Feeling accepted at college can be a big issue — especially for minority students. Even on campuses with high minority populations, it’s easy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students to feel isolated. That’s why The Human Rights Campaign is urging inclusiveness of LGBTQ students at historically black colleges and universities.
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“Students on an HBCU campus pretty much all have a shared identity as far as being black, but when you talk about being L, G, B, T, or Q … that’s a whole other situation within itself,” said Leslie Hall, manager of the HRC’s HBCU project. “You’re looking at issues around the black church, issues around family values. They might be coming from families where that lifestyle isn’t quite acceptable.”
The HRC has assembled an 11-member advisory council to help guide schools. The council includes Dr. Michael Lomax, a Morehouse graduate, former Fulton County Commission chair, Spelman teacher and president of Dillard University, an HBCU near New Orleans. Lomax is now the president of the United Negro College Fund.
“We tend to balkanize on college campuses, and they are communities where people should be open to people from a variety of backgrounds, if our students and our institutions are going to be as rich as they have the potential to be,” Lomax said.
He added that HBCUs should embrace their LGBTQ populations.
“Some are farther on that journey than others, but there are LGBTQ students, faculty and staff at every one of these institutions,” he said. “Whether they feel like they are fully members of those communities is another issue.”
That’s part of what the council will try to address. In addition to promoting acceptance, the HRC says the effort will focus on issues like housing and health care for LGBTQ students and staff.
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