Statement on Pride Month and Commitment to the LGBTQ+ Community

As Pride Month draws to a close, we recognize that uplifting and honoring the LGBTQ+ community should not end when June does. Instead, we must continuously amplify the voices, experiences, and successes of individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ both within the Notre Dame community and in the world at large. We celebrate the immense progress that has been won toward safeguarding the civil rights of LGBTQ+ individuals, as is reflected in the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that bans employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. 

This progress, however, would have been impossible without the efforts of LGBTQ+ movement leaders and grassroots coalitions. Through their work, the United States has advanced from the inception of the first gay rights organization to the federal protection of same-sex marriage and the election of the first openly transgender candidate into state office.

We specifically commemorate the critical contributions of Black and non-Black transgender women of color in advancing the fight for equality. It is because of the activism of individuals such as Marsha P. Johnson—who encouraged those around her to fight for justice at the Stonewall riots 51 years ago—and Sylvia Rivera—who co-founded STAR with Johnson—that there now exists a Pride Month for us to celebrate. For their work, we are eternally grateful. It is the obligation of the Notre Dame community and the world beyond to extend these women’s quest for human rights by continuing to pursue social, economic, and civil equality not only for the LGBTQ+ community, but for Black and non-Black POC communities as well. 

We celebrate the extraordinary work that PrismND does to create a more inclusive campus culture for students who identify as LGBTQ+. In heightening the visibility of LGBTQ+ individuals on campus and hosting programming that fosters a sense of community and solidarity between LGBTQ+ students, PrismND welcomes all students at Notre Dame. Moreover, we commend their emphasis on intersectionality evidenced in their Black Lives Matter statement released on June 12. As they stated, “PrismND recognizes an additional obligation to take action in light of the intersectional nature of Black and queer identities.” We commit to working hand in hand with PrismND throughout the coming year to advocate for an end to direct, structural, and cultural violence against Black and queer people and to foster an environment of inclusion on our campus. 

As a Catholic institution of higher learning, we remain committed to uplifting every member of our family. Our faith instructs us to respect the human dignity of each person and to condemn any form of harassment. As the Spirit of Inclusion states, it is incumbent upon us to build a community where “none are strangers and all may flourish.” As a Student Government, we are devoted to this fight for justice and cultivating an environment where all can thrive. Here are some ways our Department of Gender Relations, led by Meredith Wilson, is or will be engaging in this battle:

  • We will continue to advocate for the ensured legal protection of members of the LGBTQ+ community against discriminatory harassment and discrimination by fighting for their inclusion in the university’s Discriminatory Harrassment Clause and Non-Discrimination Clause. 
  • In the 2018 Campus Climate Survey, 9% percent of survey respondents identified themselves as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. However, when asked if they feel a sense of belonging at Notre Dame, 21% of transgender or nonbinary students said that they strongly disagree, and 13% said they somewhat disagree. Additionally, when asked if they would encourage a person similar to them to attend Notre Dame, 21% of transgender or nonbinary students said they definitely would not, and 17% said they probably would not. As a campus community, we must implement more policies and programming that promote the inclusion of transgender and nonbinary students. Furthermore, we will advocate for public access to the Campus Climate Survey so that Notre Dame is held to a higher standard of accountability by the public for its inclusion efforts. 
  • Many first year students arrive on campus without knowledge of places and programs specifically dedicated to LGBTQ+ students, and they are forced to do the research on their own before they can get involved. In an effort to welcome all first years to campus with open arms, we will disseminate resources for LGBTQ+ students to the entire first year class upon their arrival, so that they may have easy and immediate access. 
  • We will continue to foster a relationship with the Gender Relations Center and pursue partnerships with them on a variety of events and initiatives. 
  • We will explore additional avenues with the University Counseling Center to support LGBTQ+ students.

The following resources may be useful to LGBTQ+ students and their allies:

  • The LGBTQ Center, South Bend IN (https://www.thelgbtqcenter.org/)
    • Check out specifically their COVID-19 tab for information about virtual discussion groups that you can become involved with—many of which are intersectional.
  • The Trevor Project (https://www.thetrevorproject.org/)
    • For help in a crisis, consider utilizing TrevorLifeline (1-866-488-7386)
    • To network with other LGBTQ+ individuals under 25 years old, explore the social networking platform TrevorSpace
  • Gender Relations Center LGBTQ and Allies Page (http://grc.nd.edu/category/lgbtq)
    • Check out the LGBTQ Discussion Group and LGBTQ Peer Mentor Program tabs
  • Transgender Resource, Education, and Outreach Services (TREES, Inc.) http://www.webetrees.org
    • South Bend-based organization that strives to improve transgender educational resources in underserved communities 

Pride Month is so much more than a parade and a few rainbow flags. It is a time for listening and learning; it is a time to put in the work to make our world a safer place and celebrate the milestones that have been reached thus far in this endeavor. At Notre Dame, this starts with critical reflection of the ways we can do better, empathetic dialogue and fierce allyship with members of our family who belong to the LGBTQ+ community, and direct action that uplifts the dignity of all. We cannot rest until our campus is a place where all are truly welcome. 

Meredith Wilson
Director of Gender Relations

Rachel Ingal
Student Body President

Sarah Galbenski
Student Body Vice President 

Aaron Benavides
Student Government Chief of Staff

Matt Sahd
PrismND President

Aaron Moyer
PrismND Co-Vice President

Matthew Bisner
PrismND Co-Vice President

Claire Sison
PrismND Treasurer

Molly Doerfler
PrismND Secretary

Gabe McKenna
PrismND Historian