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1 Slippery Rock University strongly believes that both diversity and inclusion are at the foundation of inclusive success

. The school has done a lot to raise awareness for the diverse groups that make up the population, including the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) community. The LGBTQ community at SRU is recognized through different organizations and by hosting different events to raise awareness. However, the LGBTQ students and faculty sometimes still face challenges and discrimination on campus. “I sometimes feel that people blame everything that I do solely on the fact that I am gay,” Brian Rice said, a 20-year-old senior Gerontology major, who has been open about his homosexuality throughout his time as a SRU student. According to the 2011 Slippery Rock University Climate Assessment Project, about four percent of the university‟s population consider themselves to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning. Statistics from the climate assessment also show that the LGBTQ community at SRU is less comfortable with the campus climate and have also experienced offensive conduct in regards to their sexual orientation. “My behaviors are rarely judged off of the fact that I am a guy, or that I‟m happy, or any other reason; it all comes back to „because you‟re gay,‟ so that‟s where the most judgment occurs,” Rice said. “My friends would say „We‟re all going to play football, so see you later!‟ and I would be thinking „What about me? I want to play too!‟ but they would just assume that because I‟m gay I wouldn‟t want to, so that was tough.” Desmond Bentley, a 22-year-old senior Criminal Justice major, is open about his homosexuality but only when asked about it. Bentley said he would rather have others focus on his other qualities and personality rather than on his sexual orientation.

2 “A lot of people actually think that I am straight because I‟m really low key about being gay, like I don‟t run around like a little fairy telling everyone about it.” Bentley said. Bentley says that another reason people around campus think he‟s straight is because he doesn‟t fit into the gay stereotype. Bentley, wearing jeans, Reebok tennis shoes, and an American Eagle hoodie, dresses no differently than the average heterosexual male on campus. He also feels that the fact that he has a deep voice and more masculine mannerisms helps reduce discrimination. 20-year-old Jake Brown, a junior Geology major, said that he is often mistaken for being straight as well because he doesn‟t bring up the fact that he is gay unless asked about it. Brown, a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity is usually seen around campus wearing his Greek letters. He said that for the most part, the other members of his fraternity are accepting of his sexuality and he does not face discrimination because of it. Along with being gay, Bentley and Rice are also part of the African American population at SRU. Rice says that it‟s tough to have both going for him, because a lot of students at SRU have not had much exposure to gay or black people. For the most part, the faculty and professors at SRU do not treat the LGBTQ student any differently, Rice said, but some do put a lot of emphasis on the fact that he is gay. “One professor would see me and be like „Hey girlfriend! What‟s going on?”‟ and I‟d be thinking „I‟m a guy!‟ but I just go along with it,” Rice said “My one professor slapped my ass before; she was a women so she kind of just assumed that she could do that because she was a girl but it was fine, I thought it was funny.” Brown said, laughing.

3 Rice said that some people lack experience or knowledge about gays, so they automatically go to the stereotypes they get off of TV shows and movies. “The media makes gay people seem more gay than we really are. Not all of us like to go shopping, or get our nails done. And we do not go around yelling „HEY BITCH!‟” Rice said, dramatically waving his arms. Brown believes that the media has a very stereotypical gay image. He says that the media portrays gays as always wanting to get married and have kids, but in reality there are a lot of gay people that are perfectly content with being single and living their life. Bentley said that the gays could be positively portrayed in the media. He said that a lot of gay celebrities, such as Ellen DeGeneres, are extremely respected and accepted and in turn makes the general public realize that gay people are really no different. Homophobia is an obvious factor in gay discrimination and harassment, but Brown believes that most homophobes are actually secretly gay. “There was this one guy that I knew and he would always talk about how much he hated gay people. And then one night we hooked up, so there you go.” Brown said. People that discriminate and show hate towards the gays are trying to make people think that they aren‟t gay, Bentley said, and they use it as a cover up. Rice said that he thinks people are not born homophobic, but they are raised that way. He said that he doesn‟t let others homophobias get to him because he knows that it‟s only natural to acquire viewpoints and traits from family and friends. “Most of the time it‟s either they had a really bad experience with someone that was like super flamboyantly gay, pushing their limits or because their parents raised them that way,” Rice said.

4 There are a lot of misconceptions about gays, Bentley said, such as the fact that everyone thinks that gay men are extremely promiscuous. “Everyone thinks that like to run around having unprotected sex with different guys every single weekend,” Bentley said, rolling his eyes “Some of us are actually in committed relationships.” Brown said that another common misconception about gays is that they do not like drag queens as much as straight people do. Rice said that gays get a lot of negative stereotypes and are constantly being compared to women. He says that although gay men are sexually interested in the same thing that heterosexual women are, that does not mean that they want to be a woman. Rice says that he was definitely born this way and can‟t help the fact that he is attracted to other men. “Being gay is a big obstacle to overcome, but once you become comfortable with being gay then there is nothing else that you can‟t be comfortable with,” Rice said. “If you can accept who you are and allow others to accept you for who you are, then there‟s nothing else that can get in your way.