16 November 2009

Stand by the Queer Community Statement

The Bert Chapman story has gained media attention in a variety of places. LGBTQ readers of a variety of blogs have seen the story. So have readers of various newspapers, listeners of some radio stations, and television watchers.

Unfortunately, some feel the story has to keep growing. This has already haunted Bert Chapman. Maybe he will learn that he is wrong, but I doubt it. Let's not make this haunt the LGBTQ population at Purdue. Bert Chapman posted comments. It has been shown that he was wrong. He has felt the backlash. There is no harassment case, and it should not be made into one. It is an issue, as the local LGBTQ organizations have stated, of free speech versus community standards. Bert Chapman has the right to say what he said. Equally, we have the right and obligation to say that he was wrong. Bert Chapman has heard that he was wrong; that his statements are false, that he is hiding behind false claims. Let's not move this beyond acceptable free speech. Let's not take this into the realms of harassment or anything else. Don't let this move into territory where everybody loses. Purdue has distanced themselves from him, which is all that one can expect.

I just want to make this statement - Bert Chapman posted a blog post on his private blog. What he said in that post was wrong, malicious, and offensive. It was not, however, breaking a Purdue policy. His speech in this sense has to be protected, just as my speech to write this blog post has to be protected. The Purdue community has done what it needed to do - show people that they disagree with Mr. Chapman. The librarians of Purdue did a wonderful move when they made their statement.Let's not devalue a huge gesture like that. People know Mr. Chapman hurt Purdue's image and that what he said was inaccurate. Our job here is no longer to point this out. I worry that now, I will have to defend Mr. Chapman as others go parading against his right to free speech. What then, of my activism? Will it be protected?

If speech is not protected, who is going to get silenced? A fair percentage of the Purdue community still doesn't accept Queer people. Do we want to create backlash against the work that has been done? Purdue is far behind the other Big 10 Universities in LGBTQ issues, do we want to make it worse?

Let's stop while we are ahead. The local LGBTQ organizations, the voice of the Queer community, has made a statement. Let's rally behind that statement, and leave it there. The Queer Student Union has distanced itself from all statements but this one for a reason. Let's not backtrack the work that has been done (or that is being done).

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Side note on Progress:

Promising things are happening at Purdue. Gender Identity and Expression may be gaining ground for its addition to the nondiscrimination policy. I am hoping that Genetic Predisposition and Carrier Status, and Political Affiliation, will also make it on to the list of items to be added. Gender Identity is including in federal hate crimes legislation and featured in some way in all Big 10 nondiscrimination policies (except Purdue). Genetic Information is the next obvious area of discrimination, and steps at the federal and state level have been made to protect one from discrimination on this basis - hopefully Purdue will add to that effort. As for Political Affiliation, I think this one speaks for itself in a time like this.

As for the complicated reporting procedures here at Purdue, there may be change coming. Maybe, students will actually understand how to report real incidents of harassment and discrimination. If a solid system could be made that is easier to understand and use, Purdue would have made a HUGE step towards diversity and inclusion.

As for a Director of LGBTQ Affairs, Purdue still remains the Big 10 without one, but the case for one is growing. I won't go into this as it deserves WAY more attention, and I have quite a bit of information to cover on it.

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