The Catholic Church Needs a Universal Stance on LGBT Educators and Students
Andrew Pillow
November 25, 2018

An Indianapolis Catholic high school is once again under fire from the LGBT community as a second school employee has filed discrimination charges on the basis of her sexuality. This coming after a similar, very publicized claim by a different employee in August. This is not a particularly unique situation either. Unfortunately, many LGBT people have had similar workplace experiences at Catholic schools around the country. Obviously, nobody ever wants to hear about problems like this at any school public or private, but in the case of Catholic schools, this problem is avoidable. The Catholic church needs to take a universal stance on LGBT issues and employees.

From a purely legal standpoint, the water is murky about LGBT employees and their rights within the Catholic church as many people claim religious exemptions supersede the common protections LGBT persons have in other places. In the case of Catholic schools, it gets even trickier as some schools claim religious exemptions yet receive public funding, which some argue voids their religious exemptions. However, this argument isn’t a legal argument. It’s an argument for the Catholic church to internally create and enforce its own standards around LGBT rights.

No religious organization is as vast and organized as the Catholic church. The church can quite literally mandate things at a local, national, or even international level, and it has in the past. Yet, when it comes to matters of LGBT issues, the church has opted to avoid such policies.

In 2016 Cardinal, Archbishop of Newark, Joseph Tobin (then Archbishop of Indianapolis), said that he would not favor a universal policy around LGBT employees. He noted he had not yet faced those issues in Indianapolis. Archbishop Tobin may no longer be in Indianapolis, but the issue he managed to avoid while here still arose as it will other places until it is addressed at the top.

This all comes at a time when the Catholic church is attempting to become more open to LGBT people. The current Pope has made remarks that reflect a desire to welcome LGBT people and remarks that throwback to the hard stances of the past. The Supreme Pontiff’s wishy-washy stance on these issues is mirrored down through the rest of the organization he heads. This can and should be rectified.

As a Catholic myself, I would like to see the church and its schools welcome LGBT educators and students sooner than later because their lack of a policy around LGBT persons doesn’t preclude their existence. Just as LGBT students already attend these schools, LGBT faculty already line their halls. Not welcoming them wouldn’t make them disappear, it would just force them into the closet. Additionally, banning LGBT people seems antithetical to the teachings of the church itself.

The Catholic church has changed its mind on a lot over the centuries: slavery, marriage, cremation, and capital punishment just to name a few. LGBT rights and standing within the church and its schools need to be one of those things. Strategically avoiding it because it’s now politically unpopular to be vocally anti-gay is not the same as stepping up and setting a precedent to be inclusive of all your parishioners and employees. Many of aspects of Catholic school appeal to me, but if this is still an issue by the time I have kids, we will have to look elsewhere for their education.

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