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Miami University's Timeline Towards Equality

The timeline below indicates significant events in the history of Miami University where gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered students, staff, and faculty experienced some form of recognition by the university, validating the presence of the GLBT community at Miami. Hopefully the events listed here will help the administration realize, accept, and allow Miami's GLBT community to share equally in all aspects of university life.

Many Thanks to: Paul Anderson, Roy Bowen Ward, and Ted Peters for helping to supply important dates in this timeline.

Do you have an event in history that you want to see listed in the Timeline Towards Equality? If so, send an e-mail message to Dan Meyers, indicate the historical event in detail, and attach any materials if you happen to have them documenting the event.


THE TIMELINE TOWARDS EQUALITY

Early 1970s: Gay People of Oxford was formed. Janet Martin as the first President, This was an Oxford community group that had numerous student participants. At times Miami students ran the organization. They were a close-knit open minded and informal queer community, mostly from the theater department.

August 1979: The first attempt to begin a gay and lesbian organization at Miami University was called the "Advocates for Gay Liberation." The Miami University Board of Trustees denied a $64 funding request and the group dissolved later in the academic year.

August 1984: The University Bulletin and other official publications begin to include statements that Miami does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and that Miami adheres to Ohio Governor's Executive Order 83-64, which prohibits discrimination in state employment based on sexual orientation.

August 1984: The Gay and Lesbian Alliance was started for the first time, but dissolved within nine months.

September 1984: A second group called the Gay/Lesbian Alliance tried to organize. The Student Affairs Council approved this group unanimously. The GLA sponsored two lectures, visited residence halls, and held panels in Human Sexuality classes. However, harassment and abuse proved debilitating, leading to what one member described as "cynicism and defeatist behavior." The group dissolved by the end of the year.

September 1985: Chameleon, an underground gay and lesbian support group, is created by Jim Lopata and Christine Rebera. One had to call a "secret" number, ask for a particular person, and then one was routed to the correct contact. Miami University alumnus James Lopata (1986) began an underground support group for homosexual students in a time when he and other students felt they could not be openly gay. During Lopata’s senior year, after talking in-depth with his head resident advisor, Lopata began the process of coming out to his friends. In the midst of a process he described as just plain scary, and despite being initially met with an uncomfortable reaction from his best friend, Lopata found an unlikely friendship with someone he never expected to. Lopata’s friend Christine came out to him at the same time. At the time, the two had virtually nowhere on campus to turn for support. Together they decided to create something like a support group called Chameleon. The group met in secret once a week in the basement of the counseling center and began with only Lopata and Christine. Chameleon sparked the creation of many of the LGBT organizations on campus today.

October 1985: Linda Singer and Roy Bowen Ward submit a cross-listed course in the Honors Program dealing with gay and lesbian issues. Although the student members of the Honors Committee voted against it (reason: no student would want that course on their transcript), the faculty outvoted them, and the course was approved for the 1986-1987 academic year.

August 1986: Linda Singer and Roy Bowen Ward teach the first course directly and explicitly about gay and lesbian issues on the Miami campus. The course, entitled "Homosexual and Lesbian Experience," is still taught every fall.

September 1986: The Gay and Lesbian Alliance re-forms on the Miami University campus and is recognized as a student group on September 30, 1986. Roy Bowen Ward, professor of Religion, affiliate in Women's studies, and History, serves as the first faculty advisor to the newly formed group. Jeff Young served as the first president, Terri Lotz as vice-president, Brenda Price as secretary, and Suzanne Gray as treasurer. The group formed out of Chameleon. The first president was Jeff Young, Vice-President was Terri Lots, Secretary was Brenda Price, Treasurer was Sue Gray, and the Faculty Advisor was Roy Bowen Ward.

October 1986: The Miami Student runs a full, front-page article with the headline "Gay alliance organizes with new goals." The newsletter for Minority Affairs Council focuses on homosexuality, the GLA, and related issues. The Minority Affairs council also asked Roy Ward to lecture on homophobia. The Miami Student runs another article focusing on Ward's lecture in the October 17th issue.

December 1986: Members of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance received many anonymous and insulting telephone calls and letters from both students and faculty of Miami. The panels, which went to educate the student body in sociology and anthropology classes, were often exposed to insulting, rude, and embarrassing comments and questions. However, by the end of the year, the GLA had 40 members.

January 1987: The Gay and Lesbian Alliance requests funding from the Board of Trustees in the amount of $400. They received $230. When it was time to approve the budget at the June Board of Trustees meeting, one board member moved for the removal of GLA funding, followed by a second motion affirming the move. Ward was there as a representative of the university senate and witnessed the vice-president for student affairs stand up and remind the two men that such an act was against the law, referring to Governor Celeste's executive order. The motion failed.

June 1987: The Board of Trustees adds "sexual preference" to the list of grounds for a discrimination complaint (Section 3.7 of the Miami University Policy and Information Manual).

 Autumn 1987: 1st GLBA OFFICE. GLBA was given an office in the basement of King Library. This was ironic for several reasons. First, there was always huge cruising going on in the basement restrooms of King Library. Second, the first office was a sub-office of the Miami University Office for Students with Disabilities!!!! The GLBA was desperate for office space, so we took it. This was after previous denials for an office space. The office later was moved to Shriver Center.

Autumn 1987: Miami Financial Report reaches $1000 mark for MUGLBA. The GLBA felt this amount was a milestone in continuing support from the Miami. Student Finance Committee, that the committee recognized Miami MUGLBA, and that an incredible number of panels were sited as their reason for stronger backing.

Autumn 1987: The first student recognized by Miami as being HIV+; Miami tries to force student to live in a single room for "health" reasons; the student was bisexual and this fact was brought to Miami students' attention at Safe Sex forum attended by several hundred students, causing quite an uproar and demands for identification of student (he had slept with both male and female students on campus without disclosure); Gay staff member with Miami Student Counseling Center attempts to mediate situation between all parties involved.

Autumn 1987: Students for Safe Sex was temporarily formed in attempts to get condoms readily available in residence halls; Condoms handed out at Student Center; local and regional newspaper and TV coverage.

April 1988: On April 6th, 1988 the first "Jeans Day" was observed. This designated day is when people who support gay/ lesbian/ bisexual/ transgendered issues wear jeans to show their support. Students have criticized this as "sneaky," accusing GLBA of tricking people into showing support when they did not know what day it was.

April 1988: The "First Annual Sexual Deviant's Ball" was held within a week of Jeans Day. Since the two happened so closely together, "Awareness Week" evolved and became host to a variety of panels, speakers, and activities.

January 1989: The Gay and Lesbian Alliance change their name to the GLBA (Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Alliance). This is the first time the bisexual students and faculty were officially recognized on campus.

Spring 1989: GLBA sends out first mailing to all freshman students at beginning of school year inviting them to get involved with GLBA. List provided to GLBA by Miami (after approving letter). After receiving more than 100 harassing phone calls from flyer, Security office puts a tap on our phone. Calls are identified back. Miami would not prosecute callers since they cannot prove who actually made the phone calls from student's room.

Spring 1989: Living in Thompson Hall, the GLBA president and vice-president had various Miami MUGLBA fliers on our door. This was the same year that 14 gay and bisexual men lived on the 2nd floor of Thompson Hall. The straight men on the 2nd floor were furious at the dominance of gay and bisexual men on the floor. Situation escalated to where they set a door on fire in residence hall. Students who committed act are not thrown out by Miami, but have to write paper on their acts.

Spring 1989: At graduation, a gay student wore a huge pink triangle (Silence = Death) on his cap. He was first stopped at ceremony by Miami officials but then allowed to march with the pink triangle on his cap. This was probably the first time any gay symbol was worn at a graduation ceremony.

Spring 1989: Miami University changes its wording in policies from sexual "preference" to "orientation."

August 1990: GLA changes its name to Miami University Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance (MUGLBA). This is the first time bisexuality is fully recognized for the group. MUGLBA moves its official offices to Shriver Center, placing it in the Student Activities Suite along with ASG, BSAA, AWS, CAC and Greek Affairs.

June 1990: The Board of Trustees adopts the University's "Policy Asserting Respect for Human Diversity," which proclaims, among other principles, Miami's commitment to establishing respect for all individuals regardless of sexual orientation.

October 1991: The Domestic Partner Benefits Task Force formed at the request of the Faculty Welfare Committee. Original members were Paul Anderson (Chair), Ann Fuehrer, and Bob Phillips. Others who later worked on the Task Force have been Jim Creech and Kate McCullough.

November 1992: The Domestic Partner Benefits Task Force completes its report, recommending that Miami provide the same benefits to employees with domestic partners that it provides to employees who are married.

February 1993: Miami's Human Relations Commission endorses the principles of the Domestic Partner Benefits Task Force.

August 1993: The dedication of the Robert Phillips memorial garden and outdoor meeting area behind Irvin Hall. Bob Phillips was an openly gay faculty member who was an original member of the Domestic Partner Benefits Task Force and chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Speakers at the dedication included President Paul Risser and also Bob's partner.

October 1993: The Faculty Welfare Committee endorses the Domestic Partner Benefits Task Force report.

 March 1994: The Lesbian Avengers, another group that formed on campus, staged the first "kiss-in," a public display of women kissing women and men kissing men on campus.

April 1994: MUGLBA dace held at Bachelor Hall Courtyard gets egged.

April 1994: University Senate passes a resolution in support of domestic partner benefits.

May 1994: Chameleon folds because a few hateful students who infiltrated the group and ruins its confidentially.

September 1994: The University Faculty Assembly concurs with the Senate resolution in support of domestic partner benefits.

October 1994: University President Paul Riser writes a letter to the Board of Trustees in which he reports on the action by Senate and Faculty Assembly but says he will not propose a change in policy to the Board. Since this decision, the Domestic Partner Benefits Task Force has met from time to time with Miami Presidents and other University administrators to discuss full or partial implementation of partner benefits, but it has not had been able to make any substantial progress.

September 1995: Anti-gay activities escalate on campus. "Gerbil Fest" poster and "H82BGAY" license plate campaigns become a new Miami tradition with campus conservatives.

April 1995: the First Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual pub-crawl happens uptown during Awareness Week.

September 1996: Monifa Porter and Lief Mitchell form the 1809 Lambda, the Alumni group.

October 1996: Upon their May 1996 graduation, Monifa Porter and Leif Mitchell endeavored to build an alumni organization for the Miami University gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) community. Their efforts came to fruition by Homecoming Weekend 1996, which marked the first meeting of 1809 Lambda Alumni.

December 1997: First year Miami students organize the first National Day of Silence on campus.

January 1997: GLBA collaborates with a wide-array of multicultural organizations to take over Warfield Hall and place demands for diversity initiatives and change on campus.

September 1998: The Miami University phonebook publishes the names of faculty and their partners. The phonebook also begins to cross-references names by partner.

September 1998: An Ally/Safe Space program and training begins for all resident assistants and hall directors

February 1998: Miami hosts a Matthew Shepherd Vigil and several participants of that vigil were targeted and harassed.

January 1999: Miami University allows gay and lesbian faculty and staff to form a web page and be listed under university organizations. A listserv is also established to provide better communication among Miami's GLBT community.

February 2000: The Miami Student placed the picture and story of students Matthew Eagan’s and Levi Grooms' marriage on the front page of the February 15th, 2000 newspaper: "Saturday, Feb. 12, marked a momentous occasion among Miami students. In a symbol of love and attention for their cause, sophomores Levi Grooms and Matthew Agan married each other at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. With the funds of MUGLBA, Students for Peace and AWS, the marriage demonstrated commitment and follow-through with conviction to lifestyle. The fortitude and well-rounded support for the unity comes at a time of national acceptance and tolerance. The marriage of Grooms and Agan should be a beacon toward furthering state acceptance and equality in marriage rights and practices."

June 2000: The first known civil union announcement for a Miami couple was printed in the Miamian, the alumni newsletter, in the Spring-Summer edition (Vol. 18, No. 3, Page 41): "David Greenbaum and Michael Silverman were joined in a B'rit Ahavah ceremony at Temple Israel in Omaha June 6, 1999. Both are in the computer industry and live in Lawrence, Kansas."

August 2000: The Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Ronald Crutcher, and the Vice President for Finance and Business Services and Treasurer, Richard Norman, issue a memo to faculty and staff on August 29, 2000 directing that faculty and staff listings will no longer include spouse names. "We have determined that listing and maintaining this information in a business directory is not essential or appropriate." The changes are reflected in the 2000-01 university directory.

September 2000: Daniel Meyers and Stephen Sauer II enter into a Vermont Civil Union and become the first known Oxford couple to do so. Dan, an employee at Miami, applies for domestic partner benefits in the Personnel Office. His request is denied.

May 2001: Lavender Graduation begins on campus. 1809 Lambda Alumni Board members organize that the graduate had three graduates. The event was held on Western campus at the Freedom Summer memorial Amphitheater. Each grad received a lavender graduation cord and a rainbow tassel.

October 2002: On Saturday, October 19, 2002, twelve people who listed themselves as out in the National Coming Out Day ad received a hate letter via e-mail. In response to this action, Spectrum and GLEAM members took time to educate people about what happened and what's going on, including administrators, members of the press, students, and faculty. Simultaneously, other people and groups on campus had been dealing with a cross burning in a staff member's yard that also happened during this weekend. This was a racially motivated event regarding their biracial child. Spectrum, along with MU Solidarity, and other groups of minority students on campus joined together on Tuesday, October 22nd, 2002, at 5:00 pm behind Shriver at the reflecting pool for a No-Hate rally and protest against these actions. The rally led to a march though the streets of Oxford, ending up at the Martin Luther King Jr. Park in uptown Oxford. President Garland and Lt. Andrew Powers, from the Miami University police, issue statements condemning the hate crimes.

September 2003: The Princeton Review ranks Miami the 5th worst school in America at which to be GLBT. The Miami Student covers the story and writes an editorial urging support for our community.

September 2003: The Office of GLBT services opens in MacMillan Hall with Alan Glass, M.D. as the first director.

February 2004: President James Garland sends a letter to Gov. Taft opposing Ohio's pending "Super-DOMA" bill, which would deny civil rights to all GLBT people and would forbid state entities from issuing domestic partner benefits to GLBT employees. Gov. Taft signs the bill anyway.

February 2004: Members of Spectrum organize a student rally against the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" at the Ohio Statehouse. Representatives from Ohioans for Growth and Equality, Stonewall Columbus, State Senator Eric Fingerhut, and student leaders from throughout Ohio address a respectable crowd.

April 2004: The Miami ASG Student Senate endorses domestic partner benefits for partners of Miami employees by a vote of 33-2 with four abstentions.

June 25, 2004: Miami University will offer health and dental insurance and other benefits to same-sex domestic partners of faculty and staff starting July 1, Miami President Jim Garland announced today (June 25) at the meeting of the university's board of trustees. “It is clear to me that domestic partner benefits have important practical implications for the university and, specifically, for our ability to recruit and retain talented employees. I have no doubt that this modest change in our benefits package will be a tangible factor as we recruit new people to the campus in the coming years,” noted Garland. While a change in insurance benefits did not require trustee action, members of the board unanimously endorsed the change by resolution. “Having given this issue much thought and deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that in the current hiring environment, extending domestic partner benefits is necessary to recruit the very best faculty and staff possible. I support President Garland’s decision, and I would like the trustees to have an opportunity to show their support, as well,” said Chairman Fred Wall. Garland noted also that domestic partner benefits today are offered by more than 150 universities, including 75 percent of the top-ranked national universities, nearly 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies and nearly 60 percent of Fortune 100 companies. Today Ohio University trustees also endorsed a new domestic-partner benefit policy for Ohio U. employees. “The numbers are growing each year,” Garland said. “The concept has clearly moved into the mainstream, and to remain competitive I believe it is time the university responded to that reality. For many businesses and universities, and quite apart from personal convictions, health insurance for domestic partners is a business decision.” To receive the benefits for their partners, eligible faculty and staff members will be required to file an “affidavit of domestic partnership,” which certifies that the employee is in a long-term, committed relationship with his or her domestic partner and shares financial obligations and a residence with that person. Research shows that typically fewer than 0.5 percent of faculty and staff members use same-sex partner benefits if available, which would mean about 18 employees are likely to enroll for the new benefits, Garland said. Costs are predicted to be no more than $50,000-$100,000 a year. The university currently pays $22 million in insurance benefits to employees.

2005: 1809 Lambda changes its name to 1809 LBGT Alumni. 1809 LGBT alumni names the annual $1000 scholarship after Roy Bowen Ward. GLBT Office becomes a part of the Office of Diversity Affairs.

November 23, 2005: GOP Lawmaker Tom Brinkman Sues Miami University To Block Gay Partner Benefits. From a news brief filed by Lori Kurtzman, Enquirer staff writer, http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051123/NEWS01/511230375/1056. (The Associated Press contributed to this report): State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr. filed suit against Miami University on Tuesday, claiming its same-sex partnership policy violates an Ohio constitutional ban on civil unions that went into effect a year ago. Brinkman's lawsuit, filed in the Butler County Common Pleas Court, says Miami 'has created and recognized a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.' Two of Brinkman's children attend Miami. The suit notes that Brinkman, a Cincinnati Republican, 'desires that his tax dollars and tuition payments be utilized lawfully, and not applied by the University to finance the constitutional violation challenged herein.' Miami began offering benefits, including health and dental insurance, ticket discounts and tuition remission, to same-sex domestic partners of faculty and staff members in July 2004. In November 2004, Ohio voters passed the state Marriage Amendment, which says 'only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions.' 'Miami in particular has gone out of its way to kind of thumb its nose at the Constitution with the enactment of its domestic partner policy,' which applies only to same-sex partners, said Brinkman's attorney, David Langdon, a conservative activist who wrote language for the Marriage Amendment. 'They've set up a structure that's virtually identical to marriage.' Langdon said he believes this is the first suit against a university's domestic partnership policy since the amendment took effect. Ohio State, Cleveland State, Youngstown State and Ohio universities also offer domestic partner benefits but are not named in the suit. Miami spokesman Richard Little said Tuesday that school officials have regular contact with Brinkman but were surprised to hear about the lawsuit. Little said he has never discussed the issue with Brinkman, adding that Miami has no plans to rescind its policy. About 30 people have taken advantage of some of the benefits, Little said. Last year, school officials estimated that the cost of benefits for gay and lesbian employees would amount to less than $100,000. Miami now pays about $50 million in annual benefits for its faculty and staff members. Brinkman, also represented in the suit by the Arizona-based Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund, seeks a declaratory judgment and injunction against the university's domestic partnership policy, plus legal fees.

November 21, 2006: Miami U keeps partner benefits. From a news brief filed by Janice Morse, Cincinnati Enquirer staff writer, http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061121/NEWS01/611210407/1077/COL02. A yearlong court battle over benefits for the same-sex 'domestic partners' of Miami University employees has ended in a victory for gay- and lesbian-rights advocates. Butler County Common Pleas Court on Monday dismissed a taxpayer's lawsuit brought by an Ohio lawmaker who opposed dental and health coverage for Miami workers' live-in partners. State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., R-Cincinnati, whose two children were attending Miami, filed suit against Miami University last year. It claimed its same-sex partnership policy violates an Ohio constitutional ban on civil unions that went into effect in 2004. Other colleges and universities had said they were closely watching the case because it could have implications for them. Brinkman's suit, supported by the Arizona-based Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund, said he wanted his tax dollars and tuition payments "to be utilized lawfully, and not applied by the university to finance the constitutional violation challenged herein." But in Monday's decision, "the court has affirmed that Mr. Brinkman's daily life is unaffected when the domestic partners of lesbian and gay university employees have health insurance and he therefore has no standing to bring a lawsuit," said James P. Madigan, staff attorney in Chicago for Lambda Legal, a national advocacy group that intervened in the suit. Lambda Legal argued Brinkman had no standing to sue, because the university pays for its domestic partner benefits with private donations, not with tax dollars or tuition. The group also argued Brinkman had not shown that he suffered any direct impact that would be corrected if Miami University took away health and dental insurance it offers to the domestic partners of university employees. Miami began offering benefits, including health and dental insurance, ticket discounts and tuition remission, to same-sex domestic partners of faculty and staff members in July 2004. Ohio voters passed in November 2004 the state Marriage Amendment, which says "only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions." Lambda Legal maintained that Ohio's constitutional amendment does not apply to the university because it concerns only marriage and does not address the legality of domestic partnership benefits. As of last year about 30 people had taken advantage of some of the benefits, school officials said. Last year, school officials estimated that the cost of benefits for gay and lesbian employees would amount to less than $100,000 - a fraction of the $50 million in annual benefits for faculty and staff members.

August 28, 2007: Same-sex benefits challenge tossed. From a news brief filed by Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer staff writer, http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070828/NEWS01/308280051. Miami University’s practice of offering benefits to same-sex “domestic partners” of its employees survived another court challenge Tuesday. The Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals ruled that State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., a Cincinnati Republican, did not have legal standing to sue the university over its benefits policy. Brinkman had argued the same-sex partnership policy violates an Ohio constitutional ban on civil unions that went into effect in 2004. As a taxpayer and the parent of two Miami students, Brinkman said he had a legal right to sue. The appeals court, however, upheld a lower court decision last year that dismissed Brinkman’s lawsuit. Both courts concluded Brinkman did not have standing as a taxpayer because the school uses private donations to reimburse the state for tax dollars spent on its domestic partner benefits. Brinkman cannot demonstrate any injury … based upon his status as a taxpayer,” wrote Judge James A. Brogan, who was joined in the 3-0 decision by judges James E. Walsh and H.J. Bressler. The court also found that Brinkman did not have standing to sue as the tuition-paying parent of Miami students because it’s his choice to send his children to the school. Brinkman, who declined to comment Tuesday, could appeal the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court. Brinkman’s suit was supported by the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based Christian legal organization. Another advocacy group, Lambda Legal in Chicago, intervened in support of Miami’s policy. Al Gerhardstein, one of Lambda’s lawyers, said the rulings establish that providing insurance does not constitute recognition of gay marriage, as Brinkman claimed. “If he really wants to change this, he should go through the legislature,” Gerhardstein said. “I would hope he’d have a hard time there.” Miami began offering benefits to domestic partners of employees in July 2004. School officials have said about 30 people have the benefits at a total cost of less than $100,000.

March 7, 2008: Oxford is the 15th Ohio town to pass an LGBT rights measure. By Anthony Glassman. http://www.gaypeopleschronicle.com/stories08/march/0307082.htm. Oxford, Ohio--The city that is home to Miami University is now the 15th in Ohio to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the fourth to cover gender identity. City council voted unanimously on March 4 to expand the city’s non-discrimination ordinance, less than two months after the idea was first floated in a meeting between Miami students, staff, community members and city manager Douglas R. Elliott, Jr. Leslie Morrow, a board member of Equality Ohio and coordinator of Miami’s Office of GLBT Services, noted the involvement of the school in passing the ordinance. “To be honest, students, staff and faculty have been coming to me since I’ve been in this position, talking about discrimination they’ve faced,” she said. “Last semester, there were a few acts that I thought were just over the top, and the students were fed up.” She wanted to organize swiftly on the issue because, if left too long, the outrage fades and “you end up going back and giving them your business again.” Morrow contacted university administrators, including the director of off-campus affairs, who organized the January meeting attended by Elliott. “He was just appalled by some of the things that were going on,” Morrow noted. “The next thing I know, here’s an e-mail saying, ‘Here’s the proposed change to the ordinance, what do you think?’ ” she recounted. During the hashing-out process, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity were specifically added. After Elliott put the ordinance forward, Mayor Prue Dana sponsored it in council. “People on council were adding protections,” Morrow noted in amazement. It sailed through its first reading, and on March 4 had its second reading and vote. “I didn’t expect it to go at all the way it did, and honestly it was just a great discussion between members of council, members of the community and people at the university,” she said. The measure covers employment, housing and public accommodations. It takes effect 30 days from passage, on April 3. “I think Oxford is going to send a message to people in the city and on campus that bigotry will not be accepted,” Morrow said. “I really hope that we can continue to create change and be an example to other cities and municipalities in Ohio and beyond.” “I congratulate the Oxford City Council for unanimously standing up for fairness and equality. If only every citizen of Ohio had similar protection from discrimination,” Kim Welter, Equality Ohio’s program manager of outreach and education, said. The final approval came a week after the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights revised its employment policies to bar discrimination by sexual orientation, gender identity or ancestry for city workers. The city already includes sexual orientation in its fair housing code for residents. Although Ohio has no state law protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination, the 15 cities that now include sexual orientation in their ordinances cover about a fifth of the state’s population. Along with Oxford’s, the measures in Toledo, Dayton and Cincinnati also cover transgender people. The other cities are Cleveland, Columbus and Canton; the college towns of Oberlin, Athens and Yellow Springs; and four other Cleveland suburbs: Lakewood, North Olmsted, East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights.

March 31, 2009: Miami to host gay pride parade. By Katherine Kohls, The Miami Student. http://media.www.miamistudent.net/media/storage/paper776/news/2009/03/31/Campus/Miami.To.Host.Gay.Pride.Parade-3689214.shtml. Spectrum's Awareness Week will have an addition to the usual activities this year: a gay pride parade. The parade will be the first for the Miami University community at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7. Parade coordinator Brian McQueen said the idea originated during a workshop in early February. He said what he thought to be a farfetched idea for Miami's campus quickly gained support and began to develop. "In my mind it was something Miami would never go for," McQueen said. "I still expect some controversy." According to McQueen, spectators and participants alike can look forward to a parade of celebration. McQueen said there will be music, posters, balloons and plenty of people chanting and cheering. "From pets, parents, students, faculty, gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, drag queens, drag kings, everyone is welcome to come out and promote self-acceptance," McQueen said. Awareness Week Chair Tommy Marzella said he wants the parade to be a visual representation of those on campus who are members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) and straight alliances. "It's a great way to spread awareness and human rights to everyone," Marzella said. Marzella said his primary expectation is to branch out to the rest of Miami's campus and gain support. "We want the parade to be peaceful, happy and colorful," McQueen said. According to McQueen, participants will begin to assemble at 4 p.m. at the Phi Delta Theta gates on the corner of High Street and Campus Avenue. The Parade will continue down Slant Walk, cross Spring Street and end at MacMillan Hall. McQueen said Oxford Police Department will escort the parade to prevent traffic problems as they cross Spring Street. McQueen said he got approval from the Student Activities Board to lead the parade across campus. "This is not to throw (gay pride) in people's faces, it's about openly celebrating who we are," McQueen said. According to Marzella, the Alliance Picnic will take place at 5:30 p.m. April 7 in 212 MacMillan after the parade. "The Alliance Picnic is a way for allies to show their support," Marzella said. According to Marzella, Mother Paula Jackson of Cincinnati's Church of Our Savior will speak at the picnic. Marzella said her church supports those that are supportive of the GLBT community. "I expect the parade to be a big success," McQueen said. "I think people are eager to make it an annual event." Marzella said there will be poster-making parties throughout the week leading up to the parade. The first took place Monday, while the second will take place from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday in 27 MacMillan Hall.

October 23, 2009: ASG approves gender-neutral housing. By Courtney Day. http://www.miamistudent.net/2.8199/asg-approves-gender-neutral-housing-1.1147697#.T2NBy8xVvH0. Imagine feeling uncomfortable using residence hall restrooms or changing clothes in front of your roommate. You worry about what people on your floor would think if they discovered your gender identity doesn't match your birth certificate. Associated Student Government (ASG) senate approved a bill Tuesday evening to support a gender-neutral housing option in certain residence halls to help students wrestling with those situations. The proposal would allow transgendered students or any students who would prefer to live with members of the opposite legal sex to select suite-style rooms in Flower, Hahne and Hepburn halls, as well as at Heritage Commons. The proposed suites were chosen because they are on already co-ed floors and have private bathrooms. If the bill comes into effect as written, students who designate the gender-neutral housing preference would be able to choose roommates with whom they feel comfortable or they could select the random roommate option which would place them with other students who select gender-neutral housing. First-year Paul Hanna, senator for Morris Hall, voiced concern that the proposed housing option could lead to potential stigma for the university. In response to Hanna's concerns, Off-campus Senator Paul Struebing said Miami University already has a stigma. He said Miami is known for its lack of, and even disdain for, diversity. "This bill would do something to get rid of that stigma," Struebing said. First-year Cindy Moore, senator for Dorsey and Symmes halls, said the university has a goal of increasing diversity and this is an area where that could be done. "I can't see how allowing students to room with people they are comfortable with would bring a stigma," Moore said. "Maybe we need to open our minds a bit." Authors of the bill included a reference to Miami's mission statement, which states, "As an inclusive community, Miami strives to cultivate an environment where diversity and difference are appreciated and respected." "This is a great step toward understanding students and their needs," said Nathan Zwayer, off-campus senator. Several senators raised concerns that the proposed option could give students a loophole to live with their romantic partner or an unfair advantage in housing preference. These are logistical issues that would have to be worked out by housing, dining and guest services before the option goes into effect. "I would hope that as we go forward, the people responsible would be aware of possible loopholes and games," said Aaron Bly, off-campus senator. Another concern Hanna raised is the potential for a negative reaction from parents. Spectrum co-president Marissa Sims said parents whose children are in need of gender-neutral housing will likely support the option. "We are adults, and we should be able to choose who we want to live with," Sims said. Sims said the idea of gender-neutral option would work better than a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (GLBTQ) Living-learning Community (LLC) because an LLC might out students who would like to keep their gender or sexuality private and because it may become a target for intolerant students. It is still unclear how many students would opt for gender-neutral housing. Demere Woolway, coordinator of GLBTQ services, said she's seen interest from students. "I do get calls regularly from concerned students who are nervous about coming out to their roommates," Woolway said. While the bill only suggests designating gender-neutral housing for upperclass students, Off-campus Senator Matt Sinko said he feels the option may be more important for first-year students. While the option will likely only be open to upperclassmen at first because of the first-year LLC selection process, first-years may have the opportunity to request gender-neutral housing. It remains unclear how long it may take for the proposed option to come into affect. If Miami does create an option for gender-neutral housing, it will be joining more than 40 other colleges and universities in the United States who have adopted similar policies including Brown University, University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania.

April 21, 2010. Miami Student: I'm A Hate Crime Victim. http://www.wcpo.com/news/local/story/Miami-Student-Im-A-Hate-Crime-Victim/GNIyb1tgbka2R3lpJYHyQA.cspx. OXFORD, Ohio -- Police continue to investigate a fight that started at a gay and lesbian student organization event early Saturday morning. One of the victims told 9News he believes the attack was a hate crime. The Miami University Queer/Straight Alliance hosted a drag show to raise money for Operation Smile at StadiUm Bar and Grill in Oxford. The co-president of the student group SPECTRUM said the group holds four shows a year to raise money for a variety of charities. Ben Collings, a Miami University junior, attended the event with his boyfriend. He says when he was in the restroom, he overheard others using derogatory words for homosexuals. Collings pointed out the event was in the upstairs portion of the StadiUm bar, required a secondary cover charge to enter, and the second floor restrooms were not accessible to those who were on the first floor. He says he overheard some saying, "[Expletives] do not belong in society". "Tensions escalate, I go to use the restroom, I get pushed, a fight breaks out in the restroom and it kinda filters outside, more people get involved," said Collings. Collings said his boyfriend ran across the street to the Oxford Police Department to alert them to the attack while he followed the individuals where a fight ensued. Collings suffered a broken cheek bone, broken nose and receive two black eyes. After the fight, he was taken to the hospital for treatment and underwent numerous tests. He says his injuries may require reconstructive surgery. Oxford Police say it was Collings who initiated the fight, and so far, they have not labeled the crime as a “hate incident” or “hate crime,” but they continue to investigate. "I was assaulted because of my sexual orientation, if you want to define it as that – if you want to define it as assault, that's what it's going to be defined as," said Collings. Collings also told 9News he believes if the incident involving him is not labeled a hate crime, he believes an attack on his boyfriend inside the bar is a hate crime. The student group SPECTRUM said this isn't the first time something like this has happened in Oxford. "Every time it has happened, it has never been labeled a hate crime, most people react with frustration or anger, so we just at this point are trying to bring more public attention to the problems on campus," said co-president Mat Hall. Collings said despite his injuries, he hopes his experience will help others. "If this little bit of injury prevents someone being beaten to death later on, then of course, this was worth it,” he said. A silent protest is scheduled Thursday night starting at 7 p.m. outside Shriver Center on the campus of Miami University as a response to Saturday's incident. The event is open to the public.

April 22, 2010: Miami students rallying against hate. By Meagan Engle, Oxford Press. http://www.oxfordpress.com/news/oxford-news/miami-students-rallying-against-hate-665886.html. OXFORD — Miami University students are organizing a town hall forum and silent Rally Against Hate on campus today, April 22, in response to allegations that two (sic) gay students were assaulted Uptown on Saturday night. Miami’s Student Senate issued a resolution this week condemning violence and discriminatory behavior against Miami students. The resolution came in response to two male students’ claims that they “encountered verbal and physical degradation regarding their sexual identities” Friday, April 16. According to Oxford police, the two 21-year-olds got into a verbal confrontation with another man in the bathroom of bar around 12:45 p.m. The students followed the man outside the bar, where he punched and kicked one student in the face, according to reports. Oxford police are investigating the assault, but aren’t considering it a hate crime because the students followed the man out of the bar. The suspect is described as less than 6 feet tall, with brown spiked hair. He was wearing a salmon polo shirt and charcoal shorts at the time, according to police. The silent rally will follow a town hall meeting on how themed parties such as “Ghetto Fest” — an off-campus bash put on by local residents — affect the student body and Miami’s image. The town hall meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Heritage Room at Shriver Center. The rally will start immediately following on the west patio, said student Alex Schaefer, who is helping organize the event. Rally participants will be asked to wear a piece of duct tape over their mouths. They are also asked to wear Miami gear and bring signs with slogans about intolerance, discrimination and hate. Buttons with the words “No hate on my campus – Miami” also will be distributed, Schaefer said.

October 25, 2010: Miami continues gender-neutral housing. By Ethan Carey http://www.miamistudent.net/news/miami-continues-gender-neutral-housing-1.1726699#.T2NCnsxVvH0 In an effort to promote a more inclusive environment for students, Miami University has implemented a gender-neutral housing option for those who are uncomfortable in the sex-segregated housing model. According to Demere Woolway, assistant director of the Office of Diversity Affairs and coordinator of GLBTQ Services, the gender-neutral housing option allows more students to feel comfortable with their living arrangements on campus. "At Miami, (gender-neutral housing) is an option for students who are in their second year or older who want to live on campus and who want to choose a roommate not necessarily on the basis of their legal sex," Woolway said. "This is a good option for some transgender individuals whose legal sex may not be the sex with which they identify. It may also be an option for whom sex-segregated living is not a good option, so for example a gay man who is more comfortable living with heterosexual women." The gender-neutral housing option is in its first year of implementation, according to Woolway, who said there is a limited amount of space for students seeking this type of housing situation. This year's program has allotted 12 beds within Heritage Commons and Hahne Hall, while plans for next year will provide 16 beds for students showing need. "This is the first year of implementation," she said. "Last year was the year that the policies were written and it was designed, and this year it has been implemented on a very, very small scale." Woolway said gender-neutral housing situations typically include suite-style living where students have four people and they all use one bathroom. According to Vicka Bell-Robinson, associate director of the Office of Residence Life, limited space requires students have a legitimate reason to request gender-neutral housing. "There is not a lot of space so there must be a good reason," Bell-Robinson said. "This program is really geared specifically towards people who are uncomfortable living in traditional corridors." The major reason this option has been offered is to help those students who feel sex-segregated living arrangements are not the best option, Bell-Robinson said. According to Coordinator of Residence Life Jamie Workman, 12 students have requested gender-neutral housing in its first year of implementation, but only 11 of them chose to live within the suite-style living arrangements. Junior Matt McCandless, a former resident assistant in Morris Hall, said offering a gender-neutral housing option is an easy way to promote diversity and ensure all students are comfortable with their on-campus housing arrangement. "I think that this is a good idea because members of the GLBTQ community are treated differently and I have seen it up close as a resident assistant," McCandless said. "I think the gender-neutral housing option will offer students more security in their living arrangements and will promote a more positive environment at Miami." Woolway said while gender-neutral housing is becoming a nationwide trend, it has only been implemented on a small scale. "I can tell you that nationally many of my colleagues at different universities have programs like this in place and it has remained a very small number of students who take advantage of it," Woolway said. "The wide majority of students are comfortable living in sex-segregated housing, that's what they've grown up with, that's what their expectations are." Bell-Robinson said while the program is still young, the university hopes to continue offering a gender-neutral option into the future.

November 14, 2011: University alumnus marks LGBT Alumni Association’s founding with two scholarships. http://www.miamistudent.net/news/campus/university-alumnus-marks-lgbt-alumni-association-s-founding-with-two-scholarships-1.2698488#.US0RQRl2Ds8 — The 15th anniversary of the 1809 LGBT Alumni Association's founding marked more than just a milestone for the organization. A new scholarship for LGBT students will be offered thanks to alumnus William Manchester. Manchester graduated from Miami University in 1959. As a member of the 1809 LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Alumni Association, Manchester wanted to give back to the school and show his support for the LGBT community, according to Demere Woolway, assistant director to Office of Diversity Affairs and Coordinator of LGBT Services. Manchester has pledged $185,000 to help make the scholarships possible. From this money, two scholarships will be created; one of which will be need-based offered for any student and the other for the LGBT students, Woolway said. "It's amazing to think Miami made that much of an impact on someone that after they leave they still continue to give back in more than just one way," sophomore Margret Allard said. "It really shows how much support and love the school has." Manchester's first gift to the school will support the 1809 LGBT Alumni Scholarship. Students are nominated for the scholarship by the LGBT alumni board and the coordinator of the office of GLBTQ, according to Michael Kumler, director of development in Student Affairs. "It's wonderful that we have alumni who love Miami and who want to celebrate the changes," Woolway said. Although Manchester himself experienced some negative times at Miami, the progress that has been made encouraged him to give back according to Billy Price, president of Spectrum. "I think it's great coming forth and setting up scholarships, it shows support not just through the administration but from the alumni as well," Price said. The second scholarship Manchester donated will go towards the university's general need based program. Students are eligible to receive the need-based scholarship based on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form completed as part of the application process, according to Kumler. The two scholarships provided by Manchester will be set up for $1,000 each.
"Generally, [the scholarships] are $1,000, but depending on availability of funds they may be more," Kumler said. " Because both gifts are being endowed by other donors, Manchester's gift doesn't actually affect the timeline of the scholarships being awarded." Both scholarships support the university's For Love and Honor campaign. The campaign is designed to enhance student learning opportunities, student financial aid and faculty support along with improving the campus.

March 15, 2012: Miami officials face discrimination lawsuit. By Adam Giffi. http://www.miamistudent.net/news/miami-officials-face-discrimination-lawsuit-1.2820669#.T2NDesxVvH1. Kaeden Kass is a transgender male student who is facing a difficult decision with potential legal implications for Miami University. After applying to be a resident assistant (RA) Kass received a job offer. The complication: Miami is requiring Kass to reside with female roommates because his birth certificate states he is a female. Kass feared this would happen when he sought the job. “I knew I would be stirring the pot if I applied, but I didn’t want to not take opportunities just because I thought I might run into controversy,” Kass said. “I was very clear with Residence Life from the start that if they wanted to put me in a sex-segregated corridor it would need to be a male one because living in a female corridor would not be acceptable for me and they assured me this was fine.” According to Kass, he was reassured when he saw on the general application form every candidate fills out there was not a line for ‘sex’ but rather ‘identified gender.’ Kass explained why he did not wish to be placed in a female dorm. “I’m just as male as any other guy walking around Miami,” Kass said. “As soon as I am forced into an all-female space, my [male] identity gets erased. I just cannot handle being invisible like that anymore.” However, a few weeks into the process Kass said he was informed that the Dean of Students, Susan Mosley-Howard, representatives from the Office of Residence Life and others were meeting to discuss his application. Shortly thereafter, Kass met with Mosley-Howard, where he was informed they were going to house him on the basis of his legal sex. “I was told that they have to go by my legal records and they kept informing me repeatedly that legally I’m a female,” Kass said. “I felt that I was treated like a delusional person who doesn’t know I’m trans and who is not aware of the complexities of my situation. It felt condescending.” Kass said he has filed an official charge of discrimination with the Office of Equity and Equal Opportunity against Mosley-Howard as well as against Robin Parker, general counsel in the Office of the President and against Jerry Olsen, director of the Office of Residence Life. Demere Woolway, Miami’s coordinator of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (GLBTQ) Services, was involved in the talks about Kass’ case. She said she is displeased the university has been unable to accommodate Kass thus far. “I think it’s really unfortunate that we weren’t able to find a housing situation that was what was appropriate for this student,” Woolway said. “I personally feel that we should be able to house people on the basis of their gender identity and not just their sex.” Not only has the process made Kass feel uncomfortable, he said ha feels it is in violation of university policies: the University Statement Asserting Respect for Human Diversity and the University Statement of Non-Discrimination. Both of these contain language stating that all at Miami must work to ensure everyone feels comfortable and the latter states: “Miami University is committed to providing equal opportunity and an educational and work environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, or veteran status.” Kass sees his case as directly contradictory to these statements. “I don’t see how this is not discriminating against me,” Kass said. “At Miami we have all this rhetoric about embracing diversity and not discriminating against anyone on any basis and Miami is not living up to these values.” Woolway agreed that on some level the statements are not being adhered to. “It gets complicated,” Woolway said. “I do think at the very least the decision is not respectful to the spirit of those policies. The spirit is that we are going to pay attention to people’s gender identity and fully respect their gender identities. But I’m not a lawyer and don’t know if that language is legally binding.” According to Associate General Counsel in the Office of the President Chris Wilson, the university cannot provide any information regarding whether such a complaint has been filed. “I can tell you that the university takes all reports of discrimination seriously and has policies and procedures in place for investigating complaints of discrimination,” Wilson said. Kass said President David Hodge has notified him that an investigation by an outside party will begin now and could go until May 5. Mosley-Howard was unavailable for comment and Olsen declined to comment. First-year Katie Tank explained why she feels university officials took the position they have. “Miami has probably chosen to take this stand to try to eliminate controversy,” Tank said. “They probably thought sticking to a legal definition of gender would be the easiest way to do this, but it looks like there will be controversy anyway.” Kass is nearing a decision on his job offer. “I feel like I’ve already lost,” Kass said. “They’ve already basically said they aren’t going to respect my gender identity and so I pretty much have no choice but to deny the job.” Both Kass and Woolway expressed a desire to raise awareness of these issues and encourage a greater level of acceptance on campus. “Trans students are members of our community here; we should be working to make our residence halls and other places on campus open and inclusive for anybody that is a part of our community,” Woolway said.

March 28, 2012: Attack On Gay College Students Investigated. Police Seek Public's Help Finding Attackers. http://www.wlwt.com/news/30789872/detail.html#ixzz1qqoUODrR. OXFORD, Ohio -- Two college students were left bloody and battered [on March 24th], and investigators said they believe the two were attacked because they're gay. Miami University student Michael Bustin was walking from one of the establishments on the campus with a man he'd met, talking and minding their own business, when he said they were blindsided with blows. "I was just walking my friend back from the drag show that was being put on," Bustin said. "We were both holding hands for a few seconds. There was nothing to it. We were just holding hands." Bustin said he heard someone yell a derogatory slur before four men walked up to his friend. "Out of nowhere, he started punching (my friend). I got in the way of the two, saying we wanted to go home. We didn't want any harm. Then, I got sucker punched twice in the face," Bustin said. Bustin said he remembers the four men giving him several more swings before some students stepped in. "If they weren't there, I'd probably by lying in the hospital right now," Bustin said. The university responded swiftly, sending a bulletin to the community, and Bustin said the dean reached out to him immediately. "It actually made me feel humbled that the university looked into my matter," Bustin said. "I just want this to be a message. Just stop hate." Oxford police said they're still working on sketches of the attackers.

March 29, 2012: Spectrum holds summit to facilitate GLBTQ action. http://www.miamistudent.net/news/campus/spectrum-holds-summit-to-facilitate-glbtq-action-1.2833726#.US0QuRl2Ds8 — After holding the first Love, Honor and Pride Summit last week along with many other events to celebrate LGBT Awareness Week, Spectrum has put together a course of action to further build a sense of community within the GLBTQ community.With almost 40 people coming together for the event, including two volunteers from IBM to help lead, ideas were generated to figure out a way to garner a greater sense of community with each other and within the entire Miami University community. Billy Price, co-president of Spectrum, said he greatly appreciated the IBM members and their influence on the summit. “They were great facilitators,” he said. “Having them lead us and learning from their strategic planning, we were really able to figure out what we as a group thought were the most important steps to take for Spectrum in the future.” The Coordinator of GBLTQ Services, Demere Woolway, described the event as a much needed opportunity to bring people together to flush out and plot a five-year plan to help better create a welcoming and encompassing GLBTQ community at Miami. “We generated so many good ideas of where we could go in the future,” Woolway said. “With the help of the IBM volunteers we were able to prioritize ideas, narrow them down and pick five specific actions we plan to fulfill in the near future.” These five actions included encouraging outreach toward high school Gay Straight Alliance groups to help ease students’ fears of taking the next step into a college community, improving training for faculty and staff, having the alumni create an “It Gets Better” video to help show how far the GLBTQ community has come and where it can go from here, creating a special dinner or banquet at the beginning of each semester to welcome and bring together GLBTQ students and improving and expanding on gender-neutral housing and restrooms. Co-President of Spectrum, Mark Noviski, said he believes Miami has successfully made a place for the GLBTQ community, but there are still steps it must take to encompass everyone. “Miami hasn’t really fully developed a place for the transgender community,” Noviski said. “They need to have a tough conversation and flush out their policies to make everyone feel more accepting on this campus.” Sophomore Gabi Jellison, one of three students currently living in gender-neutral housing on campus, agreed with Noviski. “Miami has the potential to be a fantastic place for the GLBTQ community,” Jellison said. “I’ve met many members of the faculty and staff who are wonderful, passionate people that make a point to celebrate diversity. However, so much could be improved within the university structure alone. Many of my friends in the GLBTQ community are surprised that I live in a gender neutral suite and had no idea that it was even an option for them.” Woolway said she also believes there is room to grow, and with the success of the summit under their belts, Spectrum now has a foundation of how they plan to create an encompassing sense of equality throughout the Miami community in the future.

April 5, 2012: UC and Miami to Host Rallies Against Hate Crimes. Coinciding events are in response to recent assault on gay students in Oxford. http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blog-3230-uc_and_miami_to_host_rallies_against_hate_crimes.html. University of Cincinnati and Miami University student organizations will hold rallies at 5 p.m. Thursday in response to the March 24 assault of two students — one from UC and one from Miami — on the Miami campus. The events are meant to show support for GLBT people and call for an end to hate crimes. Miami University student Michael Bustin and a male friend were reportedly walking home from a drag show when someone yelled a derogatory slur at them. Bustin's friend was then attacked by four men who also reportedly assaulted Bustin when he tried to help, according to WLWT-TV. The two men had been holding hands during their walk home. Miami University sent a memo to the community and reached out to Bustin soon afterward. The rallies’ Facebook page says the other man was a University of Cincinnati student. The police have released a sketch of one of the accused attackers and are seeking the public’s help to find those involved. Both events will begin at 5 p.m. Those attending the Miami rally are encouraged to wear "Love is the New Label/White Out Hate" shirts or just white T-shirts or tops. After the rally, participants will line up holding hands in a demonstration of solidarity and to show that “no one deserves to be hurt for showing affection.” More from the rallies’ Facebook page: “We, the students of the LGBTQA alliances of Miami University and University of Cincinnati, stand united in our demand for a safe places to live, learn, work and show affection. It is unacceptable for anyone to be assaulted, but it is especially repulsive for the victims to be targeted because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or any other classification.” The Miami rally will take place at the Phi Delt Gates on the Miami Campus, while the UC event will take place at the corner of Martin Luther King Drive and Clifton Avenue. The events are being organized by Miami Spectrum and UC Alliance. For more information, click here or search on Facebook: “Emergency Action: Miami & UC Unite Against Hate!"

June 1, 2012: The passing of Religion Professor, Roy Bowen Ward. http://www.miamialum.org/s/916/index-social.aspx?sid=916&gid=1&pgid=4421&cid=8777&ecid=8777&ciid=33021&crid=0. To Our Miami University Family, It is with great sadness that the 1809 LGBT Alumni Board announces the passing of Religion Professor Dr. Roy Bowen Ward on Sunday, May 20, 2012. With his death we have lost a great person and family member—a critical catalyst who propelled the Miami University LGBT Community forward, making it much stronger today than would have been imagined possible back in the 1980s when GLA was first founded. Jeff Logel ’89, member of the 1809 LGBT Alumni Board, voices the sentiment of the Board. In citing Audre Lorde, Jeff says what many of us feel: "I have come to believe over and over again that what is not important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood." Roy Ward challenged Jeff and others to find their voice. "He challenged me to speak up, strongly and loudly, even when I knew the consequences would be 'bruising or misunderstood.' I will never be silent. Silence equals death. The personal is political. A strong voice and even stronger politics destroy the vacuum allowing others to blaze trails of justice. Let me be clearly understood—Roy taught me never to fear again." A small summary of Roy's commitment to Miami includes the following: In August 1986, Linda Singer and Roy Bowen Ward taught the first course directly and explicitly about gay and lesbian issues on the Miami campus. The course, entitled "The Homosexual and Lesbian Experience," championed a campus of inclusion and a voice for LGBT acceptance. In September 1986, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GLA), which now exists as Spectrum, formed on the Miami University campus and was recognized as a student group. Roy Bowen Ward, Professor of Religion, affiliate in Women's Studies, and History, served as the first faculty adviser to the newly formed group. Roy was the only faculty/staff member willing to serve in this role—for which he received much verbal and written harassment. His bravery ensured a vibrant LGBT student group from 1986 to the present—we owe so much to Roy! He was always such a force for social justice and will be missed by so many. In his honor, the Miami University 1809 LGBT Alumni Association annually awards a $1,000 scholarship in his name. There will be a memorial service on Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. in the Sesquicentennial Chapel on Miami's campus. Roy's four children will be attending. Please spread the word, and hopefully you can join Jeff Logel and other members of the 1809 LGBT Alumni Board at the memorial. The 1809 LGBT Alumni Association will also be honoring Dr. Ward during our reception on Saturday, June 16, 2012 during Alumni Weekend. The reception will be from 2-4 p.m. in the Resource Room of the Women’s Center and Office of GLBTQ Services in 206 MacMillan Hall. If your plans include returning to Miami for Alumni Weekend—and we hope they do—please join us to pay tribute to Roy through pictures, stories and spending time with friends. If you are unable to attend, please feel free to share your stories and/or memories of Roy with Co-Chairs Andy Zeisler (zeisleja@muohio.edu) and/or Amy Greenbaum (amy@amygreenbaum.com), and we will make sure that your voice is shared. In shared grief, 1809 LGBT Alumni

September 7, 2012: Discussing diversity: Lawyer rules actions of Miami officials non-discriminatory. http://www.miamistudent.net/news/discussing-diversity-1.2894645#.US0S1Bl2Ds8 — Discrimination charges filed last school year by Kaeden Kass, a transgender male student, have been dropped. School policies go unchanged, but discussion continues. According to Kass, controversy arose after he applied and received a job offer as a resident assistant (RA) last year and was denied his request to live in a male residence hall. Kass said discussion began between Dean of Students Susan Mosley-Howard and representatives from the Office of Residence Life. According to Kass, he was informed shortly after he would be housed according to the gender listed on his birth certificate—female. Kass said he was assigned to Flower residence hall in a suite with females, but turned it down. According to Kass, he now lives off campus with another male. “I didn’t want to be a part of a system that was rejecting me,” Kass said. “If they’re not going to really stand up and think critically about what diversity means and challenge themselves to live up to their values then I don’t want to be a part of it.” Kass filed a charge of discrimination with Miami University’s Office of Equity and Equal Opportunity against Mosley-Howard as well as Robin Parker—general counsel in the Office of the President—and Jerry Olson, director of the Office of Residence Life. “I had to name specific people who I thought were discriminating against me, but it’s really not a people thing; it’s a system thing,” Kass said. “It’s hard to change the system.” According to Kass, the system in place does not accommodate certain students, including but not limited to homosexuals and transgender individuals. “We’re ignoring their identities and making them live with people that they can’t identify with—a situation which can more often than not be alienating and hostile,” Kass said. According to Olson, Parker—who declined to comment—is the school official that would normally handle such cases but could not oversee Kass’ after being named in the complaint. Olson said as a result an outside party was brought in to do the investigation. According to Kass, the investigation ended in May after being ruled non-discriminatory by a lawyer from Columbus, Ohio, Betty Stanton. Kass said school policy remains unchanged aside from the RA application, which now asks for students’ ‘sex’ rather than ‘identified gender’. According to Mosley-Howard, there is no flaw in the system as Kass believes there to be. “There are no other changes because the issue was not the policy or the process, so those things are still the same,” Mosley-Howard said. According to Olson, if a similar situation arose it is impossible to know if it would be handled the same way. “I think every situation winds up being unique, and we want every student to have the opportunity to serve in leadership roles,” Olson said. “Whether [a different case] would wind up being exactly the same is hard to tell because every case is different, but there is no interest on the part of our department to limit who is eligible to apply, and who is accepted to be an RA.” Though he did not comment on the outcome of the case, Olson said he acknowledges Kass’ feelings. “I don’t want any student to ever feel as if he or she has been treated unfairly—that’s awful,” Olson said. “I believe that Kaeden had felt he had been discriminated against, and we have to be able to respond well to students who feel that’s what occurred here at the university.” According to Mosley-Howard, Kass was treated just as any other student would be. “Each time a student applies to be an RA we look at the set of circumstances that they present, and then of course the process is exactly the same for every student,” Mosley-Howard said. “The process is very consistent across the board.” Along with frustration over the outcome, Kass said the controversy got a lot of unexpected media attention, which led to hurtful comments that had a damaging effect on him. “With the media, it’s so easy for people to de-personalize stuff,” Kass said. “It’s so easy for people to forget that I’m an actual human being.” According to Demere Woolway, Miami University’s coordinator of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (GLBTQ) Services, negative reactions like the ones Kaeden experienced often stem from peoples’ lack of familiarity with transgender individuals. “When you’re born, ‘is it a boy or is it a girl?’ is the very first question you ask and it continues in elementary school,” Woolway said. “Girls line up here and boys line up there. We grow up in a world that says this is the way things are, and it’s hard to question something like that.” Kass said he thinks people may have reacted differently if they understood his motivation behind filing the charges was not to hurt anyone, but to fight for his rights. “I’m just a person who’s trying to live the best life I can, and who’s trying to be the happiest that I can be,” Kass said. “I think that everyone deserves that right—that’s why this is so important to me.” According to Woolway, Kass’ case was not in vain. “The end result was obviously not what he was hoping for,” Woolway said. “At the same time it has allowed us to have a conversation about how we are serving transgender students. We have been able to talk a little more publicly about how we as a university can serve students who don’t fit gender binaries very well.” Woolway said she is in touch with colleagues across the country whose universities are also looking for alternative ways to accommodate students in similar cases. According to Woolway, even before she came to Miami in 2009 there was discussion of expanding gender-neutral housing on campus, which would allow male and female students to choose to live together. According to Kass, this option should be in place in existing residence halls. “How do you maintain a binary sexed system when the lines between sexes and genders are blurred?” Kass said. “You really can’t. That’s where a gender-neutral approach comes in.” There are a number of gender-neutral housing openings currently available in Hahne Hall for students with substantial reason to opt into it, but Kass said he does not feel that is acceptable. “The ‘substitute’ that we’ve put in place to ‘deal’ with trans students is inadequate and virtually unknown,” Kass said. “The fact [that] it’s so underground is stigmatizing. It’s shoved in the corner of the university and is only available to second-year students and up.” According to Vicka Bell-Robinson, associate director for the Office of Residence Life, last December the idea of offering gender-neutral housing in Heritage Commons was brought up prior to—not in connection with—Kass’ case. Bell-Robinson said a survey was sent out Aug. 1 to Miami students asking their opinion on gender-neutral housing options being available in the future. According to Bell-Robinson, the survey results should be in by the end of September, and will hopefully help determine whether the option should be offered. According to Kass, though this option will help accommodate transgender students, it does not address the bigger issue. “We need to acknowledge trans students’ identities and stop treating them like freaks,” Kass said. “We also need to break down the sex-segregated system as a whole, which is the larger culprit that leads to discrimination like this.” Kass said his case is not the focal point of the issue at hand. “My case was a symptom of the real problem,” Kass said. “People can’t forget about it. It will change if people keep talking.” According to Woolway, the bigger issue is peoples’ refusal to accept and respect the identity of transgender individuals. “Regardless of the decision in this particular instance, GLBTQ Services is going to continue talking about the needs of trans people—continue to push people to examine their policies and practices to make sure that we are doing our best to include everybody on this campus,” Woolway said. According to Kass, changes to the system are necessary, and he realizes it will be a slow process. “I know the issue is complicated and it’s hard to see where the problems are and what exactly should be done about them,” Kass said. “Because just as the issue is two-fold, the solution must be.”

October 25, 2012: Brotherhood urges respect on and off ice. http://www.miamistudent.net/news/brotherhood-urges-respect-on-and-off-ice-1.2937500#.US0PvBl2Ds8. — Over the past year and a half, through hours of practice and travel for games, the Miami University men’s hockey team has stood united behind more than just their love for the game. The team has been spreading the message that athletes should be judged by how well they play their sport, rather than irrelevant factors such as race or sexual orientation. On Oct. 15, the You Can Play campaign, a project supporting respect and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes, released a video featuring Miami hockey players as they talked about openly gay student manager, Brendan Burke, who was killed in a car accident in 2010. According to Senior Curtis McKenzie, Burke’s death spurred the inception of the You Can Play campaign by Brendan’s father Brian Burke and brother Patrick Burke. The video is a tribute to the legacy Burke left on the team and its message is very simple: “If you can play, then you can play.” Head Coach Rico Blasi said Burke’s attitude was one to admire. “One of the things Brendan always talked about was that it doesn’t matter if you’re gay, or black, or green; if you can do a certain job it shouldn’t matter.” Blasi said. “He was genuine, compassionate and just himself. He didn’t try to hide anything or be somebody that he wasn’t. Just that alone is a great message for everybody.” Blasi said that although the You Can Play campaign got its start in hockey, due to the Burke family’s strong ties to the sport, the message is directed at athletic teams of all types, and further—at society. “We’re all in this together – who are we to judge?” Blasi said. “If everyone could just learn a little of this [message], and be aware of it, I think our society would be better.” Blasi said he is deeply upset that gay slurs, fliers and other displays of insensitivity continue to be evident on Miami’s campus. Still, Blasi and the team are focused on all of the positive progress that has been made through the project so far, and the hope is that any negative feedback can be changed. According to McKenzie, the project has grown rapidly since its inception, reaching the NHL and college sports teams of all types across the country. “So far it’s been a great success, but its still developing, I think, as well,” McKenzie said. Senior Brian Mattison said he feels the campaign is a step in the right direction. “I think that the campaign will bring sports teams closer to their teammates. In terms of Miami’s campus, I think it can have a big influence on helping people feel more comfortable expressing their sexual orientation.” More videos and information about the You Can Play campaign can be found online at youcanplayproject.org. Anyone, and any team, can get involved by taking the online pledge to promote equality and respect in sports. In regards to getting more athletic teams and students at Miami on board, Blasi said it is not for him to decide. “If they want to do it because they feel strongly about it then I would encourage them to do it,” he said. “Everybody has to do things for themselves, we’re just trying to deliver the message.”

November 29, 2012: LGBTQ group Spectrum hosts first ‘Queer Prom’. http://www.miamistudent.net/news/lgbtq-group-spectrum-hosts-first-queer-prom-1.2963684#.US0R-xl2Ds8 — On Nov. 29, a small group of students gathered at the Goggin Ice Center Lounge to attend an event that was the first of its kind on Miami University’s Campus. Queer Prom, hosted by Spectrum, is a semi-formal event for LGBTQ students and allies at Miami University. Spectrum is Miami’s undergraduate LGBTQ-straight alliance and is known for sponsoring events that promote activism, awareness and acceptance according to Co-President senior Billy Price. Spectrum often hosts drag shows as its primary fundraiser and social event. The Queer Prom event is part of a push to refocus Spectrum’s efforts to host more social events on campus, according to Spectrum Co-President junior Matt Metzler. “This event was small this year, in part because we spent such a short time planning for it,” Metzler said. “For the first time ever putting it on, I think we had a great turnout and it has set us up for many more great events in the future.” Sophomore Jacob Turnbow, the social chair of Spectrum and the main planner for Queer Prom, said the event was tough to pull off on such short notice. “A lot of Spectrum members have been asking for an event like this one for a long time and I’m glad we were able to get it together,” Turnbow said. “I am very proud that Miami is accepting enough to host a potentially provocative event like this one.” Couple Connor Wilkinson and Kendal Keiser met in their small-town high school and said the event was particularly special for them. “I have never been around this many gay people in one place before,” Wilkson said. “[Queer Prom] has been fun and a great experience.” “It is great to see people out and being themselves,” Keiser said. “One of my favorite parts of being [at Queer Prom] is that every type of couple and every person is welcome.” First-year Lilly Barger compared Queer Prom to her high school’s prom. Barger said she would have loved to be out in high school especially for prom. Barger said she wore a suit to prom when she would have felt more comfortable in a ball gown. “Many of us weren’t out in high school or couldn’t be very outgoing about it if we were,” Barger said. “This event can’t replace the high school experience, but it does remind us that there are places where we can be ourselves.” Senior Dylan Mosley was an attendee who had been out for his high school proms. He said the biggest difference that he felt between the events was the size. However, according to Mosley and a number of others at the event, the small size was not necessarily a negative point. “Most of the people here (at Queer Prom) already know each other, the event is really small, but I think it is more comfortable for some people,” Mosley said. Queer Prom was included in the Spectrum sponsored “Out Week” activities and marked the last major event of the semester. According to Turnbow, Spectrum has already begun planning for its largest and most visible event “Awareness Week” which is scheduled to begin March 19.

June 25, 2013: Miami University Makes Strides Toward Acceptance of Gay Students. http://wyso.org/post/miami-university-makes-strides-toward-acceptance-gay-students. By Katie Chaffee & Chelsea Davis & Lauren Smith & Megan Walsh. Students and alumni say that Miami University has created a climate of acceptance for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer students, despite the school’s longstanding conservative reputation and location in a deeply conservative part of the state. “I think the biggest obstacle hindering Miami’s accepting of the LGBTQ community is the campus’s tendency toward conservative values,” said Matt Metzler, an English education and English literature double major and co-president of the campus LGBTQ group Spectrum. “There is a long-standing conflation of conservative values and anti-gay views.”Miami University was awarded 4.5 out of 5 stars on the LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index compiled by Campus Pride, an advocacy group for LGBT students. The score was based on Miami’s LGBT resource center and course offerings, among other factors. By comparison, Campus Pride gave Central State University 1 star, Wright State University 3.5 stars, University of Cincinnati 4 stars, and Ohio State University a perfect 5 stars. The University of Dayton is not included in the listings. LGBT resources and events at Miami include pride parades, galas, awareness week and a number of organizations. Miami also holds a yearly Lavender Graduation. Scheduled the day after graduation, the ceremony honors LGBTQ and allied graduates. Metzler said one of his proudest moments at Miami was in October 2011, when gay and straight students joined forces for a Unite Miami rally to protest the planned appearance of members of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church on campus. “They were originally coming for a class but then they decided that they were going to picket while they were here,” said Metzler, “and that’s obviously a really sensitive subject for the LGBT community.” Acceptance of gay and lesbian students at Miami is not complete, according to Carol Stubblefield, administrative assistant in the Office of Student Affairs at Miami University Hamilton. “A female student came in (to the office) just the other day in tears for having been picked on or bothered in class by the professor. There needs to be more direction and more experience for teachers,” she said. “They need to be more aware of these students.” Stubblefield, who graduated from Miami University Hamilton in 1988, said the university was more judgmental when she was a student. Increased inclusiveness at Miami fits within a national trend at colleges and universities, according to GLAAD, an advocacy group formerly called the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. “Universities have become more inclusive of LGBT issues in their diversity services offices or having a specific program for LGBT services,” said Megan Townsend, GLAAD’s Entertainment and Operations Coordinator. “In recent months a number of universities have amended their student insurance programs to address the needs of transgender students.” Townsend cited a recent incident at Emerson College, in Boston, where one of the school’s fraternities raised funds for their trans brother's surgery. Janet Hurn, 48, a Miami alumna and full-time faculty member at Miami Middletown and Miami Hamilton campuses, has a life-partner in fellow Miami alumnae Tina Gregory. Miami recognizes that she is in a domestic partnership and the couple receives benefits from the university. Hurn said as a student in the 1980s, she used to feel like a second-class citizen, but no longer harbors those feelings. Metzler, the campus LGBTQ group co-president, said one adjustment Miami could still make is to take gender identity into account for all first-year and transfer students’ housing applications. “The first step will be to make sure that Miami advertises the existing genderneutral housing opportunities that they offer,” said Metzler. “The only place to currently learn about these opportunities is on the GLBTQ Services website.” The challenge facing Miami is the same as the challenge facing the country as a whole, said Hurn: learning to accept differences. Beyond issues of sexual orientation and identification, we need to become “cognizant of differences and a tolerant society,” she said.

August 2, 2013: TransKids: Miami University Research on Transgender Children Could Change Attitudes. http://outlookcolumbus.com/2013/08/transkids-miami-university-research-on-transgender-children-could-change-attitudes-august-2013/. By Nicole George. Miami University researchers hope a 10-year study with transgender children and their families will help people for generations to come. The TransKids Project is gathering information through continuing interviews and surveys of families with gender-variant children. It’s some of the first available research on a non-clinical sample of families with gender non-conforming children. “The broad aim is to increase awareness and understanding of these families’ experiences raising their children in order to reduce prejudice and discrimination,” said Kate Kuvalanka, an assistant professor of family studies at Miami who performed other research with LGBT families. “We also hope to better inform educators, health care professionals and policymakers as we learn about the challenges our families are facing in their schools, in therapists’ and doctors’ offices, and other community settings.” A majority of parents in the study are striving to affirm and accept their children’s true selves, and Kuvalanka said that will help researchers discover the long-term impact of family support on a child’s well-being. “Research has shown that transgender youth have a high risk of suicide, and we wonder whether the children in our study will have a lower risk due to their supportive families,” she said. Transgender children have gained some understanding and acceptance among policymakers lately. In July, California lawmakers approved a bill that gives transgender children the right to choose the restrooms they use and the teams they join at their schools. Massachusetts has similar law in place for its transgender youth. In June, state officials in Colorado overruled a local school district and ruled in favor of a transgender first-grader’s right to use the girls’ restroom in her school. But such victories still come amid setbacks. An Idaho grocery store banned a transgender woman from its premises in April because she used the women’s room. In New Mexico, the organization that regulates high school sports issued a directive in July that requires transgender student-athletes to play on teams based on the gender listed on their birth certificates. Seven Miami University students worked with the TransKids project during the 2012-13 academic year. They said they’ve already felt the impact personally that they hope their research will have on others. Elena Rymer, who joined Kuvalanka in 2011 as the first student to help with the project, said the study has “opened up my mind to a completely different community” and has made her an advocate. While she knows her the research will help transgender children, Rymer said she feels like she has learned so much more from the study’s participants. “I feel like I’m stealing from them,” she said. “We are honored that these families have opened their lives to us, and we look forward to sharing their stories with others,” Rymer said. The study also has created a support network among the participating parents and families. What has been helpful to families is “knowing there are people wanting to know about their kids. They seem really appreciative,” said student researcher Derek Mahan. “It lets them know they’re not alone,” said Caroline Trank, another student researcher. As part of the study, Kuvalanka will track how children persist in their gender variance over the course of the 10-year study. Many professionals dismiss variance as a “phase of strange behavior,” she said, “but when 3- and 4-year-olds insist they have been born in the wrong body, what direction do parents take?” The study also will chronicle the troubles children experience in school and in the health-care system when they choose to transition from their natal sexes. By recording and compiling the experiences of families, Kuvalanka’s team wants to help therapists, clinicians, social services, schools and other families understand what families of gender variant children go through.

August 26, 2014. New Miami website kicks up controversy. http://miamistudent.net/?p=1042. By Katie Taylor. Controversy over a portion of Miami University’s new website has students pointing fingers at the administration. During the transition to the new domain, the portion of Miami’s website with resources for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (GLBTQ) community was cut from 26 pages of links, photos and contact information, to a two-paragraph blurb. Director of University News and Communications Claire Wagner said the lack of content is not permanent, and is a result of the complex nature of the digital project, which is ongoing. Matt Metzler, 14’ Miami alumnus and former co-president of Spectrum — Miami’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (GLBTQ) student organization — expressed his disappointment. “I would like to think that it was not an intentional slight against the GLBTQ community here or against anyone in the Office of Diversity Affairs,” Metzler said. “But I do think even if it is unintentional, it still communicates that the GLBTQ community and other diverse minority communities on campus aren’t necessarily Miami’s biggest priority.” In response, Metzler dragged the issue into the social media spotlight with a story published in Brickwork magazine, a progressive Oxford publication unaffiliated with the university. As one of the magazine’s co-editors, he was involved in the launching of the hashtag circulating Twitter, #ErasedAtMU. “We wanted to make a big splash on social media and hopefully extend that to, not only the GLBTQ community, but any other minority community at Miami who feel they might not be represented very well on Miami’s website right now,” he said. The new Assistant Director of Diversity Affairs, Shevonne Nelson, took on her role as the coordinator of GLBTQ Services in July. Prior to her hiring, the position remained empty for a year. Though she felt Metzler’s article headline and the hashtag were too strong, she recognized the issue at hand and acknowledged the need for a solution. “Our website is lacking; I’m going to be honest,” Nelson said. “But the services and the support we provide students was not and is not erased, even if our website is not fully functional.” Metzler’s biggest concern is for incoming students who are unable to find the resources they need. Until yesterday, after attention was brought to the issue, the contact information of the new GLBTQ Services Coordinator was not listed on the website. In the midst of the conflict, confusion over who is responsible for the GLBTQ Services page surfaced. According to Director of Student Affairs Budget and Technology Tim Kresse, website creation was delegated to various offices within Student Affairs. GLBTQ Services falls under the Office of Diversity Affairs. Diversity Affairs Director, Gerald Yearwood, declined to comment on the website overhaul. Nelson said a meeting has been scheduled this week to make headway on the project and provide GLBTQ students with the resources they need. She is dedicated to making students feel comfortable, safe and welcome, and has made herself available since taking the position a month ago. Assistant Director of the Armstrong Student Center (ASC) Adam Leftin, responsible for creating the ASC portion of the university website, said the focus should be turned to the work Diversity Affairs and GLBTQ Services has accomplished through the transition. “It took so many different people at the university really stepping up to try and make sure that the students last year (during the move into the ASC and website change) received the services and events that type of student-population really needs, to feel that support; no one should feel erased.” Metzler acknowledged the past success of GLBTQ Services on Miami’s campus, but encouraged the administration to resolve the issue as soon as possible. “I would just like to communicate to [incoming students]… that there is a very strong and supportive GLBTQ community on this campus,” Metzler said. “We’re still really active and there are a lot of things going on this year that they’ll be able to get involved in even if they can’t necessarily find that information online right now.”

April 8, 2015: Student Charged In Graffiti Case Withdraws From Ohio School. http://wyso.org/post/student-charged-graffiti-case-withdraws-ohio-school. By Associated One of two Miami University students charged in connection with offensive graffiti in a residential hall has withdrawn from school, and the second says he plans to. Nineteen-year-old William Armour says in an "open letter" sent to The Associated Press that he didn't live up to the school's ethics code and feels that his continued presence on campus would be "a distraction" that brings unwanted media attention to the school. Student Samir Lal said Wednesday by email he apologizes and is withdrawing. School president David Hodge called the graffiti "profane, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and homophobic" in a university-wide message Monday. Armour claims he wrote only one statement on the hall information board, and that he isn't "a racist or a bigot." He and Lal still face charges of criminal mischief.

April 10, 2015: Study: Few GLBTQ students feel welcome at Miami, in Greek life. http://miamistudent.net/?p=17005134. By Bonnie Miebers, Senior Staff Writer. GLBTQ students feel less like they belong on campus than their fellow students in Greek life, according to a study by Miami University’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Services. Sixty-six percent of straight Greeks feel they always fit in at Miami, while just 33 percent of GLBTQ students feel equally comfortable on campus. GLBTQ students in the study said they had fewer friends in sororities and fraternities and more GLBTQ friends compared to straight students. Students in sororities and fraternities reported the opposite, having more friends who were also involved in Greek life and fewer GLBTQ friends than straight students who are not involved in fraternities or sororities. The study shows that the exclusivity and selectiveness of fraternities and sororities can make even straight students feel left out. Greek life is the reason many students feel at home at Miami, but the way sororities and fraternities are gendered can attribute to the alienation of people who do not fit into those categories. “I don’t feel comfortable walking around campus holding my boyfriend’s hand,” openly gay first-year Colin McDonough said. “I think if I was in a frat I would feel ostracized because I would be the ‘gay’ brother.” Paul McCreary, awareness chair of SPECTRUM and openly gay brother of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, said he sees things differently. “I never thought I would be in Greek life,” McCreary said. When he first came to Miami, McCreary said that he believed Greek life was for straight, white people. But, after accepting a bid from Lambda Chi, he said he feels Greek life is inclusive. McCreary said the Interfraternity Conference (IFC) is very accepting and does not tolerate any type of discrimination. “Greek life, from what I’ve seen at Miami, isn’t homophobic,” he said. The study urges sororities and fraternities that believe their organizations are inclusive to be more open about that inclusiveness. It calls for positive images of GLBTQ identities and discussions of transgender individuals. Shevonne Nelson, assistant director for the Office of Diversity Affairs agrees that, looking at the study as a reference point, the campus has room for growth. “Our GLBTQ students, faculty and staff consistently report only having moderately positive experiences on campus,” Nelson said. “Moderately positive” may not sound bad to the average person, she said, but to the person who is made to feel only moderately okay, it is a big deal. Nelson, however, believes pinning the problem on a single group, like Greek life, is a part of the problem. “Singling any one group out is part of the larger problem of why many groups feel moderately or less comfortable on campus,” Nelson says. “We need a climate change and we must all be a part of that change.” Students can be a part of and start this climate change by becoming more aware of how they contribute to making GLBTQ students feel like they belong on campus, Nelson said. Showing students they matter and their identities are valued is an important part of making students feel at home at Miami, she said. “We need to move beyond tolerance and fundamentally challenge the ways we talk about, support, and affirm the GLBTQ community,” Nelson said.

September 13, 2016: Mentoring offered for LGBTQ students. http://miamistudent.net/?p=17017234. Kelly McKewen, The Miami Student. Students identifying as members of the LGBTQ community in Miami’s class of 2020 have been offered two opportunities that were not available for previous classes. On the application for admission to Miami, an optional question was added to one section of the application, asking prospective students if they identify as a member of the LGBTQ community. The question was placed in a section that asked students other questions such as their affiliation with the military or with the Miami Tribe, or whether they are a first-generation college student. As these students now enter Miami as first years, a mentoring program has been created to help aid in their transition. The decision to allow students to self-identify on their applications was a result of the Office of Admissions’ efforts to prioritize diversity. The purpose of the new question was to connect LGBTQ students with resources within the LGBTQ community on campus, said Susan Schaurer, director of admissions. “Particularly for LGBTQ students, once they got here, they would have to find those resources,” Shaurer said. “We wanted to make certain we do a lot to provide diversity programs to those students on the frontside.” In conjunction with the new question on the application, a mentoring program was created for all students who self-identified on their application. The mentoring program partners first year LGBTQ students with professors and other faculty to help them connect with other members of the community. Most students involved in the program have not yet met with their mentors and know very little about what the mentoring relationship will entail. Some students, such as first-year Ryan Jago, expressed concern over being paired with a mentor just for self-identifying on the admission application. “I really don’t see a huge reason for me to have a mentor, and I hope they didn’t just assume I needed one because I’m LGBT. But, I do see a benefit in getting to know a professor on a personal level and not just a student-teacher level. I see the benefit in knowing that there is someone I can talk to, even if I never do,” Jago said. In future years, including for the class of 2021, the Office of Admissions plans on adding another question to the application to address concerns like Jago’s. In the future, if a student chooses to identify as an LGBTQ student on their application, they will also be asked if they would like information about the resources available to them. First-year Austin Zimmers believes the mentoring program will help make Miami a more inclusive place. “I think that having this program is going to contribute to a more inclusive environment because it’s a step that is being taken to help a community that has struggled to feel included in the past, feel welcome at Miami. People struggling with their gender identity or their sexuality will have a resource to help them, and students who are comfortable with themselves will have a connection that can hopefully allow them to help others who aren’t comfortable yet,” Zimmers said.

September 20, 2016. Miami students counter-protest religious hate group. http://miamistudent.net/?p=17017350. By Angela Hatcher and Jack Evans, The Miami Student. A throng of students congregated at the corner of Maple Street and Spring Street, just outside the Shriver Center. Students walking to and from class stopped and stared, listening and observing the commotion. It was a mob of people. All that could be heard were shouts of, “You’ll burn in hell!” and responses of, “Gay is good.” Getting closer to the chaos, sweat could be seen trickling down people’s faces as they stood under the sweltering sun. There was passion in the eyes of the protesters and counter-protesters. They were there with a purpose. Miami police officers Sgt. Andy Rosenberger and Officer Don Delph surveyed the area to ensure things didn’t get out of hand. The tension was tangible. Around 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 16, a group of protesters known as the Official Street Preachers (OSP) gathered at Miami University’s Oxford campus. Armed with Islamophobic and anti-LGBTQ signs and sentiments, the group began preaching their message to whomever would listen. “A person is not born a homosexual, the homosexual makes a decision of choice because of the perverted mind that they want to engage in homosexual and lesbian activity,” said a street preacher identified as Vijay. “[The] bible says that if you don’t trust in Christ and give up your homosexuality, you’re going to end up in hell.” The semicircle of students that formed around him erupted in protest. “God created people the way they are,” a student cried. “How dare you! How would you know?” another shouted. As time crawled by, the masses of students grew in number. Some lone students got caught up in the moment on the way to class. Pairs of people walked across the street from Armstrong to see what was going on and lingered to watch the activity. Others walked by, only to return 15 minutes later with water bottles and friends. Students of the same sex held hands and skipped through the fray. Some would grab each other and passionately kiss in front of the demonstrators. Others remained silent, holding up signs that spoke for themselves. The students all had different reasons for being there but stood united in counter-protest against OSP. “I’m here to preach the good word of consensual premarital sex, because it feels really good, and I don’t think these guys have ever heard about it,” said sophomore Oliver Greive, holding a speaker blasting Lonely Island’s “I Just Had Sex.” “I was out here earlier, but then I went back to go get a rainbow sticker. And then more friends and more rainbow stickers,” said first-year Jess Scott, sporting a sticker. “Honestly, I was going to pick up a package because I have class in an hour, but this is much more enjoyable,” said first-year Jake Gold. Some had a more serious message. “This is not God, this is irrelevant. What’s in Revelation? Depart from me you worker of iniquity. They talk about burning in hell, but this is hate,” said first-year Sierra Evans. “My message is what’s been instilled in me since birth: Love. God is love.” Sophomore Paige Galberg held a handcrafted sign that read, “Homosex is in,” next to the OSP sign that read, “HOMO SEX IS SIN.” “I identify as bisexual and the majority of my friends are LGBTQ community members or allies,” Galberg said. “This is just not ok. This is sad.” Miami administrators who were present at the demonstration had positive things to say about the students’ responses to the OSP protesters. “I think the student response was overall terrific,” said Mike Curme, dean of students. “It showed great support for segments of the student body who may have felt targeted by the protestors. They tried to engage in civil discourse with the demonstrators, and they acted in accordance with our institutional values.” Jayne Brownell, vice president of student affairs, offered some encouragement to students who may face discrimination and other hardships during their time at Miami and beyond. “Miami is a public institution and we are not going to be able to shield students from the bigger issues and concerns from the larger world,” said Brownell. “A lot of times they are going to be confronted with messages that they disagree with. I encourage [students] to keep supporting each other, stay engaged, educate and listen.” Miami University president Gregory Crawford also showed support for the student demonstrators in a tweet Friday afternoon. “Thanks to those students who demonstrated Love & Honor today with peace & civility in the face of division. So proud of you all,” Crawford wrote. As the protest continued throughout the afternoon and into the early evening, students began to go back to their daily routines. Greive, whose music had taken a different tune, turned to Vijay as he started to play John Lennon’s “Imagine.” “I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one…”