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Gender Relations Center initiates LGBTQ session

| Wednesday, February 19, 2014

LGBTQ 101, a program initiated this semester by the Gender Relations Center (GRC), will kick off Wednesday and offer local students and educators an opportunity to learn about issues related to gender and sexual identity in an inclusive Catholic environment, the GRC’s assistant director for LGBTQ student concerns Maureen Doyle said.

“Through participating in LGBTQ 101, we hope individuals throughout campus feel better equipped to join the conversation around the needs and concerns of LGBTQ students here, while recognizing our call as a Catholic community to create an environment that is safe, welcoming and inclusive for all of our students,” Doyle said.

Christine Caron Gebhardt, director of the GRC, said LGBTQ 101 would offer participants a chance to ask questions and “learn strategies to care and support all of our students as part of our Catholic mission.”

“Ultimately, we want to promote a healthy dialogue on our campus as we all engage with the complexity of issues related to sexuality and identities,” she said.

Doyle said the monthly two-hour LGBTQ 101 sessions would welcome students, faculty and staff from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross. She said each session will offer “a basic understanding and greater awareness” of the LGBTQ community.

“The presentation includes an overview of the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexual orientation, definitions related to sexual orientation and gender identity and a look at common myths and misunderstandings about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender identities,” Doyle said.

Sophomore Bryan Ricketts, a FIRE Starter at the GRC, said even students who do not identify as members of the LGBTQ community should participate in one of the presentations.

“The sessions are intended for those who have little experience with the LGBTQ community but would like to learn more about the lives of its members,” Ricketts said. “Anyone who attends should come away with a better understanding of sexual orientation, gender identity and how it relates to them, especially if they are not part of the LGBTQ community.”

Ricketts said incorporating Catholic teaching would expand the message of inclusion that LGBTQ 101 hopes to spread. A willingness to learn about and understand the problems facing members of the LGBTQ community fits into Catholic tradition and moral teachings of respecting human dignity, Ricketts said.

“Notre Dame’s Catholic identity calls all of its members to love one another,” he said. “Too often, this call is forgotten when people are different than we are and we fail to respect their common human dignity.

“Understanding and embracing our differences is the key to this acceptance, and the LGBTQ 101 program is intended to introduce LGBTQ terminology and experiences to those who have not had them but who recognize the importance of a personal or Catholic call to respect and love.”

Wednesday’s session will take place in the McNeill Room from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Doyle said.

“Participants will walk away from the two-hour presentation with a wealth of information, provided in a way that is sure to be both engaging and educational,” she said.

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About Lesley Stevenson

Lesley Stevenson is a senior news writer for The Observer after previously serving as News Editor and an Assistant Managing Editor. She is a senior from Memphis, Tennessee, studying Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) and American Studies and living in Breen-Phillips Hall. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @lcstevenson, and visit her website at lcstevenson.wordpress.com

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