Recently, David Carlin attempted to portray the building of University of Rhode Island’s LGBTQ center as a political move, and sarcastically implied that the college should build a similar center for “students who are anti-abortion, supporters of traditional marriage (one man, one woman), and believers in the old-fashioned ideal of chastity.” These remarks reflect how oblivious Carlin is to the purpose of the center, and to LGBTQ issues in general.
Two of Carlin’s comments are completely unrelated to the issue of an LGBTQ center: abortion and “chastity.”
These are part of a smoke and mirrors attempt to gin up support for his hostility regarding the university’s recognition of the importance of providing a center for the LGBTQ community. Even his comment regarding “supporters of traditional marriage” is off the mark. The center is not being created out of political expediency; it is part of the university’s commitment to “building a community that truly reflects the diversity of our country, a community where all members are welcomed, affirmed, respected, and supported,” as URI President David M. Dooley also said. Such support and respect are far from the norm in schools.
A report from the federal Center for Disease Control (cdc.gov) details the results of a survey of “more than 7,000 LGBT students aged 13 – 21 years found that in the past year, because of their sexual orientation,” 80 percent had been verbally harassed at school, 40 percent had been physically harassed, and 20 percent had been the victim of a physical assault at school.
This is not from a political organization with an agenda; it is one of dozens of unbiased sites that clearly reflect the atmosphere of intolerance and discrimination that has typified school environments for decades. Those numbers are unacceptable, and, thankfully, there is an increasing will in America to drive those incidents down, and recognize that your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers are not from some subversive, anti-American subculture: they are people with the same hopes and aspirations (including acceptance) as those from the straight community.
The university’s action in combating harassment and discrimination on campus is to be commended. It is not tied to politics from the right or the left. Rather, it is a clear statement that acceptance and respect are not matters of politics: they are matters of human rights.
Hugh J. Markey, IV
The writer is a member of the University of Rhode Island’s class of ’80.