LGBT community argues for deeper change in mindset

Students and faculty call for more areas of improvement for LGBT community.

Students talk at the Sept. 19 Purple Circle meeting. Members of the LGBT community have called for more outreach in addition to the new website. ( ABI REIMOLD // TTN )
Students talk at the Sept. 19 Purple Circle meeting. Members of the LGBT community have called for more outreach in addition to the new website. ( ABI REIMOLD // TTN )
Students talk at the Sept. 19 Purple Circle meeting. Members of the LGBT community have called for more outreach in addition to the new website. ( ABI REIMOLD // TTN )
Students talk at the Sept. 19 Purple Circle meeting. Members of the LGBT community have called for more outreach in addition to the new website. ( ABI REIMOLD // TTN )

A week after the LGBT website launched on Sept. 12 in response to the university-wide Gender and Sexuality Assessment, students and faculty expressed mixed feelings about its effectiveness, many arguing the university needs a deeper change in mindset.

While students and faculty generally approved of the website as a first step, many indicated that there are other areas that need improvement.

Dylan Morpurgo, a junior political science major and president of Temple College Democrats, said the location of the website might need to be changed from its current location as part of the executive office of the president’s website.

“I think the new website is in a location that most students aren’t going to see since it’s on the president’s page,” Morpurgo, financial director of Queer Student Union, said. “Maybe a different location would work better.”

Assistant Vice President Anne Nadol said that the website would be kept where it currently is because it covers a widespread area of issues, but it could be moved in the future.

“We didn’t want to put it only in student affairs or only in faculty because it really covers everything. At this point, the plan is to keep it [on the president’s website] since the survey and the survey results came out of the president’s office,” Nadol said.

Women’s studies professor, Siobhan Brooks-King, expressed several concerns voiced by her LGBT-identified students.

“Overall, students I work with reported feeling physically safe, but not included in the campus,” Brooks-King said. “Many of them are not aware that QSU exists.”

There is an assumption that all students are straight, Brooks-King added. Students called for measures that are sensitive when it comes to housing. They recommended gender-neutral roommate choices and gender-neutral bathrooms, the latter being a worrisome issue for transgender students that feel intimidated of using the bathroom assigned to them.

She said students said that transgender issues and gender identity were not discussed in gender courses and classes, like sociology.

“They talk about man and woman, gender equity and wage gaps,” Brooks-King said. “These classes mention that there are only two sexes and that sex is the same as gender.”

Students wish the idea of gender was more sophisticated in terms of how it is defined, she added.

The open dialogue between Brooks-King and her students is the type of relationship that HEART plans to foster among teachers and students.

“Our department is working toward implementing an ally training program across the institution,” HEART Director Kimberly Chestnut said.

The ally training program will allow teachers who support the LGBT community to be identified by students who need to speak about their issues. Allies will be identified through specific designations such as stickers and posters, Chestnut said.

“There are lots of faculty and staff who wish to be identified in that way,” Chestnut added.

This program is considered especially important for those students who are not members of any organization within the LGBT community.

“If you as an individual want to have support from an ally, all you need to do is identify a faculty or staff member who has one of these stickers,” Chestnut said. “They’re wanting to be available to support students in that capacity.”

“What we’ve learned through our own research is that there are three professionals students trust to get health information from,” Diedre Berry-Guy, healthy lifestyles program coordinator, said. “One being a medical doctor or nurse, two being faculty and three being a health educator.”

Both Chestnut and Berry-Guy emphasized the importance of students finding role models in faculty members in order to promote an open and unprejudiced environment on Main Campus.

“People need to start accepting the LGBT community as the norm, not something out of the norm,” Carolyn Thorn, a music therapy major, said. “It shouldn’t be a surprise any more.”

Laura Ordonez can be reached at laura.ordonez@temple.edu.

1 Comment

  1. First of all let’s dismiss the concept of homosexuality/LBGT as being normal. Currently 1.4% of the population considers themselves LGBT (http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2011-05-23-Sex-survey-revelations-on-gay-identity_n.htm ) . The “Normal” distribution for a population represents the concentration around an “average”. 1.4% is a statistical outlier, and far from normal or average. Because the LBGT agenda is in our face all the time we tend to overestimate the population http://www.gallup.com/poll/6961/What-Percentage-Population-Gay.aspx , but actually you are more than twice as likely to be a sociopath (at 4% of the population) than you are to be LGBT.

    Every person is unique, and it is our uniqueness that can be a source of strength and inspiration in life. No one should be persecuted for being different, and everyone who is paying for a service (education) deserves to get what they pay for.

    Temple University’s job is to deliver an education to students who are paying to learn. I understand that learning is affected by each individual’s perspective and each student’s perspective is uniquely their own, but Temple is not a one-on-one instructional institution. When it comes to the acquisition of knowledge, sexual orientation has about as much to do with the learning process as the brand of shoes you wear.

    What is happening here is the exercise of the politics of division and victimization.

    This is about Temple University embracing yet another special interest out of fear of being less than 100% politically correct. This is about Temple University acting as a surrogate parent and students (with the assistance of well funded special interest money) looking to an institution to make societal change. Oh, and if you check, the Gender and Sexuality Assessment you will find that the vast majority of the LGBT population at Temple is “comfortable” or “very comfortable” with the climate and within 10% of the heterosexual student population.

    In college, and with the onset of adulthood, everyone searches for their own identity. Here you have an unfortunate group of students who are being trained to think of themselves as victims. Who knows, maybe Mommy or Daddy didn’t love them enough, or maybe it was their only way to make themselves feel special, but creating emotionally distraught victims out of a bunch of adolescents isn’t exactly a challenge. Now we have the “Special Interest Machine” kicking in, with money & special treatment – all based on their sexuality.

    The Lesson: The louder and more annoying you are, the more benefits you can extort from the university and the more special interest money you can attract. So the goal isn’t about pursuing academic excellence. The goal is about how to create separate but equal segregation because you have to separate yourselves from the rest of the population in order to qualify for your “special” treatment.

    Shut up, go to class, and learn something. Pursue academic excellence. Make a contribution to your area of talent and expertise. Concentrate your efforts on what you can give to society rather than what you feel you deserve to take. Your sexuality is only an issue if you make it one. It is just a shame that so many administrators have made careers for themselves that rely on the perpetuation of our differences.

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