An Inclusive Litany

9/21/98

The harassment code at George Mason University has been modified to include such offenses as "staring" at a homosexual couple holding hands or thinking that a homosexual might be attracted to you. The code of the University of Maryland bans "holding or eating food provocatively," "kissing sounds," "telephone calls of a sexual nature," "idle chatter of a sexual nature," "sign language to denote sexual activity," and "gender-biased communications about women or men... that ignore or deprecate a group based on their gender." Bowdoin College forbids "telling stories of sexual assault which minimize or glorify the act," which presumably includes many literary classics. "No one," warns the code, "is entitled to engage in behavior that is experienced by others as harassing." This includes "leering, staring, catcalls, vulgar jokes, language, photographs or cartoons with sexual overtones" and even "terms of familiarity." Michigan State University warns that "eye contact or the lack of it" may represent harassment. The University of Connecticut bans "treating people differently solely because they are in some way different from the majority, ... imitating stereotypes in speech or mannerisms, ... [or] attributing objections to any of the above actions to 'hypersensitivity' of the targeted individual or group."

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