Gay group seeks formal recognition at Notre Dame

It’s not the first time and, if unsuccessful, it probably won’t be the last.


For more than 25 years, Notre Dame students have asked the University to formally recognize a student organization that addresses the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community on campus.

The requests have come in many forms, including student government resolutions, a report to the Board of Trustees and applications from student organizations requesting to be officially recognized as a club by the Student Activities Office (SAO).

Each time, the University rejected the request, but also affirmed its commitment to meeting the needs of LGBTQ students in ways other than a student-to-student group, according to rejection letters. The University has historically cited a conflict with Catholic teaching as a reason for rejecting the clubs.

Last week, students submitted the most recent application asking that SAO recognize a gay-straight alliance (GSA). It was the fourth application for a GSA in the last six years, Peggy Hnatusko, director of student activities for programming, said.

Hnatusko said the proposed GSA is under review, but also said the current structures the University offers best meet the needs of LGBTQ students.

“It remains the viewpoint of the Student Activities Office that due to the sufficiently complex nature of the issue, the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual and questioning students can best be met through the structures that are currently in place,” she said.

Student body president Pat McCormick said the University has made significant progress on addressing the needs of LGBTQ students over the years, but students have come to him asking for the next step.

“Students are asking and seeking a peer-to-peer kind of group where gay and straight students can come together and have their own kind of independent group,” he said. “The core element that we’re trying to seek is whether we can make some kind of progress in trying to advance the spirit of inclusion further in ways that are consistent with Catholic teaching.”

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  1. This is what the answer should be: “No.”

  2. fiestamom says:

    I suspect forming the LGBTQ group is less about “Students are asking and seeking a peer-to-peer kind of group where gay and straight students can come together and have their own kind of independent group,”- and more about political activism. If LGBTQ students want to have a group and meet others, it’s pretty easy in an age of facebook, yahoo groups, etc.

  3. Make welcome the stranger and the alien in your midst, welcome all with compassion and love, in justice. Hearts are not changed when people are excluded, but when we become one. We discern and we are formed in community. Each person is a beloved child of God, made in God’s image.

    Is this so hard to understand?

  4. MD Catholic says:

    This should be a no brainer–no! And, Fran, not sure your comment about welcoming et al has anything to do with this. They aren’t being mistreated by not being allowed to have formalized group condoned by the school, are they? The feel good, moral relativism of the 60s and 70s has resulted in solid Catholic teachings, doctrine and tradition being challenged in a political environment that is bent on progressivism just for the sake of itself. Enough already!

  5. ND affirms that it does not discrimination against gays in admissions or as students and that it seeks to respond to the needs of its gay students. The Church teaches man by his nature is social. Either allow a society or stop accepting gay people as members of the university community.

  6. The most sad thing about this story is the fact that anyone should be defined by his or her sexuality. What about the celibates, the heteros?

    Fran I certainly agree with you that each person is a beloved child of God, and that in and of itself is ENOUGH. If Notre Dame or any Catholic School wanted to send the message of God’s love, that would be it, NOT one’s sexuality.

    I have to ask Fran what do want to change hearts to: the acceptance that we are all equal in the eyes of God, or that those with a disordered (and sinful when acted upon), sexual preference are “special” because of their disordered sexuality (or probably in this case, political activism)?

    Only in turth can the authentic love of God co exist. Like God our loving Father, who often tells us “no”when things we want aren’t good for us, so should ND follow HIS example. Done well on ND’s part, it can both be an act of love as well as a teaching moment.

  7. Klaire has it right. This is political activism. The left are revving up their Liberal base: the Obama anti religious mandate, the Fluke testimony, the pandering to Planned Parenthood, framing arguments as anti women, the attack on Rush Limbaugh, gay issues, hispanic issues. Soon they’ll be another lynching of blacks story or burning down black churches. It’s a coordinated thrust. It tends to work.

  8. So we just turn people away until we think that they are no longer sinners? Is that the way it works Klaire?

    We do not do the work; God does and in my experience, through community. If someone is shut out of the church, how can they be transformed? If they can do it themselves, then why bother coming to church? Church is being part of community, not simply following a set of rules. The rules matter – make no mistake, but the arbitrary application of them is a challenge to the integrity of the Body of Christ. A Body diminished by all who are left out. We should all be casting wider nets, not casting stones.

  9. Bill McGeveran says:

    I tend to agree with Fran. I don’t think recognizing such a group needs to mean that the university agrees with anything against church teaching. It may show respect for conscience, which I think is important. It does not preclude an effort to convey church teaching and its rationale; it may make that more possible. The same holds for the church as for a family, at least so long as we are talking about adults. Teachers/leaders/elders/pastors/parents need to listen with respect and understanding as well as speak. Otherwise, any speaking that they do will too often fall on deaf ears. And in any case, charity comes first.

  10. For heaven’s sake Fran, I’m in no way suggesting that we cast out all non heterosexuals from the church. What I am saying is that forming their own “group” based on sex is anything but the answer.

    We both know what the answer is (IF what they are seeking is really community and not political activism), and that is the community and charity of authentic Catholic Faith. Only in Catholicism, in obedience, regardless if we are single, gay, bi, or whatever can we obtain holiness. Only in holiness can we be one with God. If we really loved our gay friends, we would want what God wants for them, obedience and holiness, not “pseudo empty specialness.”

    There simply is no other way for any of us to have a peaceful heart outside of being right with God. All it really takes for our gay friends to know that is for US TO BE REALLY CATHOLIC. I forget who said it, but the saying goes something like “When we Catholics live like REAL Catholics, the rest of the world will follow.”

  11. Fran, we saw how this played out at other Catholic colleges like Georgetown. It did not go well. Once the official seal of approval was given, it merely affirmed their their obstinacy to the teachings of the Catholic Church. The tacit message was, the Church might teach that, but since we have official approval, there is no need for us to change.

    We do not have the luxury of allowing those entrusted to our care to die in their sins: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself”. – Ezekiel 3, 17-19.

  12. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Okay, then. Let’s have a university club welcoming and affirming cheaters and plagiarists. But that’s too nasty a name, so let’s insist that they are Social Test-takers and Persons of Confused Authorial Identity.

    It’s genuinely hard for people who don’t really understand the rights and wrongs of these things, especially in college. Is it more welcoming to give them a pretty name and make sympathetic noises? Or is it more welcoming to help such people become virtuous persons living lives of integrity, without circling them out from the rest of humanity and its tendencies toward sin?

  13. Suburbanbanshee says:

    And there are plenty of people who act as, or are tempted to act as, Social Test-takers and Persons of Confused Authorial Identity from a very young age. Perhaps they are born with the cross they bear; perhaps they develop it due to social pressures in school. People are going to do it, no matter what measures you put in place to prevent it. By all the contemporary arguments for homosexual behavior, we should make it legal under some kind of government license.

    And yet, we don’t treat that as a beautiful quirk of human academic behavior, hurting nobody and leading only to the pleasure of getting an A. Even secular society treats cheating and plagiarism as criminal acts and sins, and nobody troubles themselves about who exactly is being hurt.

    All academic societies operate on the premise that you will take your own tests, write your own papers, and cite references for what you quote. People who break those rules, even once, are supposed to know that they have done something that is beneath them, something vile and base. People who break those rules repeatedly are academic homewreckers, menaces to society, no matter how nice they may be in all other matters. They are not to be trusted, and should be shunned by all decent people unless they repent.

  14. Bill McGeveran says:

    Whatever may be the prudent course of action in this case, I think some of these comments ignore any role for conscience.

  15. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Meanwhile, academic rules of society touch only a few people directly (although many indirectly). But the rules of the constitution of sexual society affect everyone, young and old. This is why cheating on a spouse (which breaks both a social and legal contract) used to be punished by the civil law, in many places.

    Nobody thinks a Catholic school should have a club for people who randomly break webpages, or a club for griefers and trolls making a sport of annoying people online and trying to break the social contract there. But there are plenty of people who are born annoying, or at least who are annoying from an early age. People like that have to be taught to appreciate the normal rules of conduct, not celebrated by their equally annoying peers. (And yet, many of them also have many good qualities. That doesn’t make their annoying behaviors any less annoying.)

    Or why not a suicide club? Most people who are suicidal are suicidal all their lives, from the time they are tiny children. How dare the Catholic Church and secular psychologists try to get such people not to follow their natural bent for self-destruction! Surely we should follow the example of the Netherlands and support such people’s aims. There should be suicide liturgies to help people embrace their suicidalness. Why, we could have suicide clinics and poison dispensers available on every campus, with special emergency service hours right before and after final exams.

  16. The “Q” is so insidious. This is the new category the gay lobby is trying to have recognized. It’s also a good way to recruit new members, especially young people who may be confused sexually. Here’s a message to any young students out there reading this: if you are questioning your sexual inclination, turn to Jesus Christ and pray about it. Talk to a priest or deacon about it. Consult the teaching of the Church on human sexuality. But do not join groups like this.

  17. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    If you go to the linked article, near the bottom is a description of the process for approving a campus group, and why approval has been repeatedly denied. The University contends that to give sanction to it would give tacit approval to the lifestyle — and thus violate Catholic teaching.

    It also seems clear, if you read on, that the group is trying to “change the culture” at the university — which might be interpreted as meaning they want to make homosexuality more accepted and acceptable.

    I can understand why a Catholic university might have a problem with that.

  18. The matter of one’s sexuality shouldn’t come into play. We are all called to the same holiness. That comes from living a chaste life, whether one is, or has same sex attraction or not. Sex is for unity and procreation, from the beginning this has been so. God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. We are called to be whole people, to live our lives according to God’s will. As a married man, I am called to be faithful to my wife and I am not living that wholeness if I go out and sleep around. I am not fulfilling my calling to God by doing that. If I were still single, my calling would be to live a celibate lifestyle, I would not be living my calling if I were to go out and sleep around.
    The LBGTQ crowd is looking for political advantage, nothing less (their actions speak to this). If the students at any school want to get together, they do. You don’t need official sanctions to do so, however, if you are looking to justify or affirm your lifestyle, then official sanctions are what you seek.

  19. Richard Johnson says:

    The argument that the university must adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church with regards to student groups on campus seems a convenient argument here with a GLBT group. I’m curious, does the presence of officially recognized (and publicized) non-Catholic and non-Christian groups undermine this argument?

  20. I am a believer in dialog. Unfortunately, the usual response of Catholic organizations is ostracism and shunning. Here in Washington DC, at the Catholic University of America, no member of the City Council is allowed on campus to talk about any subject because of their votes on abortion funding. None of them have ever been invited to speak about abortion, so that has not been a worry. The result of this policy is that CUA has shot itself in the foot. When Catholic groups go begging to the City Council for different favors from the city, or for government contracts, they are dealing with a group of people who have been humiliated in the press by the university one by one when their invitations to speak on different topics have been rescinded.
    Likewise, the usual Catholic response is to demonize all gays. Do people know that there is a suicide problem among high school and college students, especially gay students who are religious and who have not come out? This is a fact. I think that if universities are going to admit gay students, that they need to provide whatever the normal range of social services is for all students, including gays. The other issue is that many of the students at Catholic institutions of higher learning are not Catholic. It is unfortunate that in the 21st century, it has become acceptable in many Catholic circles, including the comments on this blog, to fail to recognize the humanity of gays, to recognize that there are many gay Catholics, and to speak disparagingly of all gays as enemies. The contributions of gays to the Catholic Church throughout history have been immense, and continue to be, among lay persons, parish staffs, clergy, and hierarchy. I do not know any professional in the fields of psychiatry, psychology, or most spiritual directors who would defend the hostile attends tolerated by Catholic institutions and promoted by rabid individuals.

  21. “Likewise, the usual Catholic response is to demonize all gays.”

    May I ask where you found Catholic Church demonizing gays? Can I see some evidence of that? Because i certainly haven’t seen that.

  22. “The usual Catholic response is to demonize all gays.”

    I’m sorry Drake but that is just a flat out lie. And people are tired of hearing it. The Church welcomes all human beings, membership is open to all, and it has never “demonized” people with a same sex inclination. There are numerous approved groups at Catholic colleges and universities where the depressed or sexually confused student can find guidance from professors, priests and/or administrators. There is no need for a group which has an obvious agenda to undermine Church teaching on sexuality.

    When I attended a Catholic college, we suffered four suicides. None were homosexually inclined students. So let’s not pretend that the emotionally vulnerable are all in this particular category.

  23. Simple solution. And one which should be win-win.

    Offer to open a chapter of the Courage Apostolate, and it’s sister organization Encourage. They are good support organizations for LGBQTUVWXYZ folks, others who are not but wish to be supportive, and are both unambiguously faithful to the Church. And if the students accept, follow through and do it.

    If the students decline, by their fruits ye shall know them.

  24. naturgesetz says:

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that those with homosexual attractions “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” §2358

    I have to admit that some Catholics seem to have very little of that respect, compassion, and sensitivity; but those qualities of a proper acceptance do not imply approval of homosexual acts. There is a real question whether a GSA or other LGBTQ organization on campus would contradict Church teaching. One which would promote acceptance by others and chastity on the part of homosexuals should be welcome IMO.

  25. Kevin, please take it from a lifelong homosexual (who has lived in accordance with Church teaching for the past ten years, and agrees with ND’s non-assent): There is no ‘recruitment’ drive going on, either on college campuses or on the peripheries of schoolyards. Really. The recruitment canard is almost as poisonous as the belief that all homosexuals are pedophiles.

    The ‘Q’ is more a sop to the trendy idea that sexuality is ‘fluid’ than anything else.

  26. Irish Spectre says:

    No, this wouldn’t work at all, because then you’re giving equal footing to one group, Courage, which embraces Church teaching on sexual relations, and one, the LGBTQ folks, which rejects it.

    The day that that ND officially recognizes the LGBTQ organization should be the same day that it recognizes SOTG, Students Opposed to Gravity, which fights against physics as an oppressive construct of the Republican party, designed to keep the people, um, down. It would frankly make about as much sense.

  27. Agreed. Drake’s statement is nonsense. Is this group forming a gay group to challenge Church teaching? I doubt they are forming a local chapter of COURAGE.

  28. Klaire, this is extremely we said! Bravo!

  29. No that is not true, maybe I was unclear.

    These would not be an equal footing at all. Courage would address all the concerns in a faithful way. Students wishing some alternate support in other organizations would simply not be allowed. This would be the University saying you either think with the Church on these issues, or you do not have a recognized organization. Full stop. Certainly not one which would be set against the Church.

    There is no equal footing. I am suggesting Courage, or nothing. They already have nothing, so Courage is a step in the right direction. Sorry for the confusion.

  30. God bless you Bill! You are a much needed and beautiful witness.

  31. Irish Spectre says:

    “I am suggesting Courage, or nothing.”

    Oh, NOW I get it! The old “smoke ‘em out” tactic, huh? As the Guinness man says, “Brilliant!”

  32. ron chandonia says:

    When I was an undergraduate at Notre Dame–and a seminarian–one of my closest friends killed himself because he simply could not come to terms with his homosexuality. That was a long time ago, and possible LGBTQ “community” support groups were not even on the radar, but I seriously doubt that an alphabetized, politicized, and (it seems) agendized effort like the one proposed here would have done my friend much good. What he could not find back then was compassionate spiritual support; I wonder if he could find it at ND today.

  33. Translation…..God it’s my way, my terms, and the way I like to interpret it…..get that straight…..”…. who do you think you are anyways ” The creator of the entire universe and everything in it?!”………

  34. How pathetic that so many Christians and Catholics are so weak they can’t stand up for their faith. Homosexuality is a choice, not a genetic predisposition. Transgender people should not be mistreated. They deserve respect and love just as any of us do. That said, it is an unnatural thing. They are clearly mentally ill and need help, just as someone with a multiple personality disorder does. There is no evidence to support they can’t help themselves. They can. There are many underlying issues that fuel homosexual and transgender behaviors. They are rooted in insecurity, a loss of identity and childhood abuse and trauma. So sad that we never hear about this. Instead we just applaud this lifestyle while they continue down a path of utter destruction.

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