To some, colleges and universities are “ivory towers” isolated from the larger society. A closer look shows that this country’s academic institutions are reflections of our larger society, struggling with the same social issues and prejudices. Lorri L. Jean, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
The Spinnaker, a News Source from the University of North Florida, released an article reporting an incident which involved a transgender student who was assaulted and verbally threatened by a male in a campus bathroom. The report red-flagged the failure of the UNFPD to release a Clery report. The incident took place February 6 of this year and was reported to the UNFPD on February 7th.
It isn’t unusual to hear that police are poorly trained in handling cases of LGBT assaults nor unusual to hear of agencies, such as Victims Advocacy and LGBT groups reporting the way these types of incidents (as what happened February 6) are often minimized or dismissed. The article stated that Chief Strudel’s response was “it is rare and therefore, we aren’t going to do anything about it.” However, there were concerns expressed by Strudel that his statements were taken out of context when I spoke with him this afternoon. As someone who works as an advocate, activist and photojournalist on LGBT issues, my first reaction in reading this statement in the Spinnaker, was “Is this an accurately recorded statement?” My second reaction was to seek clarification since any incident involving an assault on campus would warrant a Clery report. If you aren’t aware of what a Clery report is, know that it is a set of federally mandated guidelines for universities. The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (20 USC § 1092(f))is the landmark federal law, originally known as the Campus Security Act, that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. The law is tied to an institution’s participation in federal student financial aid programs and it applies to most institutions of higher education both public and private. The Act is enforced by the United States Department of Education. Clerycenter.org
Both Title 9 and the Clery report serve to protect students on campuses, so to have guidelines in place and not follow the protocols would be an act of non-disclosure and not serve in the best interest of the population who are most at risk for hate crimes. Strudel denied that he stated that the case was not a hate crime and in fact, insisted that he kept having to correct the reporter. Strudel stated that the reporter took things out of context. A similar complaint by Kaitlin Legg, when I spoke with her earlier this afternoon, was that she had to repeatedly correct the reporter on a number of statements taken out of context. Legg is acting director of the LGBT Resource Center.
According to the article, the cameras were not checked by the campus PD. Strudel stated that initially when the report came in on February 7, the day after the crime, some of the details were not available, such as where the crime took place nor the name of the victim. Once the PD received this information the Communications sector on campus reviewed the footages. According to Strudel not all the cameras on UNF campus are updated; some are around 7 years old and are analogs and clarity is an issue. Dr. Thomas Serwatka, VP at UNF, emphasized the concerns he and President John Delaney had regarding the delay in releasing the Clery report and investigated the falling out with the campus procedure as soon as they learned of the article in the Spinnaker. Strudel stated that he recognized that he should have released this report immediately, regardless of not having all the information and felt he was protecting the student. Serwatka stated that UNF does not tolerate hate crimes nor non-disclosures of these incidences and are implementing protocols to ensure that procedures are followed regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity and expression of the individual. The UNFPD is now implementing the procedure for all cases of assaults and had released the crime report later this afternoon. News coverage on First Coast News took place this evening at 11 p.m on the released crime report.
“There is a lot of brokenness in the Gay community” once said a friend of mine during a conversation we were having on his porch about what life is like inside our borders. Eventually, I would have to agree with him.
There are many individuals who, as children, did not have their emotional process affirmed or accepted, because of parents and caregivers being dismissive of their gender identity/expression or fluidity during their growth and development; a painful journey for many and certainly one, in which anyone who has gone through it in their childhood, leaves residual, emotional scars.
Brokenness can be seen within our borders with the use of drugs and alcohol; measures to self-medicate are not all that unusual. Brokenness can be witnessed among those who are religious addicts who have swapped out chemicals for religion. Then there are those who are unable to stop the G-d talk or giving lectures to the point of saturating and driving everyone away; compromising friendships.
Another friend once said “We have allies who try to convince us that they are our best friends and have our best interests at heart. Don’t believe all of them.” She was referring to outside of our borders and in particular, referencing straights who claim to be allies, because they happened to like gays. What does it take to be an ally for any cause? Isn’t it good enough to like gays?
Good allyship requires training and education on the culture the ally supports. Allies who do not seek proper training and education fail to understand the dynamics, the history of how critical issues played a force in the human rights movement and they won’t know how to hold a conversation if the translation of language is not well understood, so in seeking information it is equally important to speak with individuals who are able to translate the gay language. Speaking on issues which affect the rights of a human population requires having the conversations, being able to participate in dialogue and agreeing to remove all caution and stop signs and signals in order to keep the dialogue flowing and moving forward. Once censoring is employed traffic jams occur and the conversation stops; imploding the process. We welcome allies who are schooled, but we run from those when we see the damage that was done because they failed to understand their position on issues affecting the oppressed group.
“Straights who think they can speak for the LGBT and who claim they give LGBT a voice is somewhat insulting”, said another friend of mine. “We have a voice. We aren’t heard because they don’t want to hear what we have to say. Big difference!” We hear the expression Giving Voice, a lot.
Do people realize how this is perceived by those, whose voices are never heard, because they either are not invited to the table or if they are they are overshadowed by the greater force? Do people realize that when they speak out on behalf of the marginalized group that this is still not really giving the individuals of the oppressed group their voice? Do they not realize that the more they speak out, swapping places and swapping expressions, which originated with the oppressed group, that they are partaking in silencing the very group to whom they should be giving the stage?
Another friend of mine said this … “They don’t really respect us; if they did then they would ask for our insights and knowledge on the subject.” We see LGBT human rights groups send in straights to serve as leaders and role models for LGBT organized action as if the LGBT movement for decades has never had any experts in this realm.
LGBT see B.S. a mile away. We recognize mixed messages in a heartbeat. We see patronizing behavior coming before the person finishes delivering. This stems from years of marginalization, having to identify sublimable behaviors and messages. When we witness this within organized groups for action we see the writing on the wall.
My personal accounting, living as a gender fluid queer, has been agonizing – while at other times – liberating when I surround myself with other queers who understand the language and the power in words to help raise awareness of a subculture within a culture. When we are prevented or reminded of who we are through messages from well-meaning straights that sound something along these lines, … “Why do you have to talk the gay stuff all the time?”; we realize we don’t have the same rights to joke or have access to conversations unless they are heteronormative. The conversations are driven down a one-way street. The traffic only flows in one direction. To cross over into other lanes of identities and discussions becomes a hazardous endeavor.
I can talk the gay talk, walk the gay walk, live and breath the gay who I am, but only if I am with gays. This privilege is not extended to me once I cross into the hetero world of those who practice living heteronormative lives as cisgenders in a binary world. I have watched the gay community agree to the limit setting imposed on them by cisgenders.
Even in our gay community, we have people who don’t want to move away from heteronormative roles. It is perplexing to me how someone can be gay and be so closed off to the rest of the gay culture. These individuals are equally as guilty as those who refuse to listen and learn about the gay cultural movement.
My friend was correct. We are a broken community inside our borders, but we are also witnessing the brokenness outside of our borders from cisgender allies who insert themselves, uninvited and challenge our gender non-conforming behaviors, swapping the language and describing those who are gender benders and non-conformists as aggressive and angry while they would herald these qualities in cisgender men, challenge these qualities in women and the LGBT.
Privilege is a lovely thing to have, but it is only lovely when you recognize it and appreciate having it. It is an ugly thing when it becomes a power struggle, leads to entitlement and superiority; egomaniacal individuals who need their egos fed at the expense of another end up serving in roles as predators looking for a host on whom to feed and in the end serve only their own best interests.
If we could just stand up for each other, be kinder and forget what it will do for our popularity, we would actually get somewhere to civil and the world might be a better place for all of us. It must start with language and not just a few words as this would abandon the rest of the gay culture. A lesson which could easily apply to any oppressed group.
Bring out the dictionary and let the lesson begin with words.
For more information on good allyship please select the link below.
Here are some arguments why political correctness doesn’t have a place in public discourse. For those who spoke on bill 2012-296 at the city council hearings last year, reports came in that there was an attempt at censorship by some of those within our borders who served on the Jacksonville Committee for Equality, including manipulative control by city council members in undermining those who, as LGBT, spoke out about abuse and threats they had encountered over the years. One of the city council members compared the LGBT to citizens living in Egypt. Whether anyone at the time realized it or not, the insults weren’t just directed to LGBT in Jacksonville, but were also directed at Egyptians; Kimberly Daniels, one of the city council members stated she had heard that some of the Egyptians practiced bestiality and necrophilia; implying that gay people did the same. The outrage could be felt throughout the room and while there were many unkind and untruths spoken, ranging from some of the city council members to those in the audience, the LGBT voices seemed to be nullified in the eyes of those who were homophobic. The rules had to be followed and anyone who spoke at the city council hearings had (3) minutes without uninterrupted time by either party from the audience, which wasn’t always a practice adhered by some of the city council members. Much debate ensued on whether or not the LGBT were presenting favorably as citizens. Destiny children had their theories and those who had impressions based on absolutely very little historical fact and mostly false rhetoric were determined to lead the process under the assumption that political correctness would nullify any negative perceptions.
The measure to pass the bill failed as did the amended bill.
Two of the city council members, Denise Lee and Warren Jones voted in favor of the bill which encompassed the full inclusive language and if passed, would have protected LGBT; the watered-down version failed a 10-9 vote.
It became quite evident that the arguments presented weren’t enough. Very little focus was placed on statistics from valuable sources, such as Centers for American Progress (CAP), SAGE and GLAAD, including our local organizations, such as JASMYN; the civic leaders who spoke up didn’t present economic arguments other than to say “It is the right thing to do”, and while that may be what the LGBT and the community of their allies believed, it wasn’t a sentiment shared among mainstream Jacksonville. Civic leaders could have easily presented measured data to support the need to vote in favor of bill 296.
Reports came in from a few individuals that the civic leaders took measures in their own hands, moved through matters very quickly, barring very little time for educational measures by those who were well equipped to dialogue about the differences in the bill and the proposed amendment, causing the Committee for Equality to lose control of the process.
Hours of deliberation and months later, the community of LGBT felt betrayed and angered for a number of reasons. The discussions among those who talked about the process complained, they had been misled by those on the inside who served on the Jacksonville Committee for Equality. The Jacksonville Committee for Equality defended themselves and felt they had lost control – despite the well-intentioned efforts of those who spoke out on behalf of the bill. The LGBT community learned too late that the fully inclusive bill had been replaced with the amended version and was told that every measure would be taken to include the full inclusive language at another time. Historically, this has failed as what happened in Orlando some years ago and what had been pointed out by Equality Florida’s executive director, Nadine Smith and Joe Saunders who now serves House District 49 in Florida.
The transgender community felt deceived and for good reasons. The population of transgender persons runs the highest risk for homicides, worldwide and according to GLAAD, 45% of reported hate murders were Transgender women.
The LGBT community didn’t have any idea what had happened last year and by the time anyone had bits and pieces of various versions passed on down, the LGBT and some of the allies lost faith in the process, which brings us currently to the same concerns; the newly formed committee has some hoops through which to jump if they are to win back the trust of those who felt marginalized and thrown under the bus.
Is it any wonder why the transgender community of Jacksonville was angered by anyone from within the borders agreeing to the proposed amendment? Those from within the borders claim they did not see this coming and expressed heartfelt sadness over the shift that occurred. Will they be in control this time around?
When the LGBT could not have their feelings validated without being viewed as negative by even those from within the borders, they experienced what many victims experience, trauma. Claims were heard that they were blamed for having negative views and therefore, would somehow affect the political platform and took the criticisms personally. Some of these individuals will not speak out for fear that they will be verbally attacked.
In defense of the LGBT, not one individual was prepared to hear city council members pass degrading remarks at those who reported incidences of being fired because of their sexual orientation, or whose property had been vandalized. The LGBT who reported the incidences were led to believe that their behavior (simply for having a sexual orientation other than that of heterosexuality and gender nonconformity) caused the vandalism and were the reasons for losing their jobs. What would this mean for heterosexuals who are gender non-conforming? How many of these individuals have experienced marginalization? Is anyone listening? Does anyone care enough to ask these questions within this population who might be mislabeled as gay and who were denied equal opportunities?
Lastly, the LGBT were angered by political correctness enforced upon them within their borders. One such individual, Professor Steven Lance Stoll, spoke up and challenged the city council members on why they were following a book written back in the Bronze age. Did any of the city council members vote against the bill and the watered down version because of their religious beliefs?
Currently, there are nine city council members who were honored at First Baptist Church for heeding FBC advice to vote against the bill. Please visit YouTube for more information on FBC honoring the city council members. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJxO0D4d9Fo.
The Witherspoon Institute on August 13, 2013, published an article on Dissecting Public Discourse written by Stella Morabito who points out that the problem with political correctness, or PC, is that “we all perpetuate political correctness when we succumb to the fear of contradicting PC” truth.”
What happens in groups? Is it normal to witness self-assignments without any votes being cast? What makes some of these individuals privileged? Granted, some of the individuals now have experience from which to draw that they did not have last year. Will they listen to those who raise concerns or are they more concerned, once again, about behavior, personalizing the criticism received by those who do speak up or raise concerns?
I was one of these individuals who was told that I am half cocked because I called people to task and asked a lot of questions. I removed myself from the committee after realizing that my voice would not count and was viewed as politically attacking and inappropriate, even though, I raised concerns based on rumors circulating from last year and public comments made by the LGBT. My overall concern with the process is will the floor communicate with the committee? Will those who question the process encounter repeated harassment with emails calling for private one on one meetings. Will they be accused of being half-cocked?
Morabito talks about psychological manipulation and its correlation to suppression. “If we think of PC as bacteria, suppression is like the dark room and the culture required for the bacteria’s growth and replication.”
She refers to suppression as one of the twins while the other is “saturation”. Morabito dissects the outcome and pointedly refers to this as producing an illusion that shifts public opinion by heavily saturating them with an impression, ‘opinion cascade’ as she calls it. The outcome? Regulating opinions of others. Politicians understand twin processes well enough to know that it results in “shaping public opinion and the political process.” according to Morabito.
Morabito writes that in 1999, an article on ‘availability cascade’ was published on a ‘related concept’ in Stanford Law Review where the purpose is to prevent people to think freely and fall victim to practice survival mode for social acceptance.
We have some people within our community who have been successfully silenced in this manner through social isolation and vilified as the enemy by those who might have experienced fear of going against PC.
Some of us watched and observed the toxic effect this had on our community and soon realized that some of the players were classifying themselves as our allies. A rhetorical question some of us had “Are some of our allies dispelling truth?”, and no pun intended here with the use of the label ‘all lies’, but it seems even some of them are propagating the idea that censoring behavior, expression and individual style must meet standards of their idea for PC. Are they correct? Are they suppressing voices within our own borders from the outside? Do they have the right to do so? Who grants them this privilege while we stand by and recognize that even among some of these allies they do not understand the gay culture. It is even more disturbing that within our borders even some of the LGBT want to compare LGBT rights to the black race issues. A black person will tell you that there isn’t any comparison, because the race issue continues to exist in present day. They cannot escape being black. Why then is there this need to continue to focus on the religious argument and play the race card? Why are we not educating the public on the different types of sexual orientations since anyone of any color and creed can have any of the sexual orientations? Is it because the religious evangelists have successfully managed to brainwash individuals from birth through tainted, hateful rhetoric? Isn’t this equally as damaging as any other addiction or is it deliberate and can we call this out as abuse? Isn’t it disturbing when we hear of people raised with fundamental religious views who take their own lives or those of others, because of their sexual orientation?
Morabito points out Cass Sunstein in a chapter of his book titled “On Rumors” 2009, referring to “chilling effect” as a tactic and essentially did everything he could to discredit Obamacare. Could we say this is what FBC and the Family Policy Council attempted?
What is Morabito’s recommendation in all of this? She suggests avoiding isolation and instead, to do the work by having conversations with others in the community in order to build a stronger voice. Morabito writes “if enough people come out of isolation and shed the fear of speaking their minds, a genuine cascade of truth will ensue.”
Social media allows for this opportunity, however, some of the LGBT and allies have been verbally attacked on FB by those who viewed their remarks as negative. Who are these destiny children? Why are they so afraid? Do they really believe that speaking the truth and raising concerns will result in bad outcomes?
To read more about Stella Morabito please refer to her article on Public Discourse. It is an excellent read. The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, and The Human Life Review feature some of Morabito’s articles.
The information pertaining outside of any references made to Morabito’s article does not in any way reflect her views. These are views gathered from various LGBT members in the community who over time have expressed similar sentiments along with the author.