The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of news for the LGBT community. Between President Joe Biden’s measures against Trump’s transgender military ban and Jojo Siwa’s coming out, my timelines and newsfeeds have been full of LGBT updates.
Out of everything that’s been coming to light, the one that stood out to me the most recently involved Catholicism. I’m not Catholic, and I usually avoid news stories about the Church. Having Catholicism forced down your throat for five years will do that to a person. Every time a religion teacher would discuss homosexuality as a sin, they would make direct eye contact with me and not break it, despite the fact that I wasn’t even out to my teachers. They must have seen my short hair and assumed.
However, it appears that my pixie cut and I have recently gained a win against my homophobic teachers, because Catholic bishops have started standing against the bullying of LGBT youth.
Twelve Catholic bishops, including a cardinal and an archbishop, have signed a statement with the Tyler Clementi Foundation, reading, “As Catholic Bishops in the United States, we join with the Tyler Clementi Foundation in standing up for at-risk LGBT youth in our country…”
The Tyler Clementi Foundation was created in 2011 after 18-year-old Tyler, a student at Rutgers University, was the target of severe cyberbullying. A few days after his roommate recorded and put online a video of Tyler “in an intimate act,” he ended his own life.
“His story puts a human face on the consequences of cruelty, which has been faced by millions of others suffering in silence in their schools, colleges, teams, workplaces, or faith communities,” reads the Tyler Clementi Foundation’s website.
The statement is 179 words long and titled, “God Is On Your Side: A Statement from Catholic Bishops on Protecting LGBT Youth.” The full piece is available on the Tyler Clementi Foundation website.
“All people of goodwill should help, support, and defend LGBT youth; who attempt suicide at much higher rates than their straight counterparts; who are often homeless because of families who reject them; who are rejected, bullied and harassed; and who are the target of violent acts at alarming rates,” it says.
Among the bishops who have signed it are Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin from the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey and Archbishop John C. Wester from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Although the Catholic Church believes that homosexuality isn’t to be acted upon, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says LGBT individuals still need to be treated with respect and love.
From what I can tell, this essentially means that although identifying as LGBT is a sin, you shouldn’t be punished for it by fellow Catholics. It can be a little confusing, especially for LGBT youth in the Catholic Church.
With suicide and homelessness rates for LGBT youth being higher than others, the statement is a good thing to see. Many LGBT people I know personally have struggled with accepting both their sexualities and their religious beliefs, and had this come out while they were in highschool, I’m sure it would have given them hope.
“I am very grateful to the Catholic bishops who have signed the declaration and are courageously adding their voices to an effort to show God’s love by opposing any violence, harassment or bullying behaviour against the most vulnerable among us,” said Jane Clementi, Tyler’s mother.