Saint Peter’s University has had a remarkable run in March Madness,the U.S. college basketball tournament, advancing further in the tournament than nearly everyone expected. But an article in America magazine highlighted the other aspects that make this Catholic college special, including a note about LGBTQ inclusion.
America shares a number of insights about the school: it is quite racially diverse, it serves many first-generation students, and it is New Jersey’s only Jesuit college. There are also a few lines on LGBTQ efforts. These remarks are noteworthy because they exemplify how change in the church can happen:
“And the school’s support of students seeking social justice doesn’t stop there. [Saint Peter’s president, Dr. Eugene] Cornacchia attended a listening group held by L.G.B.T.Q. students to discuss their experience on campus. Though he admits it’s not an issue he had considered before, he left with a new perspective on the importance of gender neutral bathrooms and worked to install some on campus.”
Not mentioned in America, Saint Peter’s also has an LGBTQ student group known as PRIDE, which stands for Protecting and Respecting Individuality, Diversity, and Equality. Several LGBTQ-specific courses are listed among options for the Gender and Sexuality Minor. For these reasons, the school is one of several dozen Catholic colleges and universities listed as LGBTQ-friendly by New Ways Ministry. (For the full listing, click here.)
Though its basketball journey is over for this year, the Saint Peter’s University community retains its focus on social justice which thankfully has received greater visibility these past weeks. For LGBTQ advocates, the journey of the school’s president to implementing gender-neutral restrooms is also worth celebrating. It is not often that Catholic officials admit they knew too little about LGBTQ people or express a willingness to really listen. But Dr. Cornacchia is refreshingly honest about both, an awareness that lead him to go forth from the encounters and do real, concrete good. That outcome coupled with the school’s other LGBTQ efforts is something worth having Peacock Pride about long after March Madness is over.
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, March 28, 2022