Monday, September 12, 2016

Arkansas Catholic school policy on LGBT students draws fire

Posted By on Mon, Sep 12, 2016 at 7:21 AM

A new policy on LGBT students in Arkansas Catholic schools has drawn national attention following a report on KTHV.

The website characterizes the new policy, as some local equal rights advocates have to me, as making being LGBT punishable by expulsion from a Catholic school. The policy is believed to be a directive from Bishop Anthony Taylor, though he has not taken questions about it. As the article notes, Taylor equated homosexuality with incest in his friend of the court brief before the Arkansas Supreme Court in opposition to same-sex marriage.

The anti-LGBT addendum bars students from advocating, celebrating or expressing same-sex attraction "in such a way as to cause confusion or distraction in the context of Catholic school classes, activities, or events." It also states that students "are expected to conduct themselves at school in a manner consistent with their biological sex," including when it comes to how they dress, which restrooms and pronouns they use, and how they are referred to in official school documents.

"If the student's expression of gender, sexual identity, or sexuality should mislead others, or cause scandal, or have the potential to cause scandal, then the matter will first be discussed with the student and his/her parents," the addendum states. "If the issue is not resolved to the satisfaction of the school, whose primary goal must always be to uphold Catholic truths and principles, then the student may be dismissed." 
The article quotes praise from a conservative church group and criticism from both a parent and from a former teacher at Mount St. Mary Academy, fired after she married her longtime same-sex partner.

"If you don't want to bring scandal against your school, then don't do things that discriminate against children," said Tippi McCullough, a member of Arkansas Stonewall Democrats who is also a former Catholic school teacher.

As yet, there have been no reports of disciplinary action taken against LGBT students in Arkansas Catholic schools on account of their sexual orientation.

A minor point, but the policy would seem to put the kibosh on that high school staple — comedic cross-dressing musical numbers in variety shows.

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