From my sister, to her school paper and student government at University of North Texas, in Denton, Texas:
“October 1, 2009
Dear Fellow Students,
I was recently accepted at UNT as a doctoral candidate in the English department. During a visit to Denton last spring, I was reassured that Denton, and UNT, were “not like the rest of Texas,” or, rather, not like the stereotype of Texas that I might conjure up: repressive, backwards, and rigid.
I was not worried, as I come from a red area in an often red state myself: Cincinnati, OH. And during my time as a master’s student at the University of Cincinnati I saw, thanks in part to the tireless efforts of my brother, Jac, vast changes for the better in University policies regarding the LGTB students and their rights. My brother, who is trans, was in fact elected Homecoming King last year.” [I actually wasn’t, I just ran as an activist statement. Hardly anyone voted for me, but I like that at least in someone’s memory I won. :) ] “…the University is supposed to be a bastion of tolerance and change, dedicated to protecting all of its students from discrimination and, in doing so, serving as a model for larger society…
…It has been brought to my attention that the University of North Texas (UNT) Student Government Association (SGA) has rejected the Homecoming Equality Bylaw, which would allow people to register for consideration as Homecoming King or Queen, regardless of gender. Further, the reasons given for this denial involve sound quite suspicious: LGTB students are not a large enough population to merit “special consideration”. Donors and alumni are uncomfortable with the passage of this basic civil liberty. Fundraising might be compromised.
Pedagogically, this is a nightmare. It says: “change is not possible after all.” It says: “questioning gender? Exploring issues of heteronormativity? Only applicable within the closed sphere of the classroom.” This is not an issue that only effects LGTB students. It effects every person who has embraced critical thinking. It effects every student who hungers for self-expression and holds back, terrified, because their individuality has been deemed “unworthy” of “special consideration” by some shadow majority. If the college years are not a time for self-exploration and individuality, when will these students again have a chance to find out who they could be?
Questioning heteronormativity is a task for every person, every day. Reversing this ruling is a chance to make a change for the better, and to demonstrate that UNT will not stand for policies that compromise the rights of any of its students. This is not a special consideration. It is a basic human right.”
This just further illustrates that even “liberal” spaces don’t always follow through on their progressive promises. They make just enough “progressive” moves to make themselves feel special, still claiming privileges whenever its convenient. Institutions are no different, they do exactly the same thing, pretending to be supporting and inclusive, then cut corners (and communities) when funding, opinion, or reputation is at stake.
Another point shown here is that you don’t have to be queer or genderqueer to get it. Inclusion is not a hard concept to understand and it is up to all of us, not just the freaks and weirdos, to stand up for each other.
I love you, and thank you for loving me.