In which we deal with a delicate subject

A reader writes:

I have a problem regarding how to what to say when certain topics come up at work. I am a public school teacher working at a residential psychiatric facility. Due to the environment my students are in, the subject of masturbation and homosexuality comes up frequently amongst the teachers. Our students spend most of their time around peers of the same sex, and many of them have been abused in the past. This leads to many of the students having disordered views of sex and sexual relationships. Homosexual relationships and masturbation, therefore, can be quit common on the residential side of the facility. The facility does frown on many of these actions and has a system in place to discourage “sexual acting out.” Students have informed me that public masturbation and physical relationships between students is punished. On the other hand, other staff members have stated that in the past masturbation was allowed in the shower or in bed. I do not specifically know what the present state of response is though. We as teachers are frequently told when students are punished for sexually acting out and also hear the students talk about relationships. When the topic of masturbation and homosexual relationships amongst the students comes up between teachers, how should I respond? The other teachers are of the opinion that sexual orientation is just an aspect of expressing yourself and any criticism of homosexual behavior is archaic. Other teachers have made comments like, “what are we, living in the 1700’s?”  and, “why are they so homophobic.” I agree with the Church’s teaching on sexuality and marriage, but when in the public square it is difficult to express those opinions. What is the best way to state that masturbation and homosexual actions are disordered actions and the punishment is not mere bigotry?

Are there any resources that might help in explaining Catholic teaching when it is brought up in a workplace environment?

In addition, it disheartens me that one of the most vocal people attends Mass at the same parish as I do.

Perhaps this may help. However, what I would really recommend is that you talk to your pastor or somebody with actual pastoral training.  The internet is a bad place to go for sensitive, informed pastoral council.  It’s the agora, not the sanctuary, and if somebody can find a way to stick a shiv between your ribs or inflict maximum cruelty on the most well-meaning person, they will. Avoid it like the plague for dealing with sensitive emotional, psychological, or pastoral issues.

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