GSAs in Ontario Catholic Schools Grow Students’ Faith, Build ‘Glory of God’

Gay-straight alliances are sometimes controversial in Catholic education. Yet five years after some Canadian legislators required schools to offer them if requested, Catholic schools in the province of Ontario are doing well on LGBT inclusion.

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Ontario’s Catholic educators marching at Pride

The Legislative Assembly of Ontario approved Bill 13, or the Accepting Schools Act, in 2012 against some Catholic leaders’ opposition. The Act requires that all schools funded by the government, which includes Canadian Catholic schools, must offer a student group titled “gay-straight alliance” if it is requested by students.

Those requests happened immediately, according to Danielle Desjardins-Koloff, the principal of Safe Schools, Equity, and Inclusion for the Windsor-Essex Catholic School Board. She commented to the National Catholic Reporter:

“‘To be honest, I was very excited, because I do believe that [the alliances] celebrate our human dignity and they recognize that these students have a unique place. . .We had allies where we didn’t know allies existed, where we hadn’t yet defined “ally.”‘”

Though she admitted that working in Catholic education is more difficult than secular settings, in the past five years Desjardins-Koloff has successfully trained every Windsor-Essex Catholic school on LGBT support, and all secondary schools have gay-straight alliances.  Achieving this goal has not meant watering down or sidelining Catholic identity:

“Desjardins-Koloff understands that some members of the community may fear that a gay-straight alliance would ‘devalue the traditional sense of a family,’ but she is quick to point to the convergence of a gay-straight alliance and Catholic ethos. She said she worked to ‘convince the community that these clubs weren’t about sex or sexuality. It was about sexual identity and orientation; it’s about identity and celebrating individuals’ authentic versions of themselves.’

‘Seeing Catholic social justice teaching providing ‘beautiful support,’ Desjardins-Koloff helps students design gay-straight alliance meetings that are ‘centered on Christ-like actions and discipleship.’ She thinks gay-straight alliances are helping to bring students back to a church where they felt they hadn’t belonged before.

“‘The first few times these kids don’t see themselves as part of the Catholic community at all, and they kinda laugh, and they don’t want to join hands and they don’t want to join in, and it’s by choice,’ said Desjardins-Koloff. ‘But by the end of the semester or even some by a month, we are praying together. Our hands are held and we’re in a circle and they feel that energy. They feel every bit a part of that community.'”

These efforts and similar ones throughout Ontario are bearing fruit beyond school walls. Catholic students have begun collaborating between schools and helping support the Catholic Student Leadership Team’s annual inclusivity conference, which now addresses LGBT issues. Students and staff in the Windsor-Essex district have also begun partnerships with secular LGBT groups in the community

Even with these many successes, there are still several aspects of LGBT supports in Ontario’s Catholic systems that are being worked out. Arlene Davis, vice principal at St. Anne’s Catholic School, said she has had several conversations with parents about the school’s gay-straight alliance which she advises:

“Our religious background is something that we respect, but at the same time, it is conservative, and we want to respect that and we want to help these kids along so that they can definitely go along and feel like they’re accomplishing things,’ said Davis.

“Having set up a booth for the gay-straight alliance group at St. Anne’s parent-teacher interview nights, Butler noticed that some parents seemed pleased to see it, but others she watched direct their children to avoid the club.”

But even with these obstacles, and several others you can read about here, Ontario educators have remained supportive. Kevin Welbes Godin of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association wrote for Bondings 2.0 about how Catholic teachers have led the way on LGBT inclusion. This support has included marching as a contingent in WorldPride and other Pride celebrations. Davis explained part of her own reasoning for staying involved:

“‘As a parent first, to see kids that just feel so free and so able to just express themselves and enjoy. And not be judged. . .like, this is who I am, and I’m cool with it. . .I think there still is that extra thing, when you’re on a team. It makes you feel a little bit more special, a little bit more heard, a little bit more accepted. . .”

In Davis’ comment, I hear echoes of St. Irenaeus’ words, “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.” Five years on, I am thankful for Bill 13 and the ways it has made the glory of God that much more visible in our world through the flourishing of LGBT students and their educators.

To watch a video about St. Anne’s Catholic School in Windsor-Essex, Ontario, click here.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 15, 2017

 

Supporting Transgender Students Is “Exaltation of Dictatorship,” Says Church Official

A Catholic official in Minnesota has described a transgender education guide as the “radical exaltation of a dictatorship of the subjective self.”

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Jason Adkins

Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, harshly criticized the state education department’s “best practices” guide for supporting transgender and gender non-conforming students in public schools. When he testified to a legislative committee which would approve the guide, Adkins said the initiative was “another example of the ongoing evisceration of the purpose of education,” reported The Catholic Spirit, the archdiocesan newspaper of St. Paul.  He added:

“The truth is that this toolkit fits neatly into a world of alternative facts, fake news, climate change denial and trigger warnings. . .Science matters only when it serves an ideology. As a result, our public school system and its leaders have contributed greatly to the decline in civil discourse and a denuded public culture, where the loudest, most powerful voices — not the truth — win; this toolkit is just its most recent and radical exaltation of a dictatorship of the subjective self.”

Adkins said the guide would punish those people who hold dissenting views on trans issues, in what was “a modern version of the tale of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes'” But the state’s Department of Education has been clear the guide is merely a resource that aims to develop safe school environments, not a binding document.

Disputes over transgender policies in schools are increasing, and Catholics are right in the middle of them. Adkins and Minnesota’s bishops whom he represents are pushing a trans-negative agenda despite there being no formal church teaching about gender identity on which to base their objections. The narrative they propose, however, is being pushed by other church leaders as well. This push includes Pope Francis, who has said in an interview that he heard children were being told in schools that they could choose their gender.

Adkins’ most recent statements are not just misguided. They are harmful. Such rhetoric leads to anti-trans actions. A Catholic high school in New Jersey rejected a transgender student last fall, and performances of educational play about gender identity were cancelled by Catholic schools in Ontario, Canada. It took a trans student being shot with a BB gun before one Catholic school in England took action to create a safe environment.

Some Catholics, however, are taking a more positive approach to trans issues. An English Catholic school apologized to a trans student before offering her greater accommodations when it comes to restrooms and uniforms. In India, Carmelite sisters helped found a school for trans youth who had dropped out of the education system for various reasons.

Theologian Fr. Bryan Massingale drives to the heart of these two contrasting Catholic paths when he wrote:

“And there lies a major challenge that transgender people endure and that the faith community has to own: the human tendency to be uncomfortable and fearful in the face of what we don’t understand. It’s easier to ridicule and attack individuals we don’t understand than to summon the patience and humility to listen and to learn.”

Judging from Adkins’ remarks, he still has a lot to learn about trans people and gender identity. If he had been more aware of the reality of trans lives, its doubtful he would have used the language of “fake news” and “dictatorship,” or have criticized a guide to keep vulnerable trans students safe.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, July 23, 2017

 

“Land O’Lakes” Statement Paved Way for LGBT Welcome in Catholic Higher Ed

It was fifty years ago this weekend when Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, CSC, president of the University of Notre Dame, welcomed 25 other educators to reflect on how Vatican II should be received in Catholic higher education. The resulting “Land O’Lakes” statement  greatly altered the trajectory of church-affiliated schools, and it very likely paved the way for LGBT inclusion in these institutions.

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Fr. Hesburgh (left) walking with students

To begin, a bit of history. The prestigious group Hesburgh gathered included university presidents, church leaders, and a handful of laymen. They were some of the best Catholic minds in North America, though by today’s standards they were limited in diversity (for instance, in the previous sentence”laymen” is actually an accurate description, not a sexist slip). Catholic historian David J. O’Brien explained:

“For the university presidents attending Land O’Lakes, a primary aim was to affirm their universities’ Catholic identity in ways that would satisfy Rome while achieving their goal of academic excellence. . .These competent academics in turn insisted on academic freedom and shared responsibility for academic policy. . .For the new generation of vigorous, optimistic presidents who led the major institutions, the time had come to modernize governance, finances and administration, and to reform relations with Church authorities in order to achieve academic respectability and influence. Vatican II gave the reformers what they needed from the Church. The ecumenical council boldly affirmed the autonomy of the human sciences, the primacy of conscience in religious matters, the need for ecumenical dialogue with non-Catholics and the importance of lay participation and leadership in church and society.”

By 1967, Catholic higher education had for the most part accepted academic freedom and other standards followed by secular universities. Given some church leaders’ desire for control, conflicts with schools were inevitable, but those gathered at this meeting affirmed Catholic campuses as places of inquiry and education. Here are a few points I would emphasize from the statement:

  • In the Preamble, the group’s secretary Neil G. McCluskey, S.J. affirmed the need to welcome non-Catholics and “those of other views” because they “bring rich contributions from their own various traditions”;
  • Given the importance of theology, there is a “double obligation” at Catholic universities to preserve academic excellence according to contemporary standards, including academic freedom, in this field;
  • Theologians are exhorted to pay specific attention to “all human relations and the elaboration of a Christian anthropology,” and to be in conversation with other disciplines;
  • Catholic universities serve the church as a source of objective reflection on “all aspects and all activities of the Church”;
  • Undergraduate education should prepare students to confront the “actual world” and therefore there are “no boundaries and no barriers. . .no outlawed books or subjects” in intellectual pursuits”;
  • Universities should also be concerned with students’ flourishing as fully developed human beings.

The question I want to look at here is how the statement and its wisdom have come to impact LGBT issues in Catholic higher education institutions, which have become the vanguard for how the church can be more supportive and inclusive of LGBT people. I make the three following points.

First, inspired by Vatican II’s openness to the modern world, “Land O’Lakes” opened Catholic universities to all types of diversity in their communities. This openness has come to include a welcome to LGBT students, faculty (including theologians), staff, and alumni. New Ways Ministry’s LGBT-friendly Catholic colleges and universities listing, available here, attests to how widespread that welcome has become. This openness now increasingly includes an appreciation for the “rich contributions from their own various traditions” that LGBT people offer schools.

Second, “Land O’Lakes” shattered boundaries that had constrained Catholic theological exploration because educators firmly defended academic freedom. This claim did not mean it was easily implemented.  In some cases, it erupted into major conflicts.  The saga of Fr. Charles Curran and The Catholic University of America began that same year. But as society grappled with new issues in sexuality and gender, theologians at Catholic universities began to do so as well. The profound re-thinking and reclamation of tradition that has happened in the area of sexuality, including enriched theological anthropologies, continues to be a key foundation of Catholic efforts for LGBT equality in the church. Though not considered to be such by many church leaders, these efforts have been a true service to the people of God.

Third, “Land O’Lakes” desired that undergraduate education  be oriented around human formation that encourages free inquiry in conjunction with service and spirituality. This kind of thinking paved the way for Catholic universities to create formal supports for LGBTQ students. In Jesuit terms,  attention to cura personalis or “care of the whole person” means sexual and gender identities cannot be ignored if church institutions are to truly help form young people. This desire also created space for programming that educates all students on matters of the day, including LGBT issues.

As we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the “Land O’Lakes” statement, the question raised is how Catholic higher education continues to receive Vatican II in the present moment. Since the 1960s, Pope John Paul II released Ex Corde Ecclesia, an apostolic constitution on Catholic higher education that in some ways challenged “Land O’Lakes” ideas.  Even today, new challenges remain unsettled, and the path of LGBT inclusion has not been easy.  But without the Land O’Lakes conference, we would never have been able to have come as far as we have on LGBT issues on Catholic campuses. So on this 50th anniversary weekend, I am grateful for how far we have come and hopeful for what is to come in the next fifty years.

This post is part of our “Campus Chronicles” series on Catholic higher education. You can read more stories by clicking “Campus Chronicles” in the Categories section to the right or by clicking here. For the latest updates on Catholic LGBT issues, subscribe to our blog in the upper right-hand corner of this page.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, July 22, 2017

 

 

Students, Alumni Rally Round Fired Gay Teacher

Students, alumni, and other school community members gathered at St. Ignatius College Prep School, Chicago, last week to support Matthew Tedeschi, a gay teacher who was fired from the Jesuit institution this spring.

As has happened with many such protests to support other fired LGBT church employees, the demonstrators used messages derived from Catholic teaching and values to protest the dismissal of Tedeschi.  According to The Windy City Times, a sign of one of the protesters read “Make Ignatius Jesuit Again.”

Bondings 2.0 readers may recall that Tedeschi was fired after he repeatedly complained about students harassed him for over a year about his sexual orientation.  The students had learned about his being gay from searching his online dating profile.

Matt Tedeschi (right) addresses the protestors, while supported by Chris Pett (left).

At the protest, Tedeschi called for six changes at the school, according to the Windy City Times report:

“First of all, Tedeschi wants the school administration to change its nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Next, he wants the administration to allow the LGBT student organization to post flyers in the school and make online announcements, similar to other student organizations. As of now, he said, the group is not allowed to do either of those things.

“His other demands include a ‘fair panel to decide cases of faculty dismissals’; an impartial ombudsman who is present at meetings involving employee discipline or termination; the ability for teachers to ‘have more say in drafting, implementing, and evaluating the school policies that affect them’; and the opportunity for St. Ignatius teachers to form a labor union.”

The fired teacher was joined at the protest by Chris Pett, the incoming president of DignityUSA, and Colin Collette, a former music director at a Chicago-area parish who was fired when his same-gender marriage became public.

Tedeschi noted that a firing such as his has wide repercussions for the entire community:

“Tedeschi said this lack of transparency in disciplinary practices makes teachers ‘far more afraid’ to do their jobs because they don’t know what the administration will use against them to discipline them. He said the practices are bad for young Catholics because it makes them ‘not want to be part of the Church.’ And he said the practices are bad for parents and alumni, ‘who wonder what values the administration is instilling’ in its students.”

A school official denied that sexual orientation was involved in Tedeschi’s firing:

“St. Ignatius Director of Development Ryan Bergin emailed Windy City Times, ‘We are able to say unequivocally that Mr. Tedeschi was not fired because of sexual orientation,’ adding, ‘At this time, Saint Ignatius does not have an official LGBT group however the school does run Project Unity, which is a group for students dedicated to expressing an open understanding of all people, regardless of identity.’ “

While Tedeschi said that one of the reasons he was fired was because he “undermined authority,” he also said the administration failed to offer examples of how he supposedly did so.

Tedeschi’s requested changes at the school are all in line with Catholic teaching and values.  They should be changes that all Catholic schools institute as a way to show that they are living up to their best ideals about non-discrimination of LGBT people, as well as Catholic social teaching about workers’ rights.

New Ways Ministry has been encouraging Catholic institutions to adopt non-discrimination policies to protect LGBT employees.  For more information on how to start the discussion of such policies in your Catholic community, click here.

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, July 1, 2017

Is Chick-fil-A Unsafe for Catholic Schools?

Are Catholic campuses made less safe for LGBTQ students when Chick-fil-A outlets are present? According to some students, the answer to this question is a clear “yes.” This spring, disputes over the fast food chain erupted at both Duquesne University and Fordham University.

The popular fast-food chain has become synonymous with anti-LGBTQ issues since 2012 when it was learned that its CEO, Dan Cathy, spoke out strongly against marriage equality and the chain’s foundation had donated millions of dollars to oppose same-gender marriage initiatives.

chick-fil-a-secret-menu-mealAt Duquesne, the Student Government Association passed a resolution asking administrators to reconsider opening a Chick-fil-A on campus. The resolution was prompted by concerns from Lambda, a gay-straight alliance. Rachel Coury, the group’s president, told campus newspaper The Duke:

“‘I’ve tried very hard within the last semester and a half to promote this safe environment for the LGBTQ+ community. . .So I fear that with the Chick-fil-A being in Options that maybe people will feel that safe place is at risk.'”

Coury and her peers in Lambda are concerned because of Chick-fil-A’s ties to, in her words, “specifically anti-gay organizations” like Focus on the Family and the now defunct Exodus International. According to the company, it no longer funds groups with social-political agendas, instead focusing on youth and education initiatives.

University spokesperson Bridget Fare countered the Student Government and Lambda claims by saying student reactions are overall quite positive and that the company “has assured [Duquesne] that they do not discriminate.”

As an aside, Donald Trump, Jr. attacked the Duquesne students in a tweet, saying: “Luckily these students wont likely have to tackle issues more stressful than a yummy chicken sandwich in their lives… Oh Wait #triggered”.

At Fordham, University administrators rejected a proposed Chick-fil-A because of negative student reactions. Campus groups, including the Rainbow Alliance and United Student Government, were consulted, according to campus newspaper Fordham Observer. Concerns were expressed about not only the company’s LGBT-negative record, but diet-based problems tied to a fast food chain.

In a move to quell negative responses, Chick-fil-A offered to partner with Rainbow Alliance for on campus programs. This was roundly rejected by the Alliance’s membership with Co-President Renata Francesco saying, “[W]e’re not going to partner with an institution, a corporation that has so strongly supported other institutions that work to destabilize and demolish movements for queer equity.”

The administration’s decision to reject Chick-fil-A is not necessarily being celebrated at Fordham. Students have been critical of the University’s failure to provide transgender-inclusive accommodations. Roberta Munoz, co-president of the Rainbow Alliance, said, “I don’t want to pat them on the back. You can’t say ‘Oh you’re such a great ally’ when there’s still so many issues with our queer students. Like great, love it, but keep going.”

While not condoning the corporation’s policies, I think what students should consider is what is how Catholic schools should prioritize their efforts to provide LGBT supports. Chicken sandwiches seem far less pressing than the need for gender-neutral restrooms. Keeping perspective will help strengthen student efforts by focusing resources and not allowing school officials to easily dismiss students’ demands.

This post is part of our “Campus Chronicles” series on Catholic higher education. You can read more stories by clicking “Campus Chronicles” in the Categories section to the right or by clicking here. For the latest updates on Catholic LGBT issues, subscribe to our blog in the upper right-hand corner of this page.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, June ??, 2017

 

 

Students Protest Catholic School’s Decision to Remove Rainbow Flag

Controversy over LGBT issues in one of Canada’s Catholic school systems has once again made headlines, resulting in unfortunate harm during Pride celebrations.

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Students protesting at Blessed Oscar Romero High School

To mark Pride, students at Blessed Oscar Romero High School in Edmonton, Alberta, hung a rainbow flag in the school with some additional rainbow decorations. The next day, students drew a rainbow flag in chalk at the school’s entrance. CBC reported what happened next:

 

“On Tuesday morning, student president-elect Francis Nievera was called into the principal’s office. He said he was told all the decorations must come down because the chalk was being tracked inside, which he said was understandable. But those weren’t the only reasons.

“‘They said putting up flags was a political statement and it made some people uncomfortable and we need to make everyone feel comfortable,’ said Nievera, an openly transsexual and transgender Grade 10 student. ‘To have it all torn down in less than a day kind of sucked.'”

Lori Nagy of the Edmonton Catholic School Board denied claims the decorations were authorized, and said the school’s principal was willing to support other pride celebrations. Nonetheless, Nievera’s invitation, students protested, according to the CBC: 

“Prior to the protest, a video shows an emotional Nievera, near a handful of supporters including the school mascot, address students from the stage in the school cafeteria.

“‘We have to take down all the decorations today,’ he said, setting off boos from the crowd. ‘But I just want to say because of this I really don’t feel safe.'”

“‘If you guys want to help support pride week, even though all of this will be taken down, feel free to come outside and protest.'”

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The chalk rainbow flag in dispute at Blessed Oscar Romero High School

Students gathered at the chalk rainbow flag as other students used power washers to remove it. According to the CBC, “More than 30 students refused to return to class.”

Kennedy Harper, who helped organize the school’s Pride celebrations, said administrators threatened protesting students with suspension. She commented further:

“‘It seems like along with the chalk they were just washing away their identity. . .It felt really good for a little while, seeing the school really come together and standing up for the rights of minorities whether they’re part of the LGBTQ community or not.'”

Shortly after all the decorations had been removed , school administrators then said that the flags would be allowed for the remainder of the week.

This is hardly the first time Edmonton’s Catholic school system has been roiled in LGBT-related controversies. A student at the neighboring St. Joseph Catholic High School was also asked to remove a rainbow flag he wore during a school ceremony. The Edmonton Catholic School Board’s actions in 2015 around a transgender policy saw meetings erupt into a “shouting match” as the Board approved a draft policy allowing  “just discrimination” of some youth. Elsewhere in Alberta, a former bishop referred to LGBTQ policies being implemented in Catholic schools “totalitarian” and “anti-Catholic.”

The situation at Blessed Oscar Romero adds to this list of avoidable, damaging incidents where LGBTQ students are made to feel less than comfortable and even unsafe in Catholic education. No harm was caused by allowing some minor Pride decorations to be displayed, but much harm was done by power washing them and ripping them away.

Once again, it is young students in Catholic schools who are the ones leading our church to be more just and inclusive for LGBT people. And of these students’ commitment to justice for all people, Monseñor Romero would likely be very proud.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, June 19, 2017

 

 

Missouri Diocese Issues Guidelines on Accepting Students from ‘Non-traditional’ Families

The Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, has issued a set of guidelines which encourage its Catholic schools to be open to accepting students from “non-traditional” families, including those with LGBT members.  At the same time, the guidelines require all parents to make a pledge of loyalty to church doctrine.

In what may be the first set of such policies in the U.S. church which stress conversation, the Jefferson City diocese has established the guideline that “Wherever possible, enrollment is the goal,”  according to a news report in The Fulton Sun.

op-story-lgbt-safety-300x250The guidelines were issued by Sister Elizabeth Youngs, diocesan superintendent of schools, and were approved by Bishop John Gaydos, the diocesan bishop.

While the guidelines emphasize conversation and acceptance, they also offer the requirement of parents signing a “Covenant of Trust,”  which the news report describes as enumerating:

“. . . a school’s expectations regarding how parents are to validate the church’s teachings at home.

” ‘We are not going to change what it is that we teach in compliance with our church to make somebody else comfortable, Youngs said.

Another goal of the guidelines is to emphasize evaluation of the situation.  The guidelines offer the following recommendations:

” . . . ‘[S]pecial needs’ of students — which include being a member of the LGBT community or having parents who are — are to be evaluated in the same manner as learning, physical and psychiatric disabilities: A Catholic school is willing to make accommodations up to a point, but past that, students from non-traditional families are probably better served elsewhere. The documents provide frameworks for pastors and principals to lead those conversations with parents.”

If it is found that a parent has violated the “Covenant of Trust,” then the student may be expelled from the school.  The newspaper reported:

“If it becomes clear through a student’s conduct that the partnership parents agreed to in the covenant is not going to work out, Youngs said, schools may ask parents to withdraw their student. The same is already true of discipline issues and of students outgrowing the resources a school is able to provide for needs like learning disabilities.”

The good news here is that the Diocese of Jefferson City appears to be willing to dialogue with parents, rather than rejecting students outright because of LGBT issues.  Dialogue and conversation are always beneficial.  It is interesting to note that The Fulton Sun reported that some critics of the policy would like an outright ban on LGBT students or students whose parents are LGBT.  The diocese has not chosen to do this, so the new policy is at least a first step.

In fact, one diocesan administrator sees that dialogue will be important not even for working with nontraditional families, but with the Catholics who oppose support for non-traditional families.  The news article stated:

“[Associate Superintendent of Schools Sister Julie] Brandt said any bridges that can be built with opponents of the diocese’s guidance can use the same processes the documents lay out: encouragement of dialogue and conversations about questions.

” ‘By being able to engage in some civil conversation, and not just accusatory conversation, I think we all grow,’ she said.

” ‘I really believe the Holy Spirit is active in our church,’ she added. Through prayer, ‘the Spirit is guiding us in this, even in the midst of what at times seems to be challenges and disagreements.’ “

The bad news is that asking parents to sign a “Covenant of Trust” already singles them out as people who are suspect, treating them as people who are accepted only under certain conditions.  Will other families whose lives, beliefs, and actions violate other areas of church teaching face the same penalties as non-traditional families or are only sexual and gender matters singled out?

Another negative is that it seems that school officials will be monitoring students from nontraditional families to see if the parents are violating the “Covenant of Trust.” The news article reported:

“As for fears of whether parents will abide by the agreements they sign on to, ‘how can we monitor anything that we ask parents to do?’ Youngs said.

” ‘We’re not living in the houses with families,’ Brandt said. They do make observations of the students’ actions, though, like a student saying, “‘Well, my mom says this isn’t right.'” “

The Diocese of Jefferson City’s policies have value as a transitional step toward full acceptance of families with LGBT members.  It is a step forward, much better than the more draconian policies instituted in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 2015.

The Jefferson City policy can be successful if it is used as a genuine tool of welcome, instead of a tool for suspicion.  Perhaps the experience of conversations with so many families of very different compositions will help to move towards a new policy where all will truly be welcome.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, June 15, 2017

Related article:

Jefferson City News Tribune:  “Diocese schools get advice on ‘non-traditional’ families”