With over 5,400 undergraduate students living on campus, Georgetown has an obligation to provide spaces where students can feel comfortable and thrive emotionally and psychologically. Such a responsibility aligns with the university’s broader mission to “care for the whole person”.

But until last December, ten years after the university-sanctioned “Out for Change” campaign launched, students from the LGBTQ community did not have a such a space that was tailored to their needs, with a proposal for a Living Learning Community dedicated to this community rejected in 2016.

Now, with the “Crossroads: Gender and Sexuality” LLC set to launch in the 2018 – 2019 school year, the university has taken an important step towards making students from this group feel more accepted and supported at an institution whose religious affiliation might at first seem to conflict with their identity.

Yet, while this development is a step in the right direction, it should not be seen as the final step in creating an ideal environment for Hoyas belonging to this community.

Certainly, the decision to incorporate the LLC demonstrates that Georgetown believes that Jesuit values and the inclusion the LGBTQ community can exist in tandem.

Although conservative commentators like The Washington Times’ Cheryl Chumley have condemned Georgetown for “water[ing] down the gender definitions” by not aligning themselves with the gender binary, these narrow-minded arguments fail to see that Jesuit social teaching and respect for LGBTQ people do not have to be mutually exclusive. In the words of Fr. James Martin, S.J., “this is what God asks us to do: to love one another. That’s the most basic of commandments.”

The creation of an LLC further ensures that these students will be provided with the guidance to explore their identity and thrive as members of the Georgetown community.

Moreover, if the LLC’s residents engage in the kind of intersectional programming that other communities, including non-LLC spaces like La Casa Latina and The Black House, engage in, they would further be able to build stronger bonds with the student body and feel more integrated into the Georgetown community.

By doing so, the LLC would also undermine the argument that its creation advances a divisory agenda of identity politics.

Gender and sexuality are — on a practical level — crucial components of any individual’s identity. If students cannot feel comfortable in their daily surroundings, they cannot be expected to flourish in their academic, professional and social lives.

With this in mind, the university must continue to embrace the LGBTQ community by pursuing further policies that ensure students campus-wide can live with peers and in spaces that make them feel comfortable, safe and understood.

For instance, it should consider the expansion of gender-neutral bathrooms in academic buildings and living spaces. Moreover, in residence halls with community bathrooms, Resident Assistants should be instructed to designate at least a bathroom per floor as gender-neutral, to provide an alternative accessible to LGBTQ students.

The university should also remove the binary selection for gender identification that currently exists in StarRez, the portal through which all students apply for housing.

Although the university is committed to providing housing without regard for “gender identity or expression” or “sex [and] sexual orientation”could easily make students, freshmen in particular, feel alienated.

These two actions may seem simple, but they would be very significant to the purpose of in making Georgetown more inclusive, signaling to gender non-conforming students that they are welcome even before they set foot on Georgetown’s campus. As we applaud the creation of the LLC, we should nonetheless keep in mind that there is much more progress left to be achieved in ensuring a more welcoming community for all Hoyas.

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