‘You can have your opinion’ as long as it doesn’t ‘deny my existence’
It’s uncommon at Jesuit universities these days for someone to openly share a traditional Catholic viewpoint.
When it happened at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, the school was so spooked it called the Los Angeles Police Department.
Both the police and the university’s Bias Incident Response Team are investigating the stated belief that only two genders exist, male and female, as a hate crime.
A Loyola alumni office employee discussed her views on sexual orientation, which align with the Roman Catholic Church, with three students who were hanging up posters on the subject on April 14.
Cosette Carleo, one of the students involved, told The College Fix in a phone interview that the hate crime under investigation is “denying transgenderism.”
Carleo’s account agrees in part with an email by the husband of the employee with whom she tangled.
The employee told Carleo, who identifies as gender-neutral, that only two genders exist, male and female, according to the student. Carleo told The Fix that statement was the hate crime.
Carleo responded that “you can have your opinion” as long as it doesn’t “deny my existence.”
Promoting ‘PanSexual’ lifestyle
Outside reports of what happened differ. The Bias Incident Response Team said in a statement obtained by The Los Angeles Loyolan that the team, the campus Public Safety office and LAPD were “looking into the events of April 14 as reported by the three students.”
Carleo told The Loyolan that she and two other students noticed that Rainbow Week posters “had been removed and placed behind a garbage can.”
As they were reposting the signs, the employee “allegedly approached the students about LGBTQ+ issues and voiced her opinions on differing sexualities, expressing that anti-LGBTQ+ signs should be put up in place of the students’ sign.”
Carleo told The Loyolan the employee “told me that I was wrong and unnatural.” An opinion editor at The Loyolan also referred to the employee’s traditional Catholic view as a “hate crime” because it “disrespect[ed] someone else’s existence.”
In an April 16 email forwarded to California Catholic Daily, the employee’s husband blasted The Loyolan for a “distortion of facts” around the incident, saying his wife told him about the entire incident the same day it happened. (Neither has been publicly identified.)
The students were hanging up signs promoting “PanSexual” orientation, the husband wrote. After the employee discussed her traditional Catholic views on love and sexuality, it was the students who “suggested that Campus ministry place a sign promoting the Catholic idea of relationships next to their signs next year.”
The husband wrote that an alum who overheard his wife’s conversation with the students can back her account.
After discussing the signs, “everyone shook hands and my wife invited them into the Alumni office anytime they wanted to talk more,” the husband wrote. “The girls express out loud how much they enjoyed the opportunity to ‘dialogue’ on these subjects with my wife.”
The husband said his wife was suspended before anyone “got her side of the story” and the alum who witnessed the incident has not been interviewed either.
When the employee approached her supervisor “to protest the accuracy” of the Loyolan article, the supervisor “refused to talk to her,” the husband wrote.
Gonzales said the employee was “in the process of seeking legal counsel” to defend herself and hold LMU accountable for how she was “unfairly treated and summarily dismissed” before she could give her side.
Gonzales told The Fix in a Facebook message that he had composed a “witness declaration which has already been provided to the administration and the legal representative of my friend.”
On May 9, a spokesman for the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund told The Fix that the employee was being defended by Charles LiMandri, the same attorney defending indicted pro-life activist David Daleiden.
The account given by the LMU Gender-Sexuality Alliance does not square with what Carleo told The Fix.
The alliance’s press release said the verbal altercation happened between 9 a.m and noon, but Carleo said it happened between 12:30 and 1:15 p.m. Carleo said the students assumed the signs, which had been posted two days earlier, had been removed between 9 and noon.
Though the Bias Incident Response Team told The Loyolan there were two investigations – the sign removal and the employee’s conversation with the students – Carleo admitted they have no evidence that the employee removed the signs.
Carleo told The Fix that while voices were raised in the conversation, there was no actual yelling, and witnesses who considered intervening saw that “there was no danger.”
Anthony Garrison-Engbrecht, director of LMU’s LGBT Student Services, referred Fix inquiries to spokeswoman Celeste Durante. She told The Fix on April 19 that the investigation was ongoing.
The alumni office employee did not return requests for comment. An email to her drew an automatic “out of the office” reply.
Loyolan Assistant News Editor Kellie Chudzinksi, the author of the article, did not return multiple requests for an explanation of how she attempted to reach the employee.
UPDATE: The unidentified employee is being represented by the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund. Her friend Anthony Gonzales also stated that he has provided a witness declaration to the firm and the university administration.
CLARIFICATION: The university’s Bias Incident Response Team is the source of the statement that the Los Angeles Police Department is part of the investigation. The article has been amended to clarify this.
IMAGES: Ashley Marinaccio/Flickr, Mishigaki/Wikimedia Commons