Editorial: Efforts towards campus tolerance lack effectiveness

With this week’s Stop the Hate Unity Rally and the upcoming Coming Out Day photo and list, the issue of tolerance on our campus is coming to the forefront. With so many students and faculty members signing the Coming Out Day support list in honor of the national day, it seems that our campus is as liberal as Oberlin. But in reality, there’s still a lot of acceptance lacking.

Based on sexual orientation, or even perceived sexual orientation, students are often cast aside or not included in group projects or campus organizations and activities. This exclusion isn’t necessarily an open and obvious thing, but rather a lack of inclusion. Students don’t go out of their way to keep from interacting with LGBT students, but they also don’t go out of their way to ensure those students attend an organization’s social event.

This problem also arises from the LGBT group itself. The group often seems so close-knit that it’s impossible for an outsider or a heterosexual to finagle his way in. The common room at Fran’s House is as exclusive as any fraternity house or sorority suite on campus. With this attitude coming toward straight students, it’s hard for the majority of campus to find a way to fit in with this smaller group, making them hesitant to improve relationships.

Even within the LGBT community, the problem of acceptance still exists. Not all LGBT students feel comfortable within the organization and often don’t participate in the group’s activities or interact with its members. This feeling of exclusion within a group that people feel they should be close with is just unacceptable on a campus that’s moving toward the acceptance of diversity.

Regardless of the issues, the University, its groups and its students are continuing attempts to raise awareness, include more students and interact with the full campus body. It’s commendable that one professor came out to his students during class on National Coming Out Day last year. The English department’s use of the pronoun “zie” is a much more all-inclusive reference term starting to be recognized nationally. The addition of gender neutral housing to this year’s selections gave many students the chance to live with whomever they choose, regardless of biological sex. Even the inclusion of the issue of sex vs. gender is becoming more widespread in courses around campus; psychology, anthropology and sociology classes are all taking the plunge and providing students with a forum to discuss and gain a better understanding of sex and gender issues. With these types of changes happening across campus, there’s a good chance that in a short time, acceptance and typical interactions between the straight and the LGBT communities will become the norm.

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