Student Leaders Compare Rejection of LGBT Students to Denial of Communion

December 7, 2012

WASHINGTON — The Catholic University of America denied recognition of LGBTQ community members yesterday, in essence denying people a right to fully and actively contribute to the University’s life.

In a private meeting with President John Garvey and senior administrators, a proposal for CUAllies, a student organization focused on LGBTQ and Ally peer support, was rejected after nearly ten months of consideration. Administrators cited the potential that CUAllies may become an advocacy organization in their decision, surprising student leaders who actively dialogued towards a compromise in the preceding months.

Former Director of CUAllies, Ryan Fecteau, said: “The answer surprised me given tenor of discussions with the administration and the University of Notre Dame’s recent approval of organization geared towards LGBT students. If any university in the United States was to ensure that people participate in Catholicism and feel comfortable doing so, it should be The Catholic University of America. In essence, yesterday this University denied CUAllies and LGBT students communion. They said to us that we are not valued enough to participate in this campus community, this faith community, this human community because of our sexual orientation.”

The meeting with administrators was called in response to an October 15, 2012 letter from over 30 student leaders sent a letter to President John Garvey outlining many of the concerns that students have regarding LGBTQ issues, including a sixth place ranking on Princeton Review’s ‘Least LGBT-friendly Colleges’ list. Students also offered proposals for moving forward, including official recognition of CUAllies.

CUAllies aims to foster a safe, welcoming, and affirming outlet to students that identify as LGBTQ in the particular Catholic setting of the University. The proposal submitted a new vision, tone, and willingness to fully embrace Catholic identity, while supporting a marginalized community, and has hosted speakers, service projects, and prayer vigils in its unofficial position. The group undoubtedly brought those who identify as LGBT to a place where they could participate in the Catholic faith.

Robert Shine, a graduate in Theology in 2012 who now works at a Catholic LGBT ministry, said: “In my daily experience supporting LGBT-positive efforts on Catholic campuses, I am inspired by the sacrificial love and integration of faith and sexuality that students express where campuses focus on inclusion. My alma mater’s persistent rejection of my friends and peers falls gravely short of Christ’s witness that abundant love always trumps doctrine. This decision rejects pastoral considerations for political gamesmanship, but more importantly the University and the Catholic Church lose out on the necessary and life-giving contributions made by LGBT students, faculty, staff, and administrators.”

President Garvey and other administrators promised the students that attended yesterday’s meeting further discussion regarding the LGBT community at The Catholic University of America, admitting that greater efforts of support and recognition were needed.

Despite the denial of official recognition, CUAllies will continue to offer events, service projects, and open and honest dialogue about participating in the Catholic faith. Student leaders are exploring the possibility of authorizing a student-wide referendum next semester that could reinvigorate the possibility of a student organization.

“We have worked on this for nine long months,” said Fecteau. “This denial is not only coming from the University that we love; it also comes from the Church that we cherish and contribute to.”



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