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In Praise of “Coming Out” (Or: You Tell & We’ll Ask)

You may or may not know — and if you don’t you may not want to know — that there’s a debate taking place in the Church as to whether homosexual teachers in Catholic schools should “come out” — i.e., make their sexual orientation known to their students. Fr. Gerald D. Coleman weighed in on the subject in an article in America (March 19). His piece was surprisingly sensible. He said, among other things, that “Students are not in school to hear about or support a teacher’s orientation or lifestyle,” and that “a homosexual teacher who has a personal or psychological need to announce his/her sexual orientation to students should for this very reason not be teaching in a Catholic school at all.”

There were many negative replies to Coleman’s article, including an article-length piece from Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (America, April 23-30). The bishop, who has a reputation for being “gay-friendly,” asserted that Coleman displayed “prejudice against homosexual persons” and that Coleman’s words were “hurtful.”

Gumbleton forthrightly staked out his own position: “I urge that teachers in Catholic schools be free to allow their sexual orientation to be known [and]…the same thing should be true of priests and religious.”

Believe it or not, we’ll side with Gumbleton on this one, for this is how we think the scenario will — or should — play out: A certain percentage of teachers, priests, and religious declare publicly that they’re homosexual. They’ve broken the ice, and since they’re telling, we can ask. The $64,000 question of course is: “Are you celibate or not?”

Those who answer in the affirmative are given a medal to wear — no, we’re not being facetious, for they deserve a medal in this day and age! Moreover, the medals will be a reminder to the bearers in moments of weakness of their testimony, and, as the medals become widely known, they will ward off advances from noncelibate homosexuals.

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