IU named top-50 LGBT friendly university

By Anna Hyzy | Indiana Daily Student

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Doug Bauder, coordinator at IU’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Student Support Services, said IU has always been a leader in GLBT rights despite its location in a traditionally conservative state.

This didn’t go unrecognized, as IU was recently named one of the top 50 GLBT-friendly universities in the United States by Campus Pride, a nonprofit organization that works to create friendly, safe environments for GLBT students on college campuses.

Bauder said IU has had appreciation for sexual diversity dating back to the work of famed IU Professor Alfred Kinsey.

He said though Kinsey’s work was controversial, when Herman B Wells received a call from the governor of Indiana condemning Kinsey’s teaching, Wells hung up the phone.

“You have that kind of a legacy to build on,” Bauder said.

What Bauder said he was most excited about by this list was the growth to 50 schools on a list that had previously only been 25.

“Many of those schools who are now on the list are schools that consulted with us on how to do this,” he said.

Bauder estimated he has given advice to no less than 200 campuses on how to create an effective support center and a GLBT-friendly campus.

While Bauder said he recognizes significant progress, he noted that not all of campus is a safe space, and there are still issues of harassment, though dramatically fewer today than at the GLBT office’s beginnings.

The GLBT office was founded in 1994, when there were fewer than two dozen like it in the country, Bauder said.

“Having that sign out there was the University’s statement 20 years ago that this has to be a part of the dialogue and not just in this corner of the campus,” he said.

Since then, Bauder said he has seen continued support from the university.

Last year, IU President Michael McRobbie publicly endorsed same-sex marriage and the Freedom Indiana movement, which is described on its website as a statewide bipartisan movement committed to defeating HJR-3, a proposed amendment to add a same-sex marriage ban to Indiana’s constitution on top of existing state statute.

The GLBT office, formerly a student support center, is now grouped with cultural centers on campus, Bauder said.

While Bauder said this will not affect the way the office operates, he said he sees this as a shift in the way administrators view gay rights and a movement toward viewing GLBT issues as diversity issues.

Shane O’Bannon, though only a freshman at IU, has spent much of his summer in the GLBT office and said he thinks the best part of it is Bauder.

“You can just walk in anytime and talk about anything you want to,” he said.

This summer, while participating in the Group Scholars Program, O’Bannon and colleagues worked to create the first ever gay-straight alliance to exist within the program.

O’Bannon said he was not surprised by IU’s place on Campus Pride’s list.

Bauder said the Campus Pride list is thoroughly researched and thought out by Campus Pride’s executive director, Shane L. Windmeyer, who received his masters degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration from IU.

Bauder said Windmeyer was incredibly ambitious as a student and that he spent a lot of time in the GLBT office.

“He does not make life any easier for us because we’re IU,” Bauder said, noting there have been years where IU has slipped in the rankings.

Going forward, Bauder said one of his priorities is balancing the intersection of GLBT issues with issues of race and gender.

He noted that he sees some minority students struggle with a tension between their identities and says he wants to see students embrace all parts of themselves.

“At age 65, to see some of the progress I’ve made, to see straight students want to see their gay friends be able to be married, to see my grandsons talk about gay issues in such a loving way, its a wonderful thing to be a part of,” he said.

Watch "A look inside the GLBT Support Services Center" video on the Indiana Daily Student article web page.

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