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BRIGHTON —Boston College recently denied a request from a group of students who wanted to hold a dance for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students. BC’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Leadership Council, which is not officially recognized by the college’s administration, planned to hold the event on Dec. 9 to conclude AIDS Awareness Week.
“We informed them that as a Catholic university, we will not sanction an event that promotes a lifestyle that is in conflict with Church teaching,”said BC spokesman Jack Dunn.
Dunn said that a “handful”of students approached the administration on Oct. 21 to request a “gay-themed dance”but were informed a month later that they could not hold the event.
“We think a better solution is to host a dance that is open to all students,”added Dunn.
The event was open to all students, according to John Hellman, president of the GLBT Leadership Council. The dance would also provide gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students with a place where they would not feel judged, he said.
The Undergraduate Government of BC, UGBC, appointed a representative for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues five years ago. Last year more people were appointed and a council was formed.
During the last academic year the administration also added homosexuality to their anti-discrimination clause, a move that the GLBT Leadership Council advocated. Once that happened, the council “wanted to focus on community building,”said Hellman.
The organization reserved a room for the dance at the end of September, scheduling it to coincide with AIDS Awareness Week. The GLBT Leadership Council also planned to give $3 from every $10 ticket to the Boston Living Center, a non-profit organization serving the New England HIV/AIDS community, he said.
The event was first titled, “The GLC Diversity Ball: A Night in Gay Paris —A Safe Zone Event.”But when the administration approached the group with concerns, the name was changed to “AIDS Benefit Gala: A Celebration of Diversity —A Safe Zone Event,”he added.
Hellman said the university later cancelled the event despite this change.
Dunn said the administration had not approved the dance, which never received the required permit from the Office of the Dean for Student Development.
“They didn’t want a dance for gay people,”Hellman said. “People aren’t comfortable with gay people dancing, in general.”
Hellman said that when he danced with another male student at a BC dance, he felt that he was making a “political statement.”He said he wants to be able to dance without receiving “dirty looks.”
“Catholicism is turning away from what it’s supposed to be — love and acceptance,”he said. “As a Catholic, I’m offended by this.”
An editorial printed in The Heights, an independent student newspaper at BC, accused the university of following Church doctrine at the expense of “Jesuit ideals of compassion and understanding.”
“It’s naïvete on behalf of a handful of students who aren’t versed in theological issues,”responded Dunn. “We are a Catholic university. We draw no distinction between Jesuit and Catholic.”