In a recent article in Diverse Issues in Higher Education, HBCUs were brought under fire for the lack of support that they show to students from diverse sexual orientations. A white professor at Alabama State University filed a lawsuit against the university alleging that he and his husband were the recipients of discriminatory practices.
Dr. John Garland and his spouse (who also works at the institution) spoke out publicly about policies that were afforded to heterosexual married couples, but not to them. When they went public with their complaint, they were retaliated against.
This incident is not new to HBCUs and continues a dilemma that they have faced for years; support for facutly, staff and students who are LGBTQA. According to Sharon J. Letterman-Hicks, executive director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, HBCUs have been the targets of numerous lawsuits as a result of discrimination.
The struggle comes from the long history of HBCUs being culturally and religiously conservative; particularly those that are faith based. Additionally, many are private institutions and the alumni and boards of trustees expect them to only acknowledge “traditional” marriages. This philosophical ideology could prove to be detrimental to enrollments at institutions that are already struggling.
There are however, HBCUs that do show support for the members of the LGBTQA community. Bowie State and North Carolina Central have resources provided on their campuses that include a resource center at Bowie state and faculty and staff who are dedicated to addressing the needs of the community.