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The Northerner

Gay issues prompt controversies

Amy Ehrnreiter ' Amanda Joering

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Despite changing his instant-messaging screen name after receiving threatening messages, disconnecting his cell phone because of harassing calls and getting at least 100 messages daily on Facebook.com, sophomore Jeremy Phillippi is still keeping a positive attitude.

The Northern Kentucky University Kentucky Hall residential assistant said his life has drastically changed since he reported finding an anti-gay vandalism to his dorm door and the decorations on the hallway bulletin board were torn down.

Since the Aug. 28 incident, Phillippi reported people throwing full cups of soda at him, yelling derogatory phrases in his general direction and being the topic of discussion boards in some Facebook groups.

“I wasn’t shocked,” he said about the messages he’s been getting through the various media.

But Phillippi reported some of the recent events are calming down, while others are just getting started.

NKU President James Votruba released a statement regarding Phillippi’s situation, two months after the alleged incident and a few weeks after University Police stopped investigating.

In an e-mail to the entire NKU community, Votruba said, “Because the reported misconduct represents behavior inconsistent with our university’s values, I am writing to send a clear message to our entire university community that reaffirms the importance of civilized behavior toward all individuals and that condemns behavior which threatens the freedom and respect that every individual deserves.”

Phillippi said once he read the letter, he felt “happy Votruba is addressing the issue and sending something out.”

Though his dissatisfaction with the university’s response to his situation is now gone, Phillippi is facing issues regarding National Coming Out Day – sponsored by Common Ground, NKU’s gay-straight alliance, and the university.

Phillippi said he is heavily involved with the Coming Out Day festivities, as he is a speaker at the event, which is Oct. 11 from 10 to 2 p.m. at the amphitheater near Loch Norse.

But this year’s Coming Out Day is different, he said. Students have utilizedFacebook to create groups in support or against the day at NKU.

Student Andy Meeks started NKU Students Against Coming Out Day. On the group’s page, which as of Oct. 10 had 78 members, it says the group is for “all of the morally sound students at NKU.”

According to Meeks, he started the group “so that I and a few like-minded friends could express our opinions without being subject to the laws of the school administration.”

Phillippi said he isn’t offended by the group, he said he’s glad students are talking about it.

“(On the site) there’s a lot of open discussion and debates,” he said. “It’s not being pushed under the rug.”

Despite the discussion, Meeks said he doesn’t think the university should monetarily support Coming Out Day because it is a double standard.

“If homosexuals are allowed to host a Coming Out Day, then I think heterosexuals should be allowed to host a Coming Out Day,” Meeks said.

While Meeks said he is opposed to the lifestyle that homosexuals lead, he said he and his group members do not hate homosexuals. He requested that the members of his group do not use vulgarities or threats of violence and said he hopes anyone opposing his views do the same.

In reaction to Meeks’ group, student Sloane Lee created her own Facebook group called NKU Students Against NKU Students Against Coming Out Day, which, as of Oct. 10, had 112 members.

Lee said she started the group because she “knew that there are many people who support Coming Out Day and what it stands for,” and wanted to give those students a way to voice their opinions.

Lee agrees with Meeks that people should be able to have their own opinion, but said she sees holes in the logic of those opposed to Coming Out Day.

According to Lee, the day is not about pushing the GLBTQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual, Questioning) agenda at students.

“I see Coming Out Day as a chance to encourage tolerance and education about a culture that some students may not be familiar with,” Lee said.

“I’m turning the negative energy into positive energy,” Phillippi said.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Gay issues prompt controversies