Viktor Kerney

Open Letter to Historically Black Colleges on Supporting LGBT Students

Filed By Viktor Kerney | September 21, 2012 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: black LGBT, HBCU, historically black colleges, LGBT students, Morehouse College

Thumbnail image for open_letter.jpegWhat's really going here, Historically Black Colleges and Universities?

It's 2012 and many of you do not have a space or a place for LGBT students. Believe it or not, there are a lot of black LGBT students on your campuses. While they are in your care, you should be providing as much support and resources they deserve.

I am writing this letter because it is way past time to discuss this issue. From conferences like Creating Change and NASPA or from many articles and blog posts, the message is consistent and clear: black LGBT students do not feel supported or even cared about from the HBCUs.

Now, I know there has been some progress. There are a handful of HBCUs that recognize LGBT student organizations, Morehouse celebrated gay pride and Maryland's Bowie State University is the first HBCU with a LGBT resource center.

When you think about that, you realize how profane that truly is. There are over a hundred HBCUs and only one has a LGBT resource center?

That is unacceptable!

Most universities and colleges have a LGBT center or a few LGBT organizations on campuses. Why are the HBCUs so reluctant to join the majority of these institutions? What is the big deal? You are educational foundations; so act like it!

HBCUs should be questioning themselves on why they are so behind the times. Yes, I know some of these schools have religious ties, but that is a lazy excuse to why they won't support LGBT students. Your campuses should not be the last group to get on board a national movement. HBCUs should be in the forefront of social change, not at the back or off to the side.

The negativity besetting your campuses about LGBT issues is embarrassing. I think about Morehouse College with the 2002 beating and controversial dress code in 2009; then the wrongful death of Robert Champion Jr. at FAMU. These types of incidents and responses have defined the climate you offer to the LGBT community.

Your student affairs departments should do everything in their power to erase these images. In fact, as many of you collect that $228 million in grants from the government, I hope you are thinking of how you will use that money to provide resources for the LGBT students on your campuses.

How can you start doing this? Just talk with the LGBT community, ask questions and benchmark colleges that have stellar LGBT programs.

HBCUs, enough is enough! It is time to step up and become the powerful and inclusive institutions you supposed to be!

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