Homosexual studies beat budget cuts

By David BobbJunior, Hillsdale College, Reprinted from Campus magazine, Winter, 1995

May 1995 –Much has been reported about the homosexual rights movement in 1994, a year celebrated by homosexuals as the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in Greenwich Village, the first major public demonstration by the gay community. What has not been reported, however, is the “queering,” to use their own term, of American colleges and universities, a revolution currently being effected in earnest and with almost universal success.

This movement to change the sexual climate of the college campus seems to contradict social and economic trends in two primary ways. First, there is the consistent move towards using such programs as a bludgeon to batter the free speech rights of non-gay students who do not endorse the gay political agenda. And second, gay programs are expanding exponentially at a time when budgetary cuts and routine staff firings have become necessary for many American universities to maintain their financial stability.

Under the guise of seeking “equal rights” for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, often self-described “queer” activists have invaded academia. Their agenda includes not merely obtaining equal status and “civil rights,” but special privileges. As the Chairman of Northeastern University’s Committee on Diversity and Community put it: “We believe that diversity isn’t something that you should tolerate. It’s something that you should promote.” Such promotion goes far beyond mere toleration, as Northeastern’s recent decision to actively recruit gay and lesbian professors demonstrates.

Northeastern’s decision was premised on the belief widespread among homosexual leaders that gays are discriminated against and under-represented in higher education. Without providing evidence to establish the purported discrimination or under-representation, homosexual activists merely decry heterosexist hegemony, and demand recompensive justice. Administrators’ capitulation is often manifest in special and exclusionary programs and services established under the rubric of “equal opportunity.”

A 1989 report at Rutgers University, entitled “In Every Classroom: The Report of the President’s Select Committee for Lesbian and Gay Concerns,” urged the implementation of special accommodation and treatment of homosexuals, which has manifested itself in several ways over the past five years.

Homosexuals at Rutgers proclaim their “queerness” at “Coming Out Days,” celebrate their “outing” at “Kiss-ins” in the quadrangle, live in “gay friendly” residences, do research in the gay archives, work at the campus gay hotline, enroll in various gay and lesbian studies courses (one of which is called “Beyond Heterosexism”), and after graduation join the Gay & Lesbian Alumni Association.

The Annual Lesbian and Gay Studies Conference was held at Rutgers in 1991; the school’s “Select Committee” provided for an assistant dean for homosexual students; “belittling comments” about homosexuals are banned; and freshmen must attend sensitivity training where they watch a pro-homosexual video entitled “A Little Respect.” Thus does Rutgers abrogate the legitimate free speech rights of straight students while it procures special privileges for homosexual students. As the Washington Times phrased it, Rutgers’ efforts ultimately entail “making straight students like it or else.”

Apparently, straight students must not only like it, but pay for it as well. At Rutgers, tuition and mandatory student fees fund homosexual programs from which the majority of students derive no benefit. At the same time, New Jersey taxpayers are required to subsidize a shrill minority. Nevertheless, homosexual student leaders are still not satisfied. Students at Rutgers responding to a nationwide survey conducted by The Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Students’ Guide to Colleges, Universities, and Graduate Schools rated Rutgers’ policy as “between proactive and noncommittal.” Apparently, whatever action is taken in favor of the homosexual college community, it will never be enough; as one gay professor said in Radical Teacher magazine: “Ask not what we can do for the academy, but whether it can do anything for lesbian and gay people.”

American academia has willingly obliged: Rutgers’ preferential policies and programs are not unique. According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, more than 150 colleges and universities maintain policies prohibiting discrimination based on “sexual orientation.”

At many schools, including Pennsylvania State University, straight students requesting room changes because their roommates are homosexual are denied reassignment. However, there exist special gay-lesbian-bisexual dorm “corridors” and gay “theme” dormitories at institutions such as the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and many campuses in the University of California system .

Special offices like the University of Florida’s Committee on Sexism  and Homophobia have been established by universities around the nation, ostensibly to combat discrimination. The University of Minnesota’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Transgender Programs Office offers significant grants to students who would like to “participate in extended experiences of ‘immersion’ in human differences.” At public institutions such as the University of Minnesota, it is taxpayers who foot the bill for these expenditures. At Columbia University, $200,000 has been set aside for scholarships awarded to students active in gay concerns on campus.

Such expenditures come at a time when many institutions, public and private, are slashing budgets. At Stanford University, the main student union saw its annual budget reduced by almost 25%, while the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community Center retained its full budget. The funding decision was rendered after a Center staffer issued a veiled threat, querying whether the homosexual activists would be “forced to take over [Stanford] President Casper’s office if our community center is taken away.”

At Indiana University, a battle raged last spring over the proposed opening of a Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual (GLB) Center. Citing the existence of funding programs for GLB activities at seven other Big Ten schools, OUT, Indiana University’s GLB Student Union, decided to establish its own center, at a cost of $50,000 to students and taxpayers. The authorization to fund the center was made without the Bloomington Faculty Council voting on the measure, and without the trustees being notified of the decision.

The Bloomington chancellor’s unilateral decision to fund the center drew widespread criticism. The president of Indiana University’s Board of Trustees, citing the division produced by the center’s special funding and the inadvisability of such an expenditure during a time of “budget shortages,” opposed the decision to fund. He was joined by an Indiana state representative, who noted that 17 other representatives were upset by the decision, all of whom questioned the educational relevance of the center.

The granting of special privileges to gay students and faculty extends beyond financial benefits to the realm of the thoughts and beliefs of straight students. For example, the University of Michigan’s “Student Guide to Proper Behavior” grouped “failure to invite someone to a party because she’s a lesbian” with racist threats. New York University Law School students refused to debate a moot-court case about a hypothetical divorced lesbian mother attempting to win custody of her child, because arguing the negative side of the case would be damaging to gays. These changes in institutional approaches to the issue of sexual diversity are not limited to the Ivy League, or to schools in traditionally liberal regions of the country.

In April, 1992, the Social Work Department of St. Cloud State University, located in central Minnesota, issued a statement which, in the name of protecting the homosexual minority, violated the rights of social work students to freedom of speech and religion. The self-proclaimed “gatekeepers” of the Social Work Department declared: “It is simply not acceptable for social workers to view homosexual people as perverse or as sinners....” Given specific admonition to reconsider their decision to enter social work were students with “strong religious backgrounds.” Ignoring those students whose religious convictions hold that homosexuality is aberrant behavior, the policy statement went on to say, “We can expect from social work students that they both recognize their homophobia and commit themselves to learn more about [it].”

Forced to remove the specific reference to religion by threat of a lawsuit and the actions of a student group called Students Advocating Valid Education, the department nevertheless did not abandon its presumption of homophobia among students. Such an attitude is not exclusive to St. Cloud State, but actually undergirds the burgeoning field of gay and lesbian studies, sometimes referred to by its proponents as “queer studies.”

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force estimates that there are “close to fifty” programs in “lesbian/gay studies” in the United States. Approximately “600 scholars working in gay and lesbian studies” are listed in the Directory of Lesbian and  Gay Studies, published by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the University of New York and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that though “recently regarded as marginal or too risky, gay and lesbian studies programs have moved from the sidelines to the center of academic publishing.”

There are even national conferences devoted to “queer studies.” In November, 1994, the Sixth North American Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Studies Conference was held at the University of Iowa with a theme of “Inqueery, InTheory, InDeed.’’ Papers presented at the conference included “Peter Pan or Pervert?” and “Producing Queer Sex Space Theory.” Panel discussion topics included “Butch Rage: Daggers, Dykes, and Daddies” and “Lesbians and the Law.”

Despite the explosion of gay and lesbian studies, gay scholars continue to lament the supposedly deplorable state of “queer studies.” One scholar states that “gay and lesbian studies has gained no more than a toe-hold in the academy.” Insisting that “Queer Studies” should not be ghettoized, another scholar demands that gay academics “must infiltrate every aspect of every curriculum.”

As legal scholar Roger Magnuson notes, “The issue is not whether rights have been infringed. The issue is whether rights, not previously recognized, should be created.”