Catholic High School Discrimination

Lance Sanderson, a senior at Christian Brothers High School in Memphis, Tenn.

Meet Lance. He lives in Memphis. He is a senior at an all-boys Catholic high school. He is actively involved on campus.

Like most high schoolers, he was looking forward to homecoming. That was until he was denied a date. Why?

He is gay.

Lance and I have a lot in common. I also lived in a southern state. I attended an all-boys Catholic high school. And, I was also actively involved.

The only difference is that Lance has much more strength and courage than I did at that age. I was not openly gay until college, so I wouldn’t have asked my school to allow me to take a male date. However, I’m certain the answer would have also been no.

Catholic schools have to follow the teachings of the Catholic church. I understand that. Though, I’ve put some thought to this.

Schools hosting dances that allow students to date is a way of fostering the building of relationships, which according to the Church is practice and experience leading up to the sacrament of holy matrimony. Since the Church does not approve of same-sex couples receiving this sacrifice, it makes sense that it would not approve of the fostering or encouraging of the dating, or courting, aspect of same-sex relationships.

However, it is time for this to be looked at from a different, new and fresh perspective. Pope Francis is not changing church teachings, but he IS changing the tone of those teachings. Perhaps Catholic high schools can learn from this approach.

FACT — Catholic schools have gay students.
Do we want to make them feel any more marginalized than they already do? Do we want them to feel discrimination and isolation any more than they already do?
How can we make gay students feel included in the school community in all aspects without giving a stamp of approval on behavior that goes against the Catholic church?

The approach can be the same as heterosexual couples. The Church does not approve of premarital sex, but surely high schools realize they have sexually active students. Do you assume the heterosexual couples are not sexually active when they buy tickets and attend a dance? Do you allow them to attend only if they sign an agreement not to have sex?

No. Catholic schools teach abstinence and don’t question which students are having sex and which ones aren’t. Why can’t we treat homosexual couples the same? Why isn’t the message of teaching abstinence enough for homosexual couples also? Why would schools assume that a same-sex couple is having sex?

Catholic schools have a responsibility. They should follow the Church’s teachings which have always promoted love, dignity and respect of all. They should foster relationships that are built on mutual respect. They should NOT get into the business of of discrimination, intolerance and ignorance.

My hope is that Lance knows that there are thousands of us out there who understand what he is going through. He should keep his chin up, be proud of who he is, and never let anyone bully him to think otherwise.

My name is Aaron Jay Ledesma.
I’m from Houston, Texas.
I’m Catholic.
I’m gay.
I’m me.

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