University of Portland Students Call for LGBTQ Inclusive Non-Discrimination Policy

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Student organizer Maraya Sullivan poses for a photo project by fellow student Casey Andersen. Student organizer Maraya Sullivan poses for a photo project by fellow student Casey Andersen.
By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly
A group of University of Portland students has launched "Redefine Purple Pride," a campaign urging the Catholic university to adopt an LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination policy. The push to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the school's policy comes after an annual Fireside Chat on Feb 18 with UP President Fr. Bill Beauchamp, in which he responded to student concerns about the lack of protections for LGBTQ students, staff, and faculty. According to the UP Beacon, Beauchamp explained that the while the university's Statement of Inclusion reflects that the school does not discriminate based on sexual orientation, adding these protections to UP's non-discrimination policy could force the school to condone behaviors not accepted by the Catholic Church. “The Catholic Church has certain expectations regardless of whether you’re heterosexual or homosexual,â€Â Beauchamp said. “The courts looking at [the non-discrimination policy], especially in Oregon, could take sexual orientation to mean sexual practice, whether or not it’s same sex couples.†Advocates for the revised policy -- including students, alums, and faculty members -- have launched a petition and a letter writing campaign, and plan to hold a silent vigil Thursday afternoon from noon to 2 p.m. on the UP Academic Quad between BC and the Commons. The petition, which already has more than 1,000 signatures, makes the following plea:
It is consistent with the University’s mission and reasonable Catholic values to fight for the inherent dignity of all humans created in the image and likeness of God. We feel that the University of Portland strives to create equality and a welcoming environment for all students, staff, and faculty, but is hypocritical in its lack of protection of the LGBTQ community from certain forms of discrimination. The progressive Statement on Inclusion addresses respect and true diversity acceptance, but is inadequate as a source of reliable protection or security for many students, staff, and faculty. We expect the Non-Discrimination Policy to be revised at the next Board of Regents meeting as well as an expedient response addressed to the university community expressing the board’s intentions and guarantees.
A number of Catholic universities already offer protections for sexual minorities, including University of St. Thomas, St. Catherine's University, Georgetown University, Gonzaga University, Loyola University Chicago, Loyola University Marymount, Santa Clara University, Stonehill College, St. Edwards, and Marquette University. "Universities, as champions of intellectual freedom and ethical behavior, must be at the forefront in opposing discrimination of every kind, from sexual orientation and gender to race and religion,†says English Professor Herman Asarnow. Beauchamp acknowledged that there are LGBTQ people at University of Portland. According to the UP Beacon:
“We know that there are faculty and staff in same-sex relationships on campus,†Beauchamp said. “They are not public about it and we don’t ask them. But if someone were to go very public about it and make an issue then we would have trouble.†When asked for clarification Tuesday, Beauchamp said the University would address a situation only if it “were to become a public scandal.â€
As part of the campaign, students have created a series of videos showing their support for LGBTQ community members. Check out some of the videos below. PQ will update this story as it develops.