USA Today recently reported students led by Lauren Ferguson at the University of Texas at Austin began the “queer-inclusive” sorority Gamma Rho Lambda after feeling excluded from other Greek Life organizations due to their sexuality.
In the same vein, Delta Lambda Phi at Purdue University is one of the most popular LGBTQ+-inclusive fraternities in the country because it prevents discrimination to students who wish to participate in Greek Life.
With recent scandals and discriminatory events in the Greek community nationwide, two questions remain for students at The University of Southern Mississippi: does Southern Miss Greek Life exhibit exclusionary tendencies toward members of the LGBTQ+ community, and what do students think about the concept of an LGBTQ+-based Greek organization?
Charles Childress, the director of Greek Life, said the official stance of USM is non-discriminatory. “If a potential member embodies the mission, values and creed of an organization, they should have the opportunity to gain membership in that organization,” Childress said.
Jamiaus Marion, a junior dance and performance and choreography major and vice president of USM’s Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity, said he personally saw the USM stance in action.
“The Greek community here at Southern ranges from all different types and accepts anyone willing to succeed and leave Southern Miss better than they found it,” Marion said.
“(My fraternity brothers have) all welcomed me in with open arms and shown me the same love they would any other brother,” Marion said, despite his views on the LGBTQ+ community.
“I consider myself bisexual. I’ve found that my sisters love me for who I am and whoever I prefer to date,” said a USM sorority member, who wished to remain anonymous.
Still, both students said they appreciate the efforts being made to incorporate more of the LGBTQ+ community in Greek communities nationwide. Both said these organizations are very good for both the members and the university. The sorority member said she appreciated the freedom of being able to take a male or female as a date to a social function.
“Having an LGBTQ+ fraternity and sorority (would) highlight (a) willingness toward being a well diverse school,” Marion said.
As far as the possibilities for such a fraternity or sorority at USM, Henry said, “Unfortunately, where we are in Mississippi, I can’t see this ever happening.”
Marion offered no speculation, but he said that should it ever occur, “It will show that we do not discriminate, and it will crash the stereotype that Southern Greek communities shun out those things.”
Currently, several of the Greek Organizations at USM are listed on the Lambda 10 Project for fraternities and sororities which identifies Greek organizations that have inclusive policies or have educationally address issues of sexual orientation.