Accrediting Council Votes to Include
Sexual Orientation In Teaching Standard
Chcago (Sept. 5, 2003)---The Accrediting Council of Educators in
and Mass Communication (ACEJMC) Friday voted to add sexual
orientation to race,
ethnicity and gender in its revised diversity standards for schools
seeking accreditation or re-accreditation. The new provision applies
specifically to the curriculum portion of the standards.
The landmark decision, at the Council's semi-annual meeting in
part of a sweeping revision of the accreditation standards that
began two years
ago. The new standards, which condense the existing 12 Standards to
just 9, becomes effective for schools preparing for accrediting
visits as of September,
The interim will allow time for institutions to study and analyze
the revision so as to develop methods of conforming to the new
The sexual orientation provision was added to the Diversity and
Standard (formerly Standard 12, now to be Standard 3), specifically
in the curriculum "indicator." It reads: "The unit's
curriculum fosters understanding of issues and perspectives that are
inclusive in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation.
This means that schools seeking accreditation or reaccreditation
will be expected to provide evidence of conforming to the Standard
by including sexual orientation issues in a written plan, and in a
variety of other ways such as in syllabi and course materials.
The impetus for the change got underway four years ago when
Program contacted the Council president, urging a discussion about
of sexual orientation in the Standards. A year later, SOIN held a
large workshop of educators and practitioner journalists at the 2001
AEJMC Convention focusing on the emerging importance of gay issues
in media and the need for students to be informed about these
Attending was Lana Rakow, a professor at
the Unviersity of North Dakota, and then-chair of the Teaching
Committee. Rakow subsequently campaigned successfully to include
in the draft version of the new Diversity Standard.
The draft of new Standards circulated for the next two years,
soliciting comment from educators, administrators and practitioners.
When it appeared that support for the sexual orientation provision
might be shaky, SOIN, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) and other
supporters lobbied for its
On Friday, Sept. 5, with NLGJA representative Robert Dodge
attending as a new voting member of the Accrediting Council, the
clause went through without comment or opposition.