Students came to the Dean of Students in 1999 looking for a way to better serve the campus in educating its members about issues surrounding sexual orientation. The subject was followed through and researched by the Chancellor's Human Relations Advisory Committee and subsequently, Project B-GLAD was enacted Ocotober 11, 2001 based on the following recommendation that was approved by the Executive Cabinet of UNCW in August the same year and signed into being by Chancellor James Leutze to be implemented by Human Resources and The Office of Campus Diversity.
Finding an avenue to address homophobia and intolerance towards gays and lesbians is no easy task. Our own legislature in North Carolina currently is grappling over whether it will hear arguments for allowing sexual orientation to be included on the Hate Crimes Bill, and nationwide we are seeing similar actions by lawmakers to try and to address the rising tide of violence and hatred directed at gays and lesbians. High profile attacks on people like Mathew Sheppard of Wyoming and Billy Jack Gaither of Alabama are pointed examples of the numbers that the FBI recently released concerning assaults on gays and lesbians.
Here at UNCW we have so far been fortunate enough not to have experienced high profile cases of murder and assault on individuals resulting from hatred and intolerance toward their sexuality. While we do not have to deal with creating law that affects the entire state, we are faced with whether we will adopt a plan that will aid in promoting a better environment for our gay, lesbian, and bisexual students, faculty, and staff.
It is an unfortunate circumstance, but we have become aware of the fact that homophobia and intolerance toward gays and lesbians exists on campuses across the country. Hate Crimes inclusive of those against LGBTs constitute over 15% of the crimes on campuses of 5,000 or more students according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The impact of these crimes and of a lack of acceptance may be represented in understanding how 30% of all teen suicides are LGBT youth.
While we would like to report that homophobia is nominal to non-existent on the UNCW campus, we have found much evidence to the contrary. Students, professors, resident coordinators, and staff have all shared experiences with us that tell us that LGBT safety is at issue. We have seen the “Pride Rock” in front of the student union defaced with unbelievable callousness when it was painted with the lesbian and gay “Pride Colors” in a tribute to Mathew Sheppard in 1997, and we know it because we have everything from outright homophobic assaults written on bulletin boards in residence halls to posters being made to hurt others by calling them homosexuals in the year 2000. We even have Bible verses written on pro-gay literature left in the Union that espouse the literature as deceitful and evil. In short, for the gay, lesbian, or bisexual student at UNCW, discriminatory prejudices, intolerance, and outright acts of homophobia do exist.
From the University of Wyoming to the University of Baltimore at Maryland, from Appalachian State University to North Carolina State University, schools around the country and all over North Carolina identified similar problems and responded with individual programs based principally on one called “Safe Zone”. But, whether they call it “Safe Zone” or “Safe Haven” or even “The Ally Program”, they all have a common thread in attempting to provide a “safe” environment for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students, faculty, and staff within their own communities through exposure, education, and training. This program is also preventative, in that it educates and promotes a level of acceptance of LGBTs, thus creating a greater chance of thwarting the aforementioned hate crime incidences.
The Human Relations Advisory Committee therefore hereby recommends to Dr. James Leutze, Chancellor of The University of North Carolina at Wilmington, that there be a voluntary program instituted for faculty and staff in which the minority population of gay, lesbian, and bisexual, students is the main focus.
This program would be called Project B-GLAD. B-GLAD is an acronym for Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians, and Allies for Diversity and The name B-GLAD was chosen because it is:
- inclusive of allies and others that make up the community as whole.
- identifiable to those that would be most in need of understanding what the acronym stands for (Many notable universities around the country, but most notably in North Carolina have BGLAD as the their gay and lesbian student association. i.e. East Carolina, UNCG etc.)
- consistent with the UNCW Gay and Lesbian student organization’s name change at the time (the year that Project B-GLAD was created, PRIDE changed its name to BGLAD, however, since that time the organization has gone back to PRIDE - People Recognizing Individual Differences Exist) and
- allowing for emphasis to be placed on the positive aspects of the work at hand (by taking out “safe” and have “glad” as part of the name, we are in effect giving it a different tone and emphasis.)
The primary goals of Project B-Glad are to:
- provide an avenue for students, faculty and staff to demonstrate visibly their support of people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender.
- establish a university-wide network of easily identifiable allies who can provide support, information, and assistance to lesbian, gay , and bisexual persons within the university.
- provide lesbian, gay, and bisexual
students, faculty, and staff with comfortable access to sensitive and
knowledgeable people for information
educate members of the university community about the needs and concerns of lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons.
- foster an atmosphere on campus which supports the academic and professional success of lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons, as well as their personal and social growth.
- advance the university’s progress toward a campus climate free of discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation.
It is our belief that such a program will be a significant addition to our desire to aid in the learning and maturation of all of our students and our university community as well as continue the level of inclusivity that we as an institution have strived for through our EEO policy as well as our mission statement.
Our resources for providing this training are great. We have on this campus one of the founding members of the “Safe Zone” Program at Casper, Wyoming, the former facilitator for Safe Zone at UNC-Chapel Hill, a residence life facilitatator of Project Safe at North Carolina State University, and a host of others who have already shared an interest in participating in the trainings. We also have verbal agreements from other institutions in the state in which they have promised their help with getting this program started at UNCW.
Throughout the following pages, we hope to address the concerns that might arise over the program, and we have provided two examples of trainings, one from the Northern Illinois University and another from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. These programs exemplify what we are recommending and outline some of the logistical issues that may arise for you as you consider this. We also have the artifacts of the homophobia indicated in the text of the proposal, and letters and stories from some faculty and staff regarding their experiences with the gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transgender attitudinal climate here at UNCW.
The Human Relations Advisory Committee wishes to thank you for your time and your consideration of this proposal.How the Project Came to Be