Sex Edition: Pitt a gay-friendly campus

By Emily Riley

Some students say that Pitt is gay-friendly. Others say it still needs work. But though… Some students say that Pitt is gay-friendly. Others say it still needs work. But though there’s disagreement over the degree of tolerance, all agree that education is the key to a more accepting campus.

That education can’t come soon enough for some.

Jamie Klousnitzer said she can recall a few instances in which gay people on campus experienced degrees of harassment.

“I’ve heard of people having ‘faggot’ shouted at them, mostly from drunk guys, or someone saying ‘Look, a couple of gay guys!’ Again, mainly from drunk guys,” the Pitt junior said.

Sophomore Sam Rynearson feels comfortable walking hand in hand with his boyfriend on campus, but would not feel comfortable kissing in public.

“Gay PDA is something that I don’t think those on campus can handle,” Rynearson said.

Other students commented on the prevalence of offensive language used on campus.

But representatives for the lesbian-gay-transgendered-queer-and-allied community expressed satisfaction with the Pitt’s gay-friendliness.

Senior and Rainbow Alliance member Timothy Craft said that Pitt’s main campus feels much more gay-friendly than some other campuses. He said the Rainbow Alliance here in Oakland is strong, with more active members and scheduled events than other places he’s been.

Craft said the term “gay-friendly” refers to a campus “having a level of tolerance, accommodation and a willingness to learn and change.”

Representatives for Pitt administrators and for Rainbow Alliance outlined what they do to try to make the campus LGBTQA-friendly.


Although Pitt administrators don’t believe that the complete prevention of discrimination on campus is possible, they too are taking steps to promote education and knowledge about sexual discrimination.

Pitt spokesman John Fedele said the University provides many resources for its faculty in terms of discrimination prevention.

“We are proactive,” Fedele said in an e-mail. “We have the online training such as Preventing Sexual Harassment, as well as various other courses and workshops available through the Faculty and Staff Development Program which are designed to promote dignity and respect in our academic and working environments.”

Diversity training that approaches all types of repression equally is provided for Resident Assistant staff during the months prior to school starting each year, said Shawn Brooks, associate dean of students and director of Residence Life.

In addition to training, Residence Life offers the opportunity to participate in the Allies Network Training. Brooks said Allies Network Training teaches Pitt staff how to address scenarios in which intolerance for sexual differences arises.


At the forefront of student-driven education, Pitt has The Rainbow Alliance.

The Rainbow Alliance is a student organization aimed at providing for the concerns of the LGBTQA community.

In an effort to maintain what it views as a supportive atmosphere, Pitt’s Rainbow Alliance looks forward to increasing its available resources on campus, said Alliance publicity chair Drew Marquis.

“We would really love to have a bigger and nicer resource center with a trained staff and counselors,” Marquis said.

Marquis explained that education and knowledge remain a large goal of the Rainbow Alliance, which hopes that with more awareness on campus, Pitt will continue to improve its gay-friendly atmosphere.

The Pitt News spoke to Alliance outreach chair Adam Dobson at a recent event led by both the Rainbow Alliance and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

The event featured an interactive discussion about the stereotypes that exist surrounding Greek life as well as the LGBTQA community.

“It was about bringing both organizations to the light on campus, comparing our goals to see similarities and differences while making our mission clear to those interested,” said Alpha Phi Alpha education chair Jay Oriola.

Though achieving LGBTQA acceptance was not a goal of the event, Oriola said a central focus of the discussion was to achieve respect for and knowledge of the Rainbow Alliance.

The Rainbow Alliance believes events such as the one between the Alliance and Alpha Phi Alpha is a step toward a gay-friendly campus that is rid of discrimination, Dobson said.

Members of Alpha Phi Alpha agree.

“Once that respect is achieved, friendliness can follow,” Oriola said. “To bridge the gap, one has to bring information to those who don’t know, so ignorance or lack of knowledge won’t take precedent in their opinion.”