Diversity Director shares University’s initiative for “LGBTQ” issues

In its employee training programs, Notre Dame has emphasized supporting people who identify as “LGBTQ.” Initiatives such as required diversity training for all staff, workshops at prominent campus conferences, and the funding of LGBTQ-affirming faculty groups comprise this effort. Eric Love, the director for staff diversity and inclusion, shared in an interview with the Rover that this is part of “a Catholic ethic — to treat each human being with dignity and respect.”

Love joined Notre Dame in 2014, after working in a similar role at Indiana University. According to the Indiana Daily Student, Love did not seek out the Notre Dame position, but was personally approached by University officials, encouraged to apply for the job, and given a 70% salary increase over his IU position — a marker of our administration’s confidence in his work and outlook. He is not Catholic, but “has no problem believing in God and being an ally [supporter of LGBT community], because it is about love.”

Love oversees the “diversity training” requirement for all Notre Dame staff. This requirement consists of several workshops, the first of which takes place during onboarding orientation for new hires. This one focuses, according to Love, on “setting the tone on how we treat each other at a Catholic institution: that we will treat each other with human dignity and respect, no matter who you are, where you are from, your race, ethnicity, gender, even sexuality.”

Another component is a full-day workshop for managers, supervisors, and hiring managers called “Multicultural Competencies / Hiring Game Changers,” which focuses on “cultural competency, microaggressions, and benefits of diversity.” Love noted that he usually brings in “a speaker that will do some cultural presentation” for this workshop.

One of these invited speakers was Julian Kevon Glover, who focused on “educating managers and hiring managers about LGBTQ idendities.” Glover, a featured speaker on several occasions, “investigates how Black, Latinx, and Afrolatinx queer people, specifically transwomen … survive/thrive in a world hellbent on their annihilation.” His academic work includes “She Ate My Ass and My Pussy All Night”, and is featured on TheWitchGoddess.com, a blog about “divination,” “the conjure,” and “sacred sexuality,” among other things. 

Asked about whether inviting Glover might be in tension with Notre Dame’s Catholic mission, Love noted that he is “really comfortable bringing Julian [Glover] as a speaker.” He continued:

“He gave presentations for us on LGBTQ+ identities. We have people who are transgender on campus, we have people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual—and who knows what else—on campus, and so we think it is important to learn a little bit about them so we can treat them with dignity and respect … Absolutely, we’re a Catholic institution; we follow biblical teachings, Catholic Doctrine, but I feel like a major premise of Catholic Doctrine is to treat each individual with human dignity and respect.”

Glover’s presentations on “LGBTQ+ identities” were required for all staff at Notre Dame, as part of their diversity training. 

He was also invited by SPECTRUM, an employee resource group that “focusing on providing a safe space for LGBTQ & Ally employees,” which is funded by Notre Dame’s human resources department. There, he taught the group about ballroom culture, an LGBT subculture featuring drag, sexualized dancing, crossdressing, and competing for prizes. This presentation for SPECTRUM was optional for staff, but was financially supported by Notre Dame’s Human Resources department. 

Eric Love stressed that the mandatory presentations on LGBTQ identities are “not a way of promoting LGBTQ lifestyles.” The goal, Love said, “is to teach us about the identities so we are better able to work with them.” 

In addition to coordinating the diversity training sessions required for staff, Love also organized September’s university-sponsored Diversity and Inclusion Conference, which, in part, introduced staff to the “concerns LGBTQ students face at Notre Dame.” In a workshop entitled, “Allyship in Action,” faculty, staff, and students were taught about how to support the myriad of identities possible within an anthropology that separates gender identity, gender expression, sex (as “assigned at birth”), sexual orientation, and emotional orientation. The following “Gender Unicorn” graphic was used as a guide:

This talk was given by Sara Agostinelli, who argued that it was precisely because of Notre Dame’s Catholic identity that presenting the anthropology outlined in “The Gender Unicorn” was necessary. “We do this as a Catholic institution, [as part of] upholding our Catholic mission,” Agostinelli said.

As Director for Staff Diversity and Inclusion, Love will continue to emphasize that Notre Dame’s “mission is to be a force of good in the world, and we need to know the world in order to be a force of good in it, and we feel that by having more diverse staff on campus, that could help us be a better force for good.”

Nicolas Abouchedid is a junior studying in the Program of Liberal Studies, with minors in philosophy and Chinese. He is originally from, and one day hopes to return to, Caracas, Venezuela. He can be reached at nabouche@nd.edu.