An Open Letter to Archbishop Thomas Cardinal Collins
I am a proud Catholic, raised in the Catholic School system of Ontario. At that time, there were no clubs or organizations, but just like now, or a hundred years ago and a hundred years moving forward, I had gay classmates. Not just a few, but several people I consider friends. And they struggled.
They had trouble living their lives in our education system. They had difficulty speaking out and being honest about their sexual identity with friends and family.
Many of them confided in me; their thoughts of suicide, their inability to cope, never being able to fully be themselves, the sleepless nights, tossing and turning about whether or not they should go public.
Those that did make the brave choice to come out to their peers were often met with ridicule. They were ostracized by their fellow Catholic student body. They had homophobic slurs scribbled and scratched into their lockers.
Some were picked on to the point of physical beatings at lunch time or after school.
It has always been odd to me that so-called Catholics, that are taught to love and respect all of God’s children, could be filled with such hate. How can they lose the concept of acceptance because some were born with a different sexual preference than others?
In the last few days you have been quite outspoken about amendments to the Ontario Education Act designed to deal with bullying.
You stated that "all forms of bullying need to be addressed, and all victims of bullying need to be helped."
I don’t disagree.
However, what you are doing is turning a blind eye to the fact that not all forms of bullying are the same.
The needs of someone bullied because of their background or their physical appearance may be completely different to those that are bullied because of their sexuality.
By continuing to endorse the idea of one umbrella group for all students, you are carefully dancing around the fact that our school system wants no mention of homosexuality in its clubs or organizations.
This willful blindness is, in itself, a display of intolerance.
As an enthusiastic member of our religion, I ask you, our local leader, to reconsider your position. The fact remains that there are gay kids in our Catholic schools and they need help. They deal with unique struggles and therefore need tailored support. Please see that they have a safe place to turn when they are looking for answers, and that they no longer feel marginalized, but accepted within the walls of our churches and schools.
You have a unique opportunity to show this city and this country that Catholics are caring, welcoming, and truly tolerant. There are gay kids in our schools, the fact remains, and those kids are just as Catholic as you and me.