Coed dorm room -- a big yawn?

Posted: May 17, 2002 12:00 AM
What will the universities of America do when they run out of victims groups to coddle and appease? Might they be forced to resume teaching the great works of civilization. Nah. The New York Times headline on its dispatch from the academic front runs, "No Big Deal, but Some Dorm Rooms Have Gone Coed." From Swarthmore and Haverford to Wesleyan and Antioch, a number of liberal liberal-arts colleges are offering coed dorm rooms. But wait, there's a twist. This accommodation results not from sexually active couples seeking joint living arrangements, but from homosexuals and lesbians who are "uncomfortable" living with members of their own sex. "Straight men who live together often have a kind of locker-room mentality, with a lot of discussion about dating girls, having sex with girls, saying which girls are attractive," a Haverford graduate told The New York Times. "Introducing a homosexual into that environment is uncomfortable. When I looked for housing, all the people it made sense for me to live with were women." Has anyone thought this through? Even if one assumes that the battle to keep campuses reasonably sane on matters of modesty and privacy is largely lost, this newest bow to homosexual preferences is just wild. In the first place, who gave these youngsters the idea that they ought to be protected from overhearing the conversations of the majority of their sex on the topic of women? It's always a challenge to be different. But should violinists who hate sports be shielded from roommates who have lettered? Should short students be protected from roommates who play basketball? Should brilliant students not have to endure the conversation of the merely bright? How about pious kids? Should they be protected from the vulgar language of the majority? Should pro-life kids be offered only roommates whose views on the matter don't make them "uncomfortable"? Or should all of them learn to live in the world as it is? Second, what lesson are we to draw from this about what homosexual activists are seeking? After the debate over homosexuality in the military, it seemed we were being asked to assume that homosexuals are no more likely to impair unit cohesion than heterosexuals. If this is true (and I don't know whether it is or not), it must be because homosexuals are perfectly capable of fitting into the larger heterosexual society and playing by the same rules. The coed room phenomenon is only the latest kowtow to homosexual wishes on campuses. We have long since seen the establishment of separate dorms for gays and lesbians -- or in the newspeak that predominates in academia, "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, and their allies." (The "transgender community," for those who've been out of college for a while, includes cross-dressers, transvestites and transsexuals.) Further, it's sad to see university officials so eager to assume that at the age of 18 or 20, these works in progress are fixed in their sexual orientation. In fact, a large number of students are pulled toward homosexuality by politics (particularly at the more militantly feminist colleges) and fashion. Yes, fashion. For a non-homosexual to suggest that homosexuality is anything other than innate at birth is a terrible faux pas. Yet one of the students interviewed by The New York Times called himself "homoflexible." Surely some people are unswervingly homosexual. But not all. There's a militancy and rigidity that now afflicts nearly every group that feels itself aggrieved -- whether by society or fortune. Among the deaf, it's considered traitorous to get cochlear implants. And gays who become straight are considered to be brainwashed fools. Surely those with disabilities deserve every measure of dignity, and those who are different deserve no less. But the "homoflexibles" of this world ought not be pushed toward a choice that is less happy, fulfilling and safe than the alternative. (Note: A million thanks from the bottom of my heart for the thousands of letters and emails regarding our son Jonathan. He is out of the coma and recuperating from his brain injury at a rehab hospital. I wish I could respond to every message personally. Please know that they have moved me beyond words.)