Fraternities and sororities geared toward LGBT students have been founding new chapters at universities around the country, leading some to question whether a chapter could be founded at UF.
UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said any group could be a registered organization on campus as long as it adheres to the nondiscrimination language that exists at UF.
“Putting together or founding an LGBT Greek letter organization would not be difficult,” she said.
The only way an LGBT fraternity or sorority can join one of the four social Greek councils is if the chapter is chartered by a national organization.
Two of the most prominently LGBT-friendly Greek organizations, Delta Lambda Phi and Gamma Rho Lambda, state on their websites their aim to be accepting of any person, regardless of sexual orientation and are not exclusively for LGBT students.
LB Hannahs, the director of LGBT affairs at UF, said Hannahs has not been approached by any LGBT students at UF interested in starting a chapter but thinks it could be a beneficial addition for those interested.
“There are a number of LGBT folks that wish to be in a Greek organization, but the gender rules or climate in the Greek community aren’t always accepting to them,” Hannahs said.
An LGBT fraternity or sorority could benefit the Greek community by providing a voice within the Greek community, Hannahs said.
However, Hannahs said the new organization could face challenges from the traditional Greek environment, particularly the strong culture of heteronormativity, which is the societal tendency toward traditional gender roles and heterosexual relationships.
“The way it is traditionally structured doesn’t necessarily allow for same-sex relationships within the social settings with other chapters,” Hannahs said.
Students like May Niu, a UF 20-year-old industrial and systems engineering sophomore, said she would be in support of an LGBT chapter coming to UF.
“I think it would be a good change,” Niu said. “There needs to be more representation of the LGBT community around UF.”
But other students see it differently, including Chandler Collins, a UF 19-year-old marketing freshman and a brother at UF’s Theta Chi.
“I don’t think sexual orientation should play a factor in the clubs you can join,” he said.
He said the organization could face problems with the current social climate at UF.
“It would probably be difficult to start because of the tradition in the Greek system,” Collins said. “...it would probably be a rocky start.”
[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 2/26/2014 under the headline “Gators consider LGBT fraternity chapters with national wave"]