“Mean Girls” menace and Morehouse President Robert Franklin is stepping aside, retiring after five years at the helm of the college with a mixed record on LGBT issues. Franklin strongly and swiftly swatted down talk of strife between the school’s hyper-masculine attitude and its gay students when a Vibe story hit stands in 2010. The article, “Mean Girls of Morehouse,” profiled the a flamboyant group of gays on campus targeted by the school’s Appropriate Attire Policy. Without even reading the piece, Franklin delivered a rebuke.
As president of this institution, as a Morehouse graduate and as a father, I am insulted by what is to be published. Addressing our young men as “girls” is deeply disturbing to me, no matter what the remainder of the article may say. Morehouse has for 140 years developed men—men who are equipped to live and contribute to an increasingly diverse, global and complex world.Girl, please. Franklin’s Dress Like a Man, Please policy came in 2009 and took aim at men and any feminine clothes they even whiffed at. It targeted a handful of students “living a gay lifestyle” on campus. Just a few? Please. To his credit, that same year Franklin penned an op-ed signaling an apparent shift in the school’s homophobic attitudes.
As an all-male institution with the explicit mission of educating men with disciplined minds,” said Franklin, “the great challenge of this moment in history is our diversity of sexual orientation.” “Why don’t we,” he asked the students, “use this opportunity to model something our community needs?” “Straight men,” Franklin said, “should learn more about the outlooks and contributions of gay men. Read a book by a gay author. Have an intelligent conversation with a gay neighbor.”Just leave your manbag at home.