Kent State diversity needs more acceptance

Some students travel to Kent State for scholarships, excellent programs and an affordable education.

Others come to Kent State for a chance at acceptance.

This university is known for its vibrant gay community and the outlets it provides for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. As a campus associated with liberal attitudes, it is no surprise both LGBT students and faculty assume Kent State can be a safe harbor against discrimination, both verbal and physical.

Groups such as PRIDE!Kent and the Queer Liberation Front make the campus responsible for its treatment and recognition of the gay population at Kent State. Student media even has Fusion, a magazine aimed at addressing LGBT issues.

On the surface, it seems homophobia and inequality should be purged from this campus. But don’t be too impressed by this university’s tolerance of LGBT lifestyles.

It is not enough to simply exist with LGBT students and act as though this coexistence is somehow doing LGBT students a favor.

Many students still have hidden prejudices about LGBT students and faculty. The new “f-word” and “that’s so gay” roll off many tongues as if such language is not offensive. Double standards about gay men and women are more prevalent than ever. Snide remarks about gay students, especially those who are transgender, still linger in classrooms and residence halls.

PRIDE!Kent and the Queer Liberation Front offer event participation and membership to both LGBT students and allies, but many still have the misconception the fight for gay rights is simply for gay people.

The separation of the LGBT community from others on this campus is disheartening. The attitude of putting gays in one corner and straight people in another revolves around the same discrimination blacks are still fighting to end.

It seems silly that groups such as PRIDE!Kent don’t work side by side with groups such as Black United Students. Both LGBT organizations and groups representing the black community fight for minorities who suffer severe civil rights injustices. There could be strength in numbers if these groups joined forces — university officials could not ignore such a united front for equality.

If Kent State refused to give benefits to married black professors, there would be a major outcry on this campus. People would threaten to leave this university because of this clear infringement on human rights, and protesters would line every walkway.

The lack of domestic partnership benefits for gay and lesbian faculty should cause equal outrage, but students find this issue unimportant. For such a “liberal” campus to miss out on quality faculty because of discriminatory policies is unacceptable.

President Lester Lefton’s Diversity Plan forgot one detail: Diversity is not just an issue of heritage and race. There should be a specific effort by Lefton and his staff to change the domestic partnership policy for faculty and retain and recruit LGBT students.

We get it. Life for LGBT students at Kent State is better than it would be at a lot of universities.

Let’s strive to be the best. Let’s not be content with a few student groups and a magazine.

Most importantly, let’s realize sexual orientation is not reason for alienation. Tolerating the members of the LGBT community is great, but genuinely accepting them is even better.

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