Westboro Baptist Church Targets Catholic University; More LGBT Campus News

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Students gathered at Loyola University Maryland

Graduation ceremonies concluded and degrees conferred, it is time for the final “Campus Chronicles” of this spring semester.

Below are several of many LGBT-related happenings in Catholic higher education. These testify, once again, to the good work that ensures campuses are safer and more inclusive spaces for LGBTQ students and staff, and also serve as a model for the rest of our church.

Westboro Baptist Church Pickets Jesuit Campus

Protests by the infamous Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) led to unity at Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore, where community members rallied in support of LGBTQ members.  WBC is a Topeka, Kansas-based church, founded by Rev. Fred Phelps, whose members travel across the nation with vile messages on their signs to protest LGBTQ equality.

Only three WBC members were actually present at the April protest, reported the Baltimore Post-Examiner. They were met by many more counter-protesters, including alumni, and at least one hundred current students. University officials barred WBC from campus, with University spokesperson Nick Alexopulos saying the school celebrated diversity and would “remain united. . .as One Loyola.”

WBC had targeted Loyola Maryland in part because of its two LGBT student organizations, reported The Baltimore Sun. Student Kelly Mueller defended these organizations in advance of the protests, writing in The Odyssey:

“When you attacked the Jesuits, the Theology Club, Spectrum, and OUT Loyola, you attacked our entire community, and we will not stand for it. . .If you come to campus, I hope you can see past your bigotry and recognize the true spirit of God’s love present on our campus.”

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Sign used for WBC counter-protests

Spectrum, LGBT and Allies group,  said on Facebook that the counter-protest meant “the message of love prevailed.” WBC’s protests coincided with the University’s Sexual and Gender Diversity Awareness Week, which reports on social media said was quite successful. WBC had also planned to picket Archbishop Curley High School and Catholic High School of Baltimore, too, but there are no reports that they actually showed up at either school.

Other Notable Happenings

The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA will begin offering gender-neutral housing options next year to accommodate trans* students and those students seeking a more affirming LGBTQ living environment.

Marquette University, Milwaukee, announced the new LGBT+ Alumni Council which will expand development outreach to LGBT alumni and raise scholarship funds designated for LGBT students at the University.

Saint Francis University in Loretto, PA hosted its first LGBTQ Awareness Week in March, reported student newspaper The Troubador. Aimed at fostering a respect for everyone consistent with the school’s Franciscan mission, the week’s programming featured panel discussions, a film screening, and faculty lectures.

USA Today’s recent article exploring college athletics and Title IX religious exemptions positively featured the inclusive policies of two Catholic colleges: the University of Notre Dame and Fordham University. While a number of Catholic institutions have sought to exempt themselves from LGBT protections on religious grounds, this article reveals the positive steps which other Catholic schools have taken to protect all students in advance of new regulations.

Know more good news happening for LGBT inclusion in Catholic higher education? Let us know in the ‘Comments’ section below or send a tip to info@newwaysministry.org.

This post is part of our “Campus Chronicles” series on Catholic higher education. You can read more stories by clicking “Campus Chronicles” in the Categories section to the right or by clicking here. For the latest updates on Catholic LGBT issues, subscribe to our blog in the upper right hand corner of this page.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

5 thoughts on “Westboro Baptist Church Targets Catholic University; More LGBT Campus News

  1. Friends June 7, 2016 / 5:13 am

    Just to let you know: the link to the College of the Holy Cross news item on gender-neutral housing is displaying a “404 NOT FOUND” response. However, simply search “College Of The Holy Cross Pride” on Facebook, and you’ll find extensive information about this and all other aspects of GLBTQ life on this wonderful campus.

    • Friends June 7, 2016 / 9:57 pm

      Following up: I see that the broken link noted above has now been fixed, and it currently connects to a “Daily Beast” discussion of the GLBT-welcoming climate on the Holy Cross campus. The linked article is absolutely on point, and it confirms my own experiences, as a Holy Cross alum, whenever I return to the campus for reunion and homecoming weekends — which always include a scheduled meeting of Holy Cross GALA (Gay And Lesbian Alumni) attendees. For some reason, the Jesuits have mastered this component of GLBT alumni inclusiveness. We can only wish and hope and pray that Catholic colleges aligned with other religious orders would get the message and institute the same policy.

  2. Bishop Carlos A Florido, osf June 7, 2016 / 6:26 am

    Wonderful news!

  3. paularuddy June 7, 2016 / 9:09 am

    Thanks for all the good work New Ways Ministry does to “leaven the bread,”

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