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Letter to the Editor: In wake of climate survey results, LGBTQ+ students cannot be ignored

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Walking into Kendall Cram last week, I knew the numbers for non-heterosexual* students would be high. I did not know how high. My first question was, why? Now, I have a theory.

Many of us have spent our lives fighting for freedom of expression, freedom to love who we love. This freedom can be life-giving, almost religious for us. And while freedom may be good, the fight to get there can set us down a path of harmful individualism.

We value our individual freedoms so much that we ignore when our use of these freedoms hurts others. We want to take back the power that has been taken from us. And sometimes we do.

Brilliant activists spend their lives working to take back power from oppressors. But when we cannot, we take power from our friends, our lovers, our partners instead. This seems particularly true for the white people in the queer community, who have systemically benefitted from institutions set up to favor individual rights over equality.

When I say we are hurting our own community, I mean it. 71.6 percent of non-heterosexual undergraduate sexual assault survivors reported that their perpetrators were Tulane students. 75.3 percent reported that their perpetrator was an acquaintance, friend, romantic partner or former romantic partner.

And we cannot just chalk this up to hookup culture. 17.1 percent of undergraduates reported that they had been victims of domestic violence. For non-heterosexual people, the number doubled.

We absolutely must start talking about toxic dating and romance norms along with party culture, hookup culture and the other usual suspects. Queer and trans people need spaces to discuss power dynamics in their relationships specifically. Traditional spaces do not work for us because our relationships do not tend to fit heteronormative molds. We need to start taking more responsibility for our own actions and the actions of our friends. And we need straight people to start taking responsibility for the systems of oppression from which they benefit. Systemic problems have systemic solutions. Everyone has a part to play. What is yours?

Sincerely,

Eva Dils

*The climate survey data treats gender and sexual minorities separately. So, much of the data uses acronyms like “LGBQ+” for accuracy’s sake. In respect for the hard and long fight to keep the “T” in “LGBTQ+” while also noting the importance of factual clarity, I will use the term “non-heterosexual” throughout this letter.

To submit a letter to the editor, email it to [email protected]

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
Letter to the Editor: In wake of climate survey results, LGBTQ+ students cannot be ignored