campus life

Yale Approves Mixed-Gender Housing. And This Ends Discrimination Against Gay Students?

Debated at Columbia and approved at Yale, gender-neutral housing is a straight college student’s way to finally shack up with opposite sex partners. Awesome! But Yale’s move — which makes it the last of the Ivy Leagues to permit some form of mixed-gender housing — also strikes down a policy that, passively, discriminated against gays. Huh?

“One of the major concerns against [the policy] was that opposite-sex couples would cohabitate on campus, but if there isn’t such a policy, it means the administration is presupposing that there aren’t same-sex relationships,” says Benjamin Bernard, a board member of Yale’s LGBT Cooperative.

That is: By only allowing same-sex housing to minimize sexual interaction, Yale was, ipso facto, assuming gays and lesbian relationships didn’t exist. Which as any homo who’s ever stepped foot on Yale’s campus knows to be both untrue and ridiculous. (And now you don’t even need to visit Connecticut to know it to be true.) And here we thought these institutions of higher education were just cutting us a break the whole time by “forcing” us to live with the same-sex.

Yale’s new program is only for seniors, who will get to share a suite with the opposite sex; bedrooms, however, are supposed to be occupied only by members of the same-sex, which still means two dudes sleeping in the same room, but who’s going to police any of that?

One advantage of mixed-gender housing for queers, touted across the land, is the ability for, say, gay men to choose to live with more friendly straight female students, or transgender students to select a roommate with a gender they feel more comfortable around. Except if mixed-gender housing is only for seniors, LGBT freshman don’t really gain anything from the new rules, and will still be subjected to that could-be-awkward “She’s my girlfriend, not my girl friend” conversation.

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  • Marco

    I think the quote is taken out of context – I’m sure that adoption of the new policy wasn’t just on account of the silencing of queer relationships, but also out of the school’s responsibility to provide inclusivity and comfort for queer students in residential life.

    In regards to this being for seniors, it’s at least a start. As an outside observer, there are probably many structural (physical, administrative) adaptations needed to really expand the policies. There are lots of complexities at hand, and I don’t think this mocking article gives enough credit to the policy, the institution, or the students involved in bringing this change about.

  • Patrick Garies

    I don’t think that separated housing based on gender is really discrimination against gay persons; it’s just another one of the traditions founded upon a Puritanical view of sex. In this case, it’s closer to discriminating against adulterous heterosexual relationships; that’s the only reason I can think of for the policy anyway. (At the University of Houston, you could live with a person of the opposite sex only if married.)

    @Marco: I’m guessing that the main problem would be restrooms. If you’re bent on not integrating them, then that could be a problem since places like UH have gender-specific floors. If you’re visiting a friend of the opposite gender, you have to go to another floor just to go to the restroom. It would be kind of weird to maintain such a system in a co-ed environment.

  • Edgar Díaz-Machado

    Hmm, this was a sloppy post, Queerty. If you look through the Yale Daily News’ site, you’ll find more posts about how we fought for this gender neutral housing.
    As a Yalie, I felt like we were more so fighting to accommodate any trans kids. We’ve had prefrosh who have chosen not to go to Yale based on no gender neutral housing being offered. Yale’s already pretty gay-friendly. Gay Ivy, whatwhat.
    Ben’s a great student leader and we’re really blessed to have him around. Don’t take his quotes out of context!

    Also, sidenote, our bathrooms are all gender neutral. :P

  • Patrick Garies

    @Edgar: On the restroom thing, thats interesting. I guess UH is just socially conservative. It’s in Texas though, so that’s no surprise.

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