St. Edward’s bars Equality Texas from campus

Chuck Smith

St. Edwards University in Austin has barred Equality Texas from participating in a volunteer fair on campus according to the Austin American-Statesman.

St. Edward’s is a Catholic school and is listed as gay-friendly on the New Ways Ministry website. New Ways Ministry is a Catholic organization that works for gay and lesbian equality.

The school said the group may not recruit students on campus because its supports marriage equality, which goes against church teachings. An organization called Pride was listed on school’s website, but all information about the group has been removed since the controversy began last week. The Austin newspaper quoted from the site before the information was removed:

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Straight Alliance, “seeks to end discrimination and violence directed toward the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered community.”

Chuck Smith, deputy director of Equality Texas, said he was surprised by school’s decision not to allow the group on campus.

“Historically, St. Edwards is viewed as welcoming and supportive,” he said.

But he said an Austin blog this week has been questioning whether the campus is becoming more conservative. He cited the recent trip to Texas by President Barack Obama. Organizers had wanted the president to speak on campus, but the school denied the request.

Smith said marriage equality is a topic that is being discussed on campus. He said students use Equality Texas as a resource and that he has personally done at least 25 interviews over the last few years with students doing research papers on the topic.

Smith said that on Tuesday, the school made a statement that although Equality Texas would not be allowed on campus, students who choose to volunteer with the organization are free to do so. Smith said the group uses student interns in four areas and some students get credit for their internships.

—  David Taffet