U. of Dallas Student to President: Apologize for Speaker or Admit That LGBT Students Are Unwelcome

University of Dallas commencement

University of Dallas president Thomas W. Keefe is being asked to apologize anti-gay remarks made at the Catholic school’s commencement ceremony earlier this month.

In an open letter, newly graduated Maxwell Adam Frazier called on Keefe to make amends for the the Texas school’s commencement address by conservative activist and alum Brent Bozell, which Frazier described by the student as an “aggressive and politically charged tirade.”

Bozell’s speech suggested Christians were persecuted because LGBT rights were advancing, as he cited:

“Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson publicly quotes Scripture and is suspended from his television show for being un-Christian. The state advocates the destruction of the family and the sacrament of marriage as a moral good. A Christian minister appears on CBS to defend the sanctity of marriage and is labeled the leader of a ‘hate group’. . .

“When the government orders you as the owner of a small bakery to facilitate the perversion of the sacrament of marriage, you must refuse and be prepared to face criminal prosecution.”

These remarks were met with a standing ovation from those at commencement and tacit approval of administrators like President Keefe who did nothing to challenge Bozell’s extremist rhetoric. This speech and the administration’s response encapsulate Frazier’s experience as a gay student at UD, as he wrote in the letter:

“Bigoted students are empowered. They are given a voice, and their homophobia goes unchallenged by the tolerant students. These cancerously homophobic students are not only accepted but applauded and hailed as heroes. The tolerant students are complacent and happily unaware of the homophobia. It’s almost a willful ignorance. They don’t notice the homophobia right in front of them but rather join their peers in applauding the bigot out of conformity. Those that notice, those that care, aren’t given a voice. Your LGBT students and their allies are not empowered to make a positive change at this university. Your homophobic and toxic students couldn’t begin to ask for more power. There is no dialogue. We are not welcome, we are not wanted.”

Frazier described the campus climate as “homophobic and toxic”:

“We only recently were removed from the dreaded list of top twenty homophobic schools, but from my experience here that news was sour. The only way that could have happened is for the other schools to have become exceedingly more homophobic, as my non-academic life at UD cannot be described as anything but homophobic and toxic.”

Frazier believes the University of Dallas must choose whether to change or be honest that LGBT students are unwelcome. To not enact change and still invite LGBT people is to “deceive and mislead” prospective students who will suffer due to the campus’ hostile atmosphere. He said the University is faced with a difficult choice:

“So we are at a bit of a crossroads: either UD needs to make a change or it needs to honestly declare ‘we do not love our gay students. We do not care that they feel safe or welcomed. We would be better off without them, and we find no reason to accommodate for their existence, let alone their attendance. Their security, success, and spirituality simply mean less to us.’ “

Brent Bozell

Frazier suggested there be an apology for Bozell’s speech, which ruined an otherwise celebratory day for many, and that the school should consider revoking his honorary degree.  UD  also should establish a gay-straight alliance to support students, he added. A GSA is not political, nor does it oppose Catholic teaching for it would function as a space for “those who wish to be understood and those who wish to understand.”

To sign Frazier’s petition calling on President Keefe to make an apology, visit it at Change.org by clicking here. For other commencement news, visit our recent coverage here. To read more about news of LGBT issues on Catholic campuses, click on “Campus Chronicles” in the “Categories” box in the right hand column of this page, or you can click here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

3 replies
  1. Friends
    Friends says:

    Unfortunately, we expect to see this sort of hateful bigotry rearing its ugly head in Texas — which is expected to DEFY the Supreme Court’s anticipated legalization of same-sex marriage,across all fifty states, by the end of its term in June. We all know that a block of states, steeped in far-right-wing politics, are working on initiatives which will allow business owners to refuse to serve anyone whom they choose not to serve — whether it’s because of a customer’s personal beliefs, or personal lifestyle, or perhaps even his or her skin color. But to see this sort of vicious anti-gay ranting taking place at a Catholic university is absolutely unacceptable. I would say that it constitutes grounds for a direct complaint to be filed with the Vatican. I don’t think Pope Francis himself would be pleased to hear about this sort of thing happening at a self-declared Catholic university.

  2. Kristen Haley, Peoria Transgender Society
    Kristen Haley, Peoria Transgender Society says:

    Mr Bozell is, of course, entitled to his apparently demented perspective and opinion, as is everyone – including those of us who continue to suffer this confounding, restrictive, and offensive diatribe.Why he was chosen to deliver such an address seems questionable though fully within the privilege of the selecting entity. Imagining the speech had been presented by someone with a diametrically opposed point of view, I wonder if the administration would be expected to apologize to the homophobic population? Perhaps not.

    The content of these presentations is almost always previewed and critiqued long before delivery. If that is the case with Mr. Bozell speech it follows the administration clearly knew its potential to offend and alienate anyone with a differing opinion. Sad indeed.

    The need for clear, considerate and thorough dialogue is certainly warranted. To begin a course of healing and transformative action at UD seems a lofty though worthwhile goal. An apology from Mr. Keefe would be a nice gesture but meaningless without substantive action.

    Mr. Bozell’s unenlightened, archaic opinion will likely remain just that.


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  1. […] #10 in 2013, then disappeared from the list in 2014. Earlier this spring, a new graduate’s open letter asked administrators to apologize for a commencement speaker’s anti-gay tirade or simply […]

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