Remove the "Sexuality Clause" from Student Handbooks in the Archdiocese of Newark

Remove the "Sexuality Clause" from Student Handbooks in the Archdiocese of Newark

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Justin Oei started this petition to Archbishop of Newark Joseph Cardinal Tobin and

Cardinal Tobin, Dr. Dames, and school administrators of the Archdiocese of Newark:

We, the undersigned, call on you to immediately remove the "Archdiocesan Handbook Statement on Human Sexuality" from student and faculty handbooks for the 2020-21 school year.

Jesus says to those of us who follow His way, "Let the little children come to me and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs" (Matthew 19:14 NRSV). Faith based schools have a unique position to both share the moral and ethical foundations that we profess as Christians and the responsibility to educate students as responsible and ethical citizens.

I attended Oratory Prep in Summit, and am grateful for the education that I received there. It was there that I learned the importance of civic engagement and the necessary role of activism to usher in what the Rev'd Martin Luther King, Jr., called the Beloved Community. Even earlier, in another Catholic school, I learned to sing that old hymn: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." It is because of what I learned there that I am compelled to start this petition and to call for change.

Yet by having the statement on Sexuality instituted by Archbishop John Myers in the student handbook, archdiocesan schools, while technically faithful to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, send a discriminatory message to potential and enrolled students, faculty, parents, and staff. By stating that the school may expel students in the name of upholding church doctrine on human sexuality, the archdiocese is enabling homophobia and discriminatory action against LGBTQ+ Christians, members of society, and, most importantly, children of God, made in the Creator's divine image. Moreover, Oratory's specific handbook statement includes "student's expressions of gender, sexual identity, or sexuality" as a matter for counselling by school administration that, "if not resolved to the satisfaction of the school...then the student will be expelled from the catholic school." This inflicts untold psychological trauma on young people who live in terror of being outed and cast out of their communities simply for openly expressing their sexual orientation.

One of the greatest hymns of Christendom reminds us that "The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord; she is His new creation by water and the word." Looking at Jesus Christ as the rock of our faith, I believe that we only see His unconditional love. We call on you to allow students to openly embrace their sexual orientation and gender identity at their schools without fear of expulsion, counseling, or retribution by administration or students. We also call for the Archdiocese to commit to including meaningful education on topics related to diversity and inclusion as a mandatory part of each grade's curriculum. Only then can we truly live into the Call that Jesus gives to His disciples in the Great Commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart...[and] love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12: 30-31 NRSV).

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