Gay-straight alliances should be allowed and given top priority in catholic schools. This is an issue that has built much debate and controversies among Catholic Schools across the world. Activists have emerged to support this issue in regard to the ways and ethics regarded by the Catholic Doctrine. Catholic schools in the past have upheld disapproval of gay groups by claiming that they are against what the church stands for. Gay-straight alliances and the gay, lesbian and straight education network have come out strongly to oppose this notion by highlighting the challenges faced by gay, lesbian and transgender students. These challenges include: more that 85% of LGBT students who have reported being verbally harassed, over 20% of LBGT students have been involved in physical assaults by their peers at school, approximately 40% of these students have reported that faculty and staff have never intervened when homophobic language is used in their presence. Similarly, about 30% of LBGT students have reported missing at least one entire school day due to the fact that they felt unsafe (Griffin, 16). This paper will focus on discussing the issue that gay-straight alliances should be allowed in catholic schools. It will bring out instances that portray that these alliances should be allowed. This will be accompanied by experienced from activists and students who have supported the issue. Additionally, it will give my stand on the issue by giving points that are in collaboration with the issue.
The second point that supports my stand on this issue is that, gay-straight alliances help students get over their ignorance and fear about sexual minorities. It helps curb instances of discrimination and hate crimes. Catholic schools have in many instances preferred to use different terms that describe gay-straight alliances. For instance, in Ontario Catholic schools have adopted the use of the term social justice equity clubs instead of gay-straights clubs. The reason behind this is that they avoid using the word gay which would implicate their policies. The general public and government institutions also have an impact on the way gay-straight alliances are held in catholic schools. Since many governments have failed to identify gay people as a gender status, they also disregard any associations related to them. This is evident through funding of schools where the government is responsible of funding schools but due to the disapproval of any gay associations, catholic schools fear that if they supported these alliances, the government especially in Ontario would cease funding them (Fetner, 119).
Gay straight-alliances involve helping students in Catholic schools to familiarize themselves with activities that promote good conduct and proper behavior. They help students to realize their sexuality and accept who they are by articulating their perspectives and ideologies. Their identity involves standing for the ways maintained by the Catholic doctrine. In a research conducted among schools with gay-straight alliances, it was depicted that significantly less binge drinking among students is experienced. The study indicated that schools with gay-straight alliance clubs or groups about 45% of heterosexual teenage boys are less likely to have had an episode of binge drinking over a period of one month. It also indicated that about 62% of heterosexual girls are less likely to be involved in binge drinking over the same period. Therefore, these alliances should be allowed in Catholic schools as they stand for the same principles that the Catholic schools purport to maintain (Bayly, 100).
Activists and supports of this fact have been on the forefront to fight and demand for the Church’s commitment to respecting the dignity of every person and implementation of plans and strategies the eliminate discrimination and hate crimes in schools. Incidents of discrimination and hate crimes have been reported in catholic schools due to the fact that the administrative bodies never intervene to stop such acts. This is coupled with bullying among students who have identified themselves with gay-straight alliances. For instance, a gay student at Vanier Catholic School was forced to use a locker with an anti-LGBT slur carved for a period of two weeks in 2012. This incident drew much debate as students feared similar actions and thus had to even hide their true identity. However, if gay-straight alliances were allowed in schools, such incidents would not occur as students would get to respect others despite their transgender status. People should understand and accept these groups as they stand for the same principles upheld by catholic schools. For instance, students from a gay-straight club at Francis Liberman Catholic High School commonly referred to as Bridges claimed that at every club meeting they hold, they always start with a word of prayer and believe that the Catholic faith extends to accepting those people of different sexual identities. Even in the Catholic faith Jesus accepts everyone regardless of whom or what they are, therefore Catholic schools should allow gay-straight alliances to be formed without any form of discrimination (Kranz, 25).
The gospel inclusion point of view allows everyone whether Catholics or non-Catholics to join catholic schools as long as one parent is a Catholic believer or if the student has been baptized. Supporters of gay-straight alliances have urged Catholic education systems to conform to the new ways that have emerged. This will allow incorporation of gay and lesbian people to be accepted as normal people. In countries such as Canada, catholic school teenagers have intensified the struggle for lesbian gay and transgender status equality in church institutions. For instance, in Yukon province an 11th grader successfully lobbied to have a document structured by the bishop removed from catholic high school websites due to the fact that it contained pastorally harmful terms that describe lesbian and gay people. These incidents were faced with many challenges and resistance as the school administration hesitated to change or remove the document. These instances show improved measures made by students from this generation to struggle for LGBT equality in church institutions. They have been supported by students and activities from previous generations and if they meet any success gay-straight alliances will be allowed in catholic schools (River, 12).
Catholic schools are meant to support a community of love and safety among all students this is among their obligations and they should not exclude any students due to their gender identity. These powerful words were made by the speaker of the Student Government and former co-director of CU Allies at The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C. members of the group released a documentary that aimed at seeking official recognition of the gay and lesbian people within Catholic schools. The documentary involved instances in students’ struggle and the challenges of attending a religiously affiliated university where the official church doctrine seems unsettled by a group of people or an idea (Mooney, 145).
The documentary shows the CU Allies stand in supporting students from the University for a Recognized gay-straight Alliance. They believed that the purpose of CU Allies was aligned with the Catholic identity and mission of the university. The communications director for the group claimed that they believed that the students were one community made up of like- minded students seeking to share fellowship and commonality. The group aimed at achieving a safe and welcoming environment on campus working as one to live the virtue of love. They had committed themselves in ensuring the support of lesbian and gay people by approving resolutions that encourage the administration’s approval of gay-straight alliances (Short, 77),
Instances of schools that have supported gay-straight alliances can be evidenced in Ontario where polls conducted on the issue indicated that about 51% of the students agreed that students in publicly funded Catholic schools should be allowed to form clubs that involve gay and lesbian people. Many catholic teachers have generally been in support of the alliances but trustees and many parents have objected and opposed them as not being in accordance with church teachings. Schools such as St. Mary’s High School in Kitchener, Ontario have gladly accepted gay-straight alliances and it has been a thriving part of their students’ lives. The Vice-principal in the school majorly supported this initiative by standing up for the youth who are gay, lesbian and transgender. The vice principle claimed that Catholic teaching calls teachers to live out the gospel with integrity in accordance to the way Jesus taught people to live in love, understanding and compassion. These instances show that Catholic schools should allow gay-straight alliances to be formed as they portray the way they tolerate and celebrate people who are gay, lesbian or transgender identity (Toomey, 179).
In conclusion, gay-straight alliances in various sectors, leave alone in catholic schools, has been a controversial issue. With time, proponents of gay-straight alliances in catholic schools have gained grounds, and more people are advocating with the same. Various arguments have been put forth in favor of this alliance. For instance, it has been argued that such alliance could reduce discrimination within catholic schools. Besides, gay-straight alliances help students get over their ignorance and fear about sexual minorities. Furthermore, it helps students to know how to conduct themselves at later stages in life. Lastly, the alliance would promote unity among people of different cultural and religious backgrounds.
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Griffin, Pat; Lee, Camille; Waugh, Jeffrey; Beyer, Chad. "Describing Roles that Gay-Straight Alliances Play in Schools: From Individual Support to School Change." Journal of Gay & Lesbian Issues in Education 1.3 (2004): 3-22. Web.
Kranz, Rachel, and Tim Cusick. Gay Rights. New York: Facts on File, 2005. Print.
Lipkin, Arthur. "Gay-Straight Alliances: Introduction." Journal of Gay & Lesbian Issues in Education 1.3 (2004): 3-5. Web.
Meyer, Elizabeth J. Gender and Sexual Diversity in Schools: An Introduction. Dordrecht: Springer, 2010. Print.
Mooney, Linda A. Understanding Social Problems. Toronto: Nelson Education, 2012. Print.
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Short, Donn. "Don’t Be so Gay!": Queers, Bullying, and Making Schools Safe. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2013. Print.
Toomey, Russell B.; Ryan, Caitlin; Diaz, Rafael M.; Russell, Stephen T. "High School Gay–Straight Alliances (GSAs) and Young Adult Well-Being: An Examination of GSA Presence, Participation, and Perceived Effectiveness." Applied Developmental Science.15.4 (2011): 175-185. Web.