University of Dallas president Thomas W. Keefe is being asked to apologize anti-gay remarks made at the Catholic school’s commencement ceremony earlier this month.
In an open letter, newly graduated Maxwell Adam Frazier called on Keefe to make amends for the the Texas school’s commencement address by conservative activist and alum Brent Bozell, which Frazier described by the student as an “aggressive and politically charged tirade.”
Bozell’s speech suggested Christians were persecuted because LGBT rights were advancing, as he cited:
“Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson publicly quotes Scripture and is suspended from his television show for being un-Christian. The state advocates the destruction of the family and the sacrament of marriage as a moral good. A Christian minister appears on CBS to defend the sanctity of marriage and is labeled the leader of a ‘hate group’. . .
“When the government orders you as the owner of a small bakery to facilitate the perversion of the sacrament of marriage, you must refuse and be prepared to face criminal prosecution.”
These remarks were met with a standing ovation from those at commencement and tacit approval of administrators like President Keefe who did nothing to challenge Bozell’s extremist rhetoric. This speech and the administration’s response encapsulate Frazier’s experience as a gay student at UD, as he wrote in the letter:
“Bigoted students are empowered. They are given a voice, and their homophobia goes unchallenged by the tolerant students. These cancerously homophobic students are not only accepted but applauded and hailed as heroes. The tolerant students are complacent and happily unaware of the homophobia. It’s almost a willful ignorance. They don’t notice the homophobia right in front of them but rather join their peers in applauding the bigot out of conformity. Those that notice, those that care, aren’t given a voice. Your LGBT students and their allies are not empowered to make a positive change at this university. Your homophobic and toxic students couldn’t begin to ask for more power. There is no dialogue. We are not welcome, we are not wanted.”
Frazier described the campus climate as “homophobic and toxic”:
“We only recently were removed from the dreaded list of top twenty homophobic schools, but from my experience here that news was sour. The only way that could have happened is for the other schools to have become exceedingly more homophobic, as my non-academic life at UD cannot be described as anything but homophobic and toxic.”
Frazier believes the University of Dallas must choose whether to change or be honest that LGBT students are unwelcome. To not enact change and still invite LGBT people is to “deceive and mislead” prospective students who will suffer due to the campus’ hostile atmosphere. He said the University is faced with a difficult choice:
“So we are at a bit of a crossroads: either UD needs to make a change or it needs to honestly declare ‘we do not love our gay students. We do not care that they feel safe or welcomed. We would be better off without them, and we find no reason to accommodate for their existence, let alone their attendance. Their security, success, and spirituality simply mean less to us.’ “
Frazier suggested there be an apology for Bozell’s speech, which ruined an otherwise celebratory day for many, and that the school should consider revoking his honorary degree. UD also should establish a gay-straight alliance to support students, he added. A GSA is not political, nor does it oppose Catholic teaching for it would function as a space for “those who wish to be understood and those who wish to understand.”
To sign Frazier’s petition calling on President Keefe to make an apology, visit it at Change.org by clicking here. For other commencement news, visit our recent coverage here. To read more about news of LGBT issues on Catholic campuses, click on “Campus Chronicles” in the “Categories” box in the right hand column of this page, or you can click here.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry