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How Queer-phobia is Undermining LGBTQ+ Students at Morehouse College

An email was sent out to 2,167 students at Morehouse College, inviting them to a school-sanctioned event, hosting the U.S Treasury Director Kenneth Blanco.  

Sophomore Stephon Scott, who identifies as a gender non-conforming student, found the email problematic. The all-male HBCU uses male pronouns such as him, he, and brothers when communicating with students.

Scott took it to Twitter to express discontent, here. 

As noted in the emails at hand between Scott and Dr. Said Sewell Vice-President of Student Affairs, “because of Morehouse’s historic mission to serve black men, the school uses all male pronouns in correspondence with students.” Morehouse’s mission statement fails to include the presence of students who are transgender, or cis-gendered gay men who identify as not only “him” but “she/they” as well.

Morehouse College is a private, liberal arts college based in Atlanta, Georgia for men that prides itself in being at the forefront of molding influential black men. Yet, students like Scott (2021) and his LGBTQ+ peers feel isolated and underrepresented. Supporting a notion of queerphobia, Morehouse administrators have long ignored queer students’ request of using gender-neutral pronouns.

“Morehouse takes what they think a man is supposed to be and they place that narrative on everybody, but that’s just not the case,” Scott said.

Scott, an Executive Board member of Safe Space, Morehouse’s LGBTQ+ organization, believes that the University should create a more inclusive environment stating, “I wasn’t even necessarily looking out for me, I was looking out for my transgender sisters at Morehouse. Because I have my sisters’ back just as much as Morehouse has my brothers’ back.”

Marquintas Oldham, Morehouse sophomore and fellow Safe Space Executive Board member, has worked with Dr.Sewell to address the needs of the Queer community on campus alongside Scott. Despite hours of conversation and clear communication on promises to progressively work on the better vocabulary to address Morehouse’s queer community, Dr.Sewell has gone on to revert back to following the institution’s historic mission as an excuse to ignore the requests of queer students.

Dr.Sewell did not respond when asked to comment.

“Because the straight, cis-gendered men, already have a place here and a presence on campus, I feel like I have to up mine three times as much to make my presence known,” Oldham says. He goes on to say, “because I have a seat at this table, and it deserves to be recognized.”     

In my opinion, Morehouse College, like other HBCUs, work aligns its mission and principles with southern black ideologies: enforcing strong religious and faith-based logics of queerphobia. Out of 107 HBCUs in the country, only three have LGBTQ+ student centers.

Morehouse’s Associate Dean for Residence Education/Student Development Sean Moore, also Safe Space’s Advisor, concurs with the students push for inclusivity. More, also an LGBTQ+ member says “[He] do[es] advocate on their (Safe Space’) behalf, in conversations with higher-ups/administration. However, I like to serve as a condor to connect students directly with the administration so the students can share their direct experience, perspectives, and solutions.”

This article has been awarded the 3rd place 2018-2019 Her Campus Chapter Award for “Best Profile-Alumni, Falculty, Community Member or Profesional” out of 300+ chapters

 

Miranda is a Junior Mass Media Arts Major Print Journalism Concentration at the illustrious Clark Atlanta University. Hailing from Chicago, IL, Miranda is looking to write for the politically conscious, fashion-forward, and everyone in between. Feel free to connect with her via social media as well as through LinkedIn!
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