SmackDown: Should a Lesbian's Child be Kicked Out of Catholic School?

Filed under: Opinions

Catholic School is No Place for Kids With Gay Parents.


by Rachel Campos-Duffy

The decision by the Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Boulder, Colo. and the Archdiocese of Denver not to re-enroll the preschool child of two lesbian mothers is one that protects the rights of private schools and the families they serve.

As a Catholic school parent myself, I expect my school to stand up for the right to an authentic alternative to secular, public education. After all, that's why we're making financial and personal sacrifices to send our kids to Catholic school.

A private school, especially a religious private school, has a very different mission than a public school. In addition to academic excellence, the staff and faculty of a Catholic school is also charged with the religious and doctrinal formation of its students. Its job is to make seamless the values and moral teachings taught at church, home and school; its reputation and marketability, in this case, to Catholic families, depends on its "Catholic identity" or as some call it, its "Catholic culture."

The Archdiocese of Denver's position when it comes to the children of openly homosexual couples is that, "to allow children in these circumstances to continue in our school would be a cause of confusion for the student in that what they are being taught in school conflicts with what they experience in the home."

From a Catholic perspective, that seems perfectly fair. A Catholic school that bends the rules or makes exceptions to long-established moral teachings puts its financial viability and its very existence in jeopardy. Why would parents set aside hard-earned after-tax dollars to get the same secular and morally-relativistic culture and curriculum offered at public schools?

Catholic "lite" just won't cut it and when Catholic schools give in to pressure from outside groups like the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and others who don't have a vested interest in the full mission of Catholic schools, parents figure that they might as well save the cash and send their kids to public school.

The Archdiocese says that it is not the school that has chosen to disqualify the child from enrollment, but rather the parents who are "living in open discord with Catholic teaching in areas of faith."

GLAAD calls this discriminatory and makes emotional and specious arguments for why a private institution should be forced to "accept" their worldview. They claim the school, and, by extension, the Catholic Church, are emotionally harming the child and singling him/her out for the actions of the parents.

However, when it comes to certain moral teachings -- particularly homosexuality -- the position of the Catholic Church is hardly a secret. There's no way these moms could not have known about it.

The question in my mind, then, is why did they enroll their child in Catholic preschool? What was their motivation? Given the Church's very public position on the matter how could they have expected a different outcome?

The Catholic school was doing its job. If the goal in enrolling their child was to make a political point, then maybe these moms weren't doing theirs.

Tom and I want to know where you stand. So, tell us, whose side are you on? Is the Archdiocese of Denver doing the right thing, or not?

If They Allow Divorced Families, Why Not Gay Families?


by Tom Henderson

What if this little girl had divorced parents? What if she was born out of wedlock? What if her father cheated on her mother? Would she still be banned from kindergarten at the Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Boulder, Colo.?

Somehow, I doubt it.

But neither can I assail the logic of the Archdiocese of Denver for excluding her because her parents are lesbians.

No one is forced to be Catholic. (Not anymore, anyway.) To be Catholic, means to accept certain points of church doctrine. One of them is that homosexuality is a sin. Holy Mother Church is quite specific about that. Archdiocese officials are well within their First-Amendment rights and perfectly in keeping with church teaching on homosexuality.

However, the church also teaches other things. It is equally explicit about divorce, adultery and fornication -- sins just as bad as homosexuality. Probably worse, when you think about it. They certainly pose greater risks to the traditional family. A lot more marriages disintegrate because of infidelity than from the people down the street being gay.

The little girl in Boulder attended preschool at Sacred Heart of Jesus this year. Archdiocese officials didn't do a thing about it because, well, they didn't know her mothers are lesbians. That's mostly because it's none of their business. When they found out, they made it their business -- telling the parents their daughter can finish out the year but can't enroll in preschool next fall.

So what would the Archdiocese do if church officials found out that other parents were leading less-than-godly lives under church doctrine? Probably nothing.

Any prying -- let alone any official action -- would be seen as an invasion of privacy. Same-sex couples can't hide their private lives as easy as cheating husbands. Does that make their privacy and personal lives less sacred?

Parents often say they choose private, religious schools to give their children a safe haven from the situational ethics and conditional morality of secular society. They want a place where right is right and wrong is wrong. No discussion. End of story. Amen.

However, the church in this instance cannot avoid conditional morality. By barring the child of lesbians, it is saying that church teachings apply only to homosexuality. All other sins, no matter their severity, get a free pass.

The church is also saying your private life is your own, unless you happen to be gay.

Sacred Heart of Christ's pastor, Father William Breslin, said his concern is for the little girl. "If a child of gay parents comes to our school, and we teach that gay marriage is against the will of God, then the child will think that we are saying their parents are bad," Breslin writes in his blog. "We don't want to put any child in that tough position."

What is the child of a divorced parents going to think about church teaching on divorce? For that matter, if the feelings of this little girl are important, what must she be feeling right now? This painful episode -- and it is painful for all concerned -- demonstrates the need for the Catholic church to evolve its thinking on homosexuality.

This is nothing radical. Church doctrine has often evolved to reflect broadening social awareness on issues ranging from war to slave trade. In fact, the Catholic church has a proud tradition of championing social justice and progress -- especially in the last hundred years.

It's sad that its record on gay rights is not so sterling. You can think homosexuality is a sin. You can talk about hating the sin and loving the sinner. But as long as the sinner is singled out for unique punishment, that message is always going to ring hollow.

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