The Catholic University of America, located in Washington, D.C. and home to some 7,000 undergraduates and graduate students, formally rejected a proposal for a university-sanctioned LGBT student group earlier this month.
The official reason given by university administrators to supporters of the club -– which included 20 of the 23 members of the school’s Student Association and representatives from multiple other campus student groups –- for the rejection was that administrators fear such a group would become an advocacy organization.
Ryan Fecteau, speaker of the Student Association and a former director of the yet-unrecognized CUAllies group for LGBT and allied students, says the group had been trying to convince administrators for nine months that “the organization would not actively promote causes that might be in conflict with Catholic Church with regard to homosexuality.”
The school’s decision was especially galling to supporters in light of the fact that Catholic University previously had an officially recognized gay and lesbian student organization, from 1988 to 2002…
The decision comes at an interesting time since Catholic stances on homosexuality are changing ever-so-slightly. Consider, at the very least, what’s happening at fellow Catholic school Notre Dame:
Catholic University’s decision contrasts with its fellow Catholic institution, the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, which announced in early December that the school planned to expand support for the campus LGBT community by, among other things, finally recognizing an official LGBT student organization. That Notre Dame request dates at least back to 1986.
What says Catholic University about all this? In response to inquiries from the Metro Weekly, associate vice president for public affairs Victor Nakas issued the following statement:
“In declining the request for official university recognition of CUAllies, the administrators indicated their belief that, in spite of the group’s stated intent to uphold Catholic Church teachings, it would be extremely difficult for that pledge to be honored over time,” Nakas wrote. “They pointed out that there is a fine line, easily crossed, between a group dedicated to education and support of individuals who identify themselves as homosexuals and one that engages in advocacy on behalf of a homosexual lifestyle.”
According to Fecteau, CUAllies will continue to host events and offer resources geared toward LGBT Catholics, and students may push for a school-wide referendum to have the group formally recognized. Keep on keepin’ on.