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Remove discriminatory language from official University documentation to promote a safe work and learning environment!

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On October 15th, 2014 the Southern Poverty Law Center chapter at Eastern Kentucky University sent the following request (see below) to EKU President Dr. Michael Benson and EKU Chief of Police Brian Mullins regarding discriminatory language included in it's official Clery Report for 2013. Nearly three weeks have passed without an official response to this issue, despite another request for a response by the SPLC chapter.

The existence of the language listed below on official University documentation generates a potentially hostile work and educational environment at EKU for members of the LGBTQIA Community. While EKU is not the only university in Kentucky to include this language, it can be the first to take a stand by eliminating it in all future reports and issuing a correction to the 2013 Clery Report. Join us in urging Eastern to eliminate this discriminatory language and promote a safe and secure work and learning environment for all members of the EKU family!

Official Request:

"Dear President Benson and Chief Mullins:

In Eastern Kentucky University’s Clery Act Annual Security and Fire Safety Report for 2013 on page 20 of the “State Definitions” section the following language is included in the report:

510.100 Sodomy in the fourth degree.

  1. 1. A person is guilty of sodomy in the fourth degree when he engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another person of the same sex.
  2. 2. Notwithstanding the provisions of KRS 510.020, consent of the other person shall not be a defense under this section, nor shall lack of consent of the other person be an element of this offense.
  3. 3. Sodomy in the fourth degree is a Class A misdemeanor.

 

EKU’s Southern Poverty Law Center chapter strongly objects to this language being included in the report for the following reasons:

  1. 1. In a 1992 decision (Kentucky v. Wasson, 842 S.W.2d 487) the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down the criminalization of consensual sodomy between same-sex partners. The court ruled that the statute violated both the equal protection standard and the right to privacy.
  1. 2. In 2003 the Supreme Court of the United States in Lawrence v. Texas (539 U.S. 558) struck down the sodomy law in Texas and thus invalidated all sodomy laws in all states making same-sex relations legal in all states and territories.
  1. 3. Maintaining that language in the Clery Report is prejudicial to LGBTQIA students, staff and faculty. It also creates the false impression the same sex relations are criminal in Kentucky, an impression which could create an atmosphere hostile to LGBTQIA individuals studying and working at EKU.

 

National surveys tell us that almost 9 out of 10 LGBTQIA students have experienced harassment. A SPLC analysis of FBI hate crime data also finds that LGBTQIA people are far more likely to be victims of a violent hate crime than other minority groups in the United States.

As a student organization EKU’s Southern Poverty Law Center chapter seeks to insure that LGBTQIA students and workers are not isolated and subject to harassment in campus life and are not subject to hostile work or educational environments. We are also committed to both freedom of expression and privacy rights of LGBTQIA students and workers.

We strongly request the university remove the language cited above from future reports and issue a correction to the 2013 Clery Report.

Sincerely,

Adrienne L. McCarthy
President, EKU Southern Poverty Law Center

Gary W. Potter, PhD
gary.potter@eku.edu
Professor, School of Justice Studies
Faculty advisor, EKU Southern Poverty Law Center

cc: David Dinielli, Deputy Legal Director, LGBT Rights, Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36104."



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