Fall is in full swing! For my colleagues on the high school side who just made it through the Nov 1st deadline, congratulations! If you are on the college admission side of the desk, happy reading season! It is my hope that you find a few minutes to continue to read about issues of diversity in higher education through our DEA blog.
This blog highlights an issue we often discuss in a larger context, but also in a smaller light since it directly addresses our colleagues working in HBCU’s and their institutional policies with regards to members of their educational community who identify as racially underrepresented and as members of the LGBTQA community; the author poses a critical question:
How do historically Black colleges and universities fare overall when it comes to ensuring that members of the LGBTQA community — students, staff and faculty — are afforded the same rights as others?
The article highlights the number of growing complaints filed with the EEOC based on sexual orientation and the lack of action on part of many HBCU’s in taking action; the author explains church affiliation, board of trustees and alumni as part of the reason so many of these institutions have been slow to embrace changes or institute more inclusive policies to work with their campus communities.
Reflecting about this issue in particular my most pressing thoughts are about the well-being and safety of this community and about the lack of support students are are receiving if faculty and other mentors don’t feel comfortable being themselves. If faculty and staff are not reaching out to students because they are not comfortable being open about their sexual orientation, this is truly a cause for concern. Transitioning to college is a challenging time and students are often still trying to self-identify and become comfortable with who they are especially those questioning their sexuality. As college admission counselors we often advise students to be true to themselves throughout this process. I can’t remember the number of times I have had a conversation with a student about being authentic. We counsel them this way with the hope and belief that students can and will find support systems in the institutions they choose to attend. The college experience, as we know, is about so much more than earning the degree; we want to see our students become comfortable in their own skin, grow and develop in order to face the transition that comes with life after college.
Your thoughts are always welcomed.
By Yamilet Medina López