Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNF Gays Protest Treatment on Campus; They Said They Feel Unsafe and the University Has Not Done Enough to Protect Their Rights

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNF Gays Protest Treatment on Campus; They Said They Feel Unsafe and the University Has Not Done Enough to Protect Their Rights

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH KORMANIK, The Times-Union

Gay and lesbian students protested Wednesday at the University North Florida, describing being spit on, followed home and being told "let me turn you straight" by classmates.

Carrying signs that said "Follow the rainbow to equality" and chanting "Hey hey, ho ho, homophobia has got to go," several dozen students and their supporters gathered in front of J.J. Daniel Hall, the main administration building. They said they feel unsafe on campus and the university has not done enough to protect their rights.

The group is seeking a resource center for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students, an apology from Student Government for what they see as homophobic actions, and a change in the university's non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation.

President John Delaney did not attend the event, which lasted more than two hours. He did send a campuswide e-mail that morning emphasizing UNF would not tolerate discrimination. In an interview, Delaney said the university will investigate the extent of possible discrimination before making decisions about the students' demands.

"What do we have to do to make every student safe, especially those that are gay?" he said. "We have to look at, is there a need to change that policy or not?"

Universities nationwide, including the University of Florida, include sexual orientation in non-discrimination policies. UNF does not, although its Student Government includes sexual orientation in its policy.

Several students at the protest described feeling unsafe on campus.

Sophomore Stacey Brick said a male classmate accosted her on the UNF green after she kissed her girlfriend goodbye. "Let me turn you straight," Brick said he told her. "All you need is a good man."

Another student, freshman Sara Pennington, said she is transferring from UNF to Florida State because people wrongly assume she is a lesbian and call her vulgar names. …

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