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Anti-gay message shows problem on campus

Letter to the Editor | Sunday, November 18, 2007

At this point, two weeks have passed and many an opinion has been voiced regarding several young men and their “Gay? Go to Hell” shirts, but I feel that I can no longer sit idly and keep silent my opinion on this issue. As the co-president of Notre Dame’s unofficial gay-straight alliance, alliancend, the fact that even one student has taken it upon himself to flagrantly promote hate speech on campus appalls me. The emergence of such a shirt highlights just how pressing is the need for a student-led gay-straight organization on this campus.First off, I would like to commend the Core Council for Gay and Lesbian Student Needs for the alacrity with which they addressed this despicable act. In their Letter to the Editor (“Offering a welcoming home for all,” Nov. 9), the courageous students, faculty and staff involved with the Council provide a compelling argument for their place within the University administration. I have many friends on the Council, and I support them wholeheartedly for their tireless efforts to make Notre Dame a more tolerant and accepting place for all students regardless of sexual orientation.Despite the great strides that the Core Council has made with the CommUnity sessions for freshmen and their programming for GLBTQ students and their allies, the progress that has been realized thus far is not enough, apparently, to root out blatantly homophobic/heterosexist attitudes on campus. The only effective way to reform such opinions is through student-led education aimed at fellow students. As such, the mission of alliancend is to “create a supportive environment that fosters respect, dialogue and education regarding sexual orientation among the Notre Dame student body.” Though I do support the intended purpose of the Core Council, its position as an administrative rather than student organization hampers its efficacy in dealing with such matters. The CommUnity sessions for freshmen are certainly valuable to educate new members of the Notre Dame community on issues of Catholic social teaching, but for many students, exposure to messages of tolerance and acceptance for GLBTQ persons end there. A student-led and student-centered organization would be, by its very nature, focused on correcting malformed opinions of GLBTQ individuals from the ground up.The Core Council’s greatest disadvantage is its position as an administrative body, whose work is necessarily top-down. Alliancend or some iteration thereof has applied for official club status through the Student Activities Office for nine of the past 10 years, and has been denied all nine times. While past explanations for our denial from Student Activities have ranged from the old citations of Catholic theology regarding sexuality to the new argument that the Core Council makes our organization obsolete because it already addresses the concerns of the GLBTQ community, these allegations are, in the light of the “Gay? Go to Hell” shirts, false, and underscore the need for such a group on campus to supplement the work of the Core Council and other groups devoted to promoting the recognition of the fundamental human dignity of all persons in the Notre Dame family.

Stacey WilliamsseniorMcGlinn HallNov. 16