Monday, April 12, 2010

Can Your Parents' Sexual Orientation Determine Your School Admission?

Two children currently enrolled as students at The Sacred Heart of Jesus School will not be allowed to return to school next year. Why? Because their parents are lesbians.

This article states that last month the Archdiocese of Denver defended the Catholic school's decision to ban the children from attending the school, on the grounds that their parents' lifestyle goes against the doctrines and teachings of the Catholic Church. The two children are currently both in preschool; the oldest child was enrolled in kindergarten for next year, and the younger child was enrolled for another year of preschool. The oldest child is allowed to complete this year but will not be allowed to return next school year, and the younger child is allowed to complete all preschool years, but will also not be allowed to enroll in kindergarten. In an article published in the Denver Catholic Register, Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote, "The Church does not claim that people with a homosexual orientation are 'bad' or that their children are less loved by God. Quite the opposite. But what the Church does teach is that sexual intimacy by anyone outside marriage is wrong; that marriage is a sacramental covenant; and that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman. These beliefs are central to a Catholic understanding of human nature, family and happiness, and the organization of society. The Church cannot change these teachings because, in the faith of Catholics, they are the teachings of Jesus Christ."

When put into those terms, this decision indeed appears to be in line with the Catholic teachings, but DignityUSA director Marianne Duddy-Burke does not feel that way. She says that "the Archdiocese has acted very unjustly" in singling these two children out for exclusion. She continued, "Until every student's parents are tested on Catholic teaching, this action by Catholic officials cannot be understood as anything other than discrimination on the back of a child." Duddy-Burke brings up a valid point. Since the Catholic church does not agree with divorce and remarriage, are children of divorced or remarried parents also being asked to leave the school? Or what about children whose parents have affairs and cheat on their spouses? I'm pretty confident that the Archdiocese is not monitoring the lifestyle of every student's parents, so it seems that this decision was made off of rather inconsistent regulations.

As a private institution, The Sacred Heart of Jesus School has the right to choose who is granted admission into the school. But does it have the right to reject students, even if it means rejecting them on the basis of discriminating against homosexuality?

It seems unfair, but I think that right now it would be in the best interest of both of the children to leave the The Sacred Heart of Jesus and attend elementary school somewhere else next year. If they stay at a school where they are being taught that homosexuality is bad and evil, they will essentially be learning that their mommies are bad, which is clearly not something that children should be learning in school.


Claire said...

I do not think that the Sacred Heart of Jesus School is being fair by excluding two children based on the sexual orientation of their parents. Lauren raises a good point that the school should not put itself in the situation to judge the moral character of students’ parents. I doubt that the school would exclude a child whose parent had committed adultery or a child whose parent overindulged in alcohol. Unfortunately, I think that the school is within its constitutional rights to do so. It is a private school that reserves the right to deny admission to children based on its own criteria. I hope that I am wrong and that the Supreme Court finds otherwise.

Abby P said...

This is an extremely controversial case. It is true that the private schools do have the ability to deny admission to students; however, I am almost positive that private schools do not look into the personal lives of the parents of all applicants, like they did in this case. As Lauren questioned in the post, and as I am echoing here, will the school deny admission to children of divorced parents? Will the school expel students, whose parents have committed adultery? Also, although the school is saying that the reason for exclusion was that the parents were not married, the real reason seems to undeniably be that the parents were homosexuals. This seems to be incredibly discriminatory and unfair to the students. I am not exactly sure what the courts can do in this case; but it just seems unjust to punish children for the actions of their parents.

Alicia_W said...

I agree with Lauren, Claire and Abby. It is not fair that the school is able to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. In the article, the school describes marriage as a perfect situation but like Claire and Abby mentioned, what about divorce? Adultery? With these ideas in mind, it surprises me that the school did in fact look into the background of the parents of the two children. I feel like someone must have complained to the school board or something similar for something like this to happen. Like Claire mentioned, because it is a private school, the school is able to exclude any applicant that they choose. Until the government grants legal rights and documentation to the union of homosexuals, I do not think there is anything that can be done to justify this situation. Finally, I agree with Lauren's last statement that the children are better off finding a school where they will not be discriminated against because of sexual orientation of the people who love and care for them.

Justin M said...

As it so happens, I agree with everyone in this case. Although it is true that there is very little that the legal system can do to stop this discrimination, the Sacred Heart of Jesus School should be more consistent in its policy. Although the teachings of the Church do hold certain virtues, it is unreasonable to punish the children for the acts of their parents. Regardless of their opinion on gay marriage etc, the kids have not broken any of these beliefs. For this reason, it seems odd that the children would be alienated from this institution. Additionally, I agree with the author that no matter the outcome of this issue, it is probably in the best interest of the children to attend school elsewhere.

E.Levy said...

I happen to agree with all of the above comments, but at the same time recognize that the Sacred Heart of Jesus School is acting completely within the realm of legality. Its seems curious as to why they are indeed singling out two students when we all know that many other students parents are in violation of catholic teachings one way or another, but I don’t think that’s for any person or court to figure out. Sacred Heart is a religious private school, and we do not one our courts interfering with their matters, for this could lead to a very slippery slope. Its unfortunate what the school is doing here, but this matter is not one that needs further discussion, especially not from the courts.

Jessica B said...

I find the legality of this case questionable. In Wisconsin v. Yoder the court only granted exemption to the student whom was complaining themselves. The court claimed it could not grant an exemption to Amish children based on their parents beliefs, the case involved the children so they had to testify that they held the beliefs themselves. Should not the reciprocal apply? I believe a private organization should not be granted the privilege of acceptance discrimination if they are not even discriminating against the applicant. The fact that the organization does not scrutinize the backgrounds of all other applicants parents just emphasizes the irrelevancy. The students are even too young to have opinions for themselves, for all the Church knows they could grow up to be Bible abiding ministers.
Secondly, the discrimination here is different from that in Bob Jones University v. US (a decision of which I have defended to be constitutional). I believe the organization has a right to discriminate amongst its applicants because of the morals they want to enforce on campus. It would be constitutional to request that the unmarried, lesbian couple not present themselves at the school as such, but to reflect the discrimination on the children takes away their rights. The children may not know what the First Amendment is, but they are still protected by it.