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Est. April 5, 2002
May 02, 2019 - Issue 787

Morehouse Will Admit
Trans Male Students

"Embodying W.E.B. Dubois’s theory of 'The Talented Tenth,'
where 'exceptional black men' would be the ones to lead
the race, Morehouse College has produced unquestionably
a pantheon of noted black men."

Morehouse College - the jewel of black academia and male leadership - will admit transgender male students in 2020. According to its new “Gender Identity Admissions and Matriculation Policy,” any student who self-identifies as male, regardless of his gender assigned at birth, will be considered for admission with other applicants. And, in keeping with the Morehouse mission and ethos of brotherhood, the college will continue to use masculine pronouns.

This is great news as Morehouse will now join the list of other HBCUs with transgender policies. And, of the only other standalone, all-male colleges in the country, Hamden-Sydney College in Virginia and Wabash College in Indiana, Morehouse is light years ahead.

“In a rapidly changing world that includes a better understanding of gender identity, we’re proud to expand our admissions policy to consider trans men who want to be part of an institution that has produced some of the greatest leaders in social justice, politics, business, and the arts for more than 150 years,” said Terrance Dixon, Morehouse’s Vice President for Enrollment Management. “The ratification of this policy affirms the College’s commitment to develop men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service.”

Morehouse, however, has come a long way on GBTQ issues, because the college has had its share of GBTQ-phobic incidents. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was more dangerous to be openly GBTQ on Morehouse’s campus than it was on the streets in gang-ridden black neighborhoods. And, throughout the 1990s, Morehouse was listed on the Princeton Review’s top 20 homophobic campuses.

For example, Jafari Sinclaire Allen, a professor at the University of Texas was an openly gay student at Morehouse in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He recalls fleeing campus one evening after a forum to address homophobia turned violently homophobic.

Morehouse’s most highly publicized gay-bashing incident occurred in 2002 when a student sustained a fractured skull from his classmate, sophomore Aaron Price, not surprisingly the son of an ultra-conservative minister. Price uncontrollably beat his victim on the head with a baseball bat for allegedly looking at him in the shower.

Many on Morehouse’s campus felt then that peering in a student’s shower was an act that not only transgressed Price’s privacy as a man, but also warranted some form of brute retaliation as an indication of his manhood. “A lot of people believe that he deserved to get beaten up if he was looking in the shower stall. Students are very wary of any action that could be misconstrued as a gay overture,” sophomore Mubarak Guy, who was a friend of Price’s, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2002.

During the arguments for and against convicting Price of the state’s first hate crime, Assistant Fulton County District Attorney Holly Hughes asked the jury to remember the words Price allegedly uttered “when he beat his victim with a baseball bat: ‘Faggot, you’re gay, gay ... I hate these Morehouse faggots.’”

Devrin Lindsay, a junior, stated in the May 2008 Los Angeles Times article, “Morehouse College faces its own bias - against gays” that an effeminate man who “swishes down the campus like he’s on a runway” damages Morehouse’s image for both parents and students looking to attend the college.

In 2019, being openly LGBTQ in our black communities has improved a tad, although black transwomen are still subjected to higher incidents of violence, frequently resulting in death. With GBTQ-phobia once running as rampant in historically black colleges and universities as it still is in black churches, there were no safe places to engage openly the subject of black sexuality. And with Black gay sexuality within African-American and African Diasporic cultures perceived to further threaten not only black male heterosexuality, but also the ontology of blackness itself, it wasn’t safe to be openly GBTQ anywhere.

However, in 2007, the president of Morehouse, Rev. Robert Franklin, firmly expressed his views on tolerance and discrimination. He said, “As an all-male institution with the explicit mission of educating men with disciplined minds, the great challenge of this moment in history is our diversity of sexual orientation.”

Morehouse continues to confer degrees on more men of African descent than any other institution of higher education in this country. Since its inception in 1867, Morehouse College has been noted as the bastion of black male leadership and masculinity. Embodying W.E.B. Dubois’s theory of “The Talented Tenth,” where “exceptional black men” would be the ones to lead the race, Morehouse College has produced unquestionably a pantheon of noted black men: civil rights activist Andrew Jackson, former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, filmmaker Spike Lee, actor Samuel L. Jackson, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and its most famous alumnus Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. And, its alums maintain the “Morehouse mystique” the college is renowned for - “images of strong black men.”

In a culture that is now moving away from toxic masculinity, Morehouse’s admission of transgender male students will be continuing its tradition of nurturing the talents and gifts of its exceptional black men. Editorial Board member and Columnist, The Reverend Monroe is an ordained minister, motivational speaker and she speaks for a sector of society that is frequently invisible. Rev. Monroe does a weekly Monday segment, “All Revved Up!” on WGBH (89.7 FM), on Boston Public Radio and a weekly Friday segment “The Take” on New England Channel NEWS (NECN). She’s a Huffington Post blogger and a syndicated religion columnist. Her columns appear in cities across the country and in the U.K, and Canada. Also she writes a  column in the Boston home LGBTQ newspaper Baywindows and Cambridge Chronicle. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Rev. Monroe graduated from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African-American church in New Jersey before coming to Harvard Divinity School to do her doctorate. She has received the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching several times while being the head teaching fellow of the Rev. Peter Gomes, the Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church at Harvard who is the author of the best seller, THE GOOD BOOK. She appears in the film For the Bible Tells Me So and was profiled in the Gay Pride episode of In the Life, an Emmy-nominated segment. Monroe’s  coming out story is  profiled in “CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing up Gay in America" and in "Youth in Crisis." In 1997 Boston Magazine cited her as one of Boston's 50 Most Intriguing Women, and was profiled twice in the Boston Globe, In the Living Arts and The Spiritual Life sections for her LGBT activism. Her papers are at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College's research library on the history of women in America. Her website is  Contact the Rev. Monroe and BC. 




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