LGBTQ+ students demand special treatment from Clemson

Student leaders wrote an open letter demanding that Clemson University create an LGBTQ safe space on campus to rectify the school’s alleged callousness toward such students.

In the letter, which was published in The Tiger, the coalition declares that “a permanent space must be allocated to the LGBTQ+ community” because “incoming LGBTQ+ and other underrepresented students enter campus with the deck stacked against them.”

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The letter was co-authored by Jessie Bailey and P.J. Price, presidents of the Clemson University Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) and Clemson Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) chapters, respectively, who chastise Clemson President Jim Clements for informing them that there are no plans for such a space, alleging that the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community as “simply another 'student group'” reflects the “fundamental disconnect between administrators and LGBTQ+ students.”

The letter complains that “President Clements responded to student concerns regarding Clemson’s efforts to support the LGBTQ+ community by saying, ‘There’s always going to be an issue that comes out, and another one next week and another one next week.’”

Those particular remarks, however, were made in reference to President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration as part of a brief interview with Greenville Online, not LGBTQ+ initiatives.

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In addition, the two students eagerly critique Clemson’s Campus Pride Index (CPI), stating that the school’s low score on the index “dissuades prospective LGBTQ+ students and faculty” from attending or teaching at the school.

The Campus Pride Index, a self-described “tool for assisting campuses in learning ways to improve their LGBTQ campus life,” rates institutional support for LGBTQ students based on a variety of factors, assigning Clemson just one-and-a-half out of five stars

One criterion used by the index is whether a college offers the option to self-identify sexual orientation, gender identity, name, and pronouns on campus records, while others evaluate the accessibility of gender-neutral restrooms, the number of LGBTQ focused living spaces, the existence of bias reporting systems, and whether condoms and dental dams are freely available to students.

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Furious activists from multiple organizations shared a flyer disparaging Clemson’s low CPI score on Facebook, complaining that Clemson “has the poorest score out of all reporting schools we have played in football in the past decade.”

The criticism comes in the wake of Clemson’s 2017 Pride Week, which featured a drag show-themed workshop put on by SAGA, and also follows the university’s first “Lavender Graduation” on April 2, which is described as a “ceremony to celebrate the successes and accolades of some of our graduating LGBTQ+ students.”

Incidentally, the Campus Pride Index includes Lavender Graduation, regular “LGBTQ social activities,” and regular “educational events on transgender issues” among its criteria, but Clemson is not credited with fulfilling any of those metrics in its rating.

Campus Reform reached out to both student organizations for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @RobertMGunter