7 Brave Campuses for LGBT Students in the South
BY Campus Pride
September 02 2014 8:00 AM ET
North Carolina Central University — Durham, N.C.
“Brave spaces” are the result of action and persistence. On April 9, 2013, North Carolina Central University became the second historically black college or university in the nation and the first in North Carolina to open a center dedicated to LGBTQ issues. Tia Marie Doxey, director of Student Life Assessment, who oversees the LGBTA center, said NCCU has become a Southern pioneer among HBCUs for LGBTQ rights, even though the center was the result of a nine-year journey.
Upon opening of the LGBTA center, former NCCU student Clayton Barrier said, “We’ve come a long way since 2004. I remember when if a male student gave another male student a compliment, ‘nice shirt’ or whatever, he would justify it by saying ‘no homo.’” Barrier is the current co-advisor to Creating Open Lives Organizing for Real Success, the student-led organization for LGBTQ students, staff, faculty, and alumni.
NCCU has four organizations devoted to the LGBTQ community: COLORS, Polychromes for LGBTQ faculty and staff, DOMS for lesbian- identified students, and OutLAW for LGBTQ faculty, staff, and students within the school of law, all of which encourage ally attendance. Students and staff agree that one of the key building blocks for the ongoing success at NCCU is the Safe Zone program. The training focuses on understanding the basic needs of LGBTQ students.
David Monk, a junior studying Spanish and the vice president of COLORS, noted, “There is a need to inform everyone that the LGBT community plays a vital role in today’s society and may even affect their immediate family. The decisions that heteronormative persons are making in regards to our community affect us as a whole.”
In September the LGBTA center will host a national transgender film festival called Gender Reel. The innovative programming on the campus touches on a variety of issues affecting the LGBTQ community. Every year in February, LGBTA Week includes events surrounding HIV/AIDS awareness and sexual health and LGBTQ inclusion in Greek life. This past year, NCCU hosted Pathway to Health Care and Higher Education: A Transgender Cultural Competency Workshop and plans to host it again. In addition, NCCU had its inaugural Lavender Graduation Ceremony to recognize graduating LGBTQ students this past year.
“Being able to advocate such a diverse movement with my fellow Eagles is a wonderful experience,” said sophomore Ashlee Barnette, who interns at the LGBTA center. “It is a long and steady progress of change, but we are getting there, slowly but surely.”