Although Gloria Steinem was scheduled to speak at Trinity College of Vermont as part of its “Peace and Justice” lecture series, she never got the chance to address the school’s approximately 900 students.
That’s because the Catholic women’s college withdrew its invitation for fear that Steinem, cofounder of Ms. magazine, would discuss the church’s positions on topics such as homosexuality and abortion, leading to a backlash in the community. “We are very much a Catholic institution. We support Catholic teachings,” Kathleen O’Dell-Thompson, a Trinity vice president, told the Associated Press. “We wanted the conversation to be about women, not about Catholicism and abortion.”
After the offer was rescinded, Trinity graduate Mary Sullivan, who was the college’s public relations director, quit her position in protest.
“I’m sorry that Trinity College has departed from its long tradition of academic freedom, but proud to be a symbol of that freedom in the eyes of Mary Sullivan,” Steinem says. “I’ve often spoken on Catholic campuses, to Catholic groups, and in churches, so I know very well that such censorship does not represent the views of most Catholics, who support both academic freedom and reproductive freedom.”