Title IX closes investigation into derogatory LGBT+ writings

IAN LACK Reporter

Following a series of derogatory LGBT+ messages written on the door of Hansen Hall resident Tanner Johnson, Title IX informed Johnson that an investigation would be made into the writings. Johnson was informed that this investigation was done in an attempt to discover the people responsible for the writings.

Johnson said the Title IX officials spoke with him about three weeks after he reported the message saying that, with his permission, they were going to close the investigation.

“They said that various members of administration had been discussing it, but that there weren’t any leads into who had written on the board,” said Johnson, junior history education major. “They said that if I had any more information later, I could bring it back to them.”

The first writing appeared on the whiteboard on Johnson’s door on Nov. 9 after he hung a gay pride flag on the door. This was followed by two other writings that appeared on Nov. 17.

“I was just shocked and a little hurt that anyone would care that I had a rainbow flag up,” Johnson said. “But it’s been nice that people actually care about what happened, both in terms of school administration and people in general.”

Associate vice president of Student Affairs Doug Wermedal said he is confident in the university’s ability to react to any incident similar to Johnson’s.

“Unfortunately, when there are cowardly attacks that are anonymous like this, sometimes the perpetrators get lucky and it stays anonymous,” Wermedal said. “But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t things that the institution can’t do educationally to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Following the writings on his door, a meeting was held on Johnson’s floor in Hansen to address the messages. Johnson said he found this meeting encouraging for himself and informative for his fellow floor residents. He’s appreciative of the steps the university took to address the situation and make him feel safe and welcome.

Stephanie Mills, president of the SDSU Gender and Sexualities Alliance, said LGBT+ members of the student organization have experienced discrimination similar to what was written on Johnson’s door before. Mills, who identifies with gender-neutral pronouns, had been called derogatory LGBT+ slurs within the Brookings community.

“It’s mostly the atmosphere and the way that people look at and treat you without even outwardly saying homophobic or transphobic things; micro-aggressions,” said Mills, a senior sociology major with a human services specialization.

It is Mills’ belief that Students’ Association resolutions stating the student body supports LGBT+ peers and action from university administration when anti-LGBT+ mistreatment takes place will send a message to students across campus that the university is an inclusive, safe space.

“No one deserves to feel unsafe at a university or in their living space due to their peers harassing them based on who they are as a human,” Mills said. “If we look at this as a human rights issue and not just a political issue, I think we’d be able to make more progress in making this a safe place.”