Students Get Earful of Anti-Gay Propaganda

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday March 30, 2011

A teacher at a Catholic high school in Indiana was caught on video telling students that gays are condemned by God and comparing homosexuals to prostitutes and people with drinking problems.

The chaplain for Cardinal Ritter High School in Indianapolis, Father John Hollowell, espoused anti-gay views to the class for more than two hours, denying to students that gays are born with an innate sexual orientation, and declaring that gays should not be allowed to adopt children because same-gender sexual activity would take place in the same house where adoptive children were living.

Hollowell said such a home environment would be "unhealthy," and drew parallels between gay adoptive parents and pornographers.

"If porn was being filmed in a home, we would pull the child out of that environment. If sex was occurring in the home which was bondage or S & M type sexuality, the CPS would pull the child out of that environment," Hollowell asserted.

Hollowell also seemingly claimed that the Catholic Church advocates "reparative therapy," a faith-based approach that claims to "cure" gays through therapy and prayer.

"The church, though, is saying that what we identify right now as being 'my attraction,' this is something that I have within me, this homosexual attraction, right, but through counseling, through whatever it may be, I can perhaps lower that through the same type of deal that you're talking about with Alcoholics Anonymous, that kind of stuff, okay?" Hollowell told the class.

Mental health professionals warn that reparative therapy may, in fact, be deeply harmful, and dispute the notion that sexual orientation can be changed. Though some individuals have claimed to be "cured" of homosexuality, it is unclear whether they were gay or simply emerging from an adolescent phase of sexual experimentation. Moreover, some bisexual individuals may choose to focus on their sexual attraction for one gender while ignoring similar yearnings for those of the same sex.

"Ex gays" who have said they have been "cured" of homosexuality have also noted that they "struggle" on a daily basis with sexual desire for individuals of the same gender. Some say that they have conquered homosexuality by blotting out all sexual interest, becoming asexual.

Moreover, the Catholic Church teaches that gays and lesbians do not "choose" their sexual orientation, but are born with it. The Church also teaches that gays are "called" to solitary lives of celibacy, asserting that homosexuals are "disordered" in their ability to form personal relationships and condemning same-gender sexual intimacy as "inherently evil."

Hollowell's lecture contained other factual errors, including an assertion that Massachusetts was the only state to offer marriage equality, noted GLBT site Good As You in a March 24 article. Five states currently extend marriage parity, as does the District of Columbia. In two states, California and Maine, voters repealed marriage rights for gays and lesbians at the ballot box, in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

Hollowell also claimed that the United States has laws against anti-gay speech, during a portion of the lecture in which he said that allowing gays civil parity would erode religious freedoms.

Hollowell went on to compare heterosexual couples incapable of producing children to "winless" athletic teams that garner glory for sports even without securing victory on the field, Good As You reported. The article went on to say that Hollowell acknowledged having cribbed parts of his lecture from claims and statements made by anti-gay group the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

"Several commentators, including Bishop Gene Robinson, have already drawn the link between this kind of anti-gay religious-based bigotry and the astronomically high rates of suicide and attempted suicide in LGBT teens," noted Equality Matters in a March 25 posting.

"Seventy percent of Catholics and a majority of the American public now believe that these kinds of messages contribute to higher rates of LGBT teen suicide," the posting added. "With anti-gay lessons like this being taught to young teenagers, it's not hard to imagine why."

Good As You reported that the students responded with challenges to the lesson they were being given. Some said that NOM's chair, Maggie Gallagher, seemed "bigoted" and "angry." Others contested Hollowell's anti-gay claims.

Several video clips of the two-hour-plus lecture were included in the Equality Matters posting.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.