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Fontbonne Academy alumnae issue statement, start Facebook group, to protest anti-gay firing

Posted by David Zimmerman February 2, 2014 08:31 AM


A group of alumnae from Fontbonne Academy in Milton have started a Facebook group “Ducks Against Discrimination (the ‘Ducks’ is the name the school uses for its athletic teams), in response to the news this week that the school had fired a food services worker (only 3 days after hiring him) upon finding out he is gay.

One alum, Christa D. Labouliere, Ph.D., has also penned an open letter to Boston Spirit to express her disappointment in Fontbonne. In the letter (which can be seen in its entirety below) Labouliers states that “hundreds of alumnae were appalled to learn of the alleged discriminative behavior of the current administration toward Mr. Matthew Barrett. Regardless of Catholic doctrine, everyone deserves the same basic human rights, and rescinding a job offer to a gay man who would not be in any sort of proselytizing role is not “religious freedom;” it is outright bigotry. We are saddened that FBA appears to have somehow regressed in their morality over the past 10-15 years, as some of our favorite and most influential faculty members were openly homosexual (even in the theology department!).”

After only 3 days the Facebook group has amassed more than 1,000 members.

Christa Labouliere’s letter:

When I attended FontbonneAcademy from 1996-2000, we were taught social justice, to be “women of integrity” and “courage” strong enough to stand up for what we believe. We “Fontbonne Ducks” took pride in the fact that Fontbonne followed the true meaning of Catholic and preached a message of inclusion to people from all walks of life. FBA was unique amongst similar Catholic institutions for their progressive stance that embraced openly LGBT faculty and students, and this accepting and respectful atmosphere helped formed students into the strong, capable, compassionate women we are today.

That is why hundreds of alumnae were appalled to learn of the alleged discriminative behavior of the current administration toward Mr. Matthew Barrett. Regardless of Catholic doctrine, everyone deserves the same basic human rights, and rescinding a job offer to a gay man who would not be in any sort of proselytizing role is not “religious freedom;” it is outright bigotry. We are saddened that FBA appears to have somehow regressed in their morality over the past 10-15 years, as some of our favorite and most influential faculty members were openly homosexual (even in the theology department!). We alumnae are disturbed to think of the message being sent to the impressionable minds currently attending FBA – that the future female leaders of tomorrow are being indoctrinated with hate rather than respect, being taught to close their eyes tighter rather than opening their hearts wider.

We were taught to do what was right even if it was unpopular. As such, there are many alumnae who want to stand and state proudly that we DO NOT support the actions of Fontbonne Academy’s administration. Blatant discrimination IS NOT indicative of the belief system of FBA’s alumnae, and does not represent us. We want the FBA administration and the world at large to know that these actions do not define us; they defy us. We have started “Ducks Against Discrimination,” a Facebook page that gained over 500 alumnae members in its first 12 hours and is currently over 1,000 members strong. Jesus preached a message of love, tolerance, and benevolence; we are disheartened that institutions that operate in His name cannot do the same.

Christa D. Labouliere, Ph.D

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Fontbonne Academy in Milton Sued for Anti-Gay Hiring Practices

Posted by David Zimmerman January 30, 2014 01:10 PM

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) today filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) against Fontbonne Academy, a religiously affiliated college preparatory school in Milton, MA, after the school terminated a man they had just hired as Food Services Director upon learning he was gay and married to another man.

Matt Barrett, a longtime food industry professional, was offered the position on July 9, 2013, after three interviews. Mr. Barrett accepted the offer the same day and gave notice at his previous job. After accepting the position, Mr. Barrett filled out the school’s required employment paperwork, including a form that required him to list an emergency contact and state that person’s relationship to him. Mr. Barrett gave a truthful answer and listed his husband, Ed Suplee.

The next day, Mr. Barrett was contacted by email and asked to come in for another meeting on July 12, 2013. At that meeting, he learned that the school would no longer employ him because he was gay and married to a man.

“If I’m planning and making meals for students, I’m not sure what my being gay has to do with the job,” said Mr. Barrett. “I’ve always done well in my work, and was excited about working at Fontbonne. All I did was fill out the form honestly.”

“Religiously affiliated entities do not have a free pass to do as they please in how they treat employees, particularly when it comes to our important laws against discrimination,” said Bennett Klein, GLAD Senior Attorney. “Our laws carefully balance the important values of religious liberty and non-discrimination. When Fontbonne Academy fired Matt from a job that has nothing to do with religion, they came down on the wrong side of the law.”

The complaint alleges that with its termination of Matt Barrett’s employment, Fontbonne Academy discriminated against him based on his sex and sexual orientation, and thus violated the Commonwealth’s non-discrimination law.

Mr. Barrett, who was born and raised in a Catholic family, and who lives in Dorchester with his husband, has worked in the food services industry for 20 years in positions of increasing responsibility, at restaurants, with corporate catering services, and in public schools.

Mr. Barrett is represented by GLAD attorneys Bennett Klein, Gary Buseck, and Janson Wu.

For all of today's top sotries from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

LGBTQ college fair coming to Boston

Posted by David Zimmerman October 7, 2013 10:22 AM

BAGLY and Campus Pride are helping LGBTQ students and their supporters make informed decisions about attending LGBTQ-Friendly colleges and universities. As this year's annual LGBT Friendly College Fair comes back to Boston, over 30 colleges and universities will be coming together while specifically catering to LGBTQ students and addressing their questions and concerns. This is a free event, and is open to all LGBTQ youth and young adults, allies, and families.

Grace Sterling Stowell, BAGLY's Executive Director says, "This college fair is an important opportunity for LGBTQ youth and young adults to get more information about safe and supportive learning environments. In addition, it sends a strong message to the LGBTQ communities that there are dedicated and safe spaces for them when they consider attending an institution of higher education."

“Accessibility to higher education for LGBT youth should be a number one priority. Research tells us that LGBT youth are at higher-risk when it comes to harassment and safety in secondary education, so we need to be sure that they find the right college for post-secondary education,” said Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of Campus Pride, “The colleges at this fair are actively providing services to LGBT students and want students who are out and part of the campus community.”

BAGLY is also providing FREE statewide transportation through The AGLY Network for those who need it.

University of Rhode Island among top 10 least lgbt friendly campuses

Posted by David Zimmerman August 8, 2013 09:29 AM

The annual list of most lgbt friendly and least lgbt friendly college campuses has been released by the Princeton Review. Not surprisingly the list of Top 20 most friendly lgbt campuses is well represented by New England colleges and universities. Boston’s own Emerson College took the top spot with Frankiln W Olin College of Engineering in Needham and Smith College in Northamptom also placing in the top 10.

One major surprise was the presence of the University of Rhode Island in the top 10 of least lgbt friendly campuses. On the heels of Rhode Island’s recent passage of marriage equality (which had bipartisan support in the state) URI’s rank of ninth in the least lgbt friendly list was a bit unexpected. URI was the only New England representative on the least friendly list.

According to the Princeton Review the rankings are based on questionnaire responses from 122,000 students throughout the country. The students are asked 80 questions about "their school's academics, administration, student body, and themselves."

Top 20 most lgbt friendly (New England rankings):

01. Emerson College (Boston, MA)
07. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (Needham, MA)
08. Smith College (Northampton, MA)
11. Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA)
12. Bennington College (Bennington, VT)
14. Yale University (New Haven, CT)
19. Marlboro College (Marlboro, VT)

Where are the gay animals on BBC?

Posted by Jim Lopata February 16, 2013 08:31 AM

Fowl play in the Galapagos (photo: James Lopata)

A British academic is accusing BBC nature host David Attenborough of ignoring homosexual animal behavior in his documentaries.

The UK news organization The Sun reports that University of East Anglia Professor Brett Mills:

claims Sir David’s BBC documentaries focus on family values in animals and shun “alternative interpretations”.

Sir David, 86, described male chimps hugging as “friendly affection”, while male sandpiper birds filmed circling each other were being “aggressive”.

Mills told UK media outlet The Telegraph:

"The central role in documentary stories of pairing, mating and raising offspring commonly rests on assumptions of heterosexuality within the animal kingdom.

"This is despite a wealth of scientific evidence which demonstrates that many non-human species have complex and changeable forms of sexual activity, with heterosexuality only one of many possible options.”

Both news outlets said that the BBC declined to comment.

Science proves 'it gets better' for gays

Posted by Jim Lopata February 5, 2013 05:01 PM

As if the more than 50,000 "It Gets Better" videos weren't enough to demonstrate to bullied LGBT teens that life improves — for the most part — after the acne years, a new scientific study proves the point with numbers.

From USAToday:

High school students who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual tend to face higher rates of bullying in school than their heterosexual peers. But a new study suggests that things get better for these young people, with harassment declining as they get older and leave school.

The improvements, however, are relative for gay and bisexual boys, who face a greater likelihood of being victimized than heterosexual peers.

The full article can be accessed here.

New England colleges excel in LGBT-friendliness

Posted by Jim Lopata November 10, 2012 09:44 AM

As high school seniors around the country are completing their admission applications and zeroing in on the colleges they hope to attend next fall, LGBT-friendliness has risen as a factor in the decision-making process.

To aid in the process, we are posting an article that ran in the September/October 2012 issue of Boston Spirit magazine that looks at the way campuses are rated on LGBT issues, with a focus on schools in the Northeast.

One of the most comprehensive surveys is the Campus Climate Index (CCI). Of the 35 schools with CCI public ratings in the New England area, 19 have a rating of 4.5 or 5 stars; meaning that, although area colleges only account for 10 percent of the total schools on the survey, they account for almost 20 percent of the highest ranked schools.

How Proud is Your College?

Boston Spirit takes a close look at universities’ LGBT-friendliness ratings

By Alan Tran

“I had some bad experiences at other schools that I visited,” said Cory Hernandez, a junior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), “At Hamilton College, I didn’t really feel comfortable being queer. And at Wabash College, I felt extremely uncomfortable since I heard ‘fag’ and ‘gay’ quite frequently, and other homophobic remarks.”

Then Hernandez visited MIT. “I went to MIT’s Campus Preview Weekend in April and saw the Rainbow Lounge and learned about their programs, the Living Pink Guide, G@MIT, and other things, and was sold at that time,” Hernandez explained in an e-mail to Boston Spirit.


14th Annual Reaching Out Conference Coming to Boston

Posted by David Zimmerman September 18, 2012 10:15 AM

The 14th annual 2012 Reaching Out conference of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) graduate business school students is coming to Boston. The conference, which attracts more than 1000 students and industry professionals representing all sectors of the business community, from finance and marketing to government and the arts, provides a unique opportunity for LGBT students to network with Fortune 500 companies, business leaders and recruiters from across the globe. The 3 day event will be held at the Seaport Hotel World Trade Center in Boston October 18 – 20, 2012.

This year’s theme, “Together, Building Community” illustrates the conference’s mission to provide an inclusive environment for prospective and current LGBT MBA students to connect with LGBT professionals in a way that fosters personal and professional growth. This year’s keynote speaker is Dan Savage, founder of the “It Gets Better Campaign” a project that empowers members of the community to share stories on how and why life gets better to help prevent suicide among LGBT youth.

According to Kevin Smith, President of the Reaching Out LGBT MBA conference Board of Directors, the conference is a major catalyst in shaping the future of LGBT MBA students in the workplace. “Our organization is dedicated to promoting the acceptance and visibility of LGBT businesspeople and their interests in the work environment,” said Smith. “Through workshops, networking, social events, and career expos, we hope to further strengthen the LGBT network and engage leaders in discussions that will help us achieve full equality both in the US and abroad. Equality in the workplace begins in the classroom.”

The only student run MBA conference of its kind in the country, the Reaching Out LGBT MBA conference is organized by current LGBT MBA students from MIT Sloan, Yale School of Management, and Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. At this year’s conference more than 80 companies will be represented including Google, Southwest, Amazon Inc., McKinsey & Company, American Express, Boston Consulting Group, Ernst & Young, Fidelity, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, Target, Toyota and Wells Fargo. In addition, many top business schools will be attending including Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, NYU Stern, Columbia, Yale and Georgetown. “There is no other opportunity or venue for LGBT MBA students to have this type of access to the top employers and graduate schools,” revealed Smith. “We are proud to be able to provide the resources and contacts that will help strengthen the vital LGBT business community.”

The Reaching Out LGBT MBA conference will be held October 18 – 20 at the Seaport Hotel World Trade Center, Boston, MA. For registration and information, visit

Top 25 LGBT-friendly campuses include UMass Amherst and UVM

Posted by Jim Lopata August 21, 2012 11:28 AM

Two New England universities — UMass Amherst and the University of Vermont — took top honors in the 2012 annual rankings of LGBT-friendly campuses released by Campus Pride in conjunction with HuffPost Gay Voices.

Campus Pride's LGBT-friendly Campus Climate Index rates institutions of higher education on a scale of 1 to 5 stars based on criteria set in eight categories: LGBT Policy Inclusion, Support & Institutional Commitment, Academic Life, Student Life, Housing & Residence Life, Campus Safety, Counseling & Health, and Recruitment and Retention Efforts.

Out of all schools that receive five stars, Campus Pride and HuffPost select 25 for special recognition.

Campuses in the top 25, like UMass Amherst and UVM, receive no further ranking, essentially tying them for first place.

Six schools from New England made the top grade of five stars.

Filling out the New England five-star ranks are: University of Maine, Farmington in Farmington, Maine; Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire; Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island; and Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts.

To look up scores for other schools, check out the Campus Climate Index website here.

About the author: Boston Spirit Magazine’s daily blog brings you all of the information you need on New England’s LGBT community. In addition to highlighting local and national LGBT news, we will also highlight local leaders from the worlds of business, politics, fashion and entertainment and keep you up-to-date on all the latest events and parties, hot spots for travel, shopping, dining, and more!

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