Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Homosexualization of Higher Education?

It used to be that gay activist said, when they pushed for anti-discrimination protection, "We just want to left alone." Well, now with the push for homosexual marriage, the mantra has changed to "We demand you endorse and affirm our lifestyle."

Now it looks like the same thing is happening in higher education. A gathering of college presidents, who are homosexual, want to affirmatively advocate for homosexuality in their respective institutions. In other words, they want to use their institutional positions to press the homosexual social agenda.

In a post on "Inside Higher ED", that's explicitly expressed.

Nine college and university presidents gathered in Chicago over the weekend and decided to form a new organization that will promote the professional development of gay academics as well as work on education and advocacy issues.

The meeting was the first attempt to gather the growing number of out college presidents (25 were invited) -- and participants said in interviews after the event that they wanted to encourage more gay academics to aspire to leadership positions and wanted to push higher education to include issues of sexual orientation when talking about diversity. The partners of some of the presidents also attended and held their own discussions, and the new group plans to be a place to talk about issues related to the partners and other family members of gay presidents.

They describe their group as LGBTQ. They want to expand their numbers by reaching out to anyone who feels any inclination to the other categories.

The new organization has been named the LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education, said Charles Middleton, president of Roosevelt University and co-host of the meeting. The group plans to reconvene first in a few months, and then perhaps at next year's meeting of the American Council on Education.

"As university presidents, we talked first and foremost about what is our presidential responsibility as leaders in higher education," Middleton said. To that end, the group will focus on leadership development for those who are gay presidents or who aspire to be, professional development for gay people at all levels of academe, and on education and advocacy to promote equity and diversity.

The advocacy dimension is very clear.

Middleton said that it's time for an organization like this to exist. College leaders nationally are talking about the need for new leaders in all kinds of educational fields, and the country cannot afford to write off any one group, he said. Gay academics "need to be taken off the exclusion list," he said.

Several of the presidents noted that they came together at a time when issues of gay rights are very much in the news -- both for society as a whole and higher education in particular. The presidents met the same week that a federal judge rejected California's ban on gay marriage and the same year that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of public colleges to require all recognized student groups to abide by anti-bias policies -- including policies that some religious groups object to because they cover sexual orientation.

Raymond Crossman, president of the Adler School of Professional Psychology and the meeting's other co-host, said that "I think it's no accident that there's an appetite to do this right now. It's a particular moment in the culture right now, and I think we have something to offer about educating the academy."

Crossman said he views such advocacy as a traditional role of a college president, even if the issues being raised may not be same ones on which other presidents have focused. "I think that as presidents of colleges and universities there's always been a role to take positions, to be part of a continuing dialogue in our culture," he said.

Those who attended the meeting included the following:

The college presidents attending the meeting in Chicago were: Theodora J. Kalikow (University of Maine at Farmington), Charles Middleton (Roosevelt University), Raymond Crossman (Adler School of Professional Psychology), Ralph Hexter (Hampshire College), Charlita Shelton (University of the Rockies), Karen Whitney (Clarion University), Neal King (Antioch University Los Angeles), Katherine Ragsdale (Episcopal Divinity School), and Les McCabel (Semester at Sea).

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