Questions and Answers about Project B-GLAD

Many questions and some concerns arose regarding the implementation of Project B-GLAD. Listed below are some of the questions and their subsequent answers.

Why do we need a B-GLAD Program at UNCW? We have a nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation; isn't that enough?

While the university constitution and bylaws prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orienta­tion, many people who are lesbian, gay, and bisexual continue to experience the campus climate as unwelcoming and unsupportive of their needs and concerns. Insensitivity, intolerance, and, in some cases, discrimination and harassment, still exist at UNCW, just as in society in general. Project B-GLAD is one method by which the university can create an atmosphere that is truly safe, secure, and accepting for people who are lesbian, gay, and bisexual.

There haven't been many reported instances of discrimination and harassment against gay people. If discrimination isn't a problem at UNCW, why do we need a spe­cial program?

Even when there are few reported cases of discrimination and harassment, that does not mean there are no such instances. There may be many reasons people might not report discrimination and harassment: they may assume nothing will be done about it; they may fear retaliation or further discrimination and harassment; they may fear being "outed;" or they may fear losing their job. In fact, if people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual perceive the climate as unsupportive or hostile, they are even less likely to report discrimination and harassment. A low reporting rate does not necessarily indicate there are no problems to be addressed. In addition, even during times when there are few cases of overt or blatant discrimination or harassment on campus, there is still a constant assumption of heterosexuality which can result in the unique needs and concerns of people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual being ignored or dismissed. Also, our society is still predominantly homophobic; in a largely unaccepting society where negative presumptions about homosexuality are the cultural norm, people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual will not necessarily know they are in a welcoming environment unless some initiative is taken to convey that message.

Special programs like this only cause divisiveness. Shouldn't we be focusing on unity, on the things we have in common, rather than what makes any of us different?

Rather than being divisive, acknowledging differences among people is actually a way of being more inclusive. Ignoring differences perpetuates ignorance and acts as a barrier to mutual under­standing. In the past, differences such as sexual orientation have not only been ignored, but actively silenced. However, ignoring and repressing information about sexual orientation did not result in a society which was more unified, but a divided society in which people who are lesbian, gay, and bisexual have been excluded from policies, programs, activities, etc. because of their sexual orientation, have had to hide their identity, and have faced prejudice and discrimination. Ignoring differences prevents us from being enriched by people who are different from ourselves and benefiting from the contributions they have to offer based on their unique experiences.

UNCW should support all people, not just gay people. If we have a special program for gay people, won't other people be turned off or feel excluded?

There are some people who may be upset by any effort to express support for people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. However, expressing support for people who are lesbian, gay, or bi­sexual does not mean expressing a lack of support for anyone else. Making an effort to be wel­coming of people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual is not equivalent to excluding heterosexuals.

If we're talking about treating people equally, shouldn't we have a program like this for heterosexual people at UNCW?

Actually, UNCW already has many programs and resources in place to serve the needs of hetero­sexuals. Heterosexuals have no shortage of role models or places to go for assistance, informa­tion, or to meet other heterosexuals. In addition, heterosexuals do not face prejudice, harassment, or institutionalized discrimination due to their sexual orientation.

UNCW shouldn't be in the business of promoting homosexuality or endorsing the gay lifestyle. Isn't Project B-GLAD biased in favor of homosexuality?

Project B-GLAD is designed to give employees and students at UNCW an avenue for provid­ing support to lesbian, gay, and bisexual colleagues and students. Project B-GLAD Allies do not "pro­mote" homosexuality, they accept it, and believe in the right of people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual to live and pursue their goals free from intolerance, discrimination, and harassment. Project B-GLAD Allies do promote awareness of differences, understanding of diversity, and a broadened world view. As part of that, they also promote more open communication about and understanding of the experiences and challenges of people who are lesbian, gay, and bisexual. Project B-GLAD Allies desire to create a safe and accepting environment for people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. These efforts do not involve endorsing any one sexual orientation as preferable.

Sexual orientation is a personal issue. Why should we discuss it in the workplace or classroom?

Our personal lives touch our professional and academic lives in myriad ways. It is virtually impos­sible for anyone to interact with others without discussing or conveying important aspects of who they are and what they believe. Heterosexual people convey their sexual orientation all the time, usually without ever realizing it. They do this when they talk about their family life, put pictures of their loved ones in their offices, wear wedding and engagement rings, bring spouses or dates to university functions, or talk about their social activities. People who are lesbian, gay, and bisexual wish to have the same freedom to be open about their daily lives without fear of judgment and prejudiced reactions. Sexual orientation, for both heterosexuals and people who are lesbian, gay, and bisexual, encompasses far more than sexual attraction or intimate sexual activity.

Doesn't this program encourage discrimination against people who have moral beliefs opposed to homosexuality?

Project B-GLAD doesn't encourage discrimination in any form, against anyone. The views of Project B-GLAD may conflict with the views of some others. That does not equate with dis­criminating against those individuals with opposing views. Project B-GLAD allies are not trying to silence differing viewpoints; in fact, they welcome dialogue as an opportunity for furthering mutual understanding.

Questions about Project B-GLAD