CAMPUS CHRONICLES: College President Backs Transgender Student in Philippines; Campus Drag Fundraiser Cancelled; And More

The supportive letter written by Fr. Rivera to transgender student Emma Bueno

With graduations now underway, today’s post features a round-up of LGBTQ-related happenings in Catholic higher education this past semester.

Jesuit College in Philippines Backs Transgender Students’ Request

Fr. Roberto Exequiel N. Rivera S.J., president of Ateneo de Naga University, located in Naga City in the Philippines, responded to a trans student’s request to wear graduation clothing consistent with her gender identity. The student, Roman Giuseppe “Emma” F. Bueno, had a professor question her gender identity, so she wrote a letter to Rivera requesting she be able to wear appropriate garb at the baccalaureate mass and commencement. In a handwritten not e to Bueno, who is presently transitioning, the priest wrote: “Emma, Pls. present this letter if your clothing is questioned. Congraluations!” A tweet of this note posted by Bueno went viral, reported Coconuts Manila.

Drag Fundraiser Canceled by Mount Mercy University Officials

Laurie Hamen, president of Mount Mercy University, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has canceled a drag performance fundraiser to be hosted by the school’s student government and LGBTQ+ Alliance Club. Little Village Mag reported that Hamen emailed the community telling them that while she wanted “deeply beneficial dialogue about mutual respect” on campus, “a drag show makes this more difficult.” According to one student leader, Hamen was responding to negative input from the university’s board, which the student described as “old and conservative and probably don’t know” about drag or the LGBTQ community. The performance, which was to raise funds for the LGBTQ group Iowa Safe Schools, was rescheduled off-campus for May 3rd. This incident comes just a month after Hamen was criticized for promoting the gay-negative views of Mount Mercy’s chaplain in her decision to offer questionable Safe Zone trainings.

Students at Catholic University Keep Up Movement for Inclusion

Students involved with CUAllies, the LGBTQ group which officials of The Catholic University of America continue to deny recognition, were hosted by student government to speak about their experiences of being LGBTQ at the Washington, D.C. school. One student addressed CUAllies’ ongoing efforts to become an official student group so they can advertise on campus and use university facilities. Attendees then gathered for small group discussions about what could be done for CUAllies to better support LGBTQ and Ally students, hoping to advance an effort which has existed for more than a decade, reported campus newspaper The Tower.

Fordham University Denies Gender-Neutral Housing for Students

At an April meeting, Fordham University’s dean of students for the Lincoln Center, New York City, campus, Keith Eldredge, told student leaders that “the university is not ready for gender neutral housing for all students at this time” but remained committed to supporting transgender students. Student organizers believe the university’s policies on housing are transphobic because students are assigned rooms according to their assigned sex rather than gender identity, which one leader described as an “absurdity.” Students have since rallied for transgender rights, and some changes like gender neutral restrooms on campus and a new chosen name policy are being implemented, reported campus newspaper The Fordham Observer.

Brief Items

Cambridge University student Eleanor Smith wrote a column on the challenges of being Catholic and LGBTQ-identified while attending that prestigious U.K. school, sharing her experiences both of “unimaginable relief” and deep loneliness.

Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry included two queer couples in its social media campaign, #LoveSTM, about people who had met their partner while studying at the school.

The Gender and Sexuality Alliance of Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska organized a Day of Silence as part of the university’s numerous events and efforts to make LGBTQ students feel welcome.

Loyola Marymount University’s queer director of LGBT student services, Lauren Moreno, spoke to the student newspaper about her work on the Los Angeles campus and her own experiences as someone using gender-neutral pronouns now.

University of Notre Dame students celebrated the fourth-annual Ally Week, hosted by the Indiana campus’ Gender Relations Center, to help not only build awareness about the LGBTQ community but to empower allies. Events and efforts included Mass and other faith-related programming.

This post is part of Bondings 2.0’s “Campus Chronicles” series on Catholic higher education. You can read more stories by clicking “Campus Chronicles” in the Categories section to the right or by clicking here. For the latest updates on Catholic LGBT issues, subscribe to our blog in the upper right-hand corner of this page.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, May 16, 2019

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