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Brock calls for new process on diversity issues

from John Brock

Please don’t be alarmed if I stand up on a chair at the next Staff Forum meeting and scream for 10 seconds or so. I am simply unable to bear another discussion about the college’s equal opportunity policies.

Please understand that I am weary. I have spent the better part of my life listening to others discuss whether I have a right to exist, a right to get a job, a right to marry, and a right to create a family. Personally, as result of being an openly gay man, I have been physically assaulted, been harassed in my former places of employment, forced to adopt my child as a single man, been the target of death threats, and had my family denied health care. Just last month, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the structure of my family is unconstitutional and voided my partner’s adoption of our child. My “unconstitutional family” would be amusing except for the thousands of dollars now wasted on legal fees and the current lack of legal protection for my partner and my child.

I am sorry but any discussion of equal opportunity and non-discrimination exists in this context. Our society discriminates against a broad swath of our population in subtle and overt ways. Our community needs to try to understand this context, choose words more carefully, and engage vulnerable groups in deeper dialogue prior to proposing changes to college policies that affect them.

In addition, addressing diversity to provide equal opportunity and non-discrimination is an on-going process and we need to renew our commitment with a clear statement of our intentions knowing that we will likely fall short. I ask the leaders of our community to state their intentions and values around these issues. Is our goal to create an equitable diverse community where all feel valued? If so, then say it. Say it again. Say it again and again. Say it as long as some are oppressed by federal law, by state law, by misconceptions, or by simple hatred.

One of my friends recently said, “Enough about gay rights…I don’t think of you as a gay man.” It is important that you DO think of me as a gay man until discrimination against GBLT people is merely another dark chapter in our history. Peace.

Editor’s Note: This article was initially published in the print issue with the headline “Environmental Chemistry professor responds to the Equity Stipend Debate.” Brock later indicated that his submission was not a specific stand on this issue. The headline misrepresented his submission and is corrected.

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