Catholic schools ‘not friendly’ towards LGBTQA

Christian Gonzalez/ Staff Writer

It was my junior year of high school. As I sat in art history class, bored to oblivion, one of my friends leaned over and whispered, “I’m gay.”

My first reaction was to laugh. I thought “John” was joking.

At Belen Jesuit, the Catholic high school I attended, the word gay (and its cruder form beginning with the letter “F”) got thrown around quite frequently. When “gay” was used, it was usually in connotation with something negative.  

But really, almost anything could be “gay.” Homework could be gay. When a certain sports team performed poorly, that was gay. When someone said something sentimental, that was also gay.

Most of the time, however, Belen students would use the word in the context of a joke, which is why I laughed when John came out to me.

I thought he was messing around. Nevertheless, he persisted.

“No, Chris, I mean it,” he said. “I told my best friend last night, and I broke down. Tears just came. I’m completely serious.”

My skepticism evaporated. John meant it.

Obviously I did not care; John would still be my friend — the gender of the people my friends take to bed is of little concern to me.

Although relatively subtle, the homophobia found in Catholic high schools like Belen made gay students feel uncomfortable about their sexual preferences and forced many of them to keep their orientation hidden.

Two years after John’s admission, I graduated from high school. By that time, three people had come out as homosexual. There were 227 students in my class.

Another of those three, “Daniel,” happened to be one of my closest friends. He had told me about his sexual preference much earlier, sometime during freshman year, but he concealed it from the rest of the class, and from the school.

“I was afraid that the faculty would judge me,” Daniel would tell me. “I’ve always been a good student. I do my community service, participate in clubs, and do all that sort of stuff. So I didn’t want my image tarnished.”

Regrettably, he was right to be concerned about his reputation. Certain members of the high school’s establishment — the religious ones in particular — likely would have looked down on Daniel if they had known about his homosexuality, which is why he didn’t come out until senior year.

Things were probably not much better over at Christopher Columbus High School, the other Catholic all-boys schools in Miami. One of my friends recently told me that in a class of over 300 students, only one had come out as openly gay by graduation.

The unfortunate reality is that Catholic high schools are often unwelcoming environments for homosexuals.

To be fair, Catholicism is not the only reason for this phenomenon. Homophobia is a broader societal problem. This is especially true in societies influenced by Hispanic cultures, many of which define masculinity in a way that excludes homosexuality and does not consider gays to be “real men.”

The Catholic Church has long preached that one must hate the sin but love the sinner. From the persecution of Protestants and homosexuals to the historic preaching of rancid anti-Semitism, the Church often failed to live up to its own injunction. Still, the moral command remains.

As I experienced it, my high school didn’t preach or encourage homophobia. But it did not take an active approach in preventing it either.

Individuals and institutions that support traditional marriage are still capable of combatting homophobia. Indeed, I would argue that it is their obligation to voice objections to prejudice even as they dispute the right of homosexuals to marry.

It’s possible to argue against gay marriage without surrendering to homophobia.  One way to do this is to argue that marriage — defined as the permanent union of one man and one woman — is the only way to ensure the health and prosperity of a society.

As much as I may dissent from that view, I cannot find in it intentions of hatred.

Simultaneously opposing gay marriage and homophobia might be a fine line to walk, but the necessary efforts must be made if we are to reassure gay people that their sexual tendencies shed no light on the quality of their character.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


Photo taken from Flickr.

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