October 31, 2011 at 9:21 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
$1 million gift for Georgetown gay center

Former National Football League Commissioner Paul J. Tagliabue (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Former NFL Commissioner Paul J. Tagliabue and his wife, Chandler Tagliabue, have donated $1 million to Georgetown University for the creation of a new program to assist LGBT students.

In a statement released on Oct. 26, the university said the gift will establish the Tagliabue Initiative for LGBT Life: Fostering Formation and Transformation, which will be overseen by Georgetown University’s LGBTQ Resource Center.

The LGBTQ Resource Center, the first such center at a Catholic university, opened on the Georgetown campus in 2008.

“The Center is inspired by Catholic and Jesuit principles of respect for the dignity of all and education of the whole person, and we are very pleased to support its services that provide a safe, inclusive and respectful environment for LGBTQ students and promote their acceptance in the entire campus community,” the Tagliabues said in the statement.

The $1 million gift for the LGBT student life initiative is part of an overall $5 million donation the Tagliabues made to Georgetown University that will fund other university programs such as undergraduate scholarships, including athletic scholarships.

Sivagami Shiva Subbaraman, director of Georgetown’s LGBTQ Resource Center, called the Tagliabues’ gift “exciting and wonderful news” and said it would have a beneficial impact on LGBT-related programs and centers at colleges across the country, especially other religious institutions.

“To have someone of Paul Tagliabue’s stature and reputation make this commitment is a huge validation and endorsement of the necessity, value, and importance of the work we do,” Subbaraman told the Blade. “Paul and Chan’s generosity – their courage and vision – sets an incredible example of the importance of our allies,” she said. “Given his stature in the world of athletics, this is even more powerful.”

Subbaraman said that similar to the LGBTQ Center’s current programs, the new initiative funded by the Tagliabues will operate under the supervision of the university’s Vice President of Student Affairs. She said the center’s work is carried out “consistent with, observant of, Jesuit values and principles of education” and in collaboration with the university’s Office of Mission and Ministry.

She said details of the new initiative will be worked out over the next several months but that she envisions “some form of a hybrid academic/student life program.”

In collaboration with their gay son, Drew Tagliabue, Paul and Chan Tagliabue have also been supportive of the organization Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), according to PFLAG officials. Liz Owen, communications director for PFLAG’s national office in Washington, said the Metro D.C. PFLAG chapter honored the Tagliabues in 2009 with its Spotlight Award recognizing their support for the group.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • I went to Georgetown in the late 1980s when we, the students, had to file a lawsuit to get a court to order the university to give us the right to have a school-funded gay group on main campus (& at the Georgetown University Law Center). We won that lawsuit because of the terms of Human Rights Act of the District of Columbia.
    My, how times have changed. My thanks to Mr. & Mrs. Tagliabue is beyond what words are capable to express. The benefits to current & future LGBTQ students at Georgetown (and benefits to Georgetown University’s unprecedented existing LGBTQ Resource Center) will, in the true meaning of Georgetown tradition & academic freedom, develop students of fine character who are comfortable with whom they are. These benefits will continue to build successful student experiences & careers for the university’s GLBTQ community–in the open, out & proud, without many of the fears & inhibitions some of their predecessors endured.

  • Let’s also not forget that the new Tagliabue LGBTQ Initiative & Georgetown’s existing LGBTQ Resource Center will save lives. For example, these organizations will discourage bullying, & other unwelcome acts at Georgetown, from physically or psychologically harming Georgetown’s GLBTQs — and others perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered.

  • well it is great job for maintaining equality and end stigma and discrimination

  • They should encourage student from international community as well.

  • What an incredible man and philanthropist..these days more should follow in his shoes. Having the pleasure of knowing Mr. Tagliabue it’s and honor to be in his presence.

  • Wonderful commitment.

  • You people are taking this gay thing way too serious. Calm down, calm down, calm down. Don’t you realize you are responsible for many false claims against Catholic priests just so you could be accepted in our Jesuit society.

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