The Ivy Coach Daily

April 24, 2024

LGBTQ+ Life at Georgetown University: Past, Present, and Beyond

Georgetown University’s Healy Hall is featured from the east at sunset.

In recent years, Georgetown University has made major strides in the acceptance of LGBTQ+ students on campus. Georgetown was ranked as one of the top “Religious Schools Living Up to LGBTQ Values of Inclusion” by Campus Pride and Best Colleges in 2021, and LGBTQ+ students make up a significant portion of campus. The Georgetown Voice, Georgetown’s student-run news magazine, surveyed the student body in 2022 and found that more than 35% of undergraduates identify as non-straight. However, an examination of archival reporting reveals the contentious history of the fight for queer acceptance at Georgetown, and many students agree that the school’s administration has not gone far enough to create a safe and accessible campus.

A History of Fighting for LGBTQ+ Acceptance at Georgetown

LGBTQ Histories at Georgetown is an online archive curated by the GU LGBTQ Resource Center. LGBTQ Histories details the long-fought battle by LGBTQ+ students for the right to take up space at Georgetown. In 1980, a coalition of law and undergraduate students sued the university for refusing to recognize an LGBTQ+ student group. After eight years of legal battles, which nearly made their way to the Supreme Court, Georgetown heeded a court mandate to pledge equality for gay students. In 2007, following national scrutiny in the wake of a series of LGBTQ+ hate crimes on campus, Georgetown opened the LGBTQ resource center, which has since expanded its programming.

How LGBTQ+ Students Spend Their Time at Georgetown

Today, LGBTQ+ Hoyas can join a variety of student groups, including GU Pride (a pan-LGBTQ+ student organization) and Haus of Hoya (for LGBTQ+ students of color). While most of the parties and social gatherings for queer students on campus are only informally associated with recognized student organizations, events like the Coming Out Day festival (which takes place in the midst of OUTober, Georgetown’s celebration of LGBTQ History Month), and an annual production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, have become widely adored traditions.

In April 2023, The Georgetown Voice explored “queer joy” through interviews with eleven undergraduates. As they put it, “queer students have also built vibrant informal spaces: charcuteries on the lawn, music-sharing, or queer-centered friend groups. Remaking institutions that might not be explicitly queer — like theater — into especially queer-positive environments has been, for some, uniquely validating.” Queer joy remains a strong force on a campus set in one of America’s most LGBTQ-friendly cities. 

How LGBTQ+ Life Intersects with Georgetown’s Jesuit Values

As a Jesuit Catholic institution with a significant LGBTQ+ cohort in the student body, Georgetown has attempted to create an accepting environment for its students guided by Jesuit principles. The GU LGBTQ Resource Center states that the Jesuit values that inform its mission include “cura personalis, Academic Excellence, Educating the Whole Person, Faith & Justice, People for Others, Interreligious Understanding, and Community in Diversity.” Many students would agree that there is no inherent contradiction between supporting all students and leading with faith.

However, some students have pointed out that Georgetown’s sex-segregated housing system, which makes no consistent accommodation for gender nonconforming and trans students, nor gauges a prospective roommate’s tolerance of LGBTQ+ people prior to housing, is incompatible with its commitment to LGBTQ+ equality. In an October 2022 editorial published by The Georgetown Voice, the magazine’s editorial board called for comprehensive gender inclusive housing and gender accessibility training for residential assistants in undergraduate dorms. 

Gender Inclusive Housing Could be on Georgetown’s Horizon

When it comes to gender-inclusive housing, the Georgetown administration has recently chosen to leave the issue with the Hoyas. On April 11, 2024, a Georgetown University Student Association referendum on gender inclusive housing opened for voting. The effort had until April 13th to draw the participation of at least 25% of the student body and pass with a simple majority. A safer, more inclusive future could lie ahead for some of Georgetown’s LGBTQ+ students.

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