A new contract and handbook language proposed by the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco, which suggests to high school faculty and staff that any homosexual relations or sexual activities while unmarried are “gravely evil,” has come under fire by the LGBT community and their supporters.
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone sent a letter to teachers in the Archdiocesan Catholic High Schools this week saying that schools should do all they can to be Catholic institutions. The additions concerning the Catholic teachings with regards to sexual morality and religious practices placed in the handbooks for faculty and staff “clarify” the church’s view.
The new language would take effect in the 2015-16 school year in four archdiocesan high schools.
There are currently 315 teachers in those four institutions who belong to the teacher’s union, which is currently undergoing negotiations for a new contract, set to take effect on August 1.
According to Cordileone, the changes are meant to clarify that Catholic schools “exist to affirm and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The new handbook language warns that “all extra-marital sexual relationships are gravely evil and that these include adultery, masturbation, fornication, the viewing of pornography and homosexual relations.” In addition, it outlines church positions on controversial subjects including the ordination of women and notes that faculty must “refrain from public support of any cause or issue that is explicitly or implicitly contrary to that which the Catholic Church holds to be true.”
Cordileone went on to say that the documents were not meant to fire any teachers from the schools, either singularly or as a group. Staff members will not need to sign anything asking them to follow the new additions. They are merely there to help the “good teachers who belong to other Christian faiths or to no faith at all.”
However, the LGBT community does not feel the same way about the documents, instead believing it sends a message of discrimination and fear.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is among the groups who feel the same as the LGBT community do concerning the new additions, and is currently appealing the San Francisco Archdiocese to remove the “harsh” and “anti-LGBT” language from its handbook. The group believes that the language places restrictions on staff members at the schools even after they have finished with their workdays.
The HRC would also like the homosexual relationship definitions removed from new teachers’ contracts.
The group is asking for signatures to be added to their petition in opposition to the handbook wording, which currently has over 6,000 signatures.