Alum Challenges DeSales' Sex Orientation Stance

Online petition claims DeSales University denied student-run LGBT/Pride clubs to form numerous times, challenges university to live up to motto "be who you are and be that well"

An online petition currently circulating hopes that will reconsider the decision to not allow a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) student-run organization on campus.

DeSales alumnus Tim Gallagher posted a petition on Change.org early Monday in response to repeated denials by university officials to allow an LGBT student group to form on campus. The story first broke on local blog Lehigh Valley with Love.

The petition reads: 

Each student at DeSales University is told repeatedly to "be who you are and be that well" per the direction of St. Francis de Sales. This is a wonderful motto but currently excludes LGBT students and alumni. The university has repeatedly denied requests to allow a Gay Straight Alliance on campus and has even turned down an application for a PRIDE DSU club which sought to celebrate diversity on campus. Meanwhile, 16 Catholic Colleges in Pennsylvania have officially recognized pro-homosexual clubs, LGBTQ Resource Centers, or student organizations according to a recent poll. 

IT IS TIME that we stand up for our fellow bulldogs and allow each person to live out the Salesian motto and "Be who you are and be that well" without threat of persecution or harassment.


The lack of an LGBT organization sends a message to prospective students, says Equality PA president (and Lehigh Valley resident) Adrian Shanker. "Having a student-run [LGBT] organization on campus is certainly an indicator as to whether the campus will be an affirming and welcoming place for students," said Shanker. "It's certainly not a surprise that the campus lacks a student group, but it does send a signal to those considering the college."

DeSales also lacks a sexual orientation clause in its non-discrimination policy.

Other colleges in the Lehigh Valley --, , and -- all have student-run LGBT organizations, as well as non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation. Kutztown University and also have LGBT groups on campus and non-discrimination clauses. has a non-discrimination clause. 

"It sends the message that 'we don't want LGBT students here,'" said Shanker. "DeSales may have to right to, and may be legally allowed to discriminate, but why would they want to?"

DeSales publications department spokeswoman Laura Zielinski told Patch that no one was available to comment at this time. Gallagher, who was honored his senior year with the McShea Leadership Award, "I Love DeSales, it's an amazing university with fabulous faculty, staff, and students," said Gallagher. "But it's time for DeSales to live up to it's motto and help students thrive." 

Patch will have more from this interview in

What do you think? Tell us in the comments! 


Scott Diehl August 02, 2012 at 11:48 AM
I support the University on this issue. Read the Bible!!!
Shannon Peitzer August 02, 2012 at 11:59 AM
Oh? The Bible says it's wrong to be gay? Wonderful. Show me where it says that in the constitution. Alternatively, show me where Jesus said, "Go forth and discriminate."
Grace August 02, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Who cares? You are paying for the education, not their beliefs. This is very similar to the Chick-fil-A issue. Freedom of speech, they are a christian school and it's no secret. They are allowed to have and follow their beliefs just like any other institution is allowed to have theirs. They don't criticize you for not changing to what they believe, and you shouldn't criticize them. Respect differences.
James Halleman August 02, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Northampton Community College itself under it's accessibiiity statement specifically protects sexual orientation but not gender identity. Evidence of this is clearly in it's non credit catalog course offerings.
Scarlett Shadeaux August 02, 2012 at 02:42 PM
If the school weren't a private Catholic school, I would say it is the student's freedom to start this group. However, these students chose a Catholic school and I think the school is right in refusing this group to be established. The school isn't discriminating or saying that their students cannot believe what they want to. The school is saying they are a Catholic institution and they are not going to go against what the Catholic church teaches. The situation is black and white, there's no gray area here.
Sean August 02, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Twisting St. Francis de Sales's words around against the University is not just erroneous, but spiteful as well. Students who apply to DeSales know that it's a Catholic college. Amidst the overwhelming hypocrisy within religious institutions, it's refreshing to see one persevering in their beliefs. I challenge someone to point to a specific incident of "persecution" and "harassment" against an LGBTQ student on DeSales's campus. The Salesian tradition teaches and advocates kindness and tolerance. Instead of sexual orientation related discrimination, I see hate and intolerance against Catholicism and Christianity as a whole. It saddens me.
weaver August 02, 2012 at 03:39 PM
I understand that this is a Catholic University. I don't understand why it would cause any problem to have such a group on campus. College is a time when many young people realize and accept their sexual identity. They are simply asking to form a group...it is not anything salacious. Bigotry against homosexuals, who, regardless of what many people insist, did not CHOOSE to be homosexual, is the last acceptable form of bigotry. How is this different from a college not permitting an African American group to form, 50 years ago? To do so in this day and age would cause an immediate outcry...my hope is that in a few years the reaction to homosexual issues will be the same.
weaver August 02, 2012 at 03:48 PM
I see a lot of people taking this position, also with the whole Chick Fil A fiasco. I don't understand it. Who is trying to withold any rights from you or any other Christian? Should there be an LGBT group formed on the campus, does that somehow infringe on your rights or religious beliefs? I can't see how...you simply would not join that group or attend any of its events. Doesn't seem that difficult to me. The Chick Fil A thing is similar to me - people saying how all the CEO is doing is stating his opinion, which he has a right to. Sure, he has a right to his opinion, but the issue goes far beyond that - they are contributing millions of dollars to anti-gay rights groups. Obviously, that is much more than an opinion at that point. Not exactly on topic, but I felt it was a good parallel to draw.
Marshall Scott August 02, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Read the bible. We go to a School based on what we find in the Bible; the word of God. Read it and you'll see gay lesbian and all that stuff is wrong. You dont like it you can leave
weaver August 02, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Ok...so we should live according to a book written thousands of years ago? This is a book that contains numerous antiquated ideas that do not make sense in today's society.
slyfox August 02, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Seems as though we are still living in the stone age where people cannot be accepted as they are, as they want to be. What is the harm? Why does it matter so greatly that someone is different ? How can our children learn tolerance and acceptance if we cannot do it ourselves. How sad for our society. As Weaver stated above, we have not come very far as a people. United? Not even close.
imagar August 02, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I understand that homosexuals did not choose to be sol, however if the issue really is equality, let's just look at reality here. To be equal is to be the same, right? A man attracted to a man is simply different than a man attracted to a woman. That's fine. So that can't be the same... what needs to be the same is the equal right to happiness. When it really comes down to it, happiness IS ultimately a choice. That choice is not being denied in any way by the also choice driven right of the school to be true to its beliefs.
George August 02, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I don't have a problem with that logic so long as it's followed completely. It bugs me that we pick and choose what's important and then run with it. For example, the Bible clearly approves of slavery, especially foreign-born slaves. I would be less irritated by the Bible thumping about homosexuality if those who espouse those beliefs would be just as passionate about all of the other things the Bible proscribes for a healthy life. What's up with the cherry-picking of sins? From Leviticus: “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
Kelly Dean August 02, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I one hundred percent agree with George. People cannot use the Bible as an argument if we don't argue for everything the Bible says ( men are better then women, men are allowed to cheat on their wives). I attend Saint Joes and we openly accept everyone for being who they are. Ultimately people are afraid of what they don't know. Well whether or not it's a movement that is continually progressing. I don't understand how allowing these people to be themselves and be happy, how that will affect your life.
slyfox August 02, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Nicely said.
Ann Marie August 02, 2012 at 08:07 PM
George, do you follow every law made by man to the letter every day? How and why do you expect a Christian to do what you do not do. Christians admit they don't and look at is as a sin and ask for forgiveness from God. Also,alot or most of what is written in the Old Testament, such as Leviticus, is countermanded by the New Testament and as Christians today we are not to follow it.
Mary Anne Looby August 02, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Embrace diversity, no matter what your faith!
Jess August 03, 2012 at 12:22 PM
It's incredibly sad to hear that people aren't allowed to be themselves. Just because someone else's beliefs are not the same as your own, does not give anyone the right to deny them the opportunity to embrace them. What gives you that right to say what is and is not or what should and should not.. Let people be who they want to be.
George August 03, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Ann Marie, Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. The day will come when we will understand better what was meant when Jesus said, "Judge not lest ye be judged" and "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." It's a complicated issue. Our collective views have been evolving on homosexuality as they have with issues related to race and nationality. More and more, hearts are opening to one another in understanding and in love. The day will come for all of us when we understand ourselves and one another more clearly and completely than we do today. Compassion and cooperation will increase. You, as I, will come to find that our faith in ourselves, one another, and the almighty force that binds the whole universe together will increase in strength and magnitude. There will be much gratefulness for the journey and struggles we are undertaking to become better, stronger, more loving versions of ourselves.
George August 03, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Our dialog is important. Religion and faith evolve over time. We have come from a time not long ago when people used the Bible to justify slavery, which ended because another group of people used the Bible to justify equality and fairness. The Bible is such a wonderful work of art and logic that it can be used to justify all manner of viewpoints. It is wonderful that it is available to each and every one of us to study and take to heart. It is a very personal journey that we share with one another along the way. May your day be blessed as you go along your way.
Grace August 03, 2012 at 03:53 PM
What gives the alumni the right to say they can't be who they are as a catholic school supporting what they believe? Just because the school believes differently than him, doesn't mean he shouldn't embrace all the good they have to offer. The situation goes both ways, people need to stop thinking their belief is more important than someone else's and just accept one another for who they are and the diversity they bring to the world.
Stan Zukowski August 03, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I gotta throw good ol' Thomas Jefferson in here (who was NOT a Christian, by the way). "All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression."
Stew August 03, 2012 at 11:10 PM
To all the bible does address homosexuality: 1st Timothy: 8 Now we know that rthe law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the slaw is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers,2 liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to tsound3 doctrine, 11 in accordance with uthe gospel of the glory of vthe blessed God wwith which I have been entrusted. The bible also states the following: "To hate the sin and not the sinner." If you believe that homosexuality is wrong then shouldn't you embrace the person as a person. I agree that DeSales has the right to deny any club which conflicts with it view points. It is that simple, whether I liked it or not. As an Alumni there were things that I accepted as a part of going to college there.
Stew August 03, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Of course there were many things I didn't agree with or like.
George August 03, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Oh course the Bible addresses homosexuality, though Jesus never said anything about it. 1 Timothy has been historically attributed to the Apostle Paul; however, most modern scholars now agree that this book of the Bible was not written by Paul, but some unknown person, instead. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Epistle_to_Timothy
Tom August 04, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Most people are ignorant of the Church's teaching on human sexuality, which is based on the consistent teachings of Jesus, the Bible, the apostles and their successors. If you disagree with the Church's teachings can you at least tolerate people and organizations that don't hold your beliefs? Interestingly Fr. John F. Harvey, O.S.F.S the founder of Courage, a Catholic organization the ministers to people with same sex attractions, lived and taught at DeSales. He also authored several books on homosexuality. If you wish to understand the church's teach I suggest you read his book “Homosexuality and the Catholic Church, Clear Answers to Difficult Questions”. This book was published in 2007 shortly before Fr. Harvey past away Dec. 27th 2010.


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