Why are LGBT students clinging to the Bad Old Days?
Every now and then, something happens that confirms what many of us already suspected: that victimhood has become an addiction, to which some will cling for dear life.
It emerged last Sunday that student groups are now campaigning for LGBT-only halls of residence in British universities. Such accommodation is already offered at the University of Birmingham, and is being considered at the University of York and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN). According to students at UCLAN, flats away from straight classmates would allow LGBT students ‘to integrate without fear of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia’.
Except, of course, it would do no such thing. It would do precisely the opposite. On what planet is physical segregation a prerequisite of integration? Who thinks the answer to, say, racism, is having racially segregated dormitories for teenagers in 21st-century Britain? What possible end could further divisions serve – other than to entrench, needlessly, a sense of otherness? This idea suggests a kind of reactionary desperation. We are living at a time when Britain is recognised as among the best countries in the world in which to be gay, and yet these students cling to the Bad Old Days.
It seems, then, that a peculiar conservatism abounds among these allegedly radical queer students. Is homophobia a thing of the past? Of course not. But things are heading in the right direction at lightning speed, without the help of bricks and mortar between LGBT students and their straight counterparts. In fact, things have moved too far the other way: religious objectors to homosexuality, for example, are being barred from speaking their minds, and those that do are expelled from campus. Homophobia is now so beyond the pale on campus that bigoted opinions are effectively conflated with violent actions. When I was a student, I was rather more alarmed by that than by the prospect of having straight neighbours.
Alasdair Riggs is a writer based in London.
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