Office of Multicultural Affairs Extends Training for LGBT Inclusion to Fordham Community


Courtesy of Fordham

Published: September 22, 2010

The Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) at Fordham University has officially announced its inclusion of the new training program, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) and Ally Network of Support, with an invitation to all students, faculty and staff at the University to participate.

Sofia Bautista Pertuz, assistant dean and director of OMA, has taken on the initiative to include programming and training for members of the LGBT community, and this year marks the official start since its pilot in Spring 2009.

“There isn’t enough dialogue around differences in identity and additional support was needed,” Bautista Pertuz said.

The LGBT and Ally Network of Support was developed after OMA  conducted research on peer and aspirant institutions that had similar programs. “This was an area in which there was a gap for Fordham,” Bautista Pertuz said. Once finalized, the training was piloted at both campuses with about 40 participants in Spring 2010 and is now officially being launched for Fall 2010 as a part of regular programming with OMA.

“It makes sense. It just falls into place at OMA because we regularly discuss and engage in dialogue about diversity and inclusion in our campus community and this is not any different,” Bautista Pertuz said.

The LGBT and Ally Network of Support, as its mission states, is designed to be “a network open to all Fordham University community members who would like to demonstrate their active commitment to creating a campus environment that is open and welcoming to all LGBT students and their allies, in keeping with the Jesuit tenet of “cura personalis” (care for the whole person) and the principle that all persons should be treated with dignity and respect which is explicit in Catholic teaching.”

“You don’t have to change your own anything,” Bautista Pertuz said. “You need to be open to learn and know that there are others that have different identities than your own.”

The program consists of a two-session training at both Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) and Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) in order for participants to be considered part of the network. Participants then are considered to be sufficiently versed in promoting understanding, acceptance and appreciation within their environment.

Among the goals of the training, it will help students “prepare for a global society,” Bautista Pertuz said. “As stated in the University mission, we have an increasing multicultural and multinational society. If you can’t understand other people’s different identities and be open to learning, you can’t be that global student.”

Fordham community members who have completed the program will serve as a resource for others who face challenges affecting LGBT persons, provide additional information for campus resource opportunities and “add to the conversation,” according to Bautista Pertuz.

“You might not think LGBT is a culture, but it is,” Bautista Pertuz said. “It is beyond behavior. It is a different way of feeling, a different way of viewing the world, a different way of being. It is an identity not usually covered.”

Bautista Pertuz said OMA was created in 2007 with years of planning “to reach as many students as possible to engage in the conversation of diversity and inclusion.”

OMA’s mission states that it “upholds the University’s mission to honor and revere the dignity and uniqueness of each person, in keeping with the Jesuit and Catholic fundamentals of faith, hope and love.”

“Some people might think that we’re not supposed to have this conversation because we’re a Jesuit and Catholic University,” Bautista Pertuz said. “But Fordham’s mission is to uphold Jesuit principles. If we’re talking about men and women for others and cura personalis, it just falls into place that encouraging our community to be welcoming and inclusive is a positive thing to do.”

Dan Drolet, FCLC ’12 and president of Rainbow Alliance said, “‘Everyone’s gay at Lincoln Center. We don’t have any problems with homophobia at FCLC. I hear comments like this frequently. But heterosexism is present at Lincoln Center, at Fordham, in our neighborhood and in our city.”

“The Network of Support is great because it empowers allies to be able to help the LGBT community,” Drolet said. “It… doesn’t give the answers, because there isn’t any one answer of how to be an ally. It challenges the way we think, act, and relate to others.”

Bautista Pertuz said, “Incoming and current students actually call me and ask if they’re going to be comfortable here and are they going to find a community that’s accepting. This is one of the initiatives that helps to create an environment that is welcoming and open. That’s what Fordham is. That’s who we are.”