Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gay student support group carves out niche at conservative Catholic University

"Every Wednesday night, more than three dozen students gather to discuss what Catholic University can do to welcome, affirm and protect its gay students, staff members and others."

Washington Post reports:
The administration has not been receptive to the group's Wednesday efforts. This summer they rejected an application from the group, CUAllies, to be an official student club. Doing so would have led to supporting an advocacy group for positions contrary to church teachings, Catholic spokesman Victor Nakas said in a statement.

Although only approved student organizations can reserve space for meetings or events, all students have the right to gather informally on campus. Although only student organizations can advertise their meetings and events on campus bulletin boards, any student can tape a poster to his or her own door in the dorms or wear the group's signature blue T-shirts.

"We might not be an official group, but we're winning," said Robby Diesu, a senior political theory major from New York who is a founder of the group. "We have our own community. . . . It's empowering."

But the group has a self-imposed list of topics that are off-limits: pre-marital sex, gay sex, birth control, gay marriage and behavior not permitted by the Catholic church.

Despite the university's refusal to sanction the group, the students say they want to respect the campus's conservative nature and rules. Instead, they focus on helping gay students who are trying to navigate campus and educating the rest of the student body about gay issues.

"Everything that we are doing, it's Catholic, it's what the church is about," said David Freerksen, a junior economics major from Delaware who came out in middle school and converted to Catholicism in high school because of the religion's emphasis on community service. READ MORE