To the Editor:
Tre Borden ’06 is not the only one confused by incidents of homophobia on Yale’s campus (“Prejudice at Yale: We can do better,” 10/06). Tre has a right to be upset and unnerved by the incident he described. The LGBT Student Cooperative, along with LGBT organizations across Yale, has documented a number of incidences of homophobia, ranging from verbal abuse such as Tre describes to serious altercations. And these are just the students willing to share their experiences. Many cases of homophobia go unreported, undocumented and thus unnoticed. It is easy to pass off these instances of homophobia as isolated, unrelated events, or worse, to regard such verbal abuse as tolerable.
Tre is also right in stating that Yale “stands strong where its closest peers fall short.” But is Yale providing the type of support necessary for LGBT students? A survey of Yale’s peer institutions in the Ivy League and Stanford demonstrates otherwise. Among these institutions, Yale is the only university that does not have administrative support for LGBT students at the undergraduate level. Yale is falling behind a national trend to provide institutionalized support for LGBT students and education and awareness programs to combat homophobia. At present, this void is filled by the LGBT Student Cooperative and its 11 umbrella organizations, but the LGBT Student Cooperative does not have the resources, financial or otherwise, to continue providing the level of programming it has done over the past three years.
A vast majority of LGBT students at Yale remain content with the status quo. But this does not disprove that there are many remaining areas of need among the LGBT community.
Chief among these inadequacies is education and awareness programming addressing homophobia. In addition, feelings of isolation exist among LGBT students at the graduate and professional schools and even within Yale College. In my opinion, this is a result of an absence of coordinated educational and support programming. In short, where is the administration? Aside from the Larry Kramer Initiative for Lesbian & Gay Studies with its specifically academic mandate, Yale lacks a formal LGBT presence within the administration.
Where does this leave us? Worried. Tre is worried about the state of prejudice at Yale and consequently his expectations for the “real world.” I, too, am worried about these things, and I am not alone. Yale is in a position to shape the attitudes and opinions of those among the brightest minds in the world, and among them future leaders, but it is not doing enough to make Yale devoid of discrimination.
Justin S. Ross ’07
Oct. 6, 2005
The writer is coordinator of the LGBT Student Cooperative at Yale.