An Optimistic Outlook for LGBT Students at Fordham University


While researching the LGBT climate at Fordham University, we noticed some parallels with our previous article about Brigham Young University. Both institutions are faith based, branching out of Roman Catholic and Mormon orders respectively. The beliefs behind these religions can be found in everything from code of conduct to specific activities or clubs offered on campus. It’s natural for prospective students who come from the LGBT community to be hesitant about attending a college that might challenge their sexual orientation. If our piece on Brigham Young exposed anything, it’s that gay rights no matter what strides have been made in the country at large are still very much an issue for young people at more conservative schools (yes, even when you’re ultimately the “customer” who’s paying for an experience and education). Before you read on, we’ll say this upfront: Fordham has room for growth when it comes to student rights. With that aside, they’re working towards a more visible and welcoming place for undergraduates. Perhaps that’s something you’d like to be a part of.

Unlike some schools that have an office and staff dedicated solely to LGBT issues and planning, the student base is represented through Fordham’s Office of Multicultural Affairs. They work with campus organizations and other departments on special programming. These programs are grounded in the Jesuit tenet of Cura Personalis, or a Latin phrase meaning care for the entire person. Broken down further, it means giving individualized attention to others with distinct respect for their unique circumstances and concerns. Discover some of the resources provided below:

  • The LGBT and Ally Network of Support: This five hour training course spread over two days seeks to unite all Fordham community members who are committed to creating a more open environment for LGBT students.
  • Groups like Pride ALLIANCE (Rose Hill campus) and Rainbow ALLIANCE (Lincoln Center campus) plan a variety of workshops and events that change from year to year.
  • PRISM Retreat: According to Fordham’s official website, this spiritual retreat allows students to “deepen their relationship with God.” It draws from Catholic Christian teachings, and helps students discover “what they believe and where they belong.” This LGBT focused retreat is the first of its kind for the university.

If you’re interested in Fordham University, check out our article on Campus Food at FU.

One alumnus says, “There is a small but visible population of [LGBT students]. This has existed since the 1980s when their organization was known as FLAG (Fordham Lesbians and Gays). I do not remember any incidents of discrimination.” Current students direct soon-to-be-Rams to the Facebook group for accepted students, where multiple pro LGBT conversations are happening. The general feeling that we got from this group is that students from all backgrounds liberal and conservative, gay and straight are cohabitating peacefully. Some are of the opinion that the Lincoln Center campus, as opposed to Rose Hill, has a more flourishing LGBT community. All in all, millennial students might not be as conservative as expected great news for anyone who values diversity.

In June of 2015, the Supreme Court declared same sex marriage legal in all 50 states. This led to a rather momentous event at Fordham. The university’s theology chairman, Dr. Patrick Hornbeck II, wed his same sex partner. This is unchartered territory for many Catholic institutions who haven’t had to adhere to any kind of legal rights. Hornbeck recently led a discussion at the school about sexuality and the Church, despite Pope Francis’ address several months ago, which ultimately condemned contemporary culture. Senior director of communications, Bobe Howe, had this to say: “While Catholic teachings do not support same sex marriage, we wish Professor Hornbeck and his spouse a rich life filled with many blessings on the occasion of their wedding in the Episcopal Church.

Professor Hornbeck is a member of the Fordham community, and like all University employees, students and alumni, is entitled to human dignity without regard to race, creed, gender and sexual orientation.” Unfortunately, other Christian academics have expressed their disapproval of hiring faculty like Hornbeck who aren’t faithful to Catholic education. It should be noted, though, that a very visible figure on campus felt safe enough to publically announce his marriage. Some backlash is to be expected, but the university as a whole has been supportive a strong sign of unity and progression.

Prospective undergraduates won’t find a robust group of LGBT peers and groups (like those found at MIT), but they will find a faith based school that’s at least trying to maintain their origins while staying current with human rights and cultural shifts.

Ryan James is a ’13 alumnus of Ohio University’s College of Arts & Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in writing and media. He currently works as a copywriter for a Fortune 500 Ecommerce corporation based in Columbus, OH.

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