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.

Expanding Hate Crimes Definition

House Votes to Expand Hate Crimes Definition:

The House voted Thursday to expand the definition of violent federal hate crimes to those committed because of a victim’s sexual orientation, a step that would extend new protection to lesbian, gay and transgender people.

Under current federal law, hate crimes that fall under federal jurisdiction are defined as those motivated by the victim’s race, color, religion or national origin.

The new measure would broaden the definition to include those committed because of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It was approved by the House right before a weekend when gay rights will be a focus in Washington, with a march to the Capitol and a speech by President Obama to the Human Rights Campaign.

via The New York Times

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.

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Jay Smooth: Miss California & opposite marriage


via ill Doctrine

Jay analyzes the inherent patriarchal oppression present in beauty pageants, Renaissance Fairs, Miss California and “opposite marriage,” heteronormative nomenclature, time machines, teleportation, and flux capacitors. Excellent.

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.

Pink and Sexism

University of Iowa pink locker room

The visiting team locker room at the University of Iowa is painted pink. Hayden Fry, the oft-revered Hawkeye football coach, had the locker room painted pink as a “psychological strategy.” A former University of Iowa law professor plans on filing a complaint under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

“I don’t think this is about Hayden Fry or his intention in the 1980s; I think this is about how people understand the locker room in 2007,” said Gaulding, who has since left Iowa and now practices employment discrimination law in Minnesota. “This [is] understood as a funny version of the slur that goes on in athletics about playing like a girl, playing like a sissy” — and worse, she said, the university has perpetuated the insult in “a very official, permanent way.”

“It’s based on a concept of gender hierarchy that says not only are boys and girls different, but more important it’s better to be a boy than a girl; it’s shameful to be a girl,” said Gaulding, who is researching a book on cognitive bias and gender discrimination. “Anyone who’s not deeply in denial understands and acknowledges that the pink locker room taps into this very long tradition of using gender as a put-down.”

via Inside Higher Education.

The sexism within the comments on this article at Inside Higher Education are nauseating. I hope Gaulding is successful with her complaint.

Considering difference

In April I posted some audio from Al Gore’s keynote at the NASPA/ACPA National Conference. This post drew the attention of a certain blogger by the name of Radar. Radar had also attended the NASPA/ACPA conference and he had a few things to say about Al Gore. I love getting comments on my site that differ from my own opinion. This diversity of viewpoints keeps things interesting and forces me to flex my brain cells.

Continue reading Considering difference