Conference Series to Address Sexual Diversity

Article excerpt

Four universities in the New York City area will collaborate this fall on a conference series to address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in the Roman Catholic church, looking at the spiritual, pastoral and legal aspects of sexual diversity.

Held at Fordham University, Columbia University's Union Theological Seminary, Yale Divinity School and Fairfield University, the "More Than A Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church" discussions will bring into the open a variety of perspectives on same-sex marriage, youth suicide, homosexuality in religious life and other issues, according to program organizer Paul Lakeland.

"In the Catholic tradition, in the Catholic church, there is the official teaching of the church, and there isn't really anything else, at least public," said Lakeland, a professor of Catholic Studies at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn. "Our agenda is to have as many voices as there are to be heard, heard."

The series opens Sept. 16, with a conference titled "Learning to Listen: Voices of Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church," held at Fordham's Lincoln Center Campus in New York. Next, on Oct. 1, Union Theological Seminary in New York will host "Pro-Queer Life: Youth Suicide Crisis, Catholic Education, and the Souls of LGBTQ [lesbian, gay bisexual, trans-gender and queer] People." On Oct. 22, Yale will host "Same-Sex Marriage and the Catholic Church: Voices from Law, Religion and the Pews" in New Haven, Conn., and on Oct. 29, Fairfield will host the final conference of the series, "The Care of Souls: Sexual Diversity, Celibacy, and Ministry."

Kelby Harrison, organizer of the conference at Union Theological Seminary, said the discussion will focus on how administrators of Catholic parochial schools can address the emotional and psychological well-being of students in light of the schools' "fairly condemning theology toward LGBTQ identities."

The program, which will include remarks by nationally-syndicated sex advice columnist Dan Savage (he founded the It Gets Better Project after hearing the stories of gay teens who committed suicide), came together after a string of teen suicides brought into focus LGBTQ awareness in public schools. …