HBCU Writers's Project
For Immediate Release
December 10, 2012
Contact Information

Sydnee Mitchell
Florida A&M University

(BPRW) #iSupport

(BLACK PR WIRE/FAMU-TALLAHASSEE) "" For generations, homosexuality has been pushed out of the educational realm, much like religion. Approximately four million people in the United States identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT). A stance toward progressive change in the "gay-straight alliance" is necessary to give everyone an equal opportunity to succeed for America.

Last year, an Atlanta summit took place at Spelman in hopes of raising awareness of LGBT issues as they relate to students. Nine historically black colleges or universities were invited to come. "We hope that [the summit] will provide some leadership for HBCUs to address LGBT issues as it relates to students, faculty and staff," said Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall, the founding director of the Women's Research and Resource Center at Spelman. "We think that the public awareness will put the issue on the radar," he continued. For Florida A&M it did just that.

FAMU recently ran a similar experimental campaign in its School of Journalism & Graphic Communication (SJGC). Students researched different target publics such as freshmen, Greek organizations, non-Greeks organizations, SJGC students, faculty and staff. The common goal of the campaigns was to create a more hospitable environment for the LGBT community on FAMU's campus. The students worked together to construct surveys and distribute them to their publics in person and via surverymonkey.com.

Studies showed that the majority of the professors that took part in this survey were between ages 45-54, Black (non-Hispanic), with the ranking of associate professor and straight. During the research, students found that their university is the only one in Florida that does not have an all-inclusive non-discriminatory policy that covers the LGBT community. Among faculty members, 69.6 percent said they would support a policy at FAMU that would prohibit discrimination against anyone because of his or her sexual orientation and 78.3 agreed classrooms should be welcoming of all students, regardless of their sexual orientation.

There is room for improvement at all HBCUs in this department. Tips for establishing a stronger "gay-straight alliance" include promoting course offerings that cover subject matter on LGBT issues, faculty/staff training sessions and campus activities that involve the community as a whole. Diversity is an apparent factor in the real work field. Students should take advantage of their peers and embrace different people they come in contact with to broaden their sense of exposure.