Monday, October 16, 2006

Making Sure All Families Matter

Well, I may be marking time in Australia, but back in Minneapolis the good folks who comprise the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities, along with those inspiring Catholic Rainbow Parents, are making sure that a progressive Catholic voice is heard in response to all manner of reactionary, fear-based rhetoric.

Recently, members of both groups
joined with other “fair-minded” Minnesotans to protest Focus on the Family founder, James Dobson, when he rolled into town to drum up support for anti-gay candidates in the lead up to the November elections.

And now, Mary Lynn Murphy, Coordinator of Catholic Rainbow Parents, has written a powerful response to a
recent piece by Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist, Katherine Kersten.

Kersten had used her October 11 column to promote the outrage of a couple of parents who are upset by “Families All Matter,” a school-based curriculum developed by
Amaze , which encourages children to explore a range of diversity issues through reading.

Along with topics such as racism and disabilities, the “Families All Matter” curriculum also addresses “GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender] family members”. To make matters worse for the two mothers and Kersten, an out male gay teacher is one, of the no doubt hundreds of teachers, integrating the “Families All Matter” curriculum into his classroom teaching.

When schools allow for a discussion in the classroom of GLBT individuals, couples, and families, without considering those parents who do not recognize or support such people and families, then parental authority is being undermined, declares Kersten.

In response to such a charge, Mary Lynn Murphy, the parent of a straight daughter and a gay son, had the following letter published in the Star Tribune:

Kersten Back to Attacking Gays

Now that President Bush is on the political skids, Katherine Kersten distracts us again with the old reliable gay issue. This time it’s about how an “out” teacher in Minneapolis undermines parental authority.

Talk about undermined authority: Parents who just try to love and affirm their GLBT children are undermined every day – in schools where antigay slurs are constant occurrences, in churches that label our kids “disordered and inclined toward evil,” in a society that denies them full rights of citizenship in civil unions, and in newspapers where right-wing columnists utilize their lives as political cannon fodder.

Parent Gena Bounds may indeed feel undermined by one “out” teacher and his school staff. Loving families of GLBT persons are undermined every day, everywhere, by an entire system. So much for our parental authority.

Mary Lynn Murphy, St. Paul
Star Tribune, October 13, 2006

Mary wasn’t the only one to respond to Kersten. Here’s what two other Minnesotans had to say on the matter, via their letters to the editor of the Star Tribune:

Limit the Hysteria

Parents who claim that schools are undermining their authority over their kids need to actually begin doing some real parenting.

Teaching about diversity of sexual orientation is but one of many topics that schools and society must present to all children and, when necessary, parents as well. Parents who feel threatened by topics such as these are themselves victims of narrow-minded, homophobic influences which seem to be all too prevalent.

Society and children are better served by programs like “Families All Matter” than they are by timid school programs that neither challenge the mind nor engage the spirit. AMaze should be a required program in all public schools and parents should read the materials as well as kids. Maybe then we would begin to reduce the hysteria over the present reality of homosexual people who are our neighbors and friends.

George Hutchinson, Minneapolis
Star Tribune, October 13, 2006

Bad Timing for an Anti-Gay Column

It's ironic that on the eighth anniversary of
Matthew Shepard’s death – October 12 – Katherine Kersten would write another column bemoaning the tolerance of homosexuality in schools.

Jim Sustacek, Rosemount
Star Tribune, October 14, 2006

See also the previous Wild Reed post Catholic Rainbow (Australian) Parents.

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