By Letter to the Editor
After commenting on last week’s article “Union receives 4 out of 5 stars for LBGT climate,” Abigail Cable ‘10 was asked to expand on her thoughts about the controversial issue surrounding campuses across the nation. This response is her own, and does not reflect the views or opinions of the Concordiensis.
When I graduated last June, I thought my days of writing litigious Concordy articles were over. But when asked by an editor to respond to last week’s front page story about Union’s LGBT climate, I knew I couldn’t pass up one last opportunity to stir up controversy on the campus I wreaked political havoc on for four years—if for no other reason than to get people talking about this important issue.
I don’t think it would be accurate to say that this article was written from a “biased” perspective. I think “unaware” is a better word. At any elite liberal arts school, there’s probably an underlying assumption that receiving “5 out of 5 stars for LGBT climate” is inarguably a good thing. This article was clearly predicated on the idea that achieving a 5 out of 5 was the goal. My guess is that the author didn’t intend to push any sort of pro-gay perspective on his readers; I just don’t think it occurred to him that there are two sides to this issue.
Union “only” received a 4 out of 5 because it has “insufficient ‘gender-neutral’ housing options and a deficient insurance policy, which does not provide coverage to transgender students for hormone replacement therapy and other procedures.” Some Union students might be surprised to find out that outside of Union’s liberal bubble, these issues are actually considered controversial. Personally, I’m glad that Union doesn’t have sufficient gender-neutral housing options or an insurance policy that pays for hormone replacement therapy. I would not feel comfortable in that sort of environment and I don’t think it’s out of line for me to feel that way.
This article focused more on issues relating to transgender students rather than lesbian, gay, or bisexual students. I wonder if the author realized that, at least as far as I know, Union doesn’t have any transgender students! The article talked about the insufficient resources Union has for issues relating to transgender students, but this information isn’t just speculation; it’s completely irrelevant. I understand that the author didn’t conduct the survey, but it would’ve been helpful (maybe even instinctive?) to point out these facts.
And while the author maybe could have made a semi-legitimate point that Union’s policies deter transgender students from attending Union, he didn’t mention that—he just talked about Union’s supposedly discriminatory policies towards a group that doesn’t even exist on campus.
I don’t think it’s fair to group transgenders in the same category as gays and lesbians, especially in a study like this. I live in the notoriously gay-friendly city of Washington, D.C. and while I don’t think twice when I see a same-sex couple holding hands walking down the street, a drag queen may force me to take a second look. For better or for worse, it is much more common, socially acceptable, and mainstream to be gay rather than transgender. I don’t doubt that gays face discrimination on this campus—but that’s the conversation we need to be having rather than wasting time and resources talking about Union’s nonexistent transgender population.
I found it laughably ironic that this article didn’t include interviews with any male students. (This is a different issue, but it was also drawn to my attention that all but one of the female students interviewed are in the same sorority). An article focusing on gender identity on campus that only interviews female students is not what I would consider journalism—and especially not front page-worthy journalism.
Abigail Cable ’10