Gunther Schryer

March 1998

"On Campus Living Experiences"

When our young men and women come to college as freshman, they are entering a new developmental stage. I was no exception. Fear. Harassment. Uncertainty. These are a few of the issues with which glbt students must cope. I, however, was lucky in the fact that I attended two schools, Ashland University (OH) and Marshall University (WV), which were generally tolerant. Never have I been harassed because of my sexual orientation. On the other hand, I have a few personal friends who have been ruthlessly harassed. This fact bothers me a great deal.

At a time when life is filled with such uncertainty, dealing with harassment does not make life easier. At Marshall, I have witnessed several anti-gay harassment incidents. It's no wonder why so many of our queer youth attempt, or succeed at, suicide. It is my opinion that most schools do not take an <i>active</i> stance against homophobia. Most have non-discrimination policies, however, there appears to not be adequate programming aimed towards making residence halls a safe and supportive environment for queer and questioning students. When I look around at some of the colleges that make queer students feel safe, Oberlin College (OH) for example, it makes me feel good that somebody is taking a proactive stance.

We have so many talented and wonderful youth progressing through our college and university systems. Some are being neglected while some are not. This disparity, especially among public universities, is a horrid situation for students. As I have stated in previous columns, it is vital to the future generations that we, as the gay community, take an active role and become educators -- if that is your gift. By presenting youth with good role models, we can change their lives while having a positive effect on the campus tolerance level.

The ground has been broken. Many universities are infinitely more tolerant than in years past. However, much effort is still needed because many queer youth are still feeling the same isolation and fright that I felt in my youth. I hate to see that happen to another youth. My goal is to stop this cycle. How can you help?

Peace and Pride, Gunther Schryer

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