“All human beings are precious in God’s eyes”

Vanja Skotnes

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Says Irish Catholic Bishops. Yet, at their schools they teach teenagers being gay is wrong.

“Catholic church’s views on homosexuality is definitely a problem”, says Brian Sheehan, director of GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network).

Currently, many Catholic schools in Ireland do not address sexual orientation. Many young LGBT people feels unsafe in schools and face considerable challenges related to bullying, invisibility and marginalisation.

One third wanted to end their life

“It is challenging with the religion. In schools, there is a lack of clarity – teachers do not know what to say to a teenager when he or she is “coming out” openly as gay. It’s also problems with the terms many teachers use in referring to homosexuals – it’s the negative tone they use”, says Brian Sheehan.

Research carried out by GLEN and BeLonG To Youth, in which over 90 per cent of the asked LGBT persons attended Catholic schools, shows that one third of young LGBT people had seriously thought about ending their lives.

  • 25 % of the females had attempted suicide on at least one occasion
  • 15 % of the males had attempted suicide on at least one occasion

Have a look at this short documentary:

“Homosexuality” in spam filter

Every email I sent to Irish Catholic Bishops containing words like “homosexuality” did not come through. After researching, it showed that in fact every email sent to them containing this word actually went straight to a spam filter.

Eventually, I got an interview with their Communications Officer, Brenda Drumm. Read bits of the interview below.

What do Catholic schools teach about homosexuality?

  • All human beings are precious in God’s eyes.
  • The love that one person has for another is a gift from God and implies observance of his law by all people regardless of their sexual orientation.
  • The Church teaches that the God given gift of sexuality finds its fulfilment in marriage. It is destined to bring about the unity of man and woman in love. “That is why homosexual practices cannot be approved by the Church.” (YouCat 65)

Which texts does Catholic schools use to teach about personal, social and sexual issues?

  • Catholic schools believe that the formation of young people is primarily the responsibility of the family.
  • It is the views of the Church that formation at the Catholic school in the area of sexuality is best achieved as part of an overall programme of religious instruction.

What are teachers told to say to students when they “come out” openly as gay?

  • In their adolescent years, all young people begin to develop a sense of their own emerging sexuality. This can be a confusing time for young people, as they come to terms with their feelings.
  • A teacher’s role is always to listen and offer a pastorally response.

Have you experienced homophobic bullying in your schools?

  • Unfortunately, bullying in all its forms is a reality of schools life. Bullies unfairly harass others for many reasons.

In my previous post, I wrote about statistics of serious homophobic bullying in Irish schools – have a read on it here. It showed, among other things, that over half of young LGBT people were name-called both by their peers and teachers/other staff members in their school.

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Vanja Skotnes

As a former journalist for Amnesty International, I will use this blog to write about human rights abuses. My intention is to create more awareness. Follow my posts and stay updated. Twitter: @vanjaskotnes

  • Stian

    good article V=)

  • Vanja Skotnes

    Thank you, Stian.

  • Susanne

    I’m so glad you’ve picked up this topic, Vanja. Your whole article clearly shows that there’s something wrong going on in Catholic schools here in Ireland, and something needs to be done about it. If the Irish Catholic Bishops is that ignorant to young people’s lives, it is surely not in their place to run so many schools. I hope you work further on this topic, and I would love to view the case from a parents side. Good job!!

  • Vanja Skotnes

    Thanks a bunch, Susanne!! Good point about a parents view – I’ll work further on that, as well as getting an interview with a person that has been bullied.

  • Martine

    Important article! Good work Vanja!

  • Vanja Skotnes

    Thank you, Martine!

  • Kim

    Mm, it reminds me of one big happening in my uni.. One guy submitted homophobic art work for his graduation work, but it got accepted at first. It was a work of Stamping on the papers which LGBT student association attached on the walls, and the stamp says ‘How could you be created?’ . And the student who worked this explained himself as homophobic, and he wanted to block spreading homosexuality – saying it is not ‘cool’ ‘sexy’ thing. He was protestant , like many ppl in my country ..
    Religious perspective doesnt seem to be that easy to reconcile with homosexuality but i dont know why it’s going on like this 😛
    Whatever, thnx for giving me an opportunity to think about it 🙂

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thanks for the comment, Kim. And thanks for sharing that.

  • Liv berit aunemo

    Good article,you are a good writer:))

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thanks a lot 🙂

  • Hilde Susanne

    Very Good article Vanja, and a very important issue.

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thank you, Hilde Susanne!

  • Arne Fenstad

    By the turn of the last century the pope had to apologize for mistakes and prejudices, like the treatment of women, the catholic church commited in the previous century. Maybe they’ll apologize for mistakes they are making now, like the treatment of homosexuals, by the turn of the next century 🙂 well written 🙂

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Well put, Arne. And a good point. Thank you for the comment!

  • morten skotnes

    I am proud to be ur father! keep on the good work Vanja:)

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thanks, dad.

  • Reidun

    Such an interesting thread you got going on here. Looking forward to the next episode!

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thanks, Reidun! My goal is to continue to keep you interested.

  • Charlotte

    Looking forward to the day when religion is up to date with reality. we only live once. let us live our life with respect for one and other, no matter the religion or sexuality. as long as we don’t harm each other. respect and tolerance!

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Really well said, Charlotte! Respect and tolerance, two key words. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  • Lina

    Such a good piece Vanja, good job again!!

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thanks a million, Lina! 🙂

  • Mathilde Torsøe

    I agree with Charlotte, the most important in this short life is that we don’t harm each other. We need to respect each other, no matter what kind of religion or sexuality we have. It’s very important that you have written about this issue, Vanja.

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thank you, Mathilde. Important words.

  • Tonje R. Brandsdal

    It enrages me that powerful organizations and their leaders convince perfectly healthy people that there’s something wrong with them and that they’re inferior to others. You’re doing an important job shining a light on such a huge problem.

  • Anita Bakk Henriksen

    An extremely well written article about an important issue 🙂

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thanks a million, Anita!

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