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Catholic college gives thumbs-up to gay-straight club

The president of Duquesne University has given an OK to LGBT students to form a gay-straight alliance group on campus. It is being formed in response to a Web posting by a student that gays are “subhuman.” Since this is a Catholic university, students have to adhere to a ton of ground rules in order to have this club — and the possibility of a backlash from homophobic alumni still looms. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette):

Duquesne University said yesterday it will allow formation of a gay student organization on campus but will require that the group adhere to Catholic Church teachings and the school’s religious identity.

In explaining the decision on a potentially polarizing issue, university officials said the move was not an endorsement of homosexuality but an effort to discourage discrimination based on sexual orientation. One of the group’s organizers said he was pleased, even with the restrictions imposed.

…Under the ground rules, group members cannot sponsor or participate in public protests, petitions or other actions if deemed in conflict with university policy or Duquesne’s Catholic identity. The group will be accountable to the Rev. Timothy Hickey, executive director of the Office of Mission and Identity, and its activities as an officially recognized group will be reviewed every two years by the president.

Although the proposal raised thorny issues — and initially drew strong displeasure from some alumni — Duquesne’s move is not unprecedented. The school yesterday released a list of about 50 Catholic campuses with similar organizations, including high profile names like Georgetown University, Boston College, Marquette University and College of the Holy Cross.

…[Duquesne President Charles Dougherty] said he knew of no donor backlash but acknowledged that could happen. He said Duquesne wanted to reinforce that all of its students were welcome and supported, and he expected the group will promote understanding of the church’s teachings as it pertains to sexuality and sexual orientation.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding