File under “No good deed goes unpunished.”
A columnist for the University of Virginia student paper The Cavalier Daily took to the op-ed section last week to complain about the relocation of the school’s LGBTQ Center.
The previous site for the center? The basement of Newcomb Hall. The new site? “A more accessible and visible location” on Newcomb’s third floor.
The problem? The switch is “potentially dangerous for LGBTQ+ students” as the new locale could expose their identities. Seriously.
“The third floor of Newcomb, while not exactly a tourist attraction, is still a highly visible space where many students may be passing time between classes or eating their meal,” Carson Flickinger writes. “This visibility can be quite distressing to many students, as entering the LGBTQ Center is often tantamount to admitting that one is a member of the LGBTQ+ community.”
At this point, is anyone else thinking of the headlines we’d see in the Daily had UVA continued to relegate LGBTQ students to that basement? “At UVA, LGBTQ Students are Forced to Remain in the Closet (Basement).” Or, “Out of Sight, and Administrators Don’t Mind.”
It may not be Flickinger who writes such a piece, however, for he really doesn’t know what he wants:
Regrettably, there is no perfect answer to this problem. Leaving the LGBTQ Center in the basement of Newcomb may make LGBTQ+ students feel like they are hidden away — a reality far too common among members of the LGBTQ+ community. Nevertheless, the center’s current location raises these concerns of safety for students. While it is admirable that the University seeks to supply its students with adequate spaces, it is not sufficient to place these spaces in such exposed, visible areas.
What our student columnist really wanted to do, it seems, was denounce the continued oppression of the gay community in general:
The University must take actions to make sure it protects its vulnerable LGBTQ+ students while it plans to make them visible. After all, Virginia experiences as many as 200 hate crimes every year, about 20 percent of which are motivated by sexual orientation or identity. Our society and the culture in which we live often do not value the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals. These recent incidents only show that this hate does exist at the University.
The actual math might disagree with his assertion about the value of gay lives. There are over 8.5 million people living in Virginia, where a total of 40 hate crimes were committed against LGBTQ individuals. Whether one uses the high-end percentage of said individuals in the general population (10 percent) or a more conservative estimate (about half that), the LGBTQ hate crime total equals a mere fraction of one percent.
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