Historically black colleges and universities have long struggled with a reputation of being unwelcoming, if not overtly hostile, to gays and lesbians. It’s a problem sometimes attributed to the conservative faiths that many students, and some of the institutions, are affiliated with.
So several years ago a group of HBCUs joined together to tackle the issue.
Their goal was to encourage senior administrators at black colleges to take concrete steps toward openness and equal protection by adding sexual orientation to nondiscrimination policies, integrating discussions of sexual orientation into relevant academic courses, and creating “safe spaces” and resource centers on campuses. Since the three-year project ended, in 2011, progress has been steady but slow, conversations with leaders of national advocacy groups and college administrators suggest.
“The work has been much more challenging and complicated than we would have liked it to have been,” says Beverly Guy-Sheftall, a professor of women’s studies at Spelman College and a leader of the project. Supported by the Arcus Foundation, it involved 10 of the country’s 105 or so historically black colleges. <Read more.>