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BC officials seek a compromise after blocking gay group's dance

Officials at Boston College hope to work out an agreement with a gay student group after preventing it from holding an AIDS benefit dance earlier this week.

The university denied a permit for the dance, scheduled for last Friday by the Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgendered Leadership Council, over fears that it would advocate homosexuality, in opposition to Catholic doctrine.

''We are engaged in ongoing discussions with [council] students to host a dance in January that's open to all students," said Jack Dunn, BC's spokesman. ''To build understanding you need to welcome the entire community. We remain hopeful that the GLC and other groups will be willing to do that."

Organizers said they worked with campus administrators to address BC's reservations about the fund-raiser, including changing the original name from The GLC Diversity Ball: A Night in Gay Paris, to AIDS Benefit Gala: A Celebration of Diversity.

Ultimately, however, the concessions did not alleviate the university's concerns.

The leadership council was created by the student government last spring. Dunn said BC acknowledged the group with the understanding that its members would work on education about homosexuality, not advocacy.

Sasha Westerman, the council's vice president, called the decision to postpone the dance ''discrimination."

''Other dances can be held on campus, but this one can't, because of the sexual orientation of the students attending and sponsoring it," the senior said.

The decision to prevent the dance goes against BC's promise to promote tolerance, Westerman said.

''Gay students are welcome and accepted at Boston College," said Dunn, the university spokesman, in an interview. ''But as a Catholic university, students understand that we cannot sanction an event that promotes a lifestyle that is in conflict with church teaching and the mission and heritage of Boston College."

RYAN HEFFERNAN

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