Simon Williamson, columnist with Georgia Voice

Simon Williamson: Our own family values

The polite manners of the South, including the social taboo against speaking about religion and politics, are dashed in some arenas, one of which is in actual politics. I am doing my master’s in political scien...
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Anti-gay Ga. counseling student’s lawsuit dismissed

Jennifer Keeton, a former graduate counseling student who sued Augusta State University for expelling her because her beliefs went against ethical guidelines for being a school counselor, had her lawsuit dismissed on all counts in federal court.

The ruling, by U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall on June 22, said Keeton had no claim to argue that the university was biased against because of her religious beliefs including homosexuality is immoral. As a graduate student in counseling who hoped to be a counselor in secondary schools, Keeton would have to follow the ethical guidelines of being a counselor that included not allowing personal beliefs interfere with judgment.

Hall's ruling upholds the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on a lower court case that also ruled Keeton's lawsuit was unfounded.

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Facing protests over anti-gay policy, Shorter Univ. cancels classes after bomb threat

Shorter University

Two weeks after Shorter University revealed its new Personal Lifestyle Statement for employees, gay staff fear witchhunts, local citizens are planning petitions and protests, and some alumni worry that their degrees will appear less valuable in the eyes of employers.

The campus in Rome, Ga., has canceled classes for Thursday and Friday after a bomb threat this morning, according to the Rome News-Tribune. The threat, which has since been cleared, came as about a dozen people gathered to protest Shorter’s new policy.

Another protest is planned for 10 a.m. Friday on the sidewalk of Shorter Avenue, in front of Shorter University, Rome resident Gary D. Harrell told GA Voice. It is timed to coincide with the inauguration of Shorter President Don Dowless.

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Emory University shines in LGBT Friendly Campus Climate Index

Emory University shines in new LGBT campus indexAtlanta's Emory University has received a 5-star rating in the latest LGBT Friendly Campus Climate Index, according to a media release issued by the university earlier today.

From Emory's Office of LGBT Life: “True to the institution’s commitment to diversity in all its forms, Emory University established a number of policies and procedures that create more access for students of all sexual and gender identities. To better communicate this commitment, President James Wagner was featured in an It Gets Better Project video last spring with a message of strength and hope on behalf of the entire university.”

Emory is also home to some 10 LGBT student and faculty organizations and regularly hosts events specific to the LGBT community.

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Spelman hosts historic summit on black LGBT students

Spelman College hosted historic LGBT summit

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College, jump-started the Audre Lorde Historically Black Colleges & Universities Summit with a compelling bit of trivia.

“As we celebrate our 130th anniversary and founding by two women who lived, themselves, in life-long partnership, it seems appropriate that [Spelman] should be a leader in creating more inclusive environments for our LGBT students,” Tatum said.

That public acknowledgement that Sophia Packard and Harriett Giles, co-organizers of the acclaimed all women’s college, lived as domestic partners set the stage to explore the complex relationships LGBT people share in both attending and working for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Fast forward in time and it is clear how highly publicized incidents like the 2002 beating of a Morehouse student allegedly motivated by homophobia, combined with greater media attention surrounding suicide-related deaths among LGBT youth, have sparked much needed dialogue regarding issues of gender and sexuality at HBCU campuses.

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Spelman College offers summit focused on LGBT issues at historically black colleges

Beverly Daniel Tatum, President of Spelman College

Spelman College will host a summit this Friday, April 29, examining gender and sexual politics at historically black colleges. The summit is being organized by the university's Women's Research and Resource Center.

“The summit is the culminating activity of a three-year advocacy project that engaged 11 HBCUs on the particular experiences of LGBT students, faculty and staff in an attempt to facilitate institutional change that acknowledges, values and respects difference,” Spelman noted on a web page for the summit.

The goal, according to organizers, is to present findings of the advocacy project and discuss strategies for creating inclusive campus environments. There will be four panel discussions, as well as a screening of the film “Bursting With Light” made by Spelman graduate Taryn Lee Crenshaw.

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Breaking the barriers: F to M transgender student athletes

Editor's note: This article was originally published in The Mount Holyoke News and was re-published with permission. To read the original article, click here.

When Kye Allums became the first transgender man to play women’s NCAA Division I basketball this November, the selection spotlighted the controversy surrounding transgender athletes. George Washington University’s official statement about Kye led to multiple news stories and raised questions about existing policies for transgender student-athletes. Currently, most high school and collegiate athletic programs are unprepared regarding appropriate pronouns, locker room etiquette and hormone treatments; the Transgender Law and Policy Institute found that only approximately 300 of 4,000 universities include gender status in their anti-bullying rules. Although NCAA policies prohibit keeping statistics about the amount of transgender student-athletes, the issue is not uncommon.

“[This] is not a new issue, but it’s an issue that’s becoming more and more comfortable to bring up. Even just coming out as trans is easier than it was 10 years ago,” says Merric, who began her career at Smith College as a woman but after coming out as a man spring semester of freshmen year, changed his name from Meredith.

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Emory students take time out to remember World AIDS Day

AIDS Quilt on display at Emory University

Caroline Stokes and her friend, Tonni Blount, sat on the top floor of the Dobbs Student Center at Emory University, finishing up their lunch of soup and chatting about the end of the school year.

The noise of dozens of other students could be heard in the background as they all carried on intimate conversations. But listening closely, a monotone voice could be heard through the others reading a list of dozens and dozens of names.

The names were of people who had died of AIDS, part of the university's World AIDS Day program on Dec. 1, that included a display of some 40 AIDS Quilt panels in the student center. A total of 80 panels were on view throughout the campus in various buildings.