Great news for Notre Dame's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender student body: officials have announced plans for university-recognized LGBT student organization.
The South Bend Tribune reports that the group was announced as part of a "comprehensive pastoral plan" that includes more support and services for LGBT students and allies. That university-wide plan also includes an array of initiatives based on the University of Notre Dame's Catholic mission, the publication notes.
Though not a club or an advocacy group, the organization will reportedly be open to any student. "Here at Notre Dame, a club is actually in a sense a temporary structure,” Erin Hoffmann Harding, vice president for Student Affairs, told The Observer. “It continues and does programming at the interest of the club itself. So our organizations have more permanence and more stature.”
Harding went on to note: "The comprehensiveness of this not only being about the organization is a very important element to the entire thing because of the education, because of the awareness, because of the support and interaction with other University offices, we think this is a plan that we believe and hope will be much more than about one organization."
The Observer also points out that the move follows what is described as "a decades-long push" by students members for official recognition of a gay-straight alliance one of the nation’s most prominent Catholic campuses. Other students pointed to the fact that while LGBT students and faculty are permitted at Notre Dame, no legal protection for them is provided.
"This is definitely a civil rights issue," student Nathan Lamp told the South Bend Tribune in March. "There needs to be a solution."
Earlier this year, a group of Notre Dame students put together an "It Needs To Get Better" video in support of LGBT students.
"The University has repeatedly denied recognizing a gay-straight alliance 15 times now," HuffPost Gay Voices blogger Shane L. Windmeyer wrote. "These denials in club recognition and campus policy date back to before 1995, when students started citing concerns of discrimination, harassment, and fear for personal safety on campus."