Gill Foundation Project

NAFEO & Gill Foundation Join Forces to  Encourage HBCU/PBI Campuses to Serve as Standard Bearers in Promoting Campus Inclusion and Respect for All Students, Especially LGBT Students

According to Gender Equity National Index for Universities and Schools (GENIUS), more than 500,000 college students are targets of bias-driven harassment or physical assaults, annually.  This year, the number of gender identity and gender expression-driven hate crimes and assaults did not abate.  The cumulative impact of these civil rights/civil liberties violations, culminating in a harassment-driven suicide by a promising Rutgers University Freshman, has increased the hue and cry for new federal and state hate-crimes laws.  A central component of these laws must be the protection of students, and requirements that colleges and universities to take affirmative actions to create welcoming, supportive, safe, respectful environments for students who are LGBT.

As learning environments and spaces in which many students transition from childhood to adulthood, including “finding themselves” and discovering their sexual identity, college campuses have an important and unique role to play in fostering tolerance and understanding of differences. These lessons should be integrated into campus policies and practices, research and teaching, coursework, and extra-learning opportunities.

As the national membership association of the nation’s 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and 50 Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), NAFEO sought and secured a mini-grant from the Gill Foundation to undertake the following activities in an effort to place the HBCU and PBI communities at the forefront of ensuring welcoming, supporting, respectful learning environments for all students, faculty, staff, including LGBT students, faculty, and staff:

(1) Conduct scans of HBCU and PBI policies against discrimination and those promoting tolerance, respect, and ecumenism, to determine which ones include language prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression; language supporting free association and free expression within the bounds of federal and state laws; and language fostering understanding and respect, especially of LGBT students.  If you have not yet responded to this survey, please take a minute visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JJG6FLM  to complete the short survey today.

(2) Review best or promising practices relative to campus policies and practices fostering welcoming, supportive, respectful environments for LGBT students, and working through the NAFEO HBCU/PBI Presidential Inclusion Commission, design recommend to the NAFEO membership adoption of Principles and Standards of Good Practice to Achieve Tolerance, Inclusion & Ecumenism on HBCU and PBI Campuses;

(3)Provide technical assistance and training to campuses desiring to amend their policies to include prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity and gender discrimination; and incorporate into their curriculum, cultural, social, and residential student life programs information that promotes an awareness of  the value of diversity and inclusion, and respect for all students;

(4) To undertake a range of other actions recommended by the NAFEO HBCU/PBI Presidential Inclusion Commission at the July, 2010 Presidential Peer Seminar.

To join the Inclusion Commission or to receive more information, please contact President Lezli Baskerville at lbaskerville@nafeo.org.

interior-side-3