Catholic schools, including those in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, are putting the well-being of many of their students in jeopardy every school day. The church’s teachings on gay and lesbian behavior that are part of the curriculum in its schools are harmful to students and are not recommended by many reputable national organizations, including the American Medical Association.
Several representatives from the Catholic Church recently told me that their official position is that people are sinners when they are gay and they engage in homosexual behavior. This is made clear in the church doctrine that is a vital part of what is taught in the diocesan Catholic schools and that students are expected to understand and comply with.
One of the options given by a diocesan priest I spoke with was that students could become celibate and not act upon their homosexual urges at any time. It is healthy and normal to want to have sex at some point in life, so this seems quite an unlikely option for gay students. By default, the only remaining option for these students under this policy, if they want to avoid sinning, is that they must change their sexual orientation.
The American Psychological Association adopted a resolution stating that efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation using reparative therapy are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm. The American Medical Association also opposes this type of therapy.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has said that reparative therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated because it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.
It seems counterintuitive to me then that the schools in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph would put students in a position where a harmful process is considered a viable option.
Catholic schools are essentially rejecting these students when they include this Church policy as part of the curriculum. They are rejecting the normal and healthy actions that gay students will likely participate in during their lifetimes.
A study done at San Francisco State University showed that gay and lesbian students who felt highly rejected by their teachers were eight times more likely to attempt suicide than those students who felt only slightly rejected by their teachers. These students who felt highly rejected were six times more likely to experience high levels of depression than their peers who felt only slightly rejected.
It seems ironic, then, that some diocesan schools express in their mission statements that they will develop the potential of each child emotionally and physically.
Students’ emotional potential can’t be developed if they are being rejected for being the people they are. The emotional trauma that they experience from this rejection often also leads to physical problems from the extreme stress placed upon them to change.
Options that can minimize or eliminate this harm are certainly available to the schools in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. These include making Gay Straight Alliances available to the student body or having openly gay mentors or role models in the school who can speak freely about their experiences. These options should also include a change in the curriculum that is based on the official Church policy of rejecting the sexual orientation and actions of gay students.
I encourage Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to make these changes as soon as possible. Many students are being harmed each school day with the current policies in the diocesan schools in Kansas City and elsewhere. It is appalling to think that we are treating the future of our society in such a damaging and unhealthy manner.
This article is brought to you by that guy of fantastic faith, Ron Blake, and you can send a message his way at myblakefitness.com.