Stop Anti-Gay Marriage Debates in French Catholic Schools

Target: Eric de Labarre, head of France’s Catholic schools

Goal: Remain neutral on the issue of same-sex marriage in French Catholic schools

The education minister of France, Vincent Peillon, recently wrote a letter to the officials of the country’s Catholic schools, requesting that they refrain from discussing the issue of same-sex marriage with students. Leaders of the Catholic Church in France have expressed their opposition to LGBT rights and marriage equality, and a discussion led by Catholic instructors would present a biased view of the issue, instead of allowing students to develop their own opinions on the subject. The French government is expected pass legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, and although a majority of French citizens support the measure, it has still faced significant opposition from the large Catholic population.

Peillon’s letter is in response to a statement written by the head of France’s Catholic schools, directing instructors to start talking to students about same-sex marriage and adoption, claiming that this discussion must take place in order for students to become well-informed. The Catholic Church in France has been urging its followers to oppose the marriage equality bill, and the head of the Church recently equated same-sex marriage with incest and polygamy, suggesting that marriage equality would harm French society. Based on these statements by leaders in the Church, it is unlikely that discussions of the subject in Catholic schools would provide students with a fair understanding of the issue.

Conservatives have suggested that it is unfair to restrict Catholic schools in this way when public schools have no such restrictions. However, public school discussions of LGBT rights are generally unbiased, which would not be the case in Catholic schools, given the Church’s strong anti-gay stance. The President of France, Francois Hollande, has come out in support of Peillon’s letter, indicating that allowing Catholic leaders to discuss the same-sex marriage bill with students would violate the separation of church and state. Peillon and his supporters fear that allowing debates on the topic of LGBT rights in Catholic schools would only increase homophobia and discrimination against gay students in religious schools.

Although Catholic schools in France are private, they do receive government funding and should therefore conform to the standard of fairness presented by the education minister. Peillon has asked schools to remain neutral on the subject of same-sex marriage, which, in the case of Catholic schools, can only be achieved by avoiding the topic altogether. Support Peillon’s request that Catholic leaders refrain from discussing LGBT rights in schools, so that students will have the freedom to establish their own opinions on the issue.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Eric de Labarre,

France’s education minister, Vincent Peillon, recently requested that Catholic schools refrain from discussing same-sex marriage so as to remain neutral on the subject and allow students to establish their own views.

Catholic leaders in France have made their position on LGBT rights clear, explicitly stating their opposition to marriage equality. It would therefore be impossible for Catholic instructors to present unbiased views on the issue. If same-sex marriage were discussed in Catholic classrooms, anti-gay views would be presented exclusively, which would increase homophobia and further alienate gay students.

Students in Catholic schools deserve to have a fair understanding of the issue of same-sex marriage. Please retract your statement asking Catholic schools to discuss same-sex marriage so that students can form their own opinions without being influenced by the prejudices of the Church.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr.

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