Boston College has approved a proposed gay-straight student alliance after months of pushing by the student government and the campus newspaper. Student body president Adam Baker said he was notified of the decision Friday in a letter from the Reverend William Leahy, president of the Jesuit Catholic university.
"It's pretty amazing to see that people can stand up for what they believe in, fight for civil rights, and see something accomplished, not just in their lifetime but in a few months' time," Peter Marino, a Boston College senior and the director of gay and bisexual issues for the student government, told The Boston Globe.
The school's well-established organization for gay and bisexual students, known as LGBC, has been refused official recognition three times since its creation 30 years ago. University officials have accommodated the group, allowing it campus office space, but say they cannot endorse it because its mission conflicts with Catholic teachings. Last summer the Princeton Review's annual college guide ranked Boston College second in the nation for intolerance toward gays.
Baker said the proposal for a new gay-straight alliance emphasizes Jesuit ideas and morals, "caring for the whole person, making sure everyone is part of the community." "Recognition is the main focus," Baker said. "We thought it was very important to have a recognized group because it makes the group much more visible." As part of an agreement with Leahy, the alliance will offer support and education but avoid advocating for policy change, Baker said. He added that some details of the group's structure and mission still need to be worked out before the recognition is finalized. The LGBC will continue to exist separately from the gay-straight alliance.
The group's new name will likely be Alliance, excluding any reference to sexuality, a decision that students and school officials described as mutual. "This is a support group; the LGBC is an advocacy group," said university spokesman Jack Dunn, who described the role of the new alliance as "supportive rather than divisive."