Alumnae Quarterly, Winter 2008

Don't Tell, Don't Talk?

I thought I'd share a (possibly) unanticipated reaction to the "Bulletin Board" story [fall] on the Jolene Fund for students whose lesbian orientation becomes known to their parents, who as a result cut them off. The following appeared on my husband's Internet site "...Maybe the Jolenes would have found it cheaper to provide students with some tips on keeping their mouths shut. But then they wouldn't want to encourage unnatural behavior, now would they? - Birdman"

My own reaction: If a young woman knows her parents won't be able to handle the news after sounding them out on similar issues, then she can either remain quiet about it (after all, she might change her orientation later, even though it doesn't feel like that at the time) or make a big deal of it. To make a big deal of it in that case makes it almost certain her funds will be cut off. (It is possible that her parents will want to provide her with an alternative education somewhere else, where she will be less "under the influence." Maybe it would be only fair to give them a chance. And maybe a young woman who has reached this point is asking for help by the act of telling them.)

In any case, if things end up "exploding," she is relying on the college (or, rather, its benefactors) to bail her out. She is putting the college in the position of advocating freedom of sexual expression. There are some who would say that if the college is going to do that they should make sure the student knows "both sides" (much like the Darwin vs. creationist controversy). Maybe there should be a kind of "family values" curriculum depicting the various (real) dilemmas we encounter out here in the world, and the difference it makes which paths we take.

Lenora Castles Bryant '64
South Pasadena, Florida

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