Catholic college campuses are among the most gay-friendly church institutions in the United States. Young people are increasingly more and more supportive of LGBT issues, and campuses reflect that spirit of inclusion.
Meghan Ferguson, a student at Jesuit-run Georgetown University, Washington, DC, has praise for her school in terms of their record on LGBT issues. In a recent article on NextGenJournal.com, Ferguson delineates the many surprises she has had coming to the campus as a Catholic lesbian woman, and she concludes:
“Being out at Georgetown is nothing like I had expected, and I have been very fortunate to have such a positive experience, because I know it isn’t always the case for everyone. There have been ups and downs, and Lord knows I’ll gripe about something or other, but all in all, I owe a great deal to this community for creating a space that has challenged me to look closely at myself, my priorities, and grow into the person I want to be.”
She notes that the school has helped her to integrate her identities as a Catholic and a lesbian woman:
“My experience of being out at Georgetown is predominantly colored by two identities: namely, that I am Catholic, and that I am a woman. ‘What?’ I hear you cry ‘you’re Catholic?!’ It’s shocking, I know. I spent most of high school as a closet Catholic around all of my gay friends, lest I hear more exclamations like that. . . .
“I suppose I had expected a similar situation at Georgetown, keeping those two spheres of my identity separate, so it was a surprise to say the least when I found a whole community of us. For the first time, I was able to be out as a Catholic lesbian and not only be accepted by both communities, but be a part of my own community.
“I have had some of the most profound conversations with friends about what it means to be queer and Catholic, the unique struggles we face, our doubts, how we reconcile those two identities and also the joys we have experienced. These conversations, and this community, are something I think is very unique to Georgetown, and it has helped me grow in my faith in a way I never thought possible; I dare even say it has made me a better lesbian, because I have learned to grapple with and embrace the intersection of my faith and sexuality.”
Georgetown University is perhaps one of the best examples of a gay-friendly Catholic college. They have an LGBT Resource Center on campus, which last year received a $1 million gift from former National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
New Ways Ministry maintains a list of gay-friendly Catholic campuses, which continues to grow, as more and more schools respond to the needs of their students, faculty and staff. The schools on the list all have some policy, program, or organization on campus which is supportive of LGBT people. If you would like to consult the list, click here.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry