“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