Sexual orientation issues addressed

By Brenden Walz

A five-person panel gathered Thursday to discuss how issues involving sexual orientation are being addressed on the nation’s college campuses.

About 100 people attended the satellite teleconference, “Understanding the Needs of Gay and Lesbian Students,” in the Holmes Student Center’s Capitol Room to hear a nationwide satellite teleconference dealing with sexual orientation issues.

Among the panelists were L. Lee Knefelkamp, chair of the department of Adult and Higher Education at Teachers College/Columbia University, Kevin Berrill, director of Campus and Anti-Violence Projects, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Rosalind Andreas, vice president for Student Affairs at the University of Vermont.

Also included were Jamie Washington, doctoral intern in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, University of Maryland-Baltimore County and Kathy Obear, president of The Human Advantage, a human resource management firm.

NIU Vice President for Student Affairs Donald Buckner said he was impressed with the turnout and NIU President John La Tourette’s formation of a task force to deal with issues of sexual orientation.

Gay/Lesbian Union co-President David Huggins said NIU should take more “pro-active” measures on issues of sexual orientation, such as making a study of gay, lesbian and bisexual issues a part of a student’s general education requirements and train resident assistants on sexual orientation issues.

One problem addressed was outing, where someone comes out and names that person as gay or lesbian.

Knefelkamp said outing “breaks the natural developmental continuum of people.”

Washington said outing was, “a reaction against people in high places who are gay who vote against gay issues.”

The issue of anti-gay violence was also addressed.

Berrill noted the rise of candidates like David Duke have made it “hip to hate” in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Among the suggestions made in the program were confronting prejudice, institution of gay and lesbian studies programs and acknowledgement in classes of historical figures who were gay.