Club seeks gay, straight unity

Ryan Murphy

A new organization called the Gay-Straight Coalition recently formed on campus. The group intends to educate the University community about issues regarding sexual orientation. Headed by Kathleen Byrnes, assistant vice president for Student Life, the coalition is geared toward upholding its motto of “Building Awareness, Acceptance and Appreciation” of homosexuality among both gay and straight members of the University community.

“Coalition implies working together and our group motto really summarizes what the coalition is all about,” Byrnes said. 

The organization began work early this semester in response to student interest surrounding sexual orientation and homosexuality on campus.

The group’s formation has been a joint effort between both students and administration, both of whom have expressed the importance of conversation about sexual orientation.

“Homosexuality tends not to be talked about,” Byrnes said. “Our role as a coalition is to educate the community as well as create a more welcoming environment for both gay and straight people at Villanova.”

The coalition is currently comprised of six administrators and faculty members and four students of varying sexual orientation. The organization hopes involvement will grow as more students become aware of the group’s fundamental purpose.

The coalition’s first major event, which will be held on April 10, will involve a moderated panel discussion featuring recent homosexual graduates of the University who have come out post graduation. They will discuss what life as a homosexual college student is like by reflecting on their own experiences.

The event will target both gay and straight audience members. A former on-campus organization, the Committee of Sexual Inclusivity, had similar goals to the newly formed coalition but only held programs sporadically. The Gay-Straight Coalition hopes to make these informative programs more frequent while upholding the principles and ideals of its predecessor.”Increasing awareness of the issue is a huge goal for us,” Byrnes said.

Byrnes also spoke about the possibility of creating a gay/straight peer group similar to the Peers Advocating Substance Safety and Sexual Offense Support peer education programs currently active in the counseling center of the Center for Health and Wellness Education.

“Sometimes people are under the misimpression that the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is a sin,” Byrnes said.  “Being gay is not a sin, according to the Church. The Church teaches love and respect for all of God’s creation.”

With the collaboration of students and administrators, the coalition plans to have conversations on campus to make the campus more welcoming for all members.

“We always preach that we are a community,” Byrnes said. “Community involves respecting one another. We want all the members of Villanova to feel respected and part of that community.”

For more information on the Gay-Straight Coalition, contact Kathleen Byrnes in 202 Dougherty Hall.