I didn’t really understand it at first, why it became such a big deal. And I try to be wary of making premature assumptions before figuring out the details.
Recently, people have been riled up on campus over something our school president said. While words can often be distorted, how else are we to interpret “they are not public about it and we don’t ask them”? This does not exactly foster the most welcoming environment…
In a recent address to the campus community in our school newspaper, the president explained that there are two separate “policies,” for lack of a better word. One is the Statement of Inclusion, which is supposed to be nondiscriminatory to everybody regardless of their ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation etc. And the other is the Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policy. But this latter policy excludes sexual orientation. The president also said that they do not include sexual orientation in the latter because of legality issues.
I am not sure what other people are upset about. But I am upset about the apparent contradiction and the implicit meaning behind those words. First off, there is a conflict in separating a nonlegal policy to uphold the “Catholic values” from a legal-binding policy that tries to preserve “Catholic teachings.” If values and teachings are contradictory, why follow the values or the teachings or either of them? Shouldn’t our values be lined up with our morals, or in this case, faith? And if each person is a child of God and we are to honor the “inherent dignity of each person as a child of God,” then shouldn’t every person be honored by their inherent dignity despite his or her sexual orientation? It would seem that someone who disagrees with this holds a fundamental value that homosexuality is wrong. In that case, why can’t they admit that they are just—pardon me as I try to hold in some confusion—homophobic? Trying to patch that up with a Statement of Inclusion is like hiding in a flowery garden that is hardly reality.
Perhaps it is because I have never really been religious. But I think this to be the case for whatever we choose to believe, whether in religion or outside of religious beliefs. Whatever we accept, there should be some critical reflection about whether our values truly match up with what we are taught. If we blindly accept what is given to us, there is the possibility of hurting so many people. For example, Nazi soldiers in WWII were taking orders. What they did, I will leave for you to think about. Why do we not dare question the things we believe to be wrong? Why do we not try to be different? To be progressive in such a way that every human being is treated as nothing less?
Being a private institution should not exempt the university from moving towards a greater equality. As a dear friend of mine elegantly put it “when something may not change, it does not mean that it does not need to be changed.”