16 November 2009

Bert Chapman Official Queer Community Statement

As Vice President of the Queer Student Union and an active member in the Queer Community of Purdue University, I thought I would pass on the joint statement of the local LGBTQ organizations.

Local LGBT Rights Groups Denounce Chapman Blog As Offensive
A recent personal blog post by Purdue librarian, Professor Bert Chapman, has raised the conflict between free speech and community standards. The undersigned groups support free speech, but that does not mean there are no consequences for such statements. While it is clear that all individuals have the right to print anything they wish regardless of the lack of value or research, it's also true that statements in print (or in this case on-line) should be rejected and called out when they misstate the facts and cause damage to a segment of the community. In this case, "An Economic Case Against Homosexuality, " is a mishmash of anti-gay rhetoric denouncing immorality and a pseudo-factual analysis of the economics of HIV infection. But the poor quality of research and the obvious bias against gays undercuts any serious consideration of his thesis, let alone the obvious conclusion, which Chapman does not seem to have the courage to state. Since he argues that money spent to fight HIV/AIDS (which is more prevalent now in the heterosexual community than the GLBT) is wasted, he is, in effect condemning all infected regardless of orientation to a death sentence. Such a poorly researched and sourced statement as this is shocking enough from a university staffer, let alone a tenured professor responsible for library research in the field of political science.

The Lafayette-West Lafayette community has taken years to develop a standard of respect and support for our GLBT citizens. Support for this part of the community is clear in the attendance at OUTfest 2009 and the strong backing of the Pride Lafayette Community Center. The Tippecanoe County area is one of a very few in Indiana where sexual orientation is included in non-discrimination ordinances. These advances were hard-won and require effort to maintain the community standards once established. Purdue has also made considerable effort to promote diversity and inclusion. In fact, the university has created a position of Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, which is tasked specifically with creating an inviting campus environment. The current climate on campus was difficult enough to achieve. This level of respect is threatened when staff members so blatantly disrespect and publicly disparage a whole subset of the university body.

Purdue Queer Student Union, ALLY, Delta Lamda Phi, and community organizations Citizens for Civil Rights and Pride Lafayette support anyone's right to speak freely about any topic. But we reject the gross mischaracterizations and untruths contained in Professor Chapman's blog. We urge the campus and community to join us in this condemnation.

Jessica Lee
President of the Purdue Queer Student Union
Senior in College of Liberal Arts

Adam Wright
President of Ally Association
Senior in College of Liberal Arts

Sean Samocki
President of Delta Lambda Phi
Senior in College of Technology

Jo Ann Mullen
President of Citizen for Civil Rights

Bryan Bell
President of Pride Lafayette

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