Thursday, April 5, 2012

How will I respond to this letter by a Christian about Purdue's LGTBQ community?

The Exponent is the student newspaper at Purdue University. Yesterday as part of the Letters to the Editor, they posted a letter by a West Lafayette resident with the title Resident provides suggestion for LGBT youth. Now since I am a straight man one could argue that technically this letter does not apply to me. However I disagree.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear Editor,
Many of us are getting a bit tired of hearing about the demands of Purdue’s so-called gay and lesbian community. I suspect that many of those most vocal are probably out-of-state students. I have to ask why did they apply to Purdue in the first place, if all they are going to do is complain about it? These petulant children have ‘gay friendly’ schools in their home states, and the Hoosier troublemakers (if any) should have applied to Bloomington. As a Christian, I hate the sin, but love the sinner. I see no reason to destroy these people, but they should not be working to destroy our Boilermaker values either. So the best solution for all concerned is for Purdue to set up some kind of Director of Gay and Lesbian Issues on campus, someone well versed in transferring academic credits and the application process, so these young people can be directed to better pursue their values and ‘interests’ unhindered in more accepting institutions, and traditional Boilermakers who love Purdue and are happy with it as it is can better pursue our own values and interests as well.
Boiler Up!
Harlan VanderMeer, West Lafayette resident


How will I respond to this letter by a Christian that decided to write this letter stating his views and opinions about Purdue's LGTBQ community? Stay tuned. In the meantime, I would like to hear your opinion and comments about this letter.




  1. I think he may have it right-- for all the wrong reasons. I wouldn't encourage any gay relatives or friends (or black or hispanic or even generally progressive) to attend Purdue. It's not a place where queer people get the feeling they too might one day change the world. It's a place that makes them feel they should shut up and even apologize for taking up space in it.

    A couple weeks ago I went back to visit my Alma Mater, a smaller, regional, public university in (conservative) west michigan (Western Michigan University) and saw it had a full-time coordinator and a much stronger official support system than Purdue.

    Sure, Mr. VanderMeer's christian love is motivated by homophobia, but he represents many in this community, and many in this community are the low and mid-level bureaucrats that run Purdue.

  2. As a former in-state student and Christian, I was really disappointed in this letter. Boilermaker values have never been condescension and arrogance.

    Unfortunately, I have no doubt that this man believes what he said, and that he's not alone. Hopefully, he has unintentionally strengthened the support of the LBGT community here by his letter. I do agree that a specific Purdue liaison might do some good, although not for the reasons he stated.


    1. I don't agree with Jenny when she claims "Boilermaker values have never been condescension and arrogance." I've worked for a decade to call attention to Purdue's support for the Boy Scouts, a group that insists gay and atheist kids are 'unclean' and thus cannot take the scout oath. My name was published in my department as a non-supporter of the United Way, and when I complained about that, was put on two weeks unpaid leave. Last October I complained again and was terminated (some higher-up in HR reversed my termination) but then this March I lost my job due to budget cuts.

      Nick Goldsmith writes in his blog how his department kept 'forgetting' his acheivements in the QSU during their student awards ceremonies. The DIRECTOR OF DIVERSITY (no less) for the College of Technology refused to include NOGLSTP on their list of minority support groups until there was a recent change in leadership...

      I could go on, but I think I make my point that Boilermaker values have always included condescension and arrogance towards sexual minorities.

  3. Mike, I'm sorry about your experience. I do agree with you that Purdue is not as diverse as many other public universities, but to encourage minority students (gay, latino or otherwise) to avoid Purdue at all costs doesn't solve the problem. It makes it worse. I totally agree that Purdue is behind the times in this area. This is partly because Purdue is first and foremost a land grant university that specializes in agriculture and engineering education. These industries are traditionally populated by conservative professionals. The first students at Purdue came from working class backgrounds in the small towns and corn fields of Indiana. Other more traditionally academic institutions, like IU, have always had students from the more liberal upper classes. Purdue is playing catch-up.

    A couple other points: I volunteer with the boy scouts, and have seen first hand how it's an organization of inclusion. Boys who don't find acceptance in sports or other organizations at school can find friends and become leaders with bsa. Like most national organizations, what the national office says and makes important does not filter down to the local level. Troops are run as the youth and adult leaders see fit, with little intrusion from the nationwide organization. So making hoopla about Purdue supporting it is silly. Finally, why are you anti United Way?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Michigan State and Illinois both are nearby focused on Ag and Engineering, and yet their gender ratios are about 50-50 (purdue's is 58% male, 42% female) and have much better queer services. So that doesn't seem to explain the problem. Why shouldn't I encourage people who are not welcome to find instutions where they are welcome? Why is it that the oppressed minority needs to be the one to 'suck it up' for the sake of hiding the short-comings of Purdue?

      And wow... the Scouts DO exclude atheist and gay boys from their core programs. That's fact. And those facts impact the larger culture-- send the message out that gay kids are not as good as straight kids. Sure it's just one small message of inferiority among thousands, but it is a real and significant contribution to the homophobia that undermines the self-esteem of all queer-indentified and questioning kids. What the national offices says DOES filter down to the whole culture.

      Dismissing all that as 'silly' is exactly an example of how queer people at Purdue are expected to just shut-up about the details of their oppression, and is exactly the kind of condescension and arrogance we have to deal with every day.

  4. A friend just pointed this out to me: "What if 'boilerbugle' weren't refering to gay kids, but to Jewish kids, arguing that the national offices say we can't admit jews to the BSA, but it doesn't filter down! Even if the kids act or look a bit Jewish (as long as they stay 'in the closet' as Jews) they can find friends and become leaders in the BSA, with 'little intrusion' from HQ. So Jews making a hoopla about Purdue supporting this is silly."

    Would anyone NOT recognize Boilerbugle as an anti-semite? Would/Should Purdue support such an argument and organization?

  5. Unfortunately Mike is correct about the Boy Scouts; this is particular hurtful to me since I used to be a Boy Scout. Unlike the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts have discriminated against Atheists in the past because they believe that being an Atheist violates this part of the Scout Oath: "...To do my duty to God.." and this part of the Scout Law: "A Scout is Reverent.
    A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties...." They also discriminate against LGTB kids because they believe that this violates this part of the oath: "morally straight."

    1. Thanks Mario, As you may know from
      Purdue DIVERSITY OFFICERS acted to exclude a gay group from their web pages, and they both got promotions soon afterwards. VanderMeer was just bold (or stupid) enough to say homophobic ideas many Purdue administators believe and act on, but are careful not to go on record about.