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Hey, Catholic schools: Homosexuality is not a “condition”

In another episode of traditional institutions cartwheeling several centuries back in time, the people of the internet (through the hashtag #ActBetterAC) are calling out a school in Iloilo for allegedly making students sign a document agreeing to expulsion if they are found to be engaging in “immoral” acts.

A portion of the document from Assumption Iloilo had been making rounds on Twitter last week, with the blurry screengrab showing the provisions of the conforme. 

The issue isn’t the conforme itself: Schools have the right to enforce regulations as they see fit within the walls of their campus. What’s baffling is what the document lists as acts pertaining to immorality, most of which are crimes, that would be considerable grounds for expulsion. 

Even homosexuality. Which is pretty ironic for a school in a city that’s dubbed itself as “LGBT-friendly.”

I can’t say I’m surprised because I’ve seen this before and I didn’t like the ending. Other Catholic universities have been dragged online for requiring similar documents that threaten safe learning spaces for LGBTQ+ communities. 

The hashtag rose on Twitter’s trending charts on Aug. 7 in response to this whole mess, with people expressing disappointment and calling out the school on the nature of the document. Assumption Iloilo eventually addressed the issue in a statement released on the same day, clarifying that what they deem as “immoral” are “‘acts’ of a person and not the ‘condition’ or ‘orientation’ of a person.”

Statement Regarding the Charges of Discrimination against Homosexuality

Posted by Assumption Iloilo on Friday, August 7, 2020

 

First of all, how do we define “immoral”? 

Upon consultation with my go-to dictionary Merriam-Webster, the word means “conflicting with generally or traditionally held moral principles.” 

Hmm. A little vague. Let’s try defining “moral,” then: “Of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior.” Virtuous, upright, honorable―all qualities expected of a decent human being.

Not everyone can be saints. Only a select handful are chosen to bear witness to the divine graces of higher beings. I’m no saint myself; my own moral compass isn’t perfect, constantly veering from chaotic good to lawful neutral like a metronome picking up its pace. 

To put homosexuality on the same tier (or heck, the same sentence) as rape and incest is already infuriating, but the statement also seems to imply that homosexuality is a “condition.”

I’d like to believe I’m doing good things, no matter how small. I don’t believe in judging others’ moral compasses as well, but it’s hard to comprehend how some people still find it utterly difficult to practice what they preach.

While I understand that Catholic institutions have principles to uphold, the statement itself raises even more questions. 

To put homosexuality on the same tier (or heck, the same sentence) as rape and incest is already infuriating, but the statement also seems to imply that homosexuality is a “condition.” It also appears to offer no clear explanation of what these “homosexual acts” are.

And why should homosexual people be punished by the same standard (i.e. expulsion) as those who commit abuse? Have we not learned from multiple cases of victim-blaming in educational institutions already?

Schools are meant to educate students to hone their abilities, and that’s not going to happen by policing their gender and sexual identities. 

Here we are thinking that Catholic institutions have finally begun to be more open to and accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. Pope Francis himself has called on Christians multiple times not to condemn queer people. 

Back in 2013, he said that someone asked him his stance on homosexuality. He threw back a question, which we all ought to keep in mind as we participate in this discourse:

“‘Tell me: When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”

It’s a wonderful message on paper, but one that doesn’t look to be the case for every Catholic institution. Catholic schools are there to guide students with the core values they promote, but all that is for naught when it stops at monotonous, compulsory memorizations of missions and visions.

Schools are meant to educate students to hone their abilities, and that’s not going to happen by policing their gender and sexual identities. 

Documents like the conforme in question only reinforce the notion that the LGBT community should be “tolerated” rather than accepted. Schools failing to see how heteronormative some of their policies only contribute to the already slow progress towards acceptance.

As more and more people brave their fears and gather the courage to call out their respective schools for concerning policies, I see this as a step towards change that has long been overdue. Complaints alone won’t overhaul flawed systems, but voicing them lets these institutions know that its stakeholders seek change.

It won’t happen overnight, but it won’t happen either while we’re mum about issues that threaten and discriminate against anyone.

 

Read more:

For Gigi Esguerra, living your truth is protest

These queer people found God without turning their back on homosexuality

For queer couples, holding hands in public is still a privilege

 

Art by Jan Cardasto

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