St. Mary’s College, which enrolls around 1,400 female students in Notre Dame, Indiana, opened an “LGBTQ+ Center” earlier this month.
The president of the Catholic college, Katie Conboy, who was wearing a rainbow-colored mask, said that the center “affirms the Catholic Church’s belief that all persons must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”
The space, which is meant to “create an inclusive and safe space for our LGBTQ+ community and Allies,” according to the college’s website, features a large work of art showcasing multicolored stripes intended to mirror the transgender and rainbow flags. “This space is perfect for small meetings, studying, or a quick break,” the college says.
Redgina Hill, the college’s vice president for inclusion and equity, said at the center’s ribbon-cutting ceremony: “A recent Saint Mary’s College student climate survey revealed that our LGBTQ students had more difficulties making friends and did not always feel welcome.”
“These findings,” she said, “pointed to a dire need for a safe space at Saint Mary’s for our LGBTQ+ students.”
“We can never know all the stories of our queer students, faculty and staff who have walked these halls since 1844,” Hill added. “What I do know is that not all have felt welcomed or safe to be their authentic selves.”
The college’s president welcomed Jacqueline Leskovec, the vice president of the college’s official group of LGBTQ alumni, to speak at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“When I first came out,” Leskovec said, “I was a student here at Saint Mary’s, and I could only dream of such a welcoming place for LGBTQIA students on campus.”
The center is located on the second floor of the student center.