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Meaningful debate finally arrives

| Tuesday, March 1, 2005

In honor of Notre Dame’s first Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Questioning (GLBQ) Awareness Week, it is crucial to clear up any misrepresentations regarding the Notre Dame events that showcase gay issues.

First, as a former resident assistant, diversity educator and multicultural commissioner, I can assure you that the Catholic perspective on homosexuality has had, and continues to have, many venues. Dialogue on discrimination, hate crimes and other issues related to homosexuality, however, has been severely lacking on campus.

Secondly, the various people that have responded to Bishop John D’Arcy’s recent comments have highlighted valuable points, ranging from D’Arcy’s historically prejudiced stance towards homosexuals in the priesthood to the Princeton Review’s naming Notre Dame the most homophobic campus in the U.S.

With the help of movements like the Queer Film Festival and GLBQ Week, real and meaningful debate about the issues of homosexuality are finally becoming part of the Notre Dame dialogue.

Notre Dame traditions are evolving in order to preserve the meaning of Catholic ideals in modern society. I personally believe that with enough sustained commitment and dialogue, Notre Dame will be able to develop its “distinctive identity” in the “confines of the truth and common good.”

The common good is clearly not to disallow gay and lesbians students the right to organize, raise awareness and support each other with the resources offered to other organizations on campus, such as the Multicultural Student Programs and Services office.

Human dignity is at stake, and Notre Dame must continue to change and create a safer and more positive environment for its GLBQ community.

As an alum, it has been encouraging to see national coverage of Notre Dame’s unprecedented series of events. This includes a story in the New York Times, even though uninformed critics such as Bill O’Reilly ridicule Notre Dame.

Notre Dame, however, should be commended for its efforts aimed at fostering inclusion. The ND Queer Film Festival is an excellent way to heighten awareness of the issues and discrimination that face gays and lesbians, and this will provide a crucial perspective to the Notre Dame community. I can only hope that the momentum to build a more compassionate, accepting, educated and tolerant campus for gay and lesbian students at Notre Dame will continue and continue and continue.

Anything less would be truly un-Catholic.

Ken Seifert

Class of 2003

Feb. 28