Council May Consider Anti-Homophobia Bill
The Undergraduate Council will likely debate a resolution at its weekly meeting this Sunday calling on the University to acknowledge the problems of gay students and form institutional links to address those difficulties, according to members of a group formed to promote gay rights on campus.
The resolution, to be reviewed by the council's services committee today, is just one facet of a major drive by Defeat Homophobia, a new undergraduate organization set up under the auspices of the Gay Lesbian Students Association (GLSA) to advocate political rights for gays on campus.
The council resolution would acknowledge "that there is a problem [of homophobia] and that Harvard does not address it," said a sophomore member of Defeat Homophobia who asked not to be identified. Group members said it was important that the council pass the resolution since it is the representative body for undergraduates and recommended that the council pressure the University to follow up on issues raised by the document.
Harvard's failure to list homosexuals as an official minority and its lack of institutionalized channels of support for gays are among the problems Defeat Homophobia, which had its first meeting yesterday, hopes to address this year, the sophomore member said.
"We are going to demand that the University take a stand on [gay] issues," he said.
"This is not a movement for only gay students," said Clarissa C. Kripke '89, a founder of Defeat Homophobia. The group seeks support from "everyone who wants to make the community a place where we can all live and work together," Kripke said.
In conjunction with next week's national Gay Lesbian Awareness Days (GLADS), Defeat Homophobia plans to tableat dining halls to distribute an educationalsurvey and obtain student signatures on a petitionsupporting the group's demands, members of theorganization said at yesterday's planning session.
One of the projects the group hopes to completethis year is to write a report on harassment basedon sexual orientation, which will be sent to Deanof the College L. Fred Jewett '57, GLSAco-chairman David H. Warren '88-'89 said.
The report will also describe instances ofdiscrimination against homosexuals, such asdefaced GLSA posters and homophobic graffiti,members said.
"What we want to do is have the University setup mechanisms at the house level [and] at theacademic level that protect the gay community fromharassment," said the sophomore member.
Defeat Homophobia also plans to call for amember of Jewett's office this semester to bedesignated as a liaison with the gay community andrequests that at least one tutor in each house betrained to handle gay issues and advise gaystudents.
The gay rights group plans to seek endorsementsfrom other student organizations and to furthercontact between gay alumni and students as well,members said.
Debbie J. Slotnick '90, chairman of theservices committee, said she would not commentspecifically on the resolution until she had seenit, but she said, "I think awareness, informationand knowledge are very important in the community,and I hope this [resolution] raises awareness ofhomophobia in the community.