Even when religious people try to do the right thing, their enemy is often their own faith.
In Ontario, Canada, the government is instituting anti-bullying legislation in schools — including Catholic ones.
The Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board answered this call by creating a “20-page equity blueprint… to help teachers tackle all kinds of discrimination, from race and religion to disability and sexual orientation.”
It looks pretty impressive (PDF) at the outset, talking about the problems of ableism, ageism, racism, sexism, etc. Homophobia, too. In fact, that particular page doesn’t look too bad. Nice job, Catholic school board!
But then you look closer…
That line, classifying homosexuality as “objectively disordered” came as a surprise to a lesbian couple whose children attend the school. They were expecting something that would, you know, actually prevent further bullying.
To [Ann] Tesluk, who has a son in Grade 3 and a daughter in Grade 6, such talk “creates an unsafe learning environment. We know gay students are being bullied to death.
“To teach that homosexuals are ‘disordered’ gives a negative connotation, and I worry that students who might feel they are gay are going to think there is something wrong with them; our school goes up to Grade 8,” said Tesluk.
“This catechism (church teaching) needs to be changed and I’d like to see that part of the brochure removed.”
The director of education said they just “misunderstood” the catechism:
… he said he understands why the word “disordered” is upsetting some parents, but said it is probably misunderstood.“I understand absolutely they’re offended by the phrase. It’s not my phrase though, I’m just quoting the Catholic catechism,” said [Greg] Reeves.
It’s the go-to phrase for religious people trying to get away with doing something they know is wrong: I know this is untrue and harmful, but my holy book says so!
The phrase isn’t misunderstood, either. In fact, if you look at the catechism in context, it’s very clear what the Church thinks about homosexuality:
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
No matter how hard the administrators try, the Church teachings are part of the problem, not the solution. If they’re bound to include them as justification, they won’t be able to put out a document like this one.
Tesluk will try to have that section removed at the next school board meeting on March 27th. If the board is serious about defending and protecting victims of harassment, they’ll remove the offensive portion.
(Thanks to Ibis3 for the link!)