Catholic university suspends plans for screening of Harvey Milk film

Sean Penn as Harvey Milk in a scene from "Milk."

Sean Penn as Harvey Milk in a scene from "Milk."

Sean Penn as Harvey Milk in a scene from "Milk."

Sean Penn as Harvey Milk in a scene from “Milk.”

WASHINGTON — A student group at Catholic University postponed a screening of a movie about gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk after school officials raised questions about a flier linking the event to LGBT awareness month.

A chapter of the College Democrats had planned to screen “Milk,” starring Sean Penn, on Wednesday evening on the Northeast Washington campus. Milk, one of the nation’s first openly gay elected officials, was a San Francisco supervisor assassinated in 1978.

A rainbow-covered flier promoting the event urged students to attend the movie screening to “kick off LGBT awareness month with The CUA College Democrats!”

The morning of the event, a Catholic student affairs official who had seen the flier called to ask the College Democrats to postpone the event, The Washington Post reported.

University spokesman Victor Nakas said Thursday that the reference to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender awareness month took officials by surprise.

“For university administrators, it called into question whether the event had changed in nature from one of education to one of advocacy,” Nakas said in a statement.

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Nakas said the director of campus activities was working with the College Democrats to review the program request to ensure the program is presented as an educational event, as originally planned. The event should be rescheduled for later in October, Nakas said.

The College Democrats apologized in a statement for what it called a “miscommunication” about the event.

The group “had no intention of undermining the administration or holding an event that went against school policies,” they said. “We simply wanted to commemorate an important political event in American history.”

Catholicism teaches that gays and lesbians as individuals are fully accepted by God but that their sexual relationships are sinful.

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