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WSSU becomes gay-friendlier
Board of Trustees includes
LGBT community in
by Layla Farmer . The Chronicle
The Winston-Salem State University
(WSSU) Board of Trustees has voted to
include sexual orientation among the protect
ed groups of individuals in university policies.
The unanimous vote took place March 20.
WSSU became one of the last institutions in
the University of North Carolina (UNC) sys
tem to pass such a measure.
Designating sexual orientation as a pro
tected class allows members of the LGBT
community to be free from discrimination
based on their sexuality.
“It was a matter of dignity and respect,”
said Board Chair Nigel Alston. “Everyone
deserves that, and to a degree, that’s what the
action of approving the policy did.”
It is an important step in the university’s
history, says WSSU’s Equal Employment
Opportunity Officer Edward Hanes Jr.
“This was a very good thing for the univer-
sit)^’ stated Hanes, who has been'working to
make sexual orientation a protected class since
he came to WSSU in 2005. “The stance taken by
the chancellor and the Board of Trustees that
an individual’s sexual orientation.. .is not rele
vant to educational and employment decisions
is very consistent with the University’s endow
ing tenants of adequation and receptiveness.”
Adopting policies that guard against dis
crimination based on sexual orientation has
become something of a recent trend at histori
cally black institutions in the UNC system in
recent years, Hanes reported.
“When we first started looking at this
three years ago, none of the HBCUs (in North
Carolina) had adopted this policyr he related.
“However, as I was looking at HBCUs across
this country, I saw this was an opportunity for
Winston-Salem State to lead.”
Although Hanes said that some LGBT stu
dents and staff members have told him of
instances of harassment and discrimination on
campus, he received no formal opposition when
he asked that the provision be considered by the
Board. He credits Chancellor Donald Reaves
with helping to make the process smooth.
“Oftentimes, the attitude of leadership sets
the course (for an organization)^ he noted.
“Reaves was very open to the conversation
when we had it.”
Hanes says sexual orientation is not cur
rently recognized as a protected class by the
state or federal governments, so the policy
carries little weight outside the confines of the
see LGBT community on 14
lOth media campaign launched
‘G(^ rights are civil rights’AFFA says
by Matt Comer . Q-Notes staff
The Charleston, S.C.-based group Alliance
for Full Acceptance (AFFA) has begun its 10th
to highlight its straightforward declaration:
“Gay Rights are Civil Rights.”
The group is challenging South
Carolinians to “recognize the LGBT move
ment as an intrinsic part of the historical
struggle for human rights, such as those
AFFA will run this billboard in two locations for a total of 12 weeks.
year of media messaging. The group plans on
using a variety of media outlets and mediums
related to race, gender, disability, and age>” a
press release said.
Warren Redman-Gress,AFFAs executive
director, told Q-Notes that his group will be
using newspaper, radio, TV and billboard
advertising in its media campaign. They’ll
also be turning to new media to help spread
“We are also setting up viral messaging
through YouTube, Facebook and Twitter,” he
said. “We have an intern from the College of
Charleston who is compiling 30-second street
interviews asking people why they believe gay
rights are civil rights. They will be up on
YouTube in two weeks.”
The campaign began in early April. Its total
projected cost is $20,000, with the bulk of
funds going toward two 12-week billboard ads.
“I am fortunate to have a great board with
a creative finance committee who work hard
at fundraising,” Redman-Gress said. I
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