Updated: May 3, 2020
This article was originally published as an editorial in The Panther Newspaper, The Student Voice of Clark Atlanta University that provides news to a consortium of 8,000 African-American scholars. The newspaper is not yet digital. For verification of publishing contact: James McJunkins firstname.lastname@example.org
In a growing time of acceptance and understanding, #LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer+) community members are breaking years of historic barriers from equal opportunity by developing inclusionary spaces that acknowledge their existence, particularly in academic settings of higher education.
While social acceptance is growing on a national level, with legeslation legalizing gay marriage nationwide as well as state by state development of anti-discimintory laws against the queer community, LGBTQ+ members struggle primarily on a localized level of acceptance, especially in the tender ages of 13-21.
Nearly 10 percent of all college students in America identify as LGTBQ, according to The Postsecondary National Policy Institute (2017), yet within this stark minority three in four LGBTQ students report being sexually harassed and in fear for their physical safety due to their sexual orientation and gender, annually.
Corresponding with state laws, colleges across the country have begun to develop LGBTQ friendly campuses. Primarily through sensitivity teaching through Title IX, inclusionary dormitories, and providing LGBTQ+ centers as a resource to aid in student’s comfortability on campus.
Despite this, out of the 4,000+ colleges/universities in the U.S., around 200 campuses offer resource centers for LGBTQ students. Within that 200, only 66 institutions are noted as “Top LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges” as ranked by Affordable Colleges Online.
What defines a top-tier instution within LGBTQ acceptance is ranked on clubs/organizations dedicated to LGBTQ students, compliance with #TitleIX, scholarship opportunities, inclusive housing, affirmative statements on inclusivity, gender neutral bathrooms, mental health services, comprehensive healthcare, and sensitivity training for staff/students.
Out of the 66 “Top LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges,” not a single #HBCU placed. This is so as HBCUs are just now increasing LGBTQ acceptance on their campuses, which is due highly in part to the fact that the institutions hold strong religious affiliations. Out of 101 HBCUs in the country, only three have LGBTQ+ student centers.
In 2018, Spelman College and Morehouse College announced their acceptance of transgender students to their insutions. #Spelman’s policy allows for trans-students who “self-identify as women, regardless of their gender assignment at birth.”
While Morehouse’s policy follows suit, they also note that a student is to “self-identify as men throughout their matriculation at #Morehouse. If, during a student’s time at Morehouse, a student transitions from a man to a woman, that student will no longer be eligible to matriculate at Morehouse.”
While Spelman and Morehouse serve as top-tier HBCUs, simultaneously being at the forefront of the inclusionary act of LGBTQ students, merely accepting trans students is the first step of many to become an LGBTQ friendly campus.
Likewise for the co-ed HBCUs that admit students without discriminating against their gender/sexual orientation, yet fail to provide a safe campus environment for them.
HBCUs have a lot of catching up to do in recognizing the levels of marginalization within their student body outside of their racial identity. The creation of these inclusionary spaces lies heavily within both the students to demand reform, and faculty to follow suit.