Homophobia at the University of North Texas

Rainbow flag

University of North Texas students, voting in an online referendum, have rejected the possibility of same-sex couples running for homecoming court in 2010.

The measure was defeated, 58 percent to 42 percent, after a record number of ballots for a student government election were cast in last week’s referendum.

Although most Student Government Association elections have garnered 4 percent or less of the student body vote, 13.5 percent, or 4,895 of the 36,206 students enrolled at UNT, cast ballots in the referendum.

That means that 2,839 students at the University of North Texas voted to uphold heterosexism and maintain homophobia. It also means that 2,056 students at the University of North Texas voted against the homophobic and heterosexist majority.

I hope that this referendum is reversed. However, I do not expect the University of North Texas to be listed in the The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students: A Comprehensive Guide to Colleges and Universities with the Best Programs, Services, and Student Organizations for LGBT Students.

Tennessee schools restore access to LGBT content

Rainbow flag

The default Internet filter setting for the Tennessee state-wide public school system was automatically blocking LGBT-related web content. I’m guessing that Education Networks of America (ENA) does not have a default filter setting for heterosexual-related content. They really could use a filter for heterosexism…

Dozens of Tennessee schools have restored students’ access to online information about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues, just a few weeks after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit against two Tennessee school districts for what the ACLU claimed was an unconstitutional blocking of student access to such sites.

David Pierce, president and CEO of the company that provides internet filtering services to as many as 107 Tennessee schools–Education Networks of America (ENA)–confirmed to eSchool News that his company has adjusted the software to allow access to a variety of educational and political LGBT web sites that were blocked before the ACLU filed its lawsuit.

Continue reading Tennessee schools restore access to LGBT content

Sports Fans and Bigoted Attitudes

via Inside Higher Education: “Research links identification with college football and basketball teams and higher levels of homophobia and sexism.”

Higher education has an image of being among the more tolerant and progressive parts of American society with regard to gender and sexual orientation. Colleges pledge to combat sexism and homophobia — and take pride in a variety of polices and programs that reflect this commitment.

Big-time athletics may be a little different. Even on campuses with large gay student groups, for example, openly gay male athletes are a rarity — and pretty much unheard of in football and basketball. Fans at universities that take pride in their inclusive campus environments think little of taunting Duke University basketball players with anti-gay slurs. At the University of Virginia, students debate why many of them feel obliged to assert their heterosexuality with a cheer at a key point when the song that follows Cavalier touchdowns makes a reference to “gay” (not in the sexual orientation way).

Research presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association suggests a possible reason: College students who are serious about their identification with their institution’s football and men’s basketball teams are more likely than other students to have homophobic and sexist attitudes.

Here’s the abstract from the AERA Annual Meeting presentation:

College athletics, particularly football and men’s basketball, plays a large role in the experiences of students and the cultures of many institutions. A long line of research and theory suggests that athletics is the domain of hypermasculinity, sexism, and homophobia, and this study examines how those values manifest themselves in fans of college athletics. From a sample of 454 college students, identification with the athletic teams at their institutions predicted higher levels of both sexism and homophobia in the students. Implications for practice and further research are discussed.

A lens of -isms

lens of isms

via Luke Sugie – Engineering Social Justice: Why not use a lens of -isms?

A typical tactic I’ve seen deployed against those who bring up issues of race, sex, class, ability, etc. is for the speaker to be accused of “always seeing racism everywhere” or “promoting the feminist/anti-racist/anti-classist agenda” and therefore unable to provide an “objective” critique of something.

This particular tactic has been used against posts on my blog more times than I can count.

Frankly, we should be able to move beyond this stage into the stage where we evaluate the claims people make — all people, feminist, anti-racist or not — by the evidence used to support them, rather than seeking to destroy credibility of the people that proclaim them.

Evaluating claims does not seem to be part of the process (although I deeply wish that it was) for folks who enjoy deploying the “you see it everywhere” trope.

Community forum series

Daily Barometer Community forum series isms at Oregon State University

I was in Waldo Hall about a month ago when I came upon a larger version of this poster. I’m a fan of inverted black and white posters as they remind me of my graphic design days in Chicago.

The poster was advertising a community forum to discuss “isms in media.” I moved a little closer and read the list of “-isms.” Sexism, racism, ableism and classism. Okay, those are all forms of oppression. What? Why was alcoholism on this list? It just did not make sense to me as it did not fit with the rest of the items on the poster. And where oh where was heterosexism? A list of institutionalized oppressions and a disease. I do not understand why alcoholism was included…?

The Daily Barometer, Oregon State University’s student newspaper, has had yet another year where the paper prints something racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. and then attempts to do a better job (usually folks of color start appearing in the photographs on the front page during Winter term). It’s a cycle and the pattern has occurred since I moved to Corvallis in 2004 and became a member of the OSU community. Year after year a student editorial board and their lackluster faculty advisor bring about copious amounts of harm to the community, apologize and then attempt to rectify what happened in the fall. I can understand that student editorial board members come and go, but the faculty advisor remains…

Continue reading Community forum series

Trojan Evolve

Trojan Evolve

“8 per day…
4 for you.
4 for your partner.
40 each week.
Not enough? Maybe you should go to the library or I don’t know maybe you could study or even take a nap…”

This was part of my Wellness Center spiel during each first year student orientation at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The Wellness Center provided free condoms for UIC students. I think we gave out more than 20,000 in 2003. Trojans, LifeStyles, and Durex were our usual fare. Handing out condoms was just a tiny part of the sexual wellness education that came out of the Wellness Center. However, our free condom program was probably the most publicized piece of our sexual wellness educational efforts.

Continue reading Trojan Evolve

I am a silly man

I decided to pop out of my self-imposed blogging hiatus to address a recent comment on my site. It seems that a long-time reader of my blog, Shouting Thomas, has taken a bit of umbrage with, well, I guess my entire site — text and graphics included. According to Shouting Thomas, I am a “very silly young man.”

In order to fully comprehend Shouting Thomas’ comment, I feel that it is necessary to re-write his words as translated by my inner monologue.

For your reference and convenience, I am including the original comment sans inner monologue translations…

Continue reading I am a silly man

Angela Davis

Angela Davis
Angela Davis was the keynote speaker for a recent social justice conference at Oregon State University. The Your Voice, Your Conference: Awareness, Solidarity, and Action explored “how systems of oppression impact our lives and communities.”

I think I have a social justice crush on Angela Davis. More than 1,000 people attended her talk at Oregon State. Two professors from OSU had the privilege of being her students at UC Santa Cruz. Angela Davis could have talked for a week and I think we all would have listened.

Angela Davis‘ talk covered many topics including: historical memory, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Condoleeza Rice, George Bush, Affirmative Action, Diversity, Marriage, Activism, Racism, Critical Awareness and Prison Systems.

Davis talked about the importance of “historical memory” and the Civil Rights Movement. “The figure of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been set aside and isolated and represented as the lone historical figure, so everyone else who participated in the Civil Rights Movement falls away.”

Davis mentioned that she took umbrage with the term “diversity.” She said that “Diversity is difference that doesn’t make a difference.” Her comments were extremely relevant for institutions of higher education. Enrolling students of color, women, students with disabilities, lgbt students, and students with high financial need does not mean that racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia/heterosexism, and classism will simply disappear. However, “diversity” is thrown around as if it’s a magic anti-oppression elixir. Without social justice oriented, anti-oppression oriented, anti-racist oriented educational efforts, diversity cannot affect change amongst members of the dominant paradigm.

Apparently, both Condoleeza Rice and Angela Davis grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Davis mentioned that people often attempt to refer to Rice as her “homegirl” (cue laughter from 1,000 people) because they share the experience of growing up in the Jim Crow south.

According to Davis, “Rice narrates her life as triumph over racism.” Davis said she needs to constantly “disassociate her story” from Rice’s story. “How can I claim my story is a triumph? We’ve won some victories..some important victories…, but from the time I was quite small, I learned from my mother that it was about collective victory…community triumph, not about an individual rising above the rest. Affirmative action was a strategy designed to enable communities to move forward, collectives to move forward.”

I attempted to record her entire talk, but my pda wasn’t working correctly so I have over an hour of audio that I pieced together from 40 audio snippets.
The fidelity isn’t the greatest but the message is amazing.

“The victories that we win are not always the victories for which we fought.” — Angela Davis

Full audio file [mp3]

Heterosexism + Sexism in New York Times

My head just exploded after I read an article in the New York Times entitled “51% of Women are Now Living Without Spouses.” I find this article to be terribly vexing. It is unbelievably heterosexist and sexist.

Apparently, the New York Times’ Sam Roberts believes that marriage is only between a woman and a man. I beg to differ.

The article also contains this gem of a quote from William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution:

“For better or worse, women are less dependent on men or the institution of marriage…”

How can it possibly be “worse” that women are “less dependent on men or the institution of marriage?” My feminist hackles are at their maximum.

Please read the article and then let’s discuss it in the comments.