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PrismND leaders respond to SCOP panel

| Monday, April 7, 2014

When the University of Notre Dame released its official statement “Beloved Friends and Allies” more than a year ago, it acknowledged that its review of services showed “that numerous gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (GLBTQ) students seek additional support” beyond what was given by the University at that time. It called for “a safe and supportive environment for all members of the Notre Dame community” and said that “the University deplores any offenses against that fundamental human dignity and calls for an abiding spirit of inclusion within the Notre Dame community.” We believe that the adoption of this plan is a commitment that everyone here at Notre Dame is called to participate in.

With this promise to the University’s GLBTQ students in mind, we wish to address the conference sponsored by Students for Child Oriented Policy (SCOP) on April 3. It is clear from the advertisements that those who planned it wished to explore the Catholic definition of marriage. This discourse on marriage is supported by the Pastoral Plan, and such discourse is expected to occur at one of the country’s premiere Catholic universities. However, some of the people invited by SCOP to conduct the discussion failed to show the respect for all of God’s children called for by the Church.

Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., one of the speakers at the panel, commented that “being gay was the flavor of the week” and noted that he believed people chose their sexual orientation. His comment demeans those who are GLBTQ rather than giving them the pastoral support endorsed by the Church and this University. As Pope Francis said, “Tell me, when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person … Who am I to judge?”

Additionally, among those attending the conference were representatives from the Family Research Council (FRC), whose available materials demeaned and invalidated lesbian, gay and bisexual identities, calling them a harmful choice and even insinuating that homosexuality or bisexuality leads to higher rates of child molestation. Rather than supporting the Church’s position that those who “identify as gay or lesbian ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358),” the FRC actively promotes a rejection of one’s sexual orientation – ­going so far as to say that interventions to make a gay person heterosexual are harmless, despite extensive social science research proving otherwise (see the American Psychological Association ’s 2009 review of Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation). The FRC material also says that “homosexuals experience considerably higher levels of mental illness and substance abuse,” and blames individuals for the personally detrimental effects of societal prejudice.

SCOP’s sponsorship of these views during the conference stands in sharp contrast to the mission of the University and the Catholic Church to provide pastoral care to GLBTQ individuals. We maintain that the inclusion of these positions at the conference by SCOP is harmful to GLBTQ students and Notre Dame’s commitment to them.

We are not opposed to the existence of SCOP, nor to the discussion it intends to have. Rather, we condemn the part of the discussion that degrades the lives of those who identify as GLBTQ in order to further its purpose. 

Moving forward, we hope that those who conduct any discourse on marriage keep in mind that behind the issue are GLBTQ-identifying people who hold God-given dignity. Any rhetoric that diminishes or disrespects the dignity of GLBTQ individuals harms all involved.



Bryan Ricketts
President of PrismND
Duncan Hall

Lily Crawford
Vice President of PrismND
Pasquerilla East Hall
April 6

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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