Handbook of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Administration and Policy

By Wallace Swan | Go to book overview

12

Coming Out of the Ivy Closet

Improving Campus Climate for GLBT Students, Faculty, and Staff

Beth Zemsky

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.


I.

INTRODUCTION

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) students, faculty, and staff have always been a vital part of the history of American universities as teachers, scholars, student leaders, athletes, and staff members. GLBT people have added richness to the academic community by our presence. However, throughout this history, persistent homophobia and heterosexism manifested themselves in occasional incidents of blatant discrimination, harassment, or violence and in more frequent subtle incidents of exclusion, marginalization, and silence. This environment, which was not always a hospitable climate for GLBT students, faculty, and staff to learn, work, and reach their full potential, also stilted scholarship, teaching, and outreach in the pursuit of knowledge about GLBT lives.

The past decade witnessed the rapid increase of university task forces investigating GLBT campus climate issues and the creation of professionally staffed GLBT centers on many campuses. The work of these task forces and resource centers contributed to significant changes in higher education administration for GLBT faculty, staff, and students. GLBT issues are now being discussed on many campuses in ways they never have before. These changes include expansion of supportive GLBT policies such as the adoption

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