CAMPUS CHRONICLES: MLK Day Marred by Anti-Gay Vandalism at Boston College Law

January 27, 2013

Members of the Lambda Law Students Association at Boston College returned to their organization’s office after the Martin Luther King holiday to find that the place had been vandalized and the walls painted with homophobic slurs. The law students’ discovery triggered an  investigation, still ongoing, by the campus police at the Jesuit school. It is unknown who committed the vandalism or why, but students involved with Lambda are now attempting to create a positive outcome from this chilling incident.

A student leader 0f Lambda Law, an organization working on LGBT advocacy in the legal system, was shocked by the incident, but had high praise for the school’s response to the situation.  The Boston Globe reported:

“Jason Triplett, a Lambda co-chair said he never thought something like this would happen at BC Law School, and that he has always felt safe on campus.

“‘No one can believe that it’s someone at BC law, we believe it was a BC outsider who was looking for some trouble,’ he said.

“Triplett said Vincent Rougeau, dean of the BC Law School, left a faculty meeting the moment he was notified about the graffiti. By lunchtime, the dean had written a letter to the community. And by the afternoon he had consulted with students from Lambda to see how they were doing.

“‘The administration responded immediately,’ he said. ‘Everyone involved is really shocked by this.’”

Triplett went on to question whether this was a targeted attack and doubted anyone in the BC Law community committed it, noting that the law school’s campus shared space with undergraduate freshmen at the institution. Even amid the shock and questions, the leadership of Lambda Law Student Association is already acting to redefine this vandalism. Above the Law , a news service for the legal world, reports on a statement released from the organization (warning: the linked article includes a photo of the graffiti, much of which is vulgar, offensive, and sexually explicit, which may be upsetting to some readers):

“The BC Law community has been overwhelmingly supportive in the wake of this act. An act like this is shocking because EVERYONE at BC law, from fellow students to professors and the administration, has been so inclusive and supportive of our organization and the individuals in our group. Our group is taking this and turning it into a positive thing. We don’t want the person who did this to get attention for her or his negative act. We have asked the administration to not remove the hateful graffiti yet; instead, we are holding a meeting to solicit ideas about how we can turn this into a positive thing for BC Law and the LGBT members of Lambda Law.

“Just as an example, one of the ideas we have already been given by one of our members is to use the words as a backdrop for a dedication to the gay rights movement… posting articles, pictures, and quotes on top of them that show our fight for equal rights from Stonewall to the President’s historic inclusion of gay rights in her inauguration speech yesterday… to show where we have come from and yet how far we still have to go.”

New Ways Ministry applauds the resolve of the students at Boston College, who are fostering community in the wake of this hate crime, and the Boston College Law School administration, whose decisive actions have helped to sustain an LGBT-friendly campus in a trying moment.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Catholic Grant Money Returned Because of Warning About LGBT Rights Involvement

August 5, 2012

 

At least one Catholic official is regretting the strict message that a church granting organization is giving to its partners about not supporting marriage equality or other LGBT rights issues.

 

The motto of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

The Boston Globe reports that a local  community organizing group, the Chelsea Collaborative, has returned a $40,ooo grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), a fund run by the nation’s bishops, because the Chelsea organizers feared that they would be in violation of grant requirements which forbid support of LGBT issues.  The news article states:

“Gladys Vega, executive director of the Chelsea Collaborative, said she and her colleagues have long recognized that grants from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the antipoverty arm of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, come with the expectation that recipients not promote activities that contradict Catholic teachings on issues such as gay marriage and abortion. . . .

“But Vega said she and colleagues were taken aback in March when a local representative of the Catholic Campaign came for a site visit, speaking at length to the group about the need to avoid work that conflicted with Catholic teachings, including activities that might ‘support the gay lifestyle.’

“In a follow-up meeting with staff, according to Vega, the representative suggested the Chelsea group should avoid work involving the gay community.

“The episode, Vega said, upset many of the staff and community activists present.

“Two weeks earlier, Vega had received an award from Mass­Equality, the gay rights organization, for speaking out on behalf of a transgender woman badly beaten outside a Chelsea bar. She feared that sort of advocacy could be considered unacceptable by the church.”

While a spokesperson for the U.S. bishops said the Chelsea Collaborative  “took appropriate steps under the circumstances,”  a grants specialist from the CCHD had a different take on the situation, realizing that the directives to avoid gay rights issues may have been communicated too strongly:

“Randy Keesler, a grants specialist at the Catholic Campaign, told Vega in an e-mail that there had been a miscommunication and lamented that, given the groups’ longstanding relationship, she had not come to him with her concerns first. The Chelsea Collaborative provided a copy of the e-mail to the Globe.

“ ‘We have relationships and work in partnership with many organizations at the national level which differ from the Catholic church’s teaching’ on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues, Keesler wrote.

“Grant recipients cannot support a gay pride march, Keesler wrote, but ‘were gay people being denied housing, simply because of their sexual orientation, or were they bullied in the schools because of their sexual orientation, organizing to stop this injustice would be supported by church teachings.’ ”

This story illustrates the dangerous implication of church officials speaking negatively about LGBT issues.  The negativity in their messages can easily be perceived broadly, and many people will be harmed in the process.   Instead of accentuating the negative, why not emphasize the positive in church teaching about LGBT people?  Elaborate on the need for protecting and defending people’s dignity and rights.  Err on the side of extravagant acceptance, not on restrictive regulations.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 


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