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Notre Dame students demand co-ed dorm rooms to fight ‘heteronormativity’

Martin M. Barillas Martin M. Barillas Follow Martin

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, September 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Student leaders at the University of Notre Dame argue that the tradition of single-sex dorms wrongfully advances what they call “heteronormativity” at the private Catholic institution.

Student body president Elizabeth Boyle is seeking to end the 177-year-old university’s practice of having separate dorms for men and women and forbidding students from staying overnight in dorms for the opposite sex. The College Fix obtained an internal email concerning the initiative.

The Oxford Dictionary defines “heteronormative” as “denoting or relating to a world view that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation.”

In a report last month by the Observer, the campus newspaper, Boyle said that for LGBT students, dorms at Notre Dame may be “too heteronormative and not safe spaces.” In a video distributed by the university, LGBT club co–vice president Taz Bashir said: “Notre Dame should embrace LGBTQ students because of our Catholic faith, not in spite of it.” Bashir said that dorm programming during the campus’s Welcome Weekend should be “less heteronormative,” while he called for more prominent “safe zone and ally stickers” on campus.

An email sent by LifeSiteNews to the Student Council asking how the proposed change would square with Catholic teachings regarding sexuality, and how it would lessen the risk of sex crimes, went unanswered.

Boyle told The College Fix that having all-male dorms on campus contributes especially to heteronormativity. She also said she supports allowing so-called transgender students to reside in dorms that do not correspond to their sex. Referring to the incidence of heteronormativity in all-male dorms, she said, “For example, guys in a male dorm could tease a guy about asking a girl out without realizing that he’s gay.”

Part of what Boyle and her associates are doing to address heteronormativity is to distribute pins, stickers, and signs to rectors and student assistants bearing the terms “ally” and “safe space.” This is to ensure, she said, “inclusivity” and make “everyone feel welcome.”

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, homosexual acts are immoral and “intrinsically disordered.” While Notre Dame has long stood by its claim of Catholic identity, in recent years, it has shown more openness to LGBT activism. While the administration of Notre Dame supports LGBT people as a minority group, it has yet to designate homosexuality on par with sex as understood by Catholic teaching. Nonetheless, a poster distributed by the university asserted that the Church’s “preferential option for the poor and vulnerable” should be the guiding principle when addressing LGBT people.

University administrators would have to change campus policy in order to bow to the student council’s demands.

According to The College Fix, the student government seeks to eliminate parietals, or the rules prohibiting students from staying overnight in dorms of the opposite sex. In an internal email obtained by the media outlet, the removal of parietals is cited as a goal for the year.

Back in 2017, according to the Huffington Post, student Anne Jarret, who served as Boyle’s director of gender relations, asserted that parietals “seem[] to enforce heteronormativity and ignore that LGBTQ+ students exist here.” Parietals, said Jarrett, serve only to prevent sex between men and women but ignores homosexual activity.

In an email response to LifeSiteNews, noted attorney William Dempsey wrote: "This LGBT and transgender-fueled assault ‘heteronormativity’ is simply an undisguised campaign to normalize homosexual sex and gender swaps. It is an epidemic on university campuses but should find no home at Notre Dame since it collides squarely with Church teaching.”

Dempsey is the chairman of the Sycamore Trust, which is a group of Notre Dame alumni who seek a return to Catholic values at their alma mater. He wrote, “The student proposals are so extreme that it seems unlikely they will find traction, but the administration has consistently given the silent treatment to the Church’s declaration that homosexual sex is ‘intrinsically disordered,’ so one cannot be sure.”

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