Sex-Ed Banned in Public School Buildings Owned by the ‘Cash-Strapped’ Catholic Church

Children and teens in New York are being forced off-campus for education about sexual health and HIV prevention at the insistence of the Catholic Church. How can the Church get away with that? Well, it helps that they own the buildings in which the public schools are housed:

As a result of a longstanding but little-known agreement between church and city officials, dozens of city schools that lease church-owned buildings must take students off site for sex education.

So the church is using its ownership of the buildings to dictate what public school students can and cannot learn on campus. To my surprise, it turns out that the interference in public education has been going on for several years:

The city has rented space for public schools from the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn since 2005. The church’s no-sex-ed policy has always been in place.

The relationship gives the city access to needed classrooms and provides revenue for the cash-strapped Catholic Church at a time when parochial school enrollment is declining.

Two phrases you’ve never heard paired together (for good reason) until just now: “cash-strapped” and “Catholic Church.”

*Cue a single tear*

Interior of St. Patricks Cathedral, owned by the ‘cash-strapped’ Catholic Church. (NYC Architecture)

Using tax-payer money to rent school buildings from the church to the tune of $27,000,000 a year is really the least the city can do for such a humble and deprived organization.

It’s unacceptable that the Catholic Church can dictate what public school students can learn. What if they demanded that Gay-Straight Alliances or Secular Students Alliances be banished from buildings they owned? What if they found teaching about the Crusades, or the forcible conversion of the native peoples of the Americas distasteful? Why should sex-ed be given lesser status and where does the madness stop?

The city of New York should demand a rental deal that lacks ideological requirements. We’ve seen what happens when the Catholic Church takes over hospitals and we can’t allow them to be public school landlords as well. I hear New York has a lot of very good lawyers. Hire some to see if they can’t get out of this ridiculous requirement. It’s no surprise that school districts are in dire economic times as well, which probably explains their partnership with the churches, but the solution to finding space for schools should not come at the expense of the children and their education.

The Church cannot be trusted to do what’s best for kids and this is only the latest example.

About Claudia

I'm a lifelong atheist and a molecular biologist with a passion for science and a passionate opposition to its enemies.

  • Lucilius

    Well, you don’t want kids learning about sex IN Catholic Church buildings. We’ve seen how that works out.

  • Canadian Atheist, eh!

    Oops — you’ve got (I think) a missed word there at the end, unless you really do think the solution should come at the expense of the children. ;^)

    • I_Claudia

      Corrected! Thanks for the heads up!

  • Andrew B.

    Leave it to religion to make a virtue out the enforced ignorance of students regarding life-saving medical information. So much for that “pro-life” bullshit.

  • Highlander

    This just goes to show just how much property is owned by the RCC. Cash strapped, maybe, wealth strapped, certainly not. That said, I don’t know how many commercial property would be willing to rent classroom space for just the school year, so perhaps this is the only viable option for the city. Again, as a tennant, the city should be able to negotiate a contract that does not have curriculum restrictions built in.

    • Pseudonym

      This just goes to show just how much property is owned by the RCC. Cash strapped, maybe, wealth strapped, certainly not.

      St Patrick’s Cathedral isn’t worth as much as you might think. It’s a listed building (National Historic Landmark), which makes it essentially useless to a commercial property developer.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1078695333 David Kopp

        They hold public school classes in St. Patrick’s Cathedral?

  • kaydenpat

    So can NY stop operating public schools in Catholic-owned buildings? Hope so because the Catholic church never misses a chance to push its belief system on the public.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    >It’s no surprise that school districts are in dire economic times as well, which probably explains their partnership with the churches, but the solution to finding space for schools should come at the expense of the children and their education.
    >but the solution to finding space for schools should come at the expense of the children and their education.
    >should come at the expense of the children and their education.
    >should

    wait wut?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I know nothing for certain about the NYC government, so New Yorkers, please correct me if my impressions are wrong, and accept my apologies:

    I have gotten the impression that there are a heck of a lot of Catholics who work for the city government. If so, could there be a kind of religious “good ol’ boy” system that favors the RCC to be awarded contracts like this, and that disfavors competing providers from having a chance to rent suitable buildings to the city for schools?

    I’ve also gotten the impression that there is quite a bit of corruption in the city bureaucracy, so religion aside, could bribes, graft, and kickbacks be the reason this has gone on for several years?

    • JohnnieCanuck

      $27 million a year. Lots of room for corruption there, on both sides.

      I wonder if the church paid any taxes back when they were used as parochial schools. Of course they would have to pay property taxes to the city as well as income tax on the rental income now, wouldn’t they? Is that nearby bridge still for sale?

  • kielc

    Oh, the poor, persecuted Christians…

  • Florg

    What a confusing scenario. You can’t learn about HIV and Sex Ed, homosexuality is wrong, but the priest can come by and strum your banjo.

    Truly Catholics must be the champions in hurdles in the mental olympics.

  • indorri

    This is deplorable, but is the parish out of its rights to enforce this requirement? Landlords can set various arbitrary and bizarre terms of lease which aren’t necessarily illegal and I don’t think “don’t teach this in our building” would be one of those that are.

    • TheBlackCat13

      Tenants can also refuse to lease from landlords that set unreasonable requirements.

      Further, landlords cannot set any lease terms they want. In most places there are limits to what they can require, and minimum standards they must meet in their services.

    • baal

      It’d take a look at the NY State laws but I have to think that if the school started teaching sex ed tomorrow, the RCC would not have a legal case to stand on.

  • Baby_Raptor

    But they’re so pro-life! How could you ever think that it’s about anything but the ever-so-special new life that’s created when a guy orgasms?

    Nope. It’s about controlling women. This is just more proof. If they truly gave half a damn about “life,” they’d be doing everything they can to STOP abortion, not encourage it.

  • Tom

    They’re sure not cash strapped, but I guess a lot of the Catholic church’s wealth is tied up in fixed assets. I gather that the new pope doesn’t live in the palatial apartment traditionally reserved for his position, but chose something more modest. That might seem pious, except that it’s not as if they’ve donated the colossal great thing to charity for the homeless to sleep in, or stripped the gilt off and sold it or anything. The organisation he heads still actually owns and maintains that apartment, even though he’s not using it, so nobody actually benefits, and he doesn’t actually become materially any less wealthy, even if it makes him feel like it.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    The $27-million per year is a business transaction which is NOT religious in nature, and thus the Church should be paying TAXES on all of that money.

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    Given that this interferes with the educational mission, a priority should be placed on finding a new lease that explicitly specifies the landlord’s only recourse to any objection to curriculum dictated or approved by the New York State Regents is to decline to renew the lease at its end.

    If NYC can’t find a suitable willing landlord… well, one of the very traditional uses of the power of forced sale by state condemnation is to obtain land for building of new schools. That’s always expensive as hell in Brooklyn, but it seems NYC is going to have to bite the bullet sooner or later on that.

  • Beth Doyle

    Some parent needs to call FFRF, this can not be legal.


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