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Catholic School Bars Child of Homosexual Couple: Discrimination or Right?

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The child of a Boulder, Colorado, couple has not been allowed to re-enroll in the Catholic school, which the child has been attending, because the child’s parents are a lesbian couple.

The Denver Archdiocese defended the decision, stating,

Parents living in open discord with Catholic teaching in areas of faith and morals unfortunately choose by their actions to disqualify their children from enrollment. To allow children in these circumstances to continue in our school would be a cause of confusion for the student in that what they are being taught in school conflicts with what they experience in the home. We communicated the policy to the couple at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School as soon as we realized the situation. We discussed the reasons with them and have sought to respond in a way that does not abruptly displace the student but at the same time respects the integrity of the Catholic school's philosophy.

But they did abruptly displace the student, and having enrolled the child in the first place did, if what they now say is true, disrespect the integrity of the school’s philosophy. Yes, the diocese says they didn’t know the ladies were a couple, but then it can also be said they don’t know the specifics of other couples. The odds are in favor of someone’s parent or parents gambling away their tithe or being heterosexual swingers, substance abusers, porn addicts, or Methodists, all in conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The ruling of the diocese, because it chose to rule only in this one case, is not different from testing a single child’s math skills, finding that child lacking or gifted, and thus declaring all the other children “dumb” or “smart.”

Ordinarily I would be in favor of, although not in agreement with, the Catholic Church because it is a private organization. (A vegetarian club should not be forced to allow meat eaters as members.) Yes, the action taken by the Church is discriminatory, but was it not also consistent with the Church’s teachings, something of which the parents were surely aware when they first enrolled the child? No, it wasn’t consistent.

In 1971 in Wichita, Kansas, I was re-enrolled into Catholic school alongside my cousins, whose parents were and are not Catholic. My husband and his brother, coincidentally, were enrolled in a Catholic school in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1968, even though their parents were not Catholic. What are the odds that our experiences, some three years and 1,300 miles apart, were isolated events? Has the Church since adjusted the criteria with regard to the faith and/or lifestyles of the parents? If so, where is proof of it?

Since my in-laws and my aunt and uncle were willing to pay the tuition, it didn’t matter to either diocese that the parents of the children they enrolled were not Catholic. Specifically it didn’t matter to either diocese that the parents were “living in open discord with Catholic teaching in areas of faith and morals,” or that allowing the children of non-Catholics to attend “would be a cause of confusion for the student in that what they are being taught in school conflicts with what they experience in the home.”

If the statements of the diocese are to be taken seriously and seen in a light of consistency, they must offer something other than the parents’ homosexuality.

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About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.
  • American Freedom

    I love how some people automatically call it hate. How shortsighted though that is exactly what they would claim the others to be.
    This is a private religious institute. I don’t agree with Catholic teachings so I don’t go to Catholic church’s.
    They teach that homosexuality is wrong. They don’t teach to kill homosexuals, to hurt homosexuals, or to hate homosexuals.

    Just because you can’t seperate the two this is or was America. We were founded on religious freedom.
    Do what I do; don’t go to Catholic functions if you don’t like Catholic teachings.

  • Clavos

    Don’t quit yer day job, zing…

  • zingzing

    wouldn’t it be cool if catholic schools called their gym teachers “exorcists?” just a thought.

  • That’s a fair statement, Dave, I think.

  • I’d yank my kids and my money out of this school in a second if I were a parent, but I’d defend their right to make this decision based on their twisted view of Christianity as well.


  • You had better get a good father confessor.

  • If it’s requited and unconditional I’m game. So does the Church hate me for saying it, or do they hate my words? I’ll have to go to confession and find out!

  • As long it’s not unrequited love, or conditional, I’ll go for it, Silas.

  • LOL! I love you, Roger.

  • Sorry I didn’t parcel your words, Silas.

    Shall I say? I knew your intent.

  • And it took 3 hours for someone to pick up on it. Dr. Dreadful, YOU are the most observant of the bunch and I salute you!

    And, for what it’s worth, The Roman Church has failed miserably on hating sins as opposed to sinners.

    But then Dr. Dreadful, you knew that…

  • The old adage of “hate the sinner, not the sin” is being put to the test and the Catholic Church has failed miserably.

    Isn’t that adage supposed to be the other way around?

    But then, Silas, you knew that…

  • Faith, Silas, the magic world – nothing to be confused with doctrine.

  • My only question is: why this couple would choose to allow their child to be indoctrinated with beliefs hostile to them?

    I would want my children to receive a parochial education regardless of Church doctrine. Perhaps it is because I was taught by nuns who encouraged questioning faith. I was taught that to accept teachings on blind faith was a sin and that faith must be put to the test daily to truly achieve an understanding of Christ and His teaching. That is what’s lost today — Christians are no longer challenged to put their faith to the test.

  • First of all a parochial school is a private enterprise. As such, the Catholic Church is fully within its right to accept or reject students. I don’t have a problem with that on the surface because such actions by the Church may facilitate its own congregations to question the wisdom of clerical leadership and contemporary Catholic doctrine.

    Since Galileo, scientists, theologians and historians continue to discover differences with the Roman Church’s stance on God and actual fact. The Church, all organized religions for that matter, is fighting for survival amidst the frenetic impact technology has had upon society. The old adage of “hate the sinner, not the sin” is being put to the test and the Catholic Church has failed miserably. Organized religion, like Congress, needs an overhaul of its political leadership. Since the murder of Albino Luciani (Pope John Paul I), I have become convinced that the Roman Church, in all its splendor, has been seduced by power and cash since the Dark Ages.

    Perhaps the rejection of this child is the greatest gift of all. Perhaps this child will grow and become an active member of the community. Perhaps this child will be the next generation’s greatest compassionate leader. In the meantime, let the powers that be continue their little charade. Let them continue to spew hatred and intolerance. For in that spirit, the Church hierarchy exhibits that it fails to practice that which it preaches. In reading this story, the words of Christ reverberated in my parochially educated mind: “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

    Fear not, Christians. Your Christ will return and your preachers will be the first in line at the lake of fire and brimstone.

  • Eugene Hettich

    To Realist:

    You have a good point, why would the parents want their children there? Bizarre. And why all these questions about forcing admission by the church and Catholic schools to people in conflict with their beliefs? Why would you want to send your child to somewhere they learn things in opposition to your own beliefs? This is why Catholic schools were formed to begin with! To have a place where people who want their children to be taught Catholic doctrine as well as all other subjects.

    Also, in reference to the article, to the extent that any other parent, not in communion with the churches teaching on serious issues, makes it public, then yes, it is the obligation of the Catholic school to stand up for it’s values. I would not send my child to a Jewish school with a giant crucifix backpack, or to a Muslim school with a naked woman sticker on his jacket. It’s absurd.

    Lastly, to Realist again, your claim about a “mostly gay clergy” is offensive, baseless and ignorant.

  • Realist,

    Ofttimes, this is used as a ploy for bringing controversial issues to a peak and forcing legal decisions. And if that’s the case, the parents are simply using their kid for their own purposes.

  • This is sort of reminiscent of your own article, Dreadful, if memory serves correctly, something about parents using their kid for Adolf Hitler propaganda

  • Is the school, as a private institution, within its rights to refuse enrollment to the child? Of course.

    But, as Diana observes, it’s almost certain that they are not applying the same Biblical standards of conduct across the board to their students’ parents. So yes, there is willful and deliberate discrimination here.

    Whether the couple has any legal redress depends, I suppose, on Colorado state law.

  • My only question is: why this couple would choose to allow their child to be indoctrinated with beliefs hostile to them? The church is hardly secretive about not allowing an alternative lifestyle to their mostly gay clergy!

  • Dan Miller to the rescue.

  • Clavos

    I believe (but am not familiar with the applicable CFR passages) that there is a legal distinction, yes.

  • And it hasn’t yet been legally challenged, I suppose.

    How would you distinguish it then from, say, a private club or association? There had been legal challenges to the operations of the latter, some of them successful.

  • Clavos

    If they met the criteria of not accepting government assistance in any form, yes. They could refuse admission to anyone, for any reason they deem.

    Hillsdale College does so, regularly, for ideological reasons, it is a conservative institution.

    They can do so because they are not a Land Grant college, and accept no government funding of any kind, not even students with government-funded scholarships. When Hillsdale is interested in such students, they are offered the opportunity to refuse their government scholarships and are then granted scholarships funded from the private donations at the college’s disposal.

    Hillsdale has graduated quite a number of well-known movers and shakers over the years.

  • In re #4, they would be in a perfect right to refuse admission to a card-carrying member of ACLU.

  • Clavos


  • In that case, the tax-exempt status definitely throws in a monkey wrench.

  • Clavos

    From a purely legal standpoint, those that accept no government money or assistance of any kind, are free to set their own standards, including for admissions, but there are few of them.

    One such is Hillsdale College, in Hillsdale, Mich.

  • There is besides another issue that seems to be lurking in the background – the distinction between private and public schools.

    So even apart from the Church’s tax-exemption status, another question can be raised: In what sense can private schools impose certain restrictions, as to admissions and a host of issues, and public schools cannot?

  • Well, let’s suppose then that the Church decides to abrogate her tax-exempt rights in order to be able to preserve its doctrinal purity. Fat chance, of course, but let’s suppose it.

    How would such an unlikely set of events affect the force of the argument?

  • Clavos

    Nice, well written piece, Diana.

    This decision does present some difficulties. Does the Church, a private entity, as you point out, have the right to determine who may or may not attend its schools in accordance with its own criteria and irrespective of the law of the land?

    Aside from the internal inconsistency of Church policy you examine, I would question whether or not the Church’s “private” status (and thus, exemption from observance of anti-discrimination laws), may not actually be negated by its tax-exempt status, which in one sense, might then be considered to be government support and therefore subjecting the Church to respecting and observing the law?