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Ask Amy: Should my son avoid gay roommates?

DEAR AMY: My 18-year-old son, "Bob," is leaving for his freshman year of college. Bob just received his roommate assignment, and after "friending" him on Facebook, Bob discovered his roomie is gay. Bob has four older siblings who've had roommates of different races, cultures and religions, and have gotten along fine. Bob would prefer a straight roommate. When I called the university to ask if Bob could be assigned another roomie, the housing director intimated that I was persecuting the gay roommate and that if my son didn't start out rooming with the gay student, then Bob could go to another school. He can put in for a room change during the first two weeks of school if he wants to switch. I was taken aback. The university (a Jesuit school) has no policy for gay/ straight roommates, other than that they don't permit discrimination. Bob will room with the assigned roommate. Is it discrimination when a straight man doesn't want to room with a gay man? Should schools have a policy on this?Worried Mom

DEAR WORRIED: Evidently you understand and applaud your kids' ability to room with people of every background, race and creed, but you and your family draw the line at sexual orientation. I agree with your school's policy not to discriminate. You could help your son by assuming that he will have a successful roommate experience, but let him know what his options are if he doesn't. Sometimes, students are held hostage by their roommates' nighttime schedule, alcohol use or indiscriminate dating life. That's why the school permits students to switch roommates after a two-week trial. "My roommate is gay" in and of itself isn't a valid reason to switch in advance, any more than, "my roommate is Asian" would be. This should be your son's issue to sort out on his own.

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