The discussion panel was led by this year's pastoral intern, Elizabeth Musselman '97. The idea for a panel relating to religion and sexuality grew out of a meeting with the St. Olaf Gay, Lesbian, or Whatever! (GLOW!) group. Musselman decided that the discussion should be made public.
Musselman stressed that, while the term "panel" does not necessarily imply that "experts" will be speaking. "Everybody's an expert in their own story," she said.
Ann Staton '08 spoke on the panel as a Protestant, telling the story of her Presbyterian upbringing and her time at an Episcopal boarding school. Staton came out during high school, but kept it quiet because of strong anti-gay sentiments within her community.
"I knew I was going to face a lot of religious opposition," she said.
Matthias Hunt '07 spoke on the panel as a Catholic, saying that he was brought up with the belief that homosexuality was "not in God's plan."
While he admired the strong moral stance of the Catholic church, the Church's teachings contradicted what he believed.
"The biggest challenge has been finding acceptance from other Catholics for who I am, not who I could be," he said.
Katherine Oyster '08 spoke as an atheist on the panel, explaining that she was introduced to homosexuality early in her childhood.
"Sexuality should be respected, appreciated and celebrated," Oyster said, emphasizing that she does not speak for all atheists, as there are no core beliefs and everyone is free to make their own moral code.