Texas Christian University to Offer Separate Housing for Gay Students

Eight students have signed up for Texas Christian University's designated on-campus housing for gay students and their supporters, in what may be the only such college housing in North Texas.

The DiversCity Q community will open in the fall in a section of the Tom Brown-Pete Wright apartments. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender students and allies — heterosexual classmates who support them — will have the chance to live together, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in a story posted Tuesday on its Web site.

"It's a chance for students to be part of a unique experience," said David Cooper, TCU associate director for residential life.

TCU sophomore Shelly Newkirk, who is gay, applied to create the program. She said eight students have committed to live in the apartments.

"Well I've been trying to create a safe space on campus for the queer community," Newkirk said Tuesday in an interview with Dallas-Fort Worth television station KDFW. "We're not creating just like a bubble for ourselves, but creating a space where we can have open dialogue and students can be comfortable."

TCU will also open two Christian-based living groups, another for fine arts and three other themed housing arrangements. It's all part of the university's living-learning communities, designed for students who want to live with others who are like-minded.

Living-learning communities are common at universities in Denton and Tarrant counties, but none has an on-campus living program for gay students. A fraternity for gay and straight students opened in 1998 at the University of North Texas but had closed by 2001, University of North Texas spokeswoman Sarah Bahari said.

Neither Cooper nor Newkirk had received any criticism, they said.

"Surprisingly, I found nothing but support," said Newkirk. She said she was prepared for criticism.

"Sometimes those things can bring a community together," she said. "It doesn't have to tear us apart."