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UCLA Recognizes Nation’s First Sorority Formed By Lesbians

February 25, 1988

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ UCLA’s Lambda Delta Lambda is believed to be the nation’s first sorority founded by lesbians, but the group’s nine charter members say they started out to make friends, not history.

″When you meet someone from a sorority it’s almost like a built-in friendship,″ Marci Kaye, one of the group’s founders, said Wednesday. ″We just wanted something like that that we could have, kind of a way for people to meet other people.″

Officials of the sprawling University of California, Los Angeles, campus in Westwood formally recognized Lambda Delta Lambda as a campus organization last week.

″It was very validating for us,″ said sorority President Allison Adler, a junior creative writing major.

University regulations forbid exclusion of heterosexuals who may want to join, and Krisi Burk, the group’s spokeswoman, said Lambda Delta Lambda hopes to sign up some heterosexual women during sorority rush week next month.

″If they’re comfortable with us, then we’re comfortable with them,″ said the 20-year-old junior political science major.

She said several heterosexual women have inquired about joining, and the group hopes to at least double its membership next month.

″I hope people don’t think our non-discriminatory policy is a paper policy because it’s not,″ she said. ″I have a lot of straight friends and I’d like to see them all join.″

Several Lambda Delta Lambda members said they considered pledging traditional Greek sororities before forming their own. They said they were frightened away by stories of lesbian members who had been ostracized after their sexual preferences became known.

″Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I don’t always feel comfortable about traditional sororities,″ Ms. Burk said.

Now that she’s a member of her own group, she spoke excitedly as she outlined some of Lambda Delta Lambda’s plans for the weeks ahead, including participation in rush week, the spring Mardi Gras carnival, homecoming and other campus activities.

Also high on the agenda will be raising the money to rent a sorority house. The group now meets on campus.

Ms. Burk said the sorority hopes to get more involved in political issues than most traditional Greek letter organizations, including efforts on behalf of women, gays and minorities.

She said the group can also serve as a support network for its gay members.

″We’ve all had family problems or at least tense moments,″ she said. ″We can help each other.″

In her case, after the group went public she decided to tell her grandparents she was a lesbian ″because I was afraid someone might ... send them a letter.″ She said they took the news well.

Thus far, members said, reaction to the sorority has been generally positive.

″Yesterday in one of my classes someone approached me and said he thought it was very courageous what we were doing,″ said Ms. Kaye, a 25-year-old senior English major.

Ms. Burk noted that one person did complain in a letter to the editor of the campus newspaper, the Daily Bruin, that if lesbians were allowed to share a sorority house it would be the same as allowing men and women to share sorority and fraternity houses. She dismissed the argument with a chuckle.

″It’s not just a sexual thing, which of course everybody thinks it is,″ she said of the sorority. ″It’s no more sexual than any collection of human beings.″

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