Friday, November 15, 2013

Cardinal Spellman High School, Let's Talk!

 “These supposed conversion therapies constitute a violation of the ethical principles of health care and violate human rights that are protected by international and regional agreements....[Reparative therapies] lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.”
~The World Health Organization, May, 2012
November 15, 2013, the Bronx, NY: The new Bronx LGBTQ Center is deeply concerned after learning that Cardinal Spellman High School has invited Father Donald Timone to speak at its school about LGBTQ issues.

While we respect freedom of speech, we do not respect bullying and hate speech, especially when it negatively impacts the lives of at-risk teenagers. Fr. Timone's misinformed and unenlightened rhetoric adds to the toxic environment that drives so many LGBTQ youth to despair—and beyond.

"No educational institution should be so irresponsible as to invite someone whose entire approach to LGBTQ individuals is based on bad science. Exodus International, a Christian ministry that formerly advocated attempts to 'pray away the gay' (i.e. conversion therapy), recently disbanded after admitting that a person's sexual orientation cannot be changed and that reparative therapy is in fact harmful," Peter C. Frank, the Center's secretary stated.

Fr. Timone is affiliated with COURAGE, an organization that treats gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people as addicts curable by participation in a 12-step program, instead of accepting and respecting them as the loving individuals they are. Courage's "free speech" promotes self-loathing among LGBTQ individuals and encourages others to hate LGBTQ people simply for being who they are, thus putting them at a greater risk of being bullied.

We strongly condemn the notion that being LGBTQ can be "treated" with 12-step programs or by any other method. Mr. Frank added, "Cardinal Spellman High School should instead, like Pope Francis's recent statements, be sending a message of love, inclusion, and acceptance.”

We join with LGBTQ spiritual leaders in calling for dialogue with Fr. Timone and the Archdiocese of New York, as these types of belief systems lead to violence and homelessness.

Rev. Carmen Hernandez
We at the Bronx LGBTQ Center want all youth to know that you are fine just as you are. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you, whether you're straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning. We accept and celebrate you for who you are," Rev. Carmen Hernandez, a board member of the Center, said.


"The Bronx LGBTQ Center is a safe space for all who are struggling with issues of sexual orientation or gender identity. Our Youth Group meets at 4pm every Friday at Union Community Health Center, 260 East 188th Street, 5th Floor, the Bronx," Mr. Frank noted.

The Bronx LGBTQ Center is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization building a new community services center for LGBTQ and supportive individuals in the Bronx, lower Westchester, and upper Manhattan. It offers supportive services such as a free legal clinic, youth and women's groups, and social and recreational events. The Center is partnering with other community-based organizations to provide clinical and health-related services to the community. For more information, email info@bronxlgbtqcenter.org, call 347-LGBT-BX1, or visit us online at http://bronxlgbtqcenter.org, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/bronxlgbtqcenter, on Twitter @BxLGBTQcenter and on Google+ http://gplus.to/BronxLGBTQcenter .

Contact Peter C. Frank with questions: secretary@bronxlgbtqcenter.org or call 914-417-9579.


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[Updated November 17, 2013, 1:00 p.m. with the following:]

DignityUSA and Dignity-New York have released the following statement in support of our statement, above, regarding this issue:











Contacts: Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director, 617-669-7810 (mobile) Jeff Stone, Director of Media Relations, 646-418-7039 (mobile)
Gay Catholics Urge Catholic High School in Bronx to Reconsider
Invitation to Speaker Who Regards Being Gay as Addiction

New York, NY. November 15, 2013.  Leaders of DignityUSA, the nation’s largest LGBT Catholic organization, and its New York City chapter strongly urge administrators at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx to reconsider their invitation to a representative of the organization Courage to speak to parents of students at the school on Tuesday, November 19.  Courage regards gay sexual orientation as an addictive disorder, and advises gay people to practice abstinence through a 12-step approach.
Jeff Stone, a spokesperson for the New York City chapter of Dignity, said, “We are very concerned that this speaker, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York, will give parents an incorrect and extremely damaging understanding of their children’s sexual orientation.  As all reputable science has shown, a gay, lesbian, or bisexual sexual orientation is not a choice, and it is not a disorder.  Furthermore, it cannot be changed through any type of ‘ex-gay’ therapy, which has been condemned by the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association, and has been banned by state law in New Jersey and California.”
Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, added, “Courage is based on an approach that has led many people to experience shame and self-loathing, rather than a sense of themselves as loved and blessed by God.  Young people, and the parents they look to for guidance, who may be uninformed about LGBT issues, are especially vulnerable to such damaging misinformation.  Views such as those promoted by Courage contribute not only to anti-gay bullying, but to a high rate of suicide among LGBT youth.”
Duddy-Burke continued, “We have heard hundreds of stories from people who were either forced into so-called ‘ex-gay’ treatment, or who were led to believe life-long celibacy was the only course open to them.  To a person, these individuals describe this approach as resulting only in increased misery, shame, and self-loathing, often leading to substance abuse and attempted suicide.  They often report having to undergo years of more affirming therapy in order to come to a sense of acceptance of their identity.”

Stone commented, “Pope Francis has said about gay people, ‘Who am I to judge?’ Isn’t it time for the Catholic Church and its schools to leave behind outdated, discredited, and harmful approaches to human sexuality and actually listen to the experience of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people?”
# # #


[Updated November 18, 2013, 12:00 p.m. with the following:]


METRO NY CHAPTER

PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release

CONTACTS:

Arthur J. McGrath, President, 917-757-0459 (mobile)
Nancy Lorence, Secretary, 917-234-9397 (mobile)

Progressive Catholic Organization Objects to “Courage” Speaker for Cardinal Spellman High School Parents; Sites Adolescent Mental Health Concerns

New York, November 18, Calling for an inclusive Church, Call to Action Metro NY, the local chapter of Call to Action USA, a progressive Catholic organization, asks that Reverend Trevor Nicholls, President of Cardinal Spellman High School, reconsider the invitation to have Reverend Donald Timone speak on behalf of the Courage organization to the Spellman Parents Association. Courage calls for a life of chastity for those individuals with same sex attraction because the organization believes believes same sex attraction “inclination” is objectively disordered. The organization also supports members choosing to pursue counseling for conversion/reparative/ex-gay therapies, all of which have been discredited.

Art McGrath, President of Call to Action Metro NY, said, “This approach can be dangerous, particularly for vulnerable young people developing their personal and sexual identities. Four decades ago the medical scientific community classified same sex attraction as part of the spectrum of normal human sexual behavior.”

Presenting an educational program from an “expert” to vulnerable parents of vulnerable adolescents that recommends same sex chastity for life because of an “objectively disordered” inclination can be destructive to the parent-adolescent relationship, to the family system and to the mental health of the adolescent. Emerging sexual identity is a complex and sensitive topic that may require mental health specialists to provide the assistance and resources necessary to help families, parents and adolescents that may be struggling with emerging sexual identity.

Even though surveys demonstrate that most Catholics support same sex marriage, there remains in our society and Church strong strains of prejudice and bigotry against those who view themselves and their sexual identities in the same sex spectrum, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer. Research has shown that young people are particularly vulnerable to these prejudices and can turn the societal and sometimes family prejudices against themselves into self-loathing and self-hatred. The dynamic can have serious consequences for a young person’s mental health. Struggling with sexual orientation adds to the normal risks factors for youth who attempt suicide. Internalized and external homophobia, alienation from family and friends can contribute in significant ways to suicidal thinking.

There is also confusion in the message of Courage, which Fr. Timone represents. Nancy Lorence, Secretary for CTA Metro NY, asks, “Is there a call for chastity for life for non-married heterosexuals? Are we calling for re-education of the 95% of Catholics that use birth control in clear violation of Humanae Vitae? Why are we picking on this small subset of Catholic adolescents and supporting techniques like conversion therapy that have long been discredited?”

We hope these contradictions and concerns about the mental health of adolescents will result in a re-consideration of the Fr. Timone talk on Tuesday, November 19th at 7.30pm. At the very least consideration should be given to creating a panel that evening that includes an alternate view about the stresses and challenges of emerging sexual identity to provide parents with the science and mental health facts about adolescent mental health and sexual identity.

2 comments:

  1. Dignity/New York and DignityUSA join their voices to that of the Bronx LGBTQ Center:


    Contacts:
    Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director, 617-669-7810 (mobile)
    Jeff Stone, Director of Media Relations, 646-418-7039 (mobile)

    Gay Catholics Urge Catholic High School in Bronx to Reconsider
    Invitation to Speaker Who Regards Being Gay as Addiction

    New York, November 15. Leaders of DignityUSA, the nation’s largest LGBT Catholic organization, and its New York City chapter strongly urge administrators at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx to reconsider their invitation to a representative of the organization Courage to speak to parents of students at the school on Tuesday, November 19. Courage regards gay sexual orientation as an addictive disorder, and advises gay people to practice abstinence through a 12-step approach.
    Jeff Stone, a spokesperson for the New York City chapter of Dignity, said, “We are very concerned that this speaker, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York, will give parents an incorrect and extremely damaging understanding of their children’s sexual orientation. As all reputable science has shown, a gay, lesbian, or bisexual sexual orientation is not a choice, and it is not a disorder. Furthermore, it cannot be changed through any type of ‘ex-gay’ therapy, which has been condemned by the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association, and has been banned by state law in New Jersey and California.”
    Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, added, “Courage is based on an approach that has led many people to experience shame and self-loathing, rather than a sense of themselves as loved and blessed by God. Young people, and the parents they look to for guidance, who may be uninformed about LGBT issues, are especially vulnerable to such damaging misinformation. Views such as those promoted by Courage contribute not only to anti-gay bullying, but to a high rate of suicide among LGBT youth.”
    Duddy-Burke continued, “We have heard hundreds of stories from people who were either forced into so-called ‘ex-gay’ treatment, or who were led to believe life-long celibacy was the only course open to them. To a person, these individuals describe this approach as resulting only in increased misery, shame, and self-loathing, often leading to substance abuse and attempted suicide. They often report having to undergo years of more affirming therapy in order to come to a sense of acceptance of their identity.”

    Stone commented, “Pope Francis has said about gay people, ‘Who am I to judge?’ Isn’t it time for the Catholic Church and its schools to leave behind outdated, discredited, and harmful approaches to human sexuality and actually listen to the experience of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people?”
    ###

    ReplyDelete
  2. OPEN LETTER TO FR. NICHOLLS of Cardinal Spellman HS:

    November 16, 2013

    Esteemed Fr. Nicholls,

    I am a proud Spellman graduate part of the class of 1993. For the past 20 years I have whole-heartedly carried the values that Spellman taught me. Therefore, I am saddened to know that you have invited, Fr. Timone, to speak at Spellman on the topic of same-sex issues. In my mind and in my heart I want to believe that you were and are not aware of whom this man is…so I will be so bold as to enlighten you, Sir. Fr. Timone is affiliated with COURAGE, an organization that treats gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people as addicts curable by participation in a 12-step program, instead of accepting and respecting them as the loving individuals they are. Courage's "free speech" promotes self-loathing among LGBTQ individuals and encourages others to hate LGBTQ people simply for being who they are, thus putting them at a greater risk of being bullied.

    I would also like to take the opportunity to inform you of The World Health Organization’s stand on aversion therapy, which is what Fr. Timone is prescribing.

    “These supposed conversion therapies constitute a violation of the ethical principles of health care and violate human rights that are protected by international and regional agreements.... [Reparative therapies] lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.”
    ~The World Health Organization, May, 2012

    It is unfathomable that the school where I learned the meaning of acceptance, family, love and following in the paths of Jesus Christ is stooping to this level. Who are we as humans to judge anyone? Who are we to spew any kind of hate language or teach our children hate when it was Jesus himself who was persecuted for being different and spreading the word of God with love.

    While I respect the freedom of anyone to speak their mind you can not, in good judgment, allow this man to speak without having someone else show an opposing side to his discussion. It is simply not fair!

    I am deeply hurt, and frankly, disgusted that you, Spellman, would affiliate yourself with a man whose motives do not stem from the values and principles that I was taught during my years at Spellman. We are living in a world where the discussion should be about respect for human beings and acceptance even though some might not understand. Having Fr. Timone speak at Spellman might foster alienation of certain individuals, of the Spellman family, who live a difficult life as it is, due to their sexual orientation. We are living in dangerous times, good Sir, where children prefer to end their lives because their peers do not accept them. Is that what you wish for Spellman to become? A place where children fear going to everyday?

    I beg and implore you to think about the ramifications of what Tuesdays meeting might bring. I beg of you to reconsider your opinion on homosexuality because we have reached a time where this discussion is no longer about religion but about respecting peoples individualities. Lastly, I ask you to look into your own theological education and remember what God is about…LOVE!

    As for me, I in good conscious can and will no longer contribute financially to Spellman. I will try to reach as many Spellman graduates as I can so that they too will reconsider not contributing financially to Spellman. You should also be aware that I am sending you this letter as an open letter and publishing it throughout social media and anywhere else that is willing to hear my voice. I am also sending this letter to the entire faculty and staff at Spellman.

    Here is to hoping that this letter changes your mind and maybe, even possibly, your heart.


    Sincerely, and ALWAYS a Spellmanite,



    Carlos T. Solano
    Class of 1993

    ReplyDelete