CAMPUS CHRONICLES: Love Without Concrete Expressions Isn’t Christian Love

Boston College students partake in Support Love Day, during which the “For Here We Are All One” campaign was announced

Students at Boston College and the University of Notre Dame are challenging their universities to enact more concrete means of LGBTQ support, showing that even schools which offer a welcome sometimes do so without providing real pastoral care.

For Here All Are One

Seniors just weeks away from graduation have released an open letter to Boston College administrators as part of a new movement called “For Here All Are One,” a phrase drawn from the school’s alma mater.

More than 400 seniors and alumni affixed their signature to the letter calling for an LGBTQ resource center with the promise to withhold donations until it is opened, reports Boston Magazine. The letter, written by student government leaders Nanci Fiore-Chettiar, Connor Bourff, Ben Miyamoto, and Sean O’Sullivan, says, in part:

“Until administrators are allowed to fully and openly express their support as allies, Boston College will continue to send the message that LGBTQ students are not supported, do not matter, and do not belong…

” ‘Without the support of institutional policies, there will continue to be students on this campus who think it is acceptable to use derogatory and homophobic slurs; student groups will continue to be unfairly limited because of their affiliation with the LGBTQ community; alumni will continue to reflect on Boston College as a university that caused pain and does not practice what it preaches; students will continue to fear reactions from their roommates, classmates, professors and peers; students will continue to be afraid to be who they are.’ “

The letter also states that those signing are proud of Boston College and hopeful their efforts will improve the community. Administration spokesperson Jack Dunn, however, called the letter an “unproductive gesture that will do little to advance dialogue.”

Some students note that Boston College’s support of LGBT students is mixed, with administrators cancelling several major LGBT-positive programs without explanation in recent years. Senior Tyler Bean writes in campus magazine The Gavel about feeling unsupported as a gay man while expecting more precisely because of the school’s Catholic identity:

“I was made in the image and likeness of God; therefore, I am good and deserve love. God created me gay and He makes no mistakes. God knows that I am gay, He has always known…I know that God cares about me, but I am left asking myself, does BC care about me and the rest of the GLBTQ community?

“All I know is that if BC does care, it clearly does not care enough…lthough I will miss BC, I am ready to leave an institution that lacks the resources and support the GLBTQ community needs and deserves. I hope that in the future BC chooses to live out its Jesuit values by caring for the whole person of every person.”

If you are an alumus of Boston College and would like to sign the letter, you can do so here. For more information on recent LGBT incidents at BC, see campus newspaper The Heights or For Here All Are One’s video on YouTube.

Out at ND

Student participating in Out at ND's launch event

Student participating in Out at ND’s launch event

The University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, answered a decades-long call for LGBT outreach in 2012, announcing its pastoral plan “Beloved Friends and Allies” which recognized a student group, Prism ND, improved advisory structures, and hired a full-time staff member to focus on LGBTQ campus issues.

A new group, Out at ND, now claims that though these efforts are necessary, they are insufficient. University programming cannot recognize the goodness of same-gender relationships or publicly endorse marriage equality, a gap this new group hopes to fill. Member Jake Bebar explained to WNDU:

” ‘Notre Dame’s culture is pretty unique. We’re the number nine LGBTQ unfriendly school in the nation right now…We’re really trying to do something that fixes that a little bit…We’re trying to make a social change.’

Bebar was clear that Out at ND is not a challenge to Prism ND, but serves a complementary role in its unofficial capacity. Unlike many student groups we report on at Catholic campus, Out at ND leadership will not be seeking university recognition.

What each of theses two campus developments reveals is the limitations of Catholic education’s efforts to welcome sexual and gender diverse people. The church’s colleges have been at the forefront of LGBT outreach in recent years and Bondings 2.0‘s “Campus Chronicles” series attests to this trend. Indeed, this welcome has been an essential first step, but it must be followed now by concrete expressions of Christian love for LGBT students such as resource centers, staff members, and programming. As before, it is true now that students will accept nothing less.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

4 Responses to CAMPUS CHRONICLES: Love Without Concrete Expressions Isn’t Christian Love

  1. amagjuka says:

    It is important to a community that no one feels compelled to discriminate. Most Catholics absolutely do not want to stand with a hierarchy that would fire, marginalize, or turn a blind eye to discrimination of LGBT people or any other group. In fact, our religious upbringing has taught us the very opposite. Jesus has taught us the very opposite. College administrators, priests, and nuns, Catholic school teachers, parents, and all those in authority know well that standing up for the rights of LGBT people may cost them their jobs. The situation now is that some in the hierarchy are hell-bent on persecuting LGBT people, and insist on Catholic teaching as the reason why. This is not ok with most Catholics. Yet, the “word from the top” is not clear. Institutional support for LGBT people is a risky business right now. And THIS is what must change. Many Catholic adults have a hard time talking about sexuality of any kind. So some may see LGBT Centers on campus as “celebrating sex.” They do not understand that being LGBT is not just about “the act.” They think that there are no “Centers for Student Sexuality” for straight kids, so why for LGBT kids? Yet most Catholics absolutely do not want LGBT kids to be in pain or in fear of discrimination. The situation right now is that Catholics are being required as a twisted tenet of faith to discriminate in a systematic, targeted way against LGBT people. We must stand by and watch our brothers and sisters in Christ be fired, marginalized, and isolated from The Body of Christ. Most of us know that turning our backs to such injustice flies in the face of Catholic teaching. We must demand that no college administrator, professor, principal, teacher in a Catholic school, parish worker, priest, nun, parent, brother, sister, or friend of a LGBT person be required to bow to a “law” that is against the very core of what it means to be Catholic. I applaud these brave BC and UND students and alumni. We must fight for the right of administrators and pastoral workers to use their faith and professional judgment instead of intimidating them into silence on this important issue. LGBT kids commit suicide at a much higher rate than other young people. This is a life or death issue! Catholics need to be presented with the question: Are you OK with discrimination or not? If not, speak up! And keep speaking up! And never give up until our kids, teachers, brothers, sisters, and friends feel safe, supported, and included in our community.

  2. Brian Kneeland says:

    I would just add that when I was doing orientation at the University of Detroit in 1975 they listed gay clubs for those who were so inclined! It is interesting that so long ago the student government accepted all. I’m not sure what their culture is like today – but then it was very welcoming!

  3. Friends says:

    If “The Supremes”, at the end of June, finally — as expected — declare same-sex CIVIL MARRIAGE to be legal across the entire United States, I believe it will be a huge wake-up call to the administrators of Catholic colleges and universities: that the time has come for them to acknowledge and affirm the FULL HUMAN LEGITIMACY of GLBT friendships and marital relationships. Otherwise, to be consistent with their own theologically cramped view of the world, they would need to start discriminating against heterosexual faculty who are divorced and remarried, or who use artificial birth control in their marital relations. Are they really prepared to adopt such utterly preposterous and privacy-invasive norms of conduct for all students and faculty at Catholic colleges and universities? I certainly hope not. But with these guys in the funny red beanies, who seem to think that they are “God’s special moral enforcement squad” in this world, and who presume to judge other people whose lives and loves they utterly fail to understand or value, you can never tell how crazed the situation may still remain, even after The Supremes have spoken.

  4. Rosa G. Manriquez, IHM says:

    I appreciate and celebrate the statement of the organizers from Boston College. They echo last week’s Epistle (1 John:18), “Children, let us love not in word or speech, but in deed and truth.”

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