Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Help Break Notre Dame's Silence on Gay Rights

Days after a cartoon ran in their student newspaper that advocated beating gay people into vegetables, a renewed effort is underway to get the University of Notre Dame to recognize sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy. Gay Rights blogger Michael Jones writes that Notre Dame is the only top-twenty university in the country without sexual orientation in their official policy. To make matters worse, the university also refuses to recognize LGBT student groups on campus. The combination creates a fertile ground for homophobia to thrive, and the time for speaking out is now.

by Michael Jones for Change.org:

Hundreds of supporters of LGBT rights launched a silent protest yesterday to call attention to the University of Notre Dame's glaring silence on LGBT issues. The demonstration was intended to capitalize on debate surrounding LGBT rights at the university in the wake of a cartoon that was published in a student newspaper that advocated gay-bashing.

But to hear the demonstrators, many of whom were students, tell it, this demonstration goes far beyond just a cartoon that appeared in the newspaper.

"When the University refuses to acknowledge club status for [gay/straight alliances] and refuses to add sexual orientation to the non-discrimination clause, we are reminded of our other-ness," said Laurel Javors, one of the activists who organized the demonstration.

These facts put Notre Dame in a sticky, and untenable situation. Of the top-20 universities in the country, the University of Notre Dame is the only institution that doesn't include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy, according to demonstration organizers.

Want to let Notre Dame know that a culture of homophobia shouldn't be tolerated in higher education? Send their President, Vice-President, and their student newspaper a message that the whole world is watching Notre Dame, and expecting them to create a campus environment that is safe for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The University of Notre Dame's mission statement calls the campus to focus on injustice. "The University seeks to cultivate in its students not only an appreciation for the great achievements of human beings, but also a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression that burden the lives of so many."

Why shouldn't that include the oppression and injustice faced by students, faculty and alums based on sexual orientation? Take action now.

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