Friday, March 27, 2009

City College Police Launch Investigation Into Alleged Homophobia

story and photo by LEO E. LAURENCE

Copyright © 2009 by Leo E. Laurence • All rights reserved

The San Diego Community College District is currently investigating a 10-page sworn complaint I filed March 12 alleging homophobia in the journalism class that produces the official, campus newspaper, the City Times.

At the suggestion of our Zenger’s editor/publisher, Mark Gabrish Conlan, I appeared before the college district’s board of trustees on that same day and requested their help.

To my surprise, a senior officer with the City College police department is supportive, and has interrogated two male journalism classmates who I believe pose a significant threat to my safety.

After I “came out” in my journalism class during the first week of this spring semester, I realized I had a serious problem with homophobia. I quickly hand-delivered a letter to the City College president’s office asking for “protection.” In a brief e-mail, he even acknowledged my letter and said it would be investigated. But apparently his involvement ended there.

The response by the college staff (deans, etc.) has actually become far worse than the homophobia. I’ve been treated as a troublemaker, rather than a victim.

So I took the case to the district level at our editor’s recommendation, and was personally promised by Chancellor Dr. Constance M. Carroll that her board of trustees would take a serious look at the long complaint.

That campus police said two of my classmates who are named as potential threats in the detailed complaint, Sports Editor Donovan Terblance and staffer Tom Andrew, would be interrogated. A formal official Police Report was promised by Sgt. Jordan Mirakian. That will become part of the official campus record of the students involved.

One officer told me that if anyone hits or threatens me, his department will come down hard on that person.

While my protection on campus seems to be in better shape, the district’s inquiry into the alleged homophobia may be on hold.

When I met with the district’s discrimination officer, Shawn Larry, in the district’s offices in Mission Valley on March 12, he refused to permit a tape recording of the meeting, as has staff at the college. What are they hiding?

I regard his refusal to allow a tape recording of the official meeting as an indication that the district staff is uncooperative in the inquiry. Progress reports are being sent to the district chancellor.

The mainstream media haven’t picked up on this yet, but the local chapter of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist’s Association, of which I’m an active member, will soon be asked to intervene.

But the “editorial board” of the City Times, which includes the angry sports editor, published a vicious “hit piece” attacking me for my coverage of the situation in Zenger’s. I offered a rebuttal piece, pointing out that it is virtually unprecedented for a newspaper to publish an editorial attacking one of its own staff members in print and not give that staff member an opportunity to respond before publication. The City Times would not allow me either to publish my rebuttal in print or to post it to their Web site. It can be read in full on the Zenger’s Web site at

Although it has been hell at times to be on campus, I am actively pursuing this case on homophobia to help the many other Gay students, staff and faculty on campus. If they have problems with homophobia at City College, and make a complaint; they should be treated seriously and as victims, not as troublemakers — as has been my experience.

Contact Leo E. Laurence at (619) 757-4909 or at

Photo Caption: The board of trustees of the San Diego Community College District meets in open session on March 12. They promised to investigate allegations of homophobia at City College.