As 2018 comes to a close, here are some news briefs about the LGBTQ sphere on Catholic campuses:
The Caholic University of America
Several incidents at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC have again reinforced its trend of anti-LGBTQ decisions.
Earlier this year, an event entitled “Navigating the Transgender Debate” was held on campus. The main speaker was Catholic political conservative Ryan Anderson who wrote a much-criticized book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment. Three students protested the event by standing n the back holding a Human Rights Campaign flag. One of the protesters, Alex Huntley, wrote an impassioned letter to the editor of the campus newspaper pressuring the school to improve its policies and overall atmosphere for queer students, including funding the campus LGBTQ group, CUAllies.
CUAllies is not officially recognized by the university.The group’s goals for the year include less of a political focus, and instead the group’s outreach to the school community seeks to “become less distant, less separate, and less ‘other,’” said Joe Rose, a junior English major and CUAllies Vice President.
One way in which the school has accomplished this is the recent production of The Laramie Project, a play which details responses to the murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. On a campus that clearly does experience homophobia, such reminders of the pain of LGBTQ people before them is an important step to progress.
University of Portland
Students at Oregon’s University of Portland protested against a speaking appearance by Fr. Paul Scalia, the son of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, during the university’s annual Red Mass to celebrate the legal community. Fr. Scalia had been vocal in his anti-LGBTQ views, and the students did not feel that he best aligned with the university’s values. The university, which is run by the Holy Cross Fathers and Brothers, responded by citing the need for a diversity of views.
Georgetown has a history of being one of the more progressive Catholic schools in the country, yet William Nardi, a University of Massachusetts student, claims that Georgetown’s activities on LGBTQ issues don’t take place inany ministry-related setting. While Georgetown has designated LGBTQ housing and other support systems, there is a noticeable divide between these outlets and the ones inside of Campus Ministry. Nardi is advocating for an additional spiritual dimension for LGBTQ students.
What were the BEST and WORST Catholic LGBTQ news events of 2018? Cast your ballot by Saturday, December 29, 2018, 5:00 p.m. Eastern U.S. time to have your opinion count! Click here to vote!
Fordham’s annual drag show came under fire when a petition to stop it was generated by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, an ultra-conservative Catholic organization. . Shortly after the petition was circulated, a group of Fordham alumni created a counter-petition to show their steadfast support in continuing the drag show. The counter-petition garnered more support and recognition than the original petition, and the show went on at the New York City school.
Loyola University Chicago
For transgender students on Loyola Chicago’s campus, changing one’s name in school records is arduous and emotionally taxing. Many professors and school employees use students’ birth names or “dead names” (as many transgender people refer to the names they were given at birth) when referring to them, as Loyola requires documentation of a legal name change to change a students’ name on their ID card, email address, dorm assignment, and other important markers. A student organization named Gender Understanding Exploration Support Society (GUESS) is working the campus’ Dean of Students to streamline this process.
Denver’s Regis University is moving toward greater inclusion of trans students in a variety of ways. The school will promote the students’ drag show, attendance will not be taken with the official roster so as to not misgender students, and professors will be discouraged from using language like “ladies and gentlemen” that reinforce the gender binary . These initiatives criticized by the local archdiocese. Archbishop Samuel Aquila has called such actions “not in conformity with Catholic faith.” Despite the controversy, school officials have remained steadfast in their dedication to supporting LGBTQ students on campus.
–Lindsay Hueston, New Ways Ministry, December 27, 2018