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Join others in the fight against discrimination

Editorial Staff | Friday, January 22, 2010

Use your passion for something productive.

A good adage to live life by, but here it refers to a specific situation. A group of Notre Dame students are circulating a petition to present to the University asking it to add sexual orientation to the non-discrimination clause. It’s not a new cause, but it’s a necessary cause.

It’s clear that this issue has support on campus. Many different student groups have proposed similar changes, most recently the Campaign for Human Dignity in March 2009. The group, sponsored by the Progressive Student Alliance, collected more than 2,700 signatures.

Yet their requests were turned down, told by University President Fr. John Jenkins that the non-discrimination clause is a legal document, and adding sexual orientation to it might blur the line between orientation and practice and that that distinction, at a Catholic university, needed to be maintained.

There are dozens of other Catholic universities in the country, however, that include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination clauses and also have GLBTQ student groups with official club status, another thing Notre Dame will not allow.

This issue has continued to arise, and for good reason. The community needs to accept GLBTQ members fully. For the most part it does, but the University has not officially recognized this acceptance through the non-discrimination clause. The “Spirit of Inclusion” statement is not enough.

Unfortunately, official recognition is not the student’s call. What students need to do is sign this petition. And on Tuesday, show their support for the cause by wearing a “Gay? Fine By Me” T-shirt. Use your passion about this issue for something productive.

The responses from both within and outside the University and College communities to The Observer’s Jan. 13 comic displayed the outrage that results from discrimination against the GLBTQ community — and rightfully so.

You’ve communicated your passion to us at The Observer in the form of e-mails, letters and phone calls, and we appreciate that. Now you have the opportunity to do the same with the University, to use your passion for something productive like this petition.

The current Observer Editorial Board has supported this petition in the past. In our March 20 editorial, we noted that the Princeton Review has in the past ranked Notre Dame No. 1 in the “Alternative Lifestyles Not An Alternative” category — a clear signal that there are issues surrounding the acceptance of the GLBTQ community on our campus.

We continue to support this petition and the goals it seeks.

A University needs to create a welcoming sense of community to all its students. The University and those in its community do not have to choose between Catholic teaching and acceptance of its members; in fact, the two can and should go hand in hand.

So harness that passion. Sign the petition. Encourage your friends to do the same. Help the student body display just how important this issue is.