It’s well-known (and quite unfortunate) that some universities, namely private religious schools, aren’t exceptionally friendly to their LGBT students. But Shane Windmeyer of nationally recognized Campus Pride says it’s time for these schools to shed their discriminatory policies and welcome all their students with open arms.
The central news story here is that Pepperdine University, a school affiliated with the Churches of Christ, this week denied the creation of an LGBT support group - the fourth time they’ve rejected such an idea. Likewise, the University of Notre Dame has refused to allow the formation of gay-straight alliances since 2007.
The schools say LGBT organizations conflict with religious teachings and ideas of sexual morality. Pepperdine claims students involved in LGBT organizations cannot stay neutral, and Notre Dame goes as far as to say it “cannot distinguish between sexual orientation and behavior.” I wish I were kidding.
But Windmeyer steps in with the argument that seems obvious to most of us: love thy neighbor. LGBT kids come from all walks of life, including religious backgrounds, that lead them to attend schools like Pepperdine and Notre Dame. Because these schools are private, they have the right to enact such policies, but they have a greater responsibility to provide a safe and supportive campus for students.
With visibility comes a moral responsibility for administrators to create a safe learning environment, regardless of sexual or gender identity. Public and private colleges are held responsible for the safety of all their students. It is not a surprise that the LGBT and ally students at both Pepperdine and Notre Dame give their negative experiences of bias and prejudice as reasons for forming a student group on campus. Ignoring these anti-LGBT incidents will only hurt the university and its students.
Windmeyer rocks it in this column - activists at these schools should really take note and pass it along.