting of the fraternity and wrote about some of the attitudes she saw there for a long-form article for class that was eventually published in the school newspaper. The fraternity itself was especially irate at how the expose would make them look bad.

You can watch the interview with Kennedy AFTER THE JUMP...

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South Carolina House Votes to Financially Punish Colleges That Assigned Gay Books

The South Carolina House refused on Monday to restore book purchasing budget cuts assigned to College of Charleston and University of South Carolina Upstate after the two institutions of higher learning taught literature dealing with homosexual content. Totaling nearly $70,000, the cuts reflect the amount of money the institutions spent on buying texts for the freshman class this year. Some saw the cuts as censorial attempts to limit what can be taught in colleges, while the majority argued vehemently that teaching Alison Bechdel's Fun Home and a book about an LGBT radio station, Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio promoted "a lifestyle" that they do not agree with.

Gildacobb-hunterAssociated Press reports:

When it comes to public colleges, legislators should be debating funding and building construction, not "pushing our own moral agenda on these institutions of higher learning," said Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (right), D-Orangeburg.

"Are we saying we don't trust the college students enough to expose them to something they may not have seen before? We can't let you read anything other than what we believe?" she asked. "What about the notion of freedom to have different views? Isn't this what we go all over the globe fighting for?"

Some thought, however, that making the books mandatory reading took it all a step too far.

GarrysmithRep. Garry Smith (right), whose subcommittee made the reductions, said he wanted to make a point after college officials declined to give students an option to read something else. He said he wouldn't oppose the books if they were part of an elective course. He called it promotion of a lifestyle.

"Freedom comes with responsibility. These universities did not act responsibly," said Smith, R-Simpsonville.

Rep. Wendy Nanney, R-Greenville, said opponents of the cuts argue for a diversity of ideas but don't want to consider conservatives' viewpoint. After House Speaker Bobby Harrell rejected Smith's suggestions to project illustrations from "Fun Home" on the House screen, Nanney said, "It's not appropriate to even put up in this room but we're giving it to 18-year-old kids?"

Sadly, it might just be that Representatives Smith and Nanney are less mature than the "18-year-old kids" who read the texts.

College of Charleston President George Benson said the university is committed to academic freedom, and any university education must include the opportunity for students to engage controversial ideas...

"Our students are adults, and we will treat them as such," Benson said. "Faculty, not politicians, ultimately must decide what textbooks are selected and how those materials are taught."


Drew University Baseball Player Comes Out as Gay To His Team

Kaplon

Visibility of gay athletes increased one notch further last Sunday as Matt Kaplon, baseball player for and student of Drew University, came out of the closet to his teammates. Inspired by the story of gay NCAA basketball player Derek Schell, Kaplon credits him with saving his life and said of his own coming out,

Everyone tells me that college is supposed to be the best four years of my life. I've had a great time, but for three and a half of them, I've been hiding things and not being the real me. Building friendships and meeting people and with my teammates, they know part of me but I finally feel like I want them to know everything. I want to be me 100% and make sure they know I'm not hiding anything. I'm ready for that. I'm ready to start not having to hide.

Kaplon was welcomed warmly by his team and congratulated on his decision to come out. Even his coach, Brian Hirschberg, was proud of him.

He's as close to a family member as anyone I've ever coached. He's like a younger brother to me. When Matt shared his story with me, I respected him more, if that's even possible.


Education Secretary Orders Equal Treatment of Gay Couples in Federal College Loan Applications

ArneduncanOn Friday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan (right) announced plans to treat same-sex and opposite-sex married couples the same in the eyes of the law regarding federal college loan applications. Students, and parents, who have married their spouses in any state where it is legal can now receive the same loans as their heterosexual counterparts, and the loans will be recognized throughout the United States (even if the school one attends is in a state where same-sex marriage is not recognized). 

Salon reports:

“We must continue to ensure that every single American is treated equally in the eyes of the law, and this important guidance for students is another step forward in that effort,” Duncan said in a statement...

“As students fill out their FAFSA this coming year, I’m thrilled they’ll be able to do so in a way that is more fair and just,” Duncan said, using the financial aid application’s acronym...

Friday’s move is the latest from the Education Department to be more helpful to students in same-sex marriages or with married gay parents.

This is an exciting step in providing sound and equal treatment by the federal government for all Americans. As a college student, I and my family are thankful for the loans we have been able to receive; it is important that anyone seeking higher education can do the same.

Check out the Department of Education announcement here.


Eastern Michigan University Football Coach Regretful After Being Fired For Rant, Gay Slur: LISTEN

Ronenglishfired

Ron English, the now-former Eastern Michigan University football coach, has expressed regret over a furious tirade against his team that took place in October and included a gay slur, among other expletives. The blow-up was recorded (likely by one of the team members) and sent to school officials who confirmed its authenticity. They also verified that the rant was among the reasons for English's dismissal. 

The Detroit News reports:

“I received a tape of a situation in which Coach English had addressed the team and used wholly inappropriate language,” Eastern athletic director Heather Lyke said in the statement Saturday.

“We hold our coaches and staff to high standards of professionalism and conduct and there is no place, particularly in a student environment, where the language is appropriate. The statements made by Coach English are absolutely unacceptable. My decision to make a change in leadership of our football program was the culmination of a lot of factors including the comprehensive review of our program, the competitive performance and this tape.

In an interview with the AP, English seemed particularly regretful about his usage of the gay slur, and he hoped that this incident would not impede the continuation of his career elsewhere.

The Journal Gazette reports on that interview:

“As a man who has coached 21 years, obviously, on this occasion and particular meeting, I lost my poise, got upset and used language that was inappropriate, particularly as it pertains to homosexual slurs. I regret that,” English told the AP in a telephone interview Saturday, hours after the school released a statement explaining why he was fired the previous day.

“I apologize to the university for putting it in this position and tarnishing its reputation. I look forward to continuing a career that has been marked by molding men of integrity, passion, and intensity for 21 years.”

Listen to the (censored) outburst, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Colorado College Defends Use Of 'Queer' On Job Application

ColoradoCollege

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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