Journal of College Student Development 45.1 (2004) 110-111
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Addressing Homophobia and Heterosexism on College Campuses. Elizabeth P. Cramer (Editor). Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press, Inc., 2002, 292 pages, $49.95 (hardcover)
Homophobia and heterosexism are endemic problems in our society. Despite the frequent "liberal" attributions about university environments, college campuses are not immune from the larger sociopolitical context or the zeitgeist in which they are embedded. In fact, research suggests that LGBT people often experience negative attitudes, harassment, and violence on college campuses (Eddy & Forney, 2000). Thus, there is a need for a compendium of thought that addresses such challenges faced by those in higher education. Addressing Homophobia and Heterosexism on College Campuses, edited by Cramer, and copublished as the Journal of Lesbian Studies, 2002, 6(3/4), provides a valuable contribution to an often-overlooked spectrum of issues relevant to affirming diversity in higher education.
Addressing Homophobia and Heterosexism on College Campuses is comprised of 19 papers organized into five sections: "The Campus Environment: Campus-Wide Programs and Policies," "Attitude Assessment and Change," "Practitioner Training Programs," "Pedagogy and Classroom Interventions," and "Feature Films and Documentaries." It is not possible to summarize the content of each paper within the scope of this review, but we will highlight each section so that readers may have a general sense of the content covered. The first section focuses on addressing homophobia and heterosexism through campus programs such as Safe Zone/Allies and other initiatives. The second section outlines approaches to examining and challenging attitudes toward LGBT people and includes empirical studies in Canada, Australia, and the U.S. The third section presents suggestions on training mental health students to assist and advocate for LGBT people. The fourth section provides teaching guidelines and techniques aimed at educators. Along with these techniques and guidelines, a philosophical framework that encourages critical thinking is presented. Finally, the fifth section provides a listing and summary of feature films and documentaries on LGBT issues.
The editor's stated purpose was to challenge the reader about how to address homophobia and heterosexism on college campuses. As professionals with experience in programming on issues of homophobia and heterosexism, we found much of what was presentednot so much a challenge as an invitation to consider a range of ideas in integrating this important issue into curricula and institutional structures. Nonetheless, we found it stimulating and encouraging to read [End Page 110] about the commitment of academic professionals to this important issue. However, an audience less familiar with the topic might indeed find the information contained within the book challenging, particularly if they have neglected or minimized issues of homophobia and heterosexism in the past. Thus, we suggest that this book is an important primer for college student affairs personnel who wish to understand the impact of homophobia and heterosexism and who attempt to use that understanding to initiate institutional change. Perhaps a more focused statement regarding the intended audience of the book would have been beneficial.
A major strength of this book is the attention to the integration of homophobia and heterosexism within a larger context of diversity. Specifically, Cramer's selection of manuscripts includes conceptual writings and empirical studies from a range of academic disciplines, sexual orientations, gender expressions, and geographical boundaries. Yet another strength of the book is the pragmatic nature of several of the papers that provide detailed resources for professionals who wish to incorporate experiential activities in their work.
While some papers are thorough and thought-provoking, we were left wanting more depth from other papers. In addition, we agree with Cramer that attention to race and class was lacking. The inconsistent quality and the limited attention to race and class in the papers raised questions about Cramer's selection criteria, especially given the number of manuscripts submitted. One of us also would have preferred a different organizational structure within the book, progressing from attitude assessment to interventions. However, we acknowledge that the book can be used in a variety of ways. Specifically, each paper can be referenced as needed...