How HBCUs Respond to a Call for Inclusion of LGBT Students

October 6, 2014

For many who choose to attend an HBCU, the decision is about far more than just academics. Since the first HBCUs opened their doors in the years before the Civil War, they have offered black students an opportunity to pursue advanced studies in a space they can be certain will be supportive, welcoming and inclusive. It’s the very least that every student deserves, really—to be able to work, study and learn as part of a community that accepts them as they are.

According to the Campus Pride Index, of the country’s 106 HBCUs, just 21 percent have active LGBT-specific organizations, and just three include gender identity and expression in their nondiscrimination statements. All students struggle with coming-of-age issues around identity, sexuality and psychosocial development. Black LGBT students are often also coping with homophobia, stigmatization and discrimination based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, all of which can negatively impact their health and mental wellness. As Howard alumna Victoria Diane Kirby points out in The Black Closet: The Need for LGBT Resource and Research Centers on Historically Black Campuses, “Having a negative self-concept plays a major role in youth suicides, in how well one does in school, and in how one interacts with society at large.”



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