Continue progress on LGBTQ issues
Letter to the Editor | Friday, December 5, 2014
Remember two years ago? Two years ago, Barack Obama was reelected. The royal baby captivated our nation, sight unseen. Notre Dame was going to the national championship as the No. 1 team. These events stick in our minds and bring back salient memories of how our lives were changed, yet despite heavy coverage in The Observer, and a major press release by the University, another event in the fall of 2012 may not be remembered so clearly.
On Dec. 5, 2012, Notre Dame took a large step towards creating a more inclusive community when it reaffirmed its commitment to its LGBTQ students by releasing the Pastoral Plan, Beloved Friends and Allies. Members of Student Affairs, Fr. Jenkins’ team and faculty and staff all over campus came together, performing a review of University services that demonstrated their commitment to the Holy Cross values upon which Notre Dame was founded. After more than 27 years of struggle, campus welcomed the creation of an official student organization, an advisory committee for Student Affairs and a full-time staff position, all focused on inclusion for its LGBTQ students. This tangible action was manifested administrative support of a burgeoning student conversation, led by some of the best student and campus leaders in recent Notre Dame history. Things have changed over the last five years for this campus, and LGBTQ people are becoming more tangibly recognized as a part of the Notre Dame family.
Unfortunately, when putting on campus events, we are still asked questions that amount to: “Look, I totally support you LGBTQ students, but why do you have to be so in-my-face about it?” On our second birthday, we’d like to answer this question:
Because the words “we respect human dignity” are meaningless if what follows fails to recognize the humanity of LGBTQ people.
It’s not enough to pay lip service to love and respect. Without engaging in concrete actions that support a community, rhetoric can prove empty to those who need it most. Spread the love – it’s important to be accepting, but it is as important to make this acceptance known to those it will most positively impact.
Because students still have experiences with unsupportive parents, educators or peers.
From personal interactions with Prism members, to Mr. London’s letter Wednesday, we are constantly reminded of the negative consequences of people’s attitudes. Tolerance does not soothe the wounds of discrimination. It’s acceptance that demonstrates true goodwill and a desire for reconciliation.
Because sexuality and gender are universal experiences.
Each and every person has a unique and valued sexuality and gender; where you fall on the spectrum is an important part of your personhood. Identifying with a sexuality or gender that is more accepted in the mainstream discourse does not mean it is somehow more valuable – all people’s personal stories are part of a tapestry of experience that all should work to cherish.
Because looking at LGBTQ people only as burdened individuals does not fully capture a person’s experience of their sexuality and gender.
Recently, the Synod on the Family debated and ultimately rejected the use of a phrase saying that homosexual persons have “gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.” Rather than a change in Church doctrine, it would have been a reframing of how we should see our LGBTQ peers. It challenges us to look at others not as deficient, but as containing a whole person, bringing with them their own valuable perspective and personal experiences.
As a community, we have the ability to come together and manifest our love into a true family, welcoming to all people. On this two year anniversary, we invite you to join us in committing to fully supporting, loving and accepting all LGBTQ students.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.