Trustees at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, the nation’s oldest preparatory school, voted last week to welcome gay and lesbian couples as dormitory advisors in the family-like atmosphere of the dorms, where faculty members live alongside students, acting as role models, academic advisors, and emotional supporters.
Exeter’s decision mirrors that of Phillips Andover Academy and Concord Academy, both in Massachusetts, and is evidence of the formerly white- and male-only schools’ commitment to diversity, and to their students’ health and well-being. Exeter’s principal said in an interview with the New York Times that barring gay and lesbian faculty from the dorms “undercut” the school’s overarching policy of tolerance. In addition, he noted that students use the word “gay” negatively, sending a message to students discovering their homo- or bisexuality “that society does not support them, and in fact condemns them.”
The announcement prompted little response from the student body. Parents have shown a mixed reaction, but the majority support Exeter’s decision.