Defining Dominance Down

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

For some reason, groups that gain the most in clout look upon themselves as put upon, literally. “National research has consistently shown that LGBT youth in kindergarten through high school encounter alarming rates of harassment, discrimination and bullying,” said Shane Windmeyer, Campus Pride’s executive director.

That’s right, kindergarten. “Unequivocally, The 2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People demonstrates that LGBTQQ students, faculty and staff experience a ‘chilly’ campus climate of harassment and far less than welcoming campus communities,” Dr. Susan Rankin, an Associate Professor of Education at Pennsylvania State University and lead author of the report said. “This comprehensive report provides substantive research and the necessary recommendations to assist administrators, educators, advocates, activists, student leaders and elected officials in making university and college campuses safer and more accepting for all of its community members.”

Rankin and company found that:

•    Lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer (LGBQ) respondents experienced significantly greater harassment and discrimination than their heterosexual allies, and those who identified as transmasculine, transfeminine, and gender non-conforming (GNC) experienced significantly higher rates of harassment than men and women

•    LGBQ students were more likely than heterosexual students to have seriously considered leaving their institution as a result of harassment and discrimination.

•    LGBQ Respondents of Color were more likely than their LGBQ White counterparts to indicate race as the basis for harassment, and were significantly less likely than LGBQ White respondents to feel very comfortable or comfortable in their classes (60%, 65%, respectively).

•    Respondents who identified as transmasculine, transfeminine, and gender non-conforming have more negative perceptions of campus climate when compared with those who identify within the gender binary.

“Now is the time to act. It is shocking that it is 2010 and less than eight percent of accredited colleges and universities in the country have LGBT inclusive policies,” Windmeyer added. “Colleges and universities have the responsibility to create safe learning environments for everyone, regardless of sexual identity or gender identity.”

Heterosexuals might crave a “safe learning environment” too. Bear in mind, at this point its easier to find LGBT clubs at Catholic universities than it is to find Knights of Columbus chapters.

Nevertheless, it isn’t only LGBT youth who feel oppressed. “In some ways, working as a phone-sex dominatrix is a lot simpler than being on a college faculty,” Peter Schmidt reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education on September 17, 2010. “Your relationship with others is clearly defined, no one formally complains about anything you say to them, and you stand little risk of getting caught up in messy struggles over power.”

“It gets complicated, however, if you try to do both jobs.”

“Life has become extremely complex in the University of New Mexico’s English department in the three years since Lisa D. Chávez, a tenured associate professor, was discovered moonlighting as the phone-sex dominatrix ‘Mistress Jade,’ and posing in promotional pictures sexually dominating one of her own graduate students.

“Although she quickly quit the phone-sex job, admitted to a serious lapse of judgment, and was not found by the university’s administration to have violated any law or policy, Ms. Chávez remains at the center of a bitter controversy that has raised questions about faculty governance, the obligations of professors to protect students, and the exact definition of a hostile workplace in an environment of shifting sexual mores.

“Several members of the English department accuse Ms. Chávez of abusing her power over students, and allege that the administration retaliated against professors who complained about her extracurricular activities. They also say that the university administration violated a basic principle of shared governance by not entrusting the investigation of Ms. Chávez to a faculty ethics committee.

“For her part, Ms. Chávez has accused her accusers, in complaints to the university and the state, of discriminating against her because she is bisexual and Hispanic.”

Professor Chavez made one important elaboration in an interview with Professor Elizabeth Wood for her  blog on “I was not in a relationship with the student in the photos—other than the relationship between co-workers at PEP and as friends,” Professor Chavez said. “I do not think adult students need to be protected from faculty.”

“Of course I believe sexual harassment and any coercion are wrong, but I don’t believe consensual relationships are wrong.”

On, her students mostly rave about her, with one interesting exception. “This was the worst teacher I ever had in college,” one reviewer wrote. “She’s didactic, anticreative and immature.”

“I had to file complaints about her multiple times to the English dept. Years later, she still has a negative effect on me.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

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