HillcrestBlog by "San Diego News Service" (619) 757-4909

"San Diego News Service" covers hard news, features and reviews for local and national print media, and maintains, "HillcrestBlog." Address: 3907 Georgia St., #15, San Diego 92103-3548. Our editor is Leo E. Laurence, J.D., Copy Ed.: Martin Brickson. Member: Society of Professional Journalists, Latino Journalists of California. Call news tips to (619) 757-4909 (days), Nights: (619) 220-8686 (fax also). leopowerhere@msn.com Copyright 2008 by San Diego News Service

Monday, October 13, 2008


San Diego -- City College administrators may get hit with a lawsuit soon if they continue to restrict the fundamental rights of their students in the Fellowship of Associated Gay Students (FAGS) organization on their campus.
The situation at City College is just opposite of what exists are Mesa College, which is supportive of the FAGS student organization and its work to promote marriage equality and safe sex (by distributing free condoms on campus).
San Diego News Service has learned exclusively that the FAGS leaders are preparing to file a civil lawsuit against the San Diego Community College District (which operates City College), if the City administrators continue to violate the constitutional and statutory rights of students in FAGS.
The conflict over the FAGS name is largely generational.
The students in FAGS are mostly - but certainly not all - young. They intend to "take back" the word "fags" from the hostile homophobics and convert it into a positive word, proudly identifying themselves and their campus organization.
The conflict that will be at the center of the lawsuit is a study in semantics and wordology. Academically, it is fertile ground for a scholarly paper.
But, the administrators at City College are largely older, and are dogmatically stuck in the old thinking that the only meaning of the word "fags" is its ugly, hate word definition that is inappropriate for the college campus, as Student Services Assistant Michele Montanez said in a SDNS interview.
"I think the acronym (FAGS) is not appropriate for an educational institution because it is hate language," Montanez explained.
"I don't think the First Amendment applies to hate language," she added.
As a matter of law, however, she is mostly wrong!
In constitutional law, if the word "fag" or "queer" is used in a hostile manner ("I'm going to kill you, fag," says an angry, homophobic man to a Gay while holding a hunting knife): then the First-Amendment protections do not apply. Indeed, under those facts, use of the word "fag" becomes a felonious, hate crime.
But, City administrator Montanez has her facts wrong, and therefore her legal conclusion has no merit.
Use of the word "fags" by the gay students at City and Mesa colleges - and rapidly spreading to other community colleges in the San Diego area - is not done in anger. Just the opposite. Therefore, the law protects is use.
The bold FAGS students are experimenting, using a method of English semantics whereby people convert a so-called hate word (e.g., "fags"), into a positive, supportive word. They are semantically changing the meaning of the word fags by changing its use.
This semantical method has successful, historical precedent in the Gay Community. Years ago, young Gays - including teenagers - began to describe themselves and their youthful organizations as "queer."
They were "taking back" the word queer from the hostile homophobics.
It worked, quite successfully.
There are now "queer" youth groups all over the nation, including in San Diego.
The City College gay "militants" are conducting an experiment with words, and English and anthropology majors might take notice. Someday, a doctoral thesis on semantics might be written about this semantical experiment by the FAGS organizations at City, Mesa and other campuses.
The word "militant" is used in this story to describe activities by gay activists that go well beyond the institutional professionals (e.g., at the LGBT Center in Hillcrest). They refuse to be pushed around by college administrators. The word is not used in its violent meaning, as is used regularly by reporters and editors in the mainstream media. (See also: "Gay Militants," by Donn Teal, Stein and Day publishers, New York, 1971)
The gay militants at City and Mesa colleges are led by FAGS president Jason Frye of North Park. He is unusually powerful as a gay leader because he is president of the FAGS campus organizations at both City and Mesa colleges.
Frye and his gay workers are guided by longtime, pioneering, gay militant Jay Murley of North Park, the FAGS secretary and a Harvard graduate.
Both Frye and Murley are determined, and are working behind-the-scenes to prepare a lawsuit against the community-college district to seek an injunction prohibiting City administrators from rejecting campus recognition of their FAGS student organization.
FAGS is recognized as a students organization at Mesa College.
"(Mesa's president) is very supportive and very professional," Fryne said in an exclusive SDNS interview in his North Park home, and ably assisted by gay pioneer Murley.
"(Mesa's president) studies her First-Amendment rights," Frye added, praising the college president for creating a positive atmosphere for Gays on her campus.
"We are not getting that (supportive) feeling" at City College, Frye reported.
The FAGS organization exists, not to fight the City College administration, but to promote marriage equality and safe sex on campus.
At City, where the administration's homophobic attitude dents the enthusiasm of gay students, there are only 17 students signed up as FAGS members. The hard-core workers who do most of the work on campus is about 5-6, Frye reported.
The picture at supportive Mesa College is quire different.
There the FAGS organization has 82 students who have signed up as members. Of them, an astounding 20-25 are the hard-core, active members.
While great things may occur on the Mesa campus, the picture remains dismal at City College.
The FAGS organization at City doesn't even have a faculty advisor, as required for official, campus recognition. The administration is intentionally making the selection process difficult.
One adjunct professor was rejected on technical grounds by the college administration, though other student groups reportedly have used adjunct professors are advisors. That may violate several statutes in the state's Civil Code prohibiting discrimination against Gays.
Another reason the young, college Gays are using an organizational name with the acronym FAGS is that they are "tired of the alphabet soup," club president Frye explained.
In Hillcrest' Gay Community, the acronym once was GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender). Then some of the often loud and pushy lesbian leaders complained because they wanted the "L" for lesbian to be first in the acronym. So, it changed to L-G-B-T, which is common in San Diego today.
Some wonder if they also plan to add the letters "MNGMDG" to the name of the LGBT Center in Hillcrest, to include the center's long-standing Monday Night Gay Mens Discussion Group.
That would make the alphabet soup in the Hillcrest neighborhood into LGBTMNGMDG.
It was against that nonsense that the FAGS leaders adopted their unique name.
They resisted adding "ASS" to the end of their acronym to acknowledge "And Straight Supporters." That wouldn't be tasteful. And, it would add to the alphabet soup that the gay students dislike so much.
"We wanted a sharp name that wold be fair," Frye explained.
The gay students at City College are preparing to take their battle for campus recognition to the next level, into the courts.
They will seek an injunction prohibiting the City College administration from unlawfully rejecting their official, campus recognition.
The lawsuit will likely be based on the students' First-Amendment rights, but also on the plethora of state laws prohibiting discrimination against Gays and Lesbians in the state.
Murley has long had close connections with attorneys affiliated with the American Civil Liberties union (ACLU). His work with ACLU lawyers goes back decades into Orange County.
Copyright, 2008 by journalist Leo E. Laurence, J.D. leopowerhere@msn.com (619) 757-4909


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