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Gay authority

Culture | The nation's universities are going to extraordinary lengths to cater to homosexual students

Issue: "Will Kurds stand alone?," June 1, 2002

Many universities now have co-ed dorms, with men and women living on the same floor. But some have taken the next step: co-ed dorm rooms. Not that these colleges are encouraging their students to have sex with each other. Quite the contrary. Having a man and a woman share the same sleeping quarters is just another way to make homosexuals feel more comfortable.

At Pennsylvania's elite Swarthmore College and nearby Haverford College, homosexual groups insisted that it was "heterosexist" to require roommates to be of the same sex. The reasoning went like this: A girl forced to live with a man she didn't know would feel very uncomfortable. There would be too much sexual tension, not to mention the possibility of harassment and abuse.

Well, gay men feel the same way when forced to room with strange men. The sexual tension would make them feel uncomfortable. Besides, the straight roommate might be homophobic. In order to avoid sexual issues, gay men should be allowed to room with females.

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"Straight men who live together often have a kind of locker-room mentality," said Josh Andrix, a Haverford student who first raised the issue. "Introducing a homosexual into that environment is uncomfortable. When I looked for housing, all the people it made sense for me to live with were women."

The college was quick to comply, as did Swarthmore. Other colleges are considering the same policy. "We may be on the forefront right now," said Myrt Westphal, Swarthmore's director of residential life, to Tamar Lewin of The New York Times, but "in three to five years co-ed housing will be an option on most campuses."

Co-ed rooms have been available at other campuses, such as Antioch College in Ohio, but mostly to accommodate male and female sexual partners. At Swarthmore, according to Ms. Lewin's story on the subject, a number of students who are roommates with someone of the opposite sex are neither homosexual nor sexually involved heterosexual couples. Ms. Lewin reports that there is even an informal taboo against having sex with your roommate. This sort of housing arrangement is strictly voluntary. Apparently, some women don't feel uncomfortable rooming with men after all, which sort of undercuts the initial premise.

This is just one of the extraordinary ways the nation's institutions of higher education are catering to homosexuals, who seemingly exert more moral authority than any other group on campus.

Many colleges and universities have started programs to actively recruit homosexuals. "Schools are inviting these students because they question the norms," said Judith Brown, director of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center at Tufts University. "They make people question their own assumptions," she told Patrick Healy of the Boston Globe, "and that's a key to learning and growing as people."

That Tufts should have a Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center is, of course, telling in itself, as is the view that education consists of questioning one's assumptions and the whole pop psychology that goes along with it. Mr. Healy cites admissions counselors from other institutions who believe that "the 'coming out' experience in high school can breed self-confidence, leadership abilities, cultural awareness, and other characteristics that colleges want."

Affirmative action for gays, though, is harder than affirmative action for blacks, women, and other minorities. For one thing, it's hard to tell who is gay and who isn't. And many of the potential recruits do not want people to know.

Colleges are reduced to trumpeting their anti-discrimination policies, highlighting their gay student associations and institutes like Tuft's LGBT Center, and drawing attention to courses and even academic majors in "Queer Studies" (their term).

Some colleges are pushing to add a check-off box on their admissions forms for "sexual orientation." We ask students to indicate their race or ethnicity, points out Jibril Salaam, the University of New Hampshire's associate director of admissions for inclusion and diversity. "If we truly want these students, it's vital to ask the question," he told Mr. Healy. "It will help us really tailor a message of support to them."

As the nation's universities celebrate the end of the school year, graduation speakers have been hailing the social benefits of higher education. One has to wonder. When schools actively undermine the social order-namely, the family and the moral order that supports it-both education and the society that financially supports it are in big trouble.

It may well be that higher education requires "questioning assumptions," but if so, this should include questioning the assumption that homosexuality is a good thing.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith

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