Catholic colleges have been coming out as LGBT-friendly in broader and in bolder ways this October, which happens to be National Coming Out Month. Below, Bondings 2.0 offers an overview of ways campuses are celebrating their LGBT students, faculty, and staff.
DePaul University, the largest Catholic college in the U.S., held a workshop on October 8th around transgender issues in the classroom. The session, hosted by Trans*(formation) which is a group for transgender students, was attended by both students and faculty members, as reported by campus newspaper The DePaulia. Topics included understanding gender identity, what “transgender” means, and pronoun usage, all aimed at making trans students feel more welcomed on campus.
At Fairfield University, an October 16th forum titled “The Pelvis and the Pulpit” featured three panelists discussing sexuality in a Catholic context. Dr. David Gudelunas, chair of the Communications Department, questioned how the hierarchy discusses sexuality. Campus newspaper The Mirror reports:
“ ‘We talk about sex in the context of the church not in order to reflect on our own sexuality, […] but rather to police and regulate the behavior of others,’ Gudelunas said.
“He criticized this method of discussion, saying that this is actually ‘bad communication’ because it does not build the community but solidifies boundaries and ‘create[s] labels of moral and immoral.’
“He also called this reality ‘unfortunate,’ because the Catholic Church has the potential to ‘facilitate useful discourse.’ “
Marriage equality was also discussed by the Religious Studies Department chair, Dr. Nancy Dallavalle, who said the Church is “hard-pressed” in explaining why it will not allow same-gender couples to marry if marriage is the “blessed union of a couple.”
Fellow Jesuit institution, Georgetown University, hosted a number of events for OUTober 2013, as they did last year. According to the LGBTQ Resource Center’s page, this month’s events included socials for LGBT community members, discussions on LGBT issues and race, disabilities, and the intersection of faith and sexuality.
Campus newspaper The Hoya also detailed the month-long celebration, and earlier reported on advancements the University made on transgender issues this year. The Hoya quotes the president of GU Pride, the gay-straight alliance at Georgetown:
“[Thomas] Lloyd said that during OUTober, Pride had to be aware of other events occurring simultaneously that affected the LGBTQ community. He specifically cited Love Saxa events this month that brought speakers whom Lloyd described as homophobic…
“Lloyd expressed his hope that students will glean a sense of understanding from OUTober.
“ ‘By having some of the events about different identities, I hope students get a fuller understanding about themselves…I think that our focus for OUTober is very Jesuit in that we’re forcing people to engage all aspects of their identity and focus on unpacking the intersections of those identities.’ ”
These are only examples of the many strides Catholic higher education is making in recent years to not only welcome, but affirm their LGBT students and community members. For a full listing of Catholic colleges and universities that are gay-friendly, you can visit New Ways Ministry’s website.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry