Our View: No reason we shouldn’t be 5-out-of-5

DKS Editors

Friday is Coming Out Day — which caps Coming Out Week — a time in which the LGBT community and its supporters encourage and support those who may still be “in the closet.” More generally, it’s a time to reflect on the greater movement for gay and lesbian rights, to analyze how far it has progressed in society.

And the movement has no doubt made leaps and bounds in recent years.

Politically, President Barack Obama came out in support of gay marriage last year, using the issue as a campaign boost last year. Ohio Senator Rob Portman followed suit this past spring, acknowledging that his son’s homosexuality influenced him to break with his own party’s conservative stance.

Legislatively, fourteen states — New Jersey being the most recent — and the District of Columbia have voted to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.

Publically, more than half of Americans now support same-sex marriage, and exit polls last November indicate 83 percent of voters believe it will be legal nationwide in the next five to 10 years.

There have been so many victories for the LGBT movement that Time Magazine’s cover story in March declared: “Gay Marriage Already Won.”

We, too, have been amazed at how rapidly the gay-rights movement has racked up victories. Still, not all college campuses, which are typically at the forefront of progressive movements, are the best they could be at providing inclusive environments for gay and lesbian students.

The campus climate index, which ranks campuses on overall inclusiveness, places Kent State just above average with a 3.5-out-of-5. If you’re “in the closet” here, does that make you feel comfortable to come out?

College is supposed to be a place that incoming students can explore who they really are — away from those who try to influence them otherwise. Why is our index 3.5? The score might not be entirely accurate or clear; there could be any number of reasons.

For example, Kent State still has yet to implement a plan for gender-neutral housing that about 55 schools nationwide, including Ohio University and Miami University, already offer. Would building or designating an entire space for transgender students help or hurt the climate as a whole?

We think Kent State has done a wonderful job administratively and academically supporting the LGBT community in the past few years, but the school needs to work more with campus organizations such as Pride!Kent and individual students to finish the job.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.