In an e-mail exchange, Boulder Weekly asked Jeanette De Melo, the director of communications for the Archdiocese of Denver, several questions that have been raised about the decision to keep a lesbian couple’s child from re-enrolling at the Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Boulder:
Boulder Weekly: How did the school/Archdiocese find out that the student’s parents are lesbians?
Jeanette De Melo: The situation with the parents was discovered during the admission process.
BW: Is the decision being reconsidered? If not, how many students would have to drop out for it to be reconsidered?
JDM: This is an archdiocesanwide policy for Catholic schools. It is centered on the mission of the schools and on the teachings of the Catholic Church.
BW: What were the teachers told at the meeting on March 3? To not talk to the press? Would any teachers be persecuted if it were known they talked to the press?
JDM: This was no gag order. The teachers were given notice of this sensitive situation. It is a part of the archdiocesan and school employee handbook that media requests and media comments are handled through the Archdiocese. This is standard practice in most organizations.
BW: Were the parents informed of the decision and how?
JDM: The school staff and the pastor have been in discussion with the parents.
BW: How is the school/ Archdiocese enforcing this prohibition against children of homosexuals?
Is there a form sent home for parents to fill out that asks about their sexual orientation? Would it matter if an aunt or grandparent were homosexual? What if that relative were the primary caregiver?
JDM: This situation came to our awareness through the normal admissions process; it was not sought out.
BW: Is a similar approach being taken for other possible family deviances from traditional Catholic teachings (like a prohibition against students whose parents use birth control, students whose parents are not married but are living together, students who have a parent who is not Catholic, students whose parents don’t observe Lent or go to confession, or students who were conceived via in-vitro fertilization or donor eggs/sperm)?
JDM: This policy holds true to any open discord.
BW: How do you respond to some parents and teachers who say this decision goes against the school’s teachings of love and tolerance? (See answer below.)
BW: How does the decision mesh with mission-statement language and other information on the Archdiocese and school websites referring to “a nurturing community,” “a curriculum that reinforces what is taught at home,” nurturing “the spirituality of each individual,” “each person is created in the image and likeness of God,” giving our “understanding love,” serving with a spirit of forgiveness and building a community of hope and love? (See answer below.)
BW: Even if homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, why punish the child, who had no control over that choice?
JDM: In answer to your last three questions: This isn’t a punishment to the children. To allow children in these circumstances to continue in our school would be a cause of confusion for the children themselves in that what they are being taught in school conflicts with what they experience in the home. It isn’t in the best interest of the child that they are subjected to these mixed messages. Love and tolerance are manifested in many ways. As a parent knows, it isn’t love or tolerance to give a child anything they want and not provide them with guidelines for moral behavior. As Catholics we believe that Jesus Christ gave us the Church out of love for us and to help guide us in our lives. Each of us does not have the right to decide for himself what is “Catholic” and what is not. To be Catholic means to submit to the teachings of the Church in matters of faith and morals.