A St. Louis Park school banned an staff editorial criticizing Archbishop John Neinstedt’s anti-gay marriage DVD in the school’s newspaper as well as a story from a student who came out at the Benilde-St. Margaret Catholic school, City Pages reports. Principal Sue Skinner put this statement on the website of the school newspaper, the Knight Errant:
The administration is asking that the staff editorial entitled “Staff Finds DVD unsubstantiated” , and the opinion piece titled “Life as a Gay Teenager” be immediately removed from the Knight Errant website along with the online comments for each piece. The reason is that while lively debate and discussion clearly has its place in a Catholic school, this particular discussion is not appropriate because the level of intensity has created an unsafe environment for students. As importantly, the articles and ensuing online postings have created confusion about Church teaching. The administration will be following up with the staff of the Knight Errant to review and discuss the protocol for what is appropriate content.
Bernardo Vigil, one of the paper’s student editors, was kicked out of class on Monday for wearing duct tape over his mouth. He told CityPages:
“The people who said it was inappropriate for us to publish these stories are the same people who are perpetuating an atmosphere of homophobia on campus, so caving to the calls for censorship is basically showing solidarity with the view that homophobia is okay,” Vigil said. “The articles need to go back online.”
Senior Sean Simonsen’s coming out story was nixed from the paper. While you can’t read his story thanks to the school’s censorship, you can read his letter to the editor of the Star Tribune last month urging positive change for LGBT people:
Dear straight America,
Imagine living in a world where the kids at school talk behind your back about your sexual orientation, where religions condemn you and preach hatred for your love that exists, and where your fellow Americans allow politicians to debate issues like your protection from bullying and hate crimes and your right to marry.
Welcome to the life of a gay teenager.
It’s no wonder so many such teenagers have considered or committed suicide. Please stop the hate. Write to your legislator about making changes in Washington, and please reach out to those who might need your help.
SEAN SIMONSON, EDINA
Through the magic of google cache, fortunately, here is the staff editorial that was censored:
Staff Finds DVD unsubstantiated
The Catholic Church has been a long-standing opponent of gay marriage both in civil law and the Church itself. In keeping with this teaching, Archbishop Nienstedt produced and mailed a DVD in which he explicitly endorses an amendment to our state constitution that would bar homosexuals from the right to marry under civil law.
We as a staff believe the Church has both the right to have a teaching on this issue and to deny homosexuals the right to get married within the Church itself. However, we also feel that the DVD many of our families received is inappropriate due to the civil nature of the issue, and the content is nothing more than simple, emotional propaganda.
Archbishop Nienstedt states in the DVD that gay marriage poses a threat not only to the children taken out of the foster care system and adopted by married gay couples, but to children everywhere. He warns us that if we were to legalize gay marriage, the government would start teaching children in public schools that gay marriage is okay–something that is not consistent with Catholic teachings. The DVD further equates the effects of growing up in a household with two moms or two dads to growing up in a polygamous household, or an impoverished, financially struggling, single parent home.
The DVD tells us that the legalization of same-sex marriage will result in a world that no longer cares about a one-man one-woman vision of marriage, which will in turn result in a society that is, “callous and indifferent to the suffering it imposes on its own children, and on women who are left to carry the burden of parenting, and on men who are fundamentally dehumanized.”
How gay marriage results in heterosexual divorce and poverty, the DVD fails to address. How gay marriage leads to the acceptance of polygamy, the DVD makes no mention of either.
In the end, the DVD simply tries to equate gay marriage (an institution that would actually bring families together through the adoption of children) to broken homes and polygamy, without providing any facts to back it up. And, while the struggles of raising a child without a mother or father as support are certainly real, this stems from the fact that single parents are doing the job of two people and is not a reason to deny homosexuals the right to marry under civil law.
The DVD also aimed to reject the notion that the issue of gay marriage is an issue of civil rights. They did this in the most subtle way imaginable: by having a black man quote Martin Luther King Jr. The quote in question was from “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” and stated that for a law to be just it must be in line with natural law.
What the speaker fails to address is the very next line of the letter that states, “Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statues are unjust because segregation distorts the soul.” Clearly this omitted line proves that MLK would not have supported discriminatory policies against any group, including homosexuals. The fact that the Church would go as far as to evoke MLK in an issue which he clearly wouldn’t have supported speaks volumes to the argument which the DVD presents.
To close its argument, the DVD states that the civil recognition of same-sex marriage would be an attack on our religious liberties as Catholics; however, no law that would be passed for gay marriage would have any impact on the Church’s ability to control its own definition of marriage. The legislature is discussing granting civil liberties to homosexuals in a legal way, not a religious one.
We have been told through this DVD to defend the historical definition of marriage through our votes. Well, up until 1967 it was a historical precedent not to let two people of different races get married in 17 states. In previous centuries, married women were considered their husband’s properties. But these things have changed, and it’s time for the civil definition of marriage to change again to account for our gay brothers and sisters, not in the Church, but at least in the civil arena.
Update: Here’s Sean Simonson’s opinion piece:
Life as a gay teenager
written by Sean Simonson
November 11, 2010
I have considered suicide. Yes, I have considered taking my own life. Unlike six other boys recently in the news, I never took the steps to follow through on my dark thoughts, but, unfortunately, I can understand what drove them to. Because I know what it’s like to be a gay teenager.
Imagine going through adolescence: hormones raging, body changing, and relationships that go a little deeper than friendship developing. Now, add on being gay.
Don’t believe being different is difficult? Try going through a day in the life of a gay teen.
Every day you hear someone use your sexuality–a part of you that, no matter how desperately
you try, you cannot change–as a negative adjective. That hurts.
You fear looking the wrong way in the locker room and offending someone. Politicians are allowed to debate your right to marry the person you love or your right to be protected from hate crimes under the law. Your faith preaches your exclusion–or damnation. And no one does anything to stop it.
Recently, the Archbishop used money donated by an anonymous source to denounce same-sex marriage. That’s right: a major religious leader used non-Church money from a questionable source to publicly condemn your right to express your love in a public and binding manner.
A public school district nearby–after a wake of suicides by kids much like yourself–cannot bring itself to put your protection from bullying into its policies. Members of the district fear your kind and how you might brainwash their children into thinking that your behavior is appropriate or to join you.
A political party makes its position denying your right to marry one of its main voting points. And your nation voted this party in office.
You cannot legally give blood to save a life, nor risk your life to defend your country unless you hide your identity and deny who you are.
Oh yeah, and the words “queer,” “homo,” and “faggot” that people throw around all the time? Yeah, those might as well be personal attacks.
This is daily life for me. And I can understand why, if you are gay like me, you might consider ending it all. But I hope you don’t.
Why? Because without you, who is going to make it better for everyone else? Without you, no one is going to stand up against the injustice. I need you to help me make this world a better place for both of us and everyone else like us.
And all of you who don’t have to undergo this horror daily, it’s up to you to help. Don’t stand by and let hatred go on. Don’t sit back and watch your friends be discriminated against. Reach out and help those who might need it.
Together, maybe we can make the world an easier place to live for gay and straight teens alike. Because no one else is going to do it for us.