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Gay Parent Wants to Prohibit Board Use of Catechism Teaching on Homosexuality

Louise Brown, ParentCentral.ca


(March 11, 2012) As a Catholic, a mom and a lesbian, Ann Tesluk has a personal interest in how Catholic schools handle homophobia.


So the Bowmanville office worker was excited when Queen’s Park told school boards to create policies that foster “equity and inclusion.”


The mother of two children at St. Joseph’s Catholic Elementary School was delighted when the school board sent out a lively 20-page equity blueprint last month to help teachers tackle all kinds of discrimination, from race and religion to disability and sexual orientation.


Then she read the fine print.


It felt like “stepping back into the Dark Age.


There, in the otherwise upbeat chapter “Rainbow is for Sexual Orientation,” which urges teachers to treat homophobic language as harshly as racial slurs and encourages the use of gay guest speakers and the reading of gay-positive texts, sat an excerpt from the Catholic Church’s catechism #2358.


It explained that while discrimination is wrong, homosexuals are “objectively disordered,” an archaic way of saying they don’t follow the “natural order” of pursuing procreation.                      

“The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible,” states the teaching. “This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

To Tesluk, who has a son in Grade 3 and a daughter in Grade 6, such talk “creates an unsafe learning environment. We know gay students are being bullied to death.

“To teach that homosexuals are ‘disordered’ gives a negative connotation, and I worry that students who might feel they are gay are going to think there is something wrong with them; our school goes up to Grade 8,” said Tesluk.

“This catechism (church teaching) needs to be changed and I’d like to see that part of the brochure removed.”

Greg Reeves is director of education for the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland Clarington Catholic District School Board, and he said he understands why the word “disordered” is upsetting some parents, but said it is probably misunderstood.

“I understand absolutely they’re offended by the phrase. It’s not my phrase though, I’m just quoting the Catholic catechism,” said Reeves.

“I think it’s unfortunate that people have focused on it, even the rest of the two pages (of the brochure) explain the intent that we were trying to get to. But if this is an area that people are so worried about . . . then I think it’s worth looking at is there something else we should put there,” he said.

Father Paul Massel, the school priest, said the quote is from a church teaching that is 10 years old and language has evolved. In his opinion, “objectively disordered” was originally meant to say that homosexuality is not the norm. Today the words have a more negative meaning and parents would be within their rights to question the use of the quote, he told the school’s parent council.

Tesluk’s partner Connie Hamers is not a practising Catholic, but said calling gays “objectively disordered” will undo the work of public awareness campaigns that try to persuade gay young people not to despair.

“We have these great programs like ‘It Gets Better’ and the new campaign ‘If you can play, you can play’ by the son of (Leafs general manager) Brian Burke — but then this document doesn’t make kids feel safe,” said Hamers.

Tesluk will ask trustees at the board’s meeting March 27 to remove that section from the brochure.

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