“The Advocate,” a national monthly magazine that caters to the lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender community, recently listed Temple in its annual college guide of the top 100 colleges and universities across the nation that best suit the needs of LGBT students.
“The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students” ranks a college or university based on policies, academic life, housing and safety when judging which campuses are adequately equipped for LGBT students.
Based primarily on its lack of LGBT housing themes, Temple’s Gay Point Average, “The Advocate’s” gay-friendly system of scoring, was 12 out of 20.
While current housing applications at Temple list ‘male’ or ‘female’ as gender options, ‘other’ is not listed as an option. This can exclude androgynous or transgender students, or students who do not consider themselves to be any gender.
Associate Director of University Housing Kevin Williams said that this was a political matter that’s widely debated on campus communities.
“It’s just not a matter of changing the form, it’s a matter of what is the current culture on our campus,” Williams said. “It’s not just a matter of putting the ‘other’ on [the forms], it’s what does that mean and what then do we provide for the student?”
Currently, the university does not have specific housing for LGBT students, however Williams said the university hopes to incorporate more campus living options for LGBT students without discriminating
against or singling out these students in the future.
“If a student comes in and puts ‘other’ or ‘[transgender]’ in there, do we provide them with a single?” Williams said. “Then our concern would be are we then isolating that student by themselves and not letting them have the same experience?”
Williams said that University Housing
strives to accommodate LGBT students
by every possible means it can.
“We provide our student staff, [resident
assistants] and our professional staff with diversity training,” Williams said. “Within that training, LGBT issues are covered. To what extent? I would say it’s still a 101 [level]. We still have a lot of room to do more work.”
“The Advocate College Guide” listed another reason for Temple’s low score, which is the absence of a resource center for LGBT students. Pennsylvania State University and the University of Michigan currently have these types of centers.
“In absence of a full-time staff member,
we’re not able to provide a more constant presence, so I can definitely see us losing some points in that area,” Tom Armstrong, president of Common Ground, a student-run organization for LGBT students, said.
Some of the other reasons for Temple’s
low score are the lack of efforts to recruit LGBT students to enroll and the lack of specific safety programs designed for LGBT students.
With the emergence of LGBT-oriented student activities and incorporating an LGBT minor in the College of Liberal Arts that teaches the political,religious and sociological studies of sexual orientation, Williams said Temple is trying to change that.
Armstrong said he feels that Temple is above most other institutions in that it academically supports a safe environment for LGBT students.
“I’ve worked over my past four years as president of Common Ground with numerous different administrators, ranging from Resident Life to Student Activities, all the way to former President David Adamany,” Armstrong said. “Several other administrators have also been very supportive.”
Officially, Temple has a non-discriminatory
policy incorporated that specifically
denounces discrimination against students based on their sexual orientation.
Statistically, in the past year, there were very few complaints filed with the Campus Safety Services regarding crimes against LGBT students.
“In my five years at Temple, I can think of three instances where I have been made aware of a serious issue between
students,” Armstrong said. “In each of those instances, something was done very quickly with very heavy involvement with Temple Police and very heavy involvement
from the administration.”
Maya Davis can be reached at email@example.com.