Last week, the blogosphere lit up with news that the Halton Catholic district school board in Ontario had banned Gay and Lesbian groups from its schools. Alice Anne LeMay, Board Chair threw gasoline on the fire when she defended the decision, in part, on the grounds that there are all sorts of groups the Catholic board bans. “We don’t have Nazi groups, either,” she was reported to have said.
Well, it turns out even school board officials know a public-relations disaster when they see one, and the board quickly issued an official statement. In it, LeMay claims to have been taken out of context:
It is unfortunate that the comments I made were taken out of context, and I apologize for the words that I used and the offense that was caused. It was not my intent to make any type of comparison between gay straight alliances and Nazi groups. Rather, I was providing a number of examples of groups that are not endorsed and permitted in Halton Catholic schools, for example, groups in favour of abortion or hate groups of any nature. I did not make a direct comparison between gay straight alliances and any of these groups, nor was that my intent.
Where to begin? Well, let’s see. If the remarks were taken out of context in such a way as their meaning was misconstrued, why apologize for them? Is LeMay sure she knows what “out of context” means? Apparently not, because her apology essentially restates the original inflammatory remark. Her point (in context) seems to be that there are many groups not allowed in Catholic schools because they promote what is immoral. Like Nazis. And gays. Apparently, Ms LeMay doesn’t know what “comparison” means either.
To be fair, I think what she is trying to say is that she does not think being gay is as bad as being a Nazi. But both are intolerable in schools.
Bizarrely, after quoting LeMay’s clumsy clarification of her disastrous gaffe, the board goes on to say that none of that matters anyway. The real reason they don’t allow gay and lesbian groups is that “The Catholic Church recognizes the dignity of all persons and neither defines nor catalogues them according to their sexual orientation.”
Oh, well, that’s a relief! It’s because they are so tolerant, they don’t even want to make sexuality an issue! You know, that’s funny, because I was under the impression that the Catholic Church believed things like this:
There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law.
Now, where did I get a crazy notion that Catholics believed that? Oh, that’s right: The Vatican. In the Vatican’s official statement on gay marriage, the word “homosexual” is used to denounce gay people 52 times. The Catholic Church doesn’t categorize people by sexual orientation? Are you sure you’re talking about the Catholic Church? The one with the Pope and everything? This obvious lie would be funny if the lives of real kids weren’t at stake, but they are and the Church knows it. From the same official document:
Lifestyles and the underlying presuppositions these express not only externally shape the life of society, but also tend to modify the younger generation’s perception and evaluation of forms of behaviour.
Now, all of this is bad enough. Gay kids — many already isolated, confused, and bullied — are not only deprived the opportunity of supporting each other at school — a place where they are likely to get picked on the most — but are implicitly told by their school and their church that what they are is “contrary to natural moral law.” Can they convince their teachers and principals to relent? No, because it is the Church. It is doctrine. I say the Halton Board can wrap it in the language of modern tolerance all they want, but it is what it is: bigotry and discrimination directed against those who are different. It’s the old story of religious homophobia, plain and simple. And we still think that religion and education are a good combination?
All this is bad enough, except that in Ontario’s atavistic system of education, Catholic schools are funded by the government. These are taxpayer-funded schools telling kids that being gay is unnatural, immoral, contrary to God’s law, and on a moral spectrum somewhere to the left of Nazis (with whom the Catholic Church at the time did not have a big problem).
The Catholic Church needs to come out of the middle ages once and for all, but I don’t expect that to happen any time soon. Meanwhile, how about publicly-funded schools stop bullying gay kids and lying about it to cover their asses?