Louisiana School Offers LGBT Minor… So Catholic Bishop Complains

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is the first school in the state to offer an LGBT minor.

Why offer it? Assistant coordinator for the minor, Christina Newgebaver, explained it this way:

“It will hopefully promote educated learning about LGBTs and not promote the stereotypes that are out there.”

In a state where LGBT individuals have no job protection, this is one way to make things better.

So, of course, Catholic Bishop Michael Jarrell of the Diocese of Lafayette wants to let everyone know (PDF) this is a horrible idea:

Bishop Michael Jarrell

Our concern is that the establishment of the LGBT minor gives the appearance of crossing the line from legitimate scientific inquiry into an advocacy of lifestyles discordant with human dignity integrally considered.

“Discordant with human dignity”… says the guy who works for an organization that protects pedophiles and won’t ordain women.

At least no one seems to be taking Jarrell seriously, as they shouldn’t. Hell, the school’s Director of Orientation is leading the charge to get a Chick-fil-A removed from campus because of its anti-equality stance.

If Catholics want to oppose progress, they have every right to do it. But everyone else should relegate them to the sidelines where they belong. They’re wasting every opportunity to become part of the conversation.

And where are the Catholics on that campus who disagree? Let’s hear some of them call out their Bishop for making them look like bigots.

(Thanks to Scott for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Kari Lynn

    My sister saw this and went nuts. She said “Why can they teach classes about the gays, but not have classes about the Bible?” I asked her if she was serious and pointed out that I’ve taken The Bible as Literature, as well as Intro to Christianity as part of my minor. People are dumb.

    • raerants

      “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” Seems an apt description of those who engage in such knee-jerk protestations.

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

      I’d have to ask if she was serious, too.  It’s almost like she has college and public school districts confused or something.  Glad you could at least point out that her anger was unjustified.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=47910251 Scott Broussard

      I’ve actually taken Bible as Literature as the only atheist in the class. That was a fun semester…

    • Stev84

      Take a look at the site of the program:
      http://soci-anth.louisiana.edu/minors/LGBT/LGBT%20Courses.html

      Among the elective courses you will find:
      * Anthropology of Religion
      * History of Religion
      * Topics in World Religions
      * Religion and Politics

      • 3lemenope

        Though I can’t imagine a conservative Christian actually being terribly happy at the curricular content of any of those classes. 

  • Florian Boyd

    Isn’t the bishop cute in his little magenta cape. And he’s worried about the LGBTs? Pffft. 

    • Ibis3

       Yeah, no worthwhile human being would be caught dead wearing magenta.

      • Diaconate

         The colors are symbols.  Do research.  It’s like the statue of liberty.  Everything you see symbolizes something about God and who the bishop is supposed to be.

  • Stev84

    Oh, there are politicians who take him seriously. Some Republican asshats complained too. But they did so on their own.

  • mikespeir

    He’s only worried about human dignity.  What’s so wrong about that?  ;-)

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    This isn’t a Catholic university, so I can’t fathom why this bishop felt compelled to release a public statement on the matter. Frankly, it’s none of his business.

    • Onamission5

      That was my first thought too.  Why the bishop thinks his opinion on the educational programs in a state university are any of his damn business, I don’t know. Maybe because it’s LA, which has a long history of confusing catholicism with government. This is the state that still uses parishes instead of counties, after all.

    • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani Sharmin

      Yeah, that’s similar to what I thought, too. Of course, he’s free to give his opinion, but I feel like bishops (and other religious leaders) have gotten so used to their opinion being considered extremely important that they act like they’re experts on every topic.

      In the ideal world, I would hope that LGBTQIA people would be included in regular classes (e.g. historical figures and events in history classes, authors in literature classes) but we don’t live in the ideal world, so I can think of this as a step in the right direction.

    • http://profiles.google.com/kelvins273 Kevin Smith

      “I can’t fathom why this bishop felt compelled to release a public statement on the matter.”

      For the same reason the U.S. Catholic Bishops felt compelled to investigate whether the Girl Scouts weren’t promoting proper Catholic teaching.

  • Lori F – MN

    Isn’t there something in the bible about taking the mote from your eye and then from your neighbors?

    Anyway bishop, nice dress and cape.

    • Ibis3

       Oh yeah, and no worthwhile human being would be caught dead in a dress either.

  • SJH

    Sounds to me like Louisiana is trying to indoctrinate students. There is a legitimate view point out there that homosexuality is not genetic nor healthy yet the state has taken a side and is choosing to push the other view point out. The fact that the state is taking a moral stance on this open issue and pushing their moral beliefs is dangerous. If the class taught the theories of homosexual behavior as a science then that would be a different story but they are stating that the purpose of the class is to change public opinion. Very problematic.  If it is a public University then treat it that way and keep it factual and scientific.

    Also, please don’t call people bigots when you do not know what is in their minds or hearts. Just because they disagree with you does not make them hateful. They may have the ability to love someone and at the same time have the opinion that some of their actions are unhealthy. After all, do you respect the bishop even though you think what he is doing is wrong or do you hate him for it? 

    • Onamission5

      There is not a legitimate viewpoint that homosexuality is unhealthy any more than there is a legitimate viewpoint that heterosexuality is unhealthy, but thanks for sharing your prejudice with us today.

      • SJH

        That may be up for debate but the point still stands. Should a public University be taking a moral stand and trying to change public opinion? Why not offer classes that explore homosexuality on a scientific level and discuss historical research and various theories; not try to change opinions. Getting a higher education should be about learning to think for yourself not indoctrinating students to believe what the state believes.

        • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani Sharmin

          Teaching students to think for themselves is important, and it doesn’t require pretending that ideas without any good reason or evidence are equal to the ideas that do have good evidence and reasons behind them.

        • Onamission5

          Yes, a public university should be taking a moral stand on right and wrong. It is a place of learning, a place for facts and discussion, a place to further advance society, and not a place in which bigotry of any sort should be allowed to go unquestioned. Universities  have historically been at the forefront of every civil rights movement. I see no reason why this should be any different.

        • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

          Yeah, they only “offer classes that explore homosexuality on a scientific level and discuss historical research and various theories” in those really obscure majors…like biology and psychology.

          Homosexuality has been accepted as a completely natural, healthy aspect of the human condition (and that of many higher mammals)  by mental health professionals in our country for almost 40 years.
           
          Get with the program.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          The school doesn’t appear to be taking a “moral stand” about anything. Homosexuality is a fact. Gay people exist, and influence society. A program that studies that is no different than a program in Holocaust studies (which many schools offer). In neither case is any moral stand being made.

        • amycas

           It’s not up for debate by any of the major psychological or psychiatric associations. When more than 95% of the professionals in one area agree, then it’s not controversial or up for debate. You’re acting like this is a case where both sides are equally valid, and that’s not the case.

    • Patterrssonn

      That’s the trouble with making bigoted statements or taking a position in support of bigotry, people mistake you for a bigot. Can’t think why.

    • Kelly

      My love life is not a political talking point, thanks though. 

    • Kelly

      I was going to just leave this be. But I can’t. 

      Where do you get off saying that me wanting to be married to the person I love is “unhealthy”? What’s unhealthy is knowing that if they get ill before me I can be kept from their bedside. I hope this class gets rid of people like you think that a relationship needs your approval. 

      • Stev84

        SHJ is a known troll here. This has been explained to him repeatedly, yet he continues to post the same nonsense.

    • Edmond

      People can disagree with me and it does not make them hateful.  But when they “disagree” that I should be free to live in the way that suits me, THEN they’re being hateful.

      It’s funny that people will start out claiming that homosexuality isn’t “healthy” (meaning STD’s), and yet they ALSO oppose the EDUCATION that would help reduce the spread of disease.  How do some people rationalize it when they claim that gays are immoral and dangerous, and yet refuse to allow any guidance or instruction on healthy living geared TOWARD gay people?  What kind of lives do you EXPECT gay people to live, when they’re DENIED education about themselves, and made so AFRAID to discuss the subject that they can’t even bring it up at HOME?

      If these people ACTUALLY have “good” in their hearts and minds, then they’ll realize that they aren’t being ASKED to agree or disagree with homosexuality, and they should STOP treating gay people as if we’re criminals who should remain hushed and hidden.

    • Dan

      @SJH: Cation, sarcasm ahead:

      I hear Louisiana also doesn’t teach the ‘legitimate’ view that interracial dating is a sin and that blackness was caused by the curse of Cain. They also seem to be OK with women having authority over a man, contrary to the Bible. And not only that but they don’t teach the controversy about the whether the Holocaust happened or not (and they don’t even use the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a truthful document in history class)!

      Enough with the sarcasm. Seriously SJH, that view of homosexuality is bigoted and we aren’t going to sugar-coat it. I don’t hate the Bishop, but I have absolutely no respect for him. I look at him just like I do racists or chauvinists, I’m sorry they are so twisted by those hateful views, even though they might be nice enough in other ways. (And I used to be a bigot when I was a Christian about this issue too, it’s not like people can’t change).   

    • Baby_Raptor

      There is no legitimate viewpoint that homosexuality isn’t genetic or healthy unless you’re purposely denying facts.

      If you choose to hold that as your belief based on religion, that does not make it legitimate for the rest of us. What’s taught to the populace at large has to be based on FACTS, not someone’s religious preferences. You know, freedom?

      If you ARE just choosing to deny reality, then…Please either stop, or only talk to others who buy into your bullshit. You’re not arguing in good faith, and you’re slandering people based on your chosen alternate reality. 

      • Ibis3

         There is no legitimate viewpoint that homosexuality isn’t genetic or healthy unless you’re purposely denying facts.

        Technically, this isn’t true. There is some evidence that at least some people are homosexual due, at least in part, to other congenital factors (I’m thinking about research that shows hormonal levels or maternal immune response during prenatal development may have some influence). It’s a complex phenomenon, with likely many possible contributing factors including genetics.*

        But since it isn’t inherently unhealthy in any way, what causes it is kinda irrelevant in terms of social acceptance and legal rights.

        *I’m not a biologist; this is just information I’ve come across.

        • http://profiles.google.com/kelvins273 Kevin Smith

          Of course, even if homosexuality is also influenced by congenital factors, those factors are still not under the individual’s control and thus have no bearing on the question of whether homosexuality is a choice.

          I realize you weren’t trying to imply such a thing, ibis, but I thought I’d comment in case somebody got confused.

        • amycas

           While it is true that homosexuality is shown to not technically be a choice, I really don’t like this line of argumentation. Technically, religion is a choice, but that doesn’t mean we’re allowed to ban certain religions. I think we should be saying,” Who cares if it’s a choice or not. Even if it is a choice, they have every right to make it freely without being persecuted.”

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

      “If the class taught the theories of homosexual behavior as a science then that would be a different story”
      Hahahaa riiiiiiightt…
      Because we all know that people like you just look at the unbiased, scientific facts. 

    • Donalbain

      Just because a douche in a dress says something, that doesnt make itva legitimate view

    • NickDB

      ”After all, do you respect the bishop even though you
      think what he is doing is wrong or do you hate him for it?”

      Neither, there are other options other than respect or hate. I don’t respect
      him as a bishop, as a human I’ll give him the same courtesy as any other
      person, but as a bishop? No I do not respect his title, why should I?

      There is a view point out there that the earth is flat too, so what? Just
      because a group of people think something does not make it worthy of respect or
      even worth the time it takes to say it. Note I remove the legitimate because
      both the viewpoint that the earth is flat and that homosexuality is neither
      genetic nor healthy ARE NOT legitimate view points, they belong in the same bin
      as white supremacy, holocaust denial and creationism

  • Renshia

    They don’t want to join the conversation they want to dictate it.

  • Dan

    I wonder if the good Bishop is against women’s studies and African-American study minors too?  If not, I’m sure people like him where when they were introduced.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Boy, he has some chutzpah, defining “dignity” for the rest of the world. Personally, I consider a gay couple in a committed relationship a hell of a lot more dignified than a celibate (maybe?) old guy dressed up in a silly costume wearing a model of a torture device around his neck.

    • http://profiles.google.com/kelvins273 Kevin Smith

       Increasingly, I think Catholic leaders’ use of the phrase “human dignity” is like conservatives’ use of the word “freedom”: it’s an empty buzzword that means whatever they want it to mean.

      • Piet

         Ah, add ‘spirituality’ to the list.

  • Georgina (in Jeans)

    Maybe he’s afraid that the students will learn what ‘cross-dressing’ really means? 

  • Rufrufruf

    Human dignity? Does that guy even realize he’s wearing a quilt for pants?

  • cg

    So far, ULL President Savoie has shown support for this minor despite growing political pressure.  PLEASE ask President Savoie  to continue his support – the Bishop may influence his community, but President Savoie is president of the University!  He is getting a lot of negativity about all this – valuable donors are threatening to stop and some people are even asking that the sociology professor who organized the minor be fired – and he’s getting flack from legislators and the state’s biggest (and highly influential) fundamentalist lobby group.

    It bears repeating:  forget the Bishop.  Instead, show support to ULL President Joel Savoie!  Please!

    Read more in The Independent of Lafayette, La and the Baton Rouge Advocate:
    http://www.theind.com/re/10969-somewhere-under-the-rainbeaux
    http://theadvocate.com/home/3399355-125/ull-ripped-overgay-studies-minor


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