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OUTatND seeks to promote LGBTQ rights on campus

| Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Despite recent efforts to create an inclusive environment for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) students, Notre Dame is still the ninth most LGBTQ-unfriendly campus in America, according to the Princeton Review. A new grassroots movement, OUTatND, is aimed at changing this title and developing Notre Dame as a true safe space for LGBTQ students, senior and founder Jake Bebar said.

“Currently, there is a lot of ambiguity around the term ‘ally’ on this campus,” Bebar said. “To some people, you can be an ally even if you don’t support marriage equality. To others, you can be an ally even if you don’t support LGBTQ relationships. …

“OUTatND believes that being an ally means supporting equality in every sense … relationships, marriage, gender identity and everything else mentioned our website. We don’t want there to be any ambiguity around the term,” he said.

The organization is independent of the University and is focused on promoting equality, visibility and solidarity for the LGBTQ community at Notre Dame, Bebar said. The organization is composed of undergraduate, graduate, faculty and alumni, according to the OUTatND website.

“We believe in equal rights, privileges and resources for the entire LGBTQ community,” the website said. “We believe that members of the LGBTQ community deserve access to rights including but not limited to marriage rights and spousal privileges, relationship equality (i.e. the right and safety to engage in an open, honest, and public non-heteronormative relationship), [and] sexual orientation and gender identity inclusive non-discrimination clause in Notre Dame policies.”

The group also wishes to ensure equal access to Notre Dame resources, such as housing and restrooms, and to promote visibility of the LGBTQ community on campus, the website said.

“We believe that all members of LGBTQ communities should feel free to openly demonstrate pride toward their respective gender, sexuality and gender identity, and to engage in activist practices that celebrate the embodiment of non-normative sexual and gender identities and/or gender,” the website states.

OUTatND also aims to promote solidarity among the LGBTQ community, according to the website.

“We also believe that through our organization, we can establish an open and secular network of support for individuals who may be questioning their sexuality or gender identity,” it said.

The group is launching its first initiative today in recognition of the marriage equality case that is also being heard by the Supreme Court today, Bebar said.

“We’ll be launching a video featuring a number of out students and faculty,” Bebar said. “At the end of the video, we will be encouraging out ND members and alumni to upload videos of themselves sharing their ND experience. We really want to get everyone involved.

“Both LGBTQ individuals and allies are encouraged to participate in our photo campaign by uploading a photo of themselves holding a sign showing their support for the LGBTQ community.”

OUTatND recognizes the activism that has led to the creation of PrismND, which provides a space for respectful dialogue about LGBTQ issues, but PrismND has its limitations, Bebar said.

“We are conscious of the limitations of PrismND because of LGBTQ rights that remain unrecognized and needs that remain unmet, such as the support of gay relationships,” Bebar said.

“Knowing that PrismND provides a necessary resource for many students and that its existence could be put at risk if it were involved in this initiative, OUTatND operates 100 percent independently of both PrismND and the University of Notre Dame.”

Ultimately, Bebar said, the goal of OUTatND is to advocate for the needs of LGBTQ students at Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and in the South Bend community as a whole.

“We want every openly LGBTQ, closeted, or questioning student to know that we are here,” he said.

To learn more about OUTatND, visit outatnd.org 

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About Kayla Mullen

Kayla is a senior political science major and the Managing Editor of The Observer. She hails from Philadelphia, PA and was previously a resident of Howard Hall.

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