Indianapolis High School Stands Firm Against LGBT Attacks

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  August 16, 2019   

Gay student says Roncalli High School threatened punishment amid lesbian counselor row

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INDIANAPOLIS (ChurchMilitant.com) - Roncalli Catholic High School in Indiana is facing continued LGBT criticism for being loyal to its Catholic identity.

The high school in the Indianapolis archdiocese has caught flak in the past 12 months after dismissing two counselors who were both in same-sex "marriages." 

In August last year, Roncalli administrators put guidance counselor Shelly Fitzgerald on leave after learning that she was in a same-sex union. Then in March, guidance counselor Lynn Starkey was told that her contract would not be renewed because she likewise was in a civil "marriage" with a same-sex partner.

Roncalli has faced much criticism in the past year, including accusations of discriminating against LGBT persons.

Now, the school is coming under fire again after a recent graduate said students could get in trouble for speaking out against the school's decisions to dismiss Fitzgerald and Starkey.

Dominic Conover graduated from Roncalli this May. He claims that high school administrators threatened disciplinary action during his senior year for his outspoken support of Fitzgerald. He told local NBC affiliate WTHR earlier this week, "They said I crossed a bunch of lines a bit too much and I couldn't be crossing lines further if I wanted to graduate."

Conover helped found "Shelly's Voice," a group of pro-LGBT Roncalli students who supported Fitzgerald and opposed school administrators for suspending the lesbian guidance counselor.

 

Soon after news broke of Fitzgerald's suspension, Conover "came out" as gay. He explained to WTHR, "It was important to show people that I am gay, I'm proud and I'm ready to take this stand for the other students."

Conover's comments come as Roncalli is modifying its policy on bullying and harassment. The updated version of the policy, made available to the school community in a newsletter, states in part: 

In order to protect students, employees, volunteers and the school, each student is expected to treat the good name and reputation of other students, school employees, volunteers and the school with dignity and respect and not engage in any activity or conduct, either on campus or off campus, that is in opposition to this guideline and/or inconsistent with the Catholic Christian principles of the school, as determined by the school in its discretion.

The updated policy goes on to decry "any derogatory, slanderous, hostile or threatening remarks or actions directed toward any of the above by a student," whether at school or not, including electronic communications such as "social media, text messages, blogging, voicemails, images, pictures, etc."

Each student is expected to treat the good name and reputation of other students, school employees, volunteers and the school with dignity and respect.

On Thursday, pro-LGBT Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin posted on Twitter a link to an article on this controversy from dissident pro-gay group New Ways Ministry.

In that tweet, Fr. Martin quoted the New Ways Ministry article, saying, "A Catholic high school which has so far fired two LGBTQ church workers is now threatening students who criticize the school with punishment, including expulsion."

In 2010, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) declared that New Ways Ministry is not an authentically Catholic organization. Then-USCCB President Cdl. Francis George said in a statement, "No one should be misled by the claim that New Ways Ministry provides an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching and an authentic Catholic pastoral practice."

He continued, "Their claim to be Catholic only confuses the faithful regarding the authentic teaching and ministry of the Church with respect to persons with a homosexual inclination."

"Accordingly," Cdl. George stated, "I wish to make it clear that, like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of Church teaching, New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church and that they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States."

Roncalli High School is one of three schools in the Indianapolis archdiocese at the center of a heated debate over Catholic schools employing and dismissing homosexual employees.

In June, it was revealed that Jesuit-run Brebeuf Preparatory School was adamantly refusing to dismiss a teacher in a same-sex "marriage" and that the Indianapolis archdiocese, headed by Abp. Charles Thompson, stripped the school of its Catholic name in response.

Also in June, Cathedral High School reluctantly dismissed a teacher in a same-sex marriage amid pressure from the archdiocese.

It came to be known that the Cathedral teacher and the Brebeuf teacher were each other's homosexual partners.

Reports in August revealed that the Jesuit priests at Brebeuf lost their permission to offer all-school Masses, but Abp. Thompson allowed them to continue having morning weekday Mass before the start of each school day.

The Jesuits have filed an appeal with the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education, hoping to regain the school's Catholic name and the permission to offer all-school Mass.

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