Waymon Hudson

Notre Dame Students Protest for Gay Rights (& How You Can Help)

Filed By Waymon Hudson | January 29, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Living, Media
Tags: gay cartoons and comics, Gay-Straight Alliance, nondiscrimination policy, Notre Dame, Observer

The unrest and fall-out over the publication of a pro gay-bashing cartoon in the school newspaper continues at Notre Dame. On Wednesday, hundreds of students marched through the campus to deliver a letter to University President Father John Jenkins.

6a00d8341c730253ef0120a81ccb3f970b-800wi.jpgThe letter called for the University to allow a gay/straight alliance on campus (something it has repeatedly refused to do) and to add sexual orientation to the nondiscrimination policy. According to demonstrators, of the top-20 universities in the country, Notre Dame is the only one that doesn't include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy. The students drew a direct connection to the gaps in LGBT protections on campus and the atmosphere at the school:

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.

Much more, including video & how you can help the students of Notre Dame, after the jump...

The student marchers were stopped at the entrance of the administration building and weren't allowed in, but continued the rally until an administrative assistant to the President came out and publicly accepted the letter.

Here's a local news report on the March (h/t to Towleroad for the video):

While students and Alumni groups have been working on making changes to the Notre Dame's attitude towards LGBT students for years, the impetus for the current revitalized push was the publication of a horrific cartoon in The Observer, which led to resignations, public apologies, and now hopefully reform:


Character 1: "What's the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?"
Character 2: "No idea."
Character 1: "A baseball bat."

So what can you do to help?

Change.org has started a petition to urge the Notre Dame administration to change the atmosphere on the campus. Some info:

Targeting: John Affleck-Graves (Executive Vice President, University of Notre Dame), Bill Brink (Managing Editor, The Observer ) and Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. (President, University of Notre Dame)

Earlier this month, the University of Notre Dame's student newspaper, The Observer, ran a cartoon that advocated beating gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people into vegetables. While the University, and the student newspaper, apologized for printing the comic strip, the very sentiments behind the comic are fostered by a university that has consistently fought to keep sexual orientation off of its non-discrimination policy, and has consistently refused to recognize LGBT student groups on campus.

...Tell Notre Dame to fight back against efforts to turn gay bashing into comedy, and institute policies that truly show respect for diversity.

Sign the petition here!

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Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | January 29, 2010 10:39 PM

Thanks Waymon for keeping us informed about the fallout from the anti-gay cartoon at Notre Dame.

While students at ND have my full support in their desire to create a GSA, I wonder why oh why a LGB student would want to attend a school with such a historically poor track recond on LGB issues?

The attitude permeates the area. South Bend has voted down an inclusive human rights ordinance twice and Goshen has also. The main opponents?

The good Catholic priests and professors from Notre Dame University.

Brian Kelly | January 31, 2010 8:56 PM

Michael Crawford's observations are simplistic. Reasonable people don't choose a university just because of LGBT policies or even climate. In fact, most collegiate youth explore these identities after they arrive at college, not before. Notre Dame is a great University, but the tension between Catholic doctrine and LGBT student life is perhaps more intense than the service academies. I lived it. I know. Yet, I remain loyal to ND and to GALA ND because life isn't just about simplistic choices. Being Catholic, being Irish, being Gay, and bring a "Domer" is a complex proposition. I am proud of that complexity. I am horrified by the comic strip in the Observer because there is always that element of homophobia and hate that resides just below the surface in many institutions. I've seen similar things happen in the secular Univeristy in which I now teach. I don't condem the University of Maryland every time immature students make a mis-step. This could have just as easily have happended at Cornell, at State U. Anywhere, or where ever. Finally, don't demonize the leadership at ND. I know them personally. They are not the enemy. Affleck-Graves and Father Jenkins are part of the solution, not part of the problem. Hit the student editors and cartoonists hard. They deserve the lesson.

I find it odd that their letter claims to be for LGB and T, but they only want sexual orientation added to the discrimination policy. Is it already on there?

I support them 100% in their cause, but false inclusion such as this is aggravating.

I noticed that too, A. This may be a teachable moment for a group of young activists on inclusion. Full LGBT inclusion is vital, especially when the impetus in this situation (the cartoon) so clearly goes after "fruits", which I would interpret as more of a derogatory gender identity/expression term than just a sexual orientation one.

Thanks for pointing that out- I think I need to work on a follow-up.