LGBTQ advocacy organizations support former SRD resident

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Photo Credit: Sarah El-Zein | Daily Texan Staff

After Scottish Rite Dormitory restricted her guest policies on Nov. 14, Kaj Baker found support through GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization.

Baker, a communication sciences and disorders freshman, used to live in SRD, a private off-campus dorm that only houses female students. But after SRD administrators told her some of the residents were uncomfortable with her sexual orientation and barred her from having guests for the semester, she said she no longer felt safe in her dorm.

Clare Kenny, director of youth engagement at GLAAD, said she quickly got in touch with Baker after the incident to provide access to the organization’s network of support and to teach her how to handle media attention.

“We published a Q&A where Kaj really got to tell her story in her own words so that our GLAAD supporters from all over the world can see that discrimination for LGBTQ people still exists, even in 2018,” Kenny said. “It was a really important note for Kaj to make sure that other people see a real account of discrimination that she faced.”

Baker is now staying with her girlfriend Carlee, who began a GoFundMe to help Baker raise money to pay for potential new housing arrangements.

Despite feeling the need to leave SRD, Baker said she has still gotten support from some SRD residents and is thankful for the help from GLAAD.

“There have been some people who have said mean things, but there are also people that stand up for me,” Baker said. “Lots of people have reached out and sent me like a message like ‘I am on your side’ or ‘I’m sorry this happened to you.’”

Although she has not made a decision yet, Baker said she has talked with a lawyer from Legal Services for Students in the Office of the Dean of Students and is considering legal action for breach of the housing contract after revoking her guest privileges. Her lease allows for female guests to stay at the dorm.

SRD is investigating the incident and has contacted Baker to address her concerns, SRD Director Mary Mazurek said in an email. She said SRD plans to clarify its visitor policies in response to the incident and will provide sensitivity training for all staff and resident assistants.

“Since we opened in 1922, we have housed thousands of women, and we pride ourselves on providing a safe and nurturing environment for each person who lives here,” Mazurek said. “We are a community of individuals, and we strive to ensure all students living at SRD are treated fairly and feel safe in the place where they live. That did not happen in this instance.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Legal Services for Students in the Office of the Dean of Students as UT Legal Services. The Texan regrets this error.