***Update***: According to the “Let Dominic Speak” Facebook page, the principal spoke to students today:
Denny Starnes, principal of Sacred Heart Academy addressed the senior class today. According to the students, he took the time to apologize for his mistake in cancelling Dominic as the keynote speaker at commencement, and ensured them that he would do whatever it takes, even putting his job on the line, in order to fix the situation. He also said that he was initially acting in a way that he thought was best for the school and most in line with church practices, but now has realized that his actions were wrong. The decision, according to Starnes, is now entirely in the Bishop’s hands. The students claimed he made statements in support of gay rights and of our protest of intolerance. They have said that they are grateful for the courage exhibited by their principal in admitting his mistake and working to make a change.
Now we must turn our attention on Bishop Joseph Cistone and ask him also to change his mind and apologize for his homophobic and intolerant behavior.
When Sacred Heart Academy in Mount Pleasant, Michigan was looking for a speaker for their graduation ceremonies, they thought of Dominic Sheahan-Stahl. He graduated from the school, his brother was a senior — it seemed like a good fit. So they invited him.
Dominic, excited about the opportunity, knew exactly what he would talk about:
“My speech was about putting faith over fear,” he says of the his speech’s content, “I wanted the students at Sacred Heart Academy to know that life should be lived with the goal of achieving their dreams, and knowing that fear is something created in ourselves and can be the biggest setback.”
Seems inspirational enough, right?
Then, a couple of days ago, the school rescinded the invitation.
Because it turned out Dominic was gay. (I guess Jesus condemned gay people speaking in public or something like that…?)
“My mother kept asking why and what does his sexual orientation have to do with giving a graduation speech,” Sheahan-Stahl says. “She cried and didn’t sleep at all that night. My poor brother, whose graduation it is, couldn’t even be in the room when my mom had to tell me. Even my sister cried herself to sleep that night.”
Here’s the kicker:
Even more surprising, and perhaps more telling, is that this move to keep a gay person from even speaking at their school came a day after the same principal delivered an anti-bullying speech to the student body.
So what does the school have to say about all this?
Nothing. They haven’t issued a public statement yet, though they say one is coming. But what else is new? Church officials making gay people feel unwelcome and wanted is something they do all too well.
At least the students seem to be overwhelmingly opposed to their actions. A Facebook group called “Let Dominic Speak” was created a couple of days ago and is at nearly 5,000 Likes already. A graduate of the school started a petition in support of Dominic. Current and former students are inundating local media and Twitter in support of him.
It’s just another example of how out of touch the Catholic Church is with younger people — and another self-inflicted nail in their coffin. When a Church pulls shit like this, is it any wonder kids come to their senses and leave the Church as they get older?
How can any Catholic school claim to teach you about love and compassion when they refuse to let someone they invited to speak at graduation after finding out he’s gay?
If the school ends up letting him speak, I hope Dominic changes his topic. He should speak about how you should do the right thing even when your faith compels you to do otherwise.
(Thanks to Robin for the link)