Redefine Purple Pride


Image credit: Lisa Nims

As an LGBTQ student at the University of Portland, I do not feel protected. I do not feel equal. I do not feel respected as an individual.


Because the University of Portland’s non-discrimination policy does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. Even though UP is in the heart of one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the nation, it continues to condone and promote unequal treatment of LGBTQ individuals.

Despite the efforts of student groups, like the Associated Students of University of Portland and the Gay Straight Partnership at UP, very little progress has been made on the front. In May of 2011, the University adopted a Statement of Inclusion, stating:

At the University of Portland, a Catholic University guided by the Congregation of Holy Cross, all dimensions of our communal life—teaching and learning, faith and formation, and service and leadership—are informed and transformed by prayer, scripture, and the Christian tradition. Our belief in the inherent dignity of each person is founded upon the social teaching of the Catholic Church. At the center of that teaching is the fundamental mandate that every person, regardless of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social or economic class, age, or disability shall be treated with respect and dignity.

Moreover, we seek to create and sustain an inclusive environment where all people are welcomed as children of God and valued as full members of our community. We condemn harassment of every kind, and assert that no one in our community should be subject to physical or verbal harassment or abuse. Further, no one shall be denied access to programs, services, and activities for any unlawful reason. We provide all who live, learn, and work at the University the opportunity to actively participate in a vibrant, diverse, intellectual community that offers a broad range of ideas and perspectives, so that we may all learn from one another.

While this statement includes sexual orientation, it holds no legal bearing and does not hold the University accountable for its actions towards students, faculty, and staff. It merely veils the fact that the University still reserves the right to discriminate against any University student, faculty, or staff member based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Statement, in my eyes, aims to wave shiny words like “dignity” and “respect” in the faces of the University’s critics to distract them from the obvious prejudice and inequity that still exists in campus classrooms, residence halls, and offices.

I understand that the University is a Holy Cross institution. I understand that Catholic Social Teachings accepts the homosexual person, but not the act. I have read the Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons. I know that the University, as a private Catholic institution, has no legal obligation to include sexual orientation and gender identity. But why should that stop them?

What kind of example are we setting when we only do the bare minimum of what is expected of us? What kind of example are we setting when we do what is easy instead of what is right? What kind of people are we when we sit back and allow injustice to happen around us when there is something that we can do about it?

Saying it is one thing. Acting is an entirely different ball game.

It’s time for things to change at the University of Portland. It’s time for the UP administration to move away from narrow-minded, prejudiced thinking and embrace all of its community members, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We’re all Pilots. And all Pilots are created equal.

The very least we could do is start talking about it. The conversation needs to start. The administration needs to listen and be open to answering questions and taking criticism. Yes,  it’s hard. But we’ve got to start somewhere.

UP, I hope you make your way to the right side of history.


Tags: ,

One Comment to “Redefine Purple Pride”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: