Gay Teenager on Catholic Policy: ‘Somebody Had to Say Something”

A gay teenager in Canada’s Yukon province has successfully lobbied to have a document which describes homosexual orientation as “intrinsically disordered” and homosexual acts as “acts of grave depravity” to be removed from his Catholic high school’s website.

Liam Finnegan, and dad

Liam Finnegan, and dad

Liam Finnegan’s complaint arose when he read the document “Living with Hope, Ministering by Love, Teaching in Truth,” on the website of Vanier Catholic Secondary School, in the city of Whitehorse.  According to The National Post Finnegan, 16, observed:

“There were a few things in the document that were not homophobic and that made me think that maybe this isn’t such a terrible thing, since it said homosexuals shouldn’t be discriminated against, and I liked that part of it. But then as I continued reading the policy it veered into the ridiculous, describing homosexuality as an ‘intrinsically moral evil’ and saying that I was a ‘sinner’ and that I needed to be ‘healed.’ ”

“Somebody had to say something.”

So Finnegan, supported by his fellow students, started speaking out about the document, and his complaint eventually rose to the highest level of provincial government.  Xtra.com reports that Scott Kent, the provincial education minister eventually met with Bishop Gary Gordon of Whitehorse, and the bishop agreed to remove the document:

“ ‘Both [Kent] and the bishop could agree immediately that the most important thing was that students felt safe, welcome and protected in school,’ cabinet communications director Matthew Grant says. ‘The minister requested that an actual policy be developed around the particular issue in question, something developed on the grassroots level with students, parents and members of the school council.’ ”

Catholic schools in Canada receive government funding, and so are answerable to government policies concerning education. Xtra.com explains the church-state relationship and why the Catholic document needs to be re-thought to conform with government standards:

“[Grant] says that work needs to be done to bridge the gap between the religious document and the Department of Education’s policy on gender identity and sexual orientation. That policy, which was adopted in September 2012, requires schools to provide a safe and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, queer and questioning people.

“Grant confirms that the policy applies to all publicly funded schools, including the Catholic schools. With the exception of the French secondary school, Yukon does not have school boards. Instead, Yukon’s 28 public schools, which include three separate Catholic schools, are administered by the territorial government with the assistance of elected school councils, which advise the minister. Both public and Catholic schools in Yukon receive all their funding from the government.”

Congratulations to Mr. Finnegan for his successful campaign!  May we all follow his example of speaking up against injustice!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

at Bondings 2.0

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