Students protest after US campus newspaper apologises for anti-gay cartoon

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More than 100 students and staff members protested at an Indiana university yesterday to call for policies against discrimination.

Holding a banner reading “No home under the dome”, protesters at the Catholic Notre Dame University demanded that sexual orientation be included in the institutes’s non-discrimination clause.

The protest came two weeks after a managing editor on the student newspaper resigned over an anti-gay cartoon she had allowed to be published. It incurred the wrath of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and led to a published apology.

The activists, some wearing purple tape over their mouths to symbolise silence, delivered a letter to university president Fr John Jenkins to demand inclusion in the policy.

It read: “We have no legal protection at Notre Dame as lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. We are asking for the same protection from discrimination that every other minority group has on this campus.”

One organiser, Patrick Bears, told the Notre Dame Observer that students wanted to “send a message to the university that gay students and their allies don’t feel the current practices of the university are serving their needs”.

Students and around 40 staff members were barred from entering the main campus building and an assistant walked out to collect the letter from them.

A statement from the university, released after the protest, read: “Notre Dame is firmly committed to fostering a campus culture that welcomes all people, regardless of colour, gender, religion, sexual orientation or other distinctions.”

It mentioned the official university statement of “spirit of inclusion” and cited the Core Council for Gay and Lesbian Students, although it admitted improvement could be made.