The University of Notre Dame released a statement to Advocate.com in response to a Wednesday protest that urged the school to add sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy. The statement suggests that the Catholic university is unlikely to meet the demands of hundreds of protesters any time soon.
The Notre Dame response expresses confidence that the "Spirit of Inclusion," a statement formally adopted by the university in 1997, generally proves adequate to the task of achieving inclusion for LGBT students and staff --within the framework of Catholic teaching. Of particular interest is the unwillingness of the school to submit to the judgment of civil courts where the rights of a minority group are concerned.
"That statement was adopted based on the conclusion that we are unwilling to leave to civil courts the interpretation of University decisions that are made on the basis of Church teaching on sexual orientation and conduct," said the response.
Students and other Notre Dame community members, however, say that the Spirit of Inclusion falls short of an enforceable nondiscrimination policy and perpetuates a climate of bigotry that allowed an antigay cartoon to be published in the student newspaper earlier this month.