Gay and not okay – public Catholic schools mistreatment of sexual minorities

When it comes to managing sexual minorities, publicly funded Catholic schools would rather adhere to the Catholic canonical law, rather than Canadian common law, which in most cases violates Canadian human rights laws.

In a 2011 study, conducted by Egale Canada Human Rights Trust, 3,700 students were asked about their experiences in school about homosexuality.

Almost 10 per cent of the students had heard faculty members use homophobic slurs on a daily basis, and 21 per cent of students that identified as non-heterosexuals have been physically harassed and assaulted.

Most worrisome of the report’s findings was that 64 per cent of students who identified as non-heterosexuals feel unsafe in their schools.

Dr. Tonya Callaghan talked about religiously-inspired homophobia that is rampant among faith-based schools in Canada, specifically publicly funded catholic schools in her study.

According to her study’s findings, systematic homophobia is still prevalent in Catholic schools.

Curricular programs and policies regarding sexual minorities are currently tailored to adhere to the Catholic doctrine and not Canada’s common law, and that institutionalized discrimination t is more adamant in Catholic schools, unlike non-Catholic public schools.

At her Jan. 29 talk at the University of Calgary, Callaghan broke down her findings and revealed that Catholic schools boards don’t always follow the set guidelines set by the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA), when it comes to handling students who are a part of the sexual minority.

“I was told that Catholic School District doesn’t necessarily adhere to every policy of the ATA. Further, I was told that our school was developing our own Catholic response to sensitive issues such as sexual orientation in catholic schools,” she said in her presentation.

“The subtext for this catholic response does not bode well for LGBTQ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] people, because this usually means maintaining close ties to punitive Catholic doctrine.”

In her study, Callaghan has discovered that Catholic doctrine from the Vatican influences school policies and practices regarding sexual minority groups, which for the most part doesn’t favour students who are a part of sexual minorities.

A prominent document commonly used within Catholic school districts is the Pastoral guidelines to assist students of same sex orientation.

In the document, it states that acts of homosexuality are frowned upon, and that if a homosexual will continue to live under Christianity, he or she must do so by living a life of chastity.

Another document is The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which specifically state homosexuality is a moral disorder. In the doctrine from the Vatican, it states “as in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one’s own fulfilment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God.”

About Ian Panganiban 5 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Ian Panganiban worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2012-2013 academic year.