The Chapel of Saint Mary’s College of California (Courtesy of Saint Mary’s College).

Dear Editors,

As a lesbian who is also a practicing Catholic and theology student, I think I am in a unique position to respond to the opinion articles circulating about contraception. I believe that the College is fully within its rights as a Catholic institution to limit access to contraceptives, and I agree with the author of the letter to the editor “Saint Mary’s has lost Catholic values” when she writes, “Rules in Catholicism are not there for pedantry’s sake, but for two purposes: to enable one to follow Catholicism and to lead one to heaven while improving society.” Where both authors are wrong, however, is in their false equivalency of contraception with PRIDE Club and The Bash. Using contraception is a distinct sexual behavior that is forbidden by the Church. But PRIDE is not a sex club—it’s a club for members of a marginalized group to find a safe space on campus and discuss issues pertaining to the community. The Bash is a performance like any other Cultural Night. Section 2358 of the Roman Catholic Catechism states, “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible…They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” Having resources such as PRIDE Club is treating people in the LGBT community with the dignity we deserve. Additionally, allowing these resources does not mean the College has “let the elephant step one foot through the door.” I have a hunch that if I approached the Mission and Ministry Center and said “I’m marrying a woman and we would like to have a Catholic wedding Mass in the school chapel,” the answer would be no. This is the type of comparison we should be making—specific actions that directly contradict Church teaching, not the existence of a club.

While a balance should be sought, I do not think it is right or fair for a student to willingly choose to attend a Catholic school, but then complain that the school is forcing Catholic rules upon them. It is true that there should be more interfaith cooperation and deep consideration of what it means to be Catholic in an increasingly secular and highly politicized time. But I would also like to point out that the Health and Wellness Center actually offers birth control pills for health concerns such as acne, irregular periods, and severe menstrual cramps, and they do tests for STIs and HIV/AIDS as well. All adults—a population of which college students are members—pay for their condoms. While I personally do not believe using contraception constitutes a moral evil, I understand the College’s decision.

As a gay person, it hurt and angered me to see my community used as a scapegoat or bargaining chip in an argument about contraception. It can be tempting to lump all social issues into one group, but that does not treat LGBT people fairly, nor does it allow nuance in one’s argument. Whether or not condoms should be given away at the health center or sold in the bookstore is not equivalent to my access to a space where I can discuss homophobia with people that have the same experiences. It is demeaning to a group of people that have faced bigotry—often at the hands of Catholic family members—to treat those two issues as if they are the same. It is possible for the College to follow Catholic teaching while both limiting access to contraception and allowing PRIDE Club.

Sincerely,

Amber Lotspeich

Class of 2018

This article has 2 comments

  1. When I was a student (2011-2015) they wouldn’t even TALK to me about changing the dose of my already prescribed OCPs that I had been taking since I was 12 for disordered uterine bleeding. And if they had opened the conversation to me, maybe I would have discovered earlier that I shouldn’t have been on BC pills at all, as I’m diabetic and have migraines with aura. I could have been switched to the mirena IUD earlier and avoided the possible complications (including stroke!) that the BC could have done to me. Thank God it didn’t, but they literally sent me out the door and wouldn’t even let me discuss the matter.

  2. Also, as a bisexual person, I agree with your other comments about the LGBT community. I actually did not come out until after I graduated because I didn’t feel comfortable in the general environment of the school. The existence of the PRIDE club is important.

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