Catholics Students in North Carolina Stand Up to Anti-Gay Nun

Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel

Charlotte Catholic High School is facing protests after hosting an anti-gay lecturer known for promoting harmful falsehoods about LGBT people.

Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel, a Nashville Dominican nun and professor at Aquinas College, Nashville, spoke last Friday during a mandatory assembly at the high school. She claimed gay people are the result of absent fathers or masturbation and condemned same-gender couples as unfit parents, directly linking them to child abuse. These claims became public in a student-initiated petition, and were corroborated by an anonymous student speaking to QNotes, who also said:

” ‘Then she talked about the statistic where gay men have had either over 500 or 1000 sexual partners and after that I got up and went to the bathroom because I should not have had to been subject to that extremely offensive talk…’

” ‘I would like them to issue a formal apology to the students and to the parents and alumni…I want them to know how upset everyone is and for them to acknowledge that.’ “

Students and alumni also released a letter to Sr. Laurel and the school’s head Fr. Matthew Kauth, asking for a formal apology about the assembly after which, it is reported, some teachers left in tears. The letter, signed by 64 students and 86 alumni states, in part:

“As Catholic educators, it is your vocation and your responsibility to bring the message of the Church to students. However, you took advantage of this position to push your own prejudices and bigotry upon the Charlotte Catholic community despite this community’s deliberate efforts to avoid it when presented as an extracurricular event…

“Presenting these false ideas to high school students not only advocates discrimination of LGBTQ students, but also tells those individuals that they are damaged or incomplete. Consider for a moment the severe and ongoing effect this type of message has on the current LGBTQ students at Charlotte Catholic. Consider the power this message has to empower bullies of these same students…

“Last week’s presentation represents a betrayal of trust. Your responsibility to provide nurturing and informative education to the students of Charlotte Catholic was shrugged off. Your mission to truthfully convey the teachings of the Church—the teachings of love, compassion, and humility—was replaced by teachings of hate and intolerance.”

Critics also questioned Sr. Laurel’s denigration of women by promoting antiquated gender roles and her condemnatory comments against divorced and single parents. Catholic parents of students at the school also initiated a letter writing campaign targeting everyone from the high school’s administration to the Vatican. The Charlotte Observer reports:

“Shelley Earnhardt, who is divorced and who sent one of the emails, wrote that ‘in my home, there was outrage, embarrassment, sadness, disbelief, and further reason for my 16-year-old to move as far away from her religion as possible and as soon as she can.’

“Other parents faulted the school for not notifying them about the sensitive nature of Laurel’s planned remarks. ‘It’s too big of a topic for parents to be surprised,’ said Casey Corser.”

In response, the Diocese of Charlotte has scheduled a meeting with parents tonight to discuss Sr. Laurel’s lecture, which will be closed to the media and which Bishop Peter Jugis will forgo. Diocesan spokesperson David Hains defended Sr. Laurel’s remarks, saying she was a frequent speaker throughout the diocese and held a doctorate from a Catholic university in Rome. However on the topic of homosexuality itself, Hains focused on the positive teachings about respect and human dignity, and clarified that Church teaching does not link homosexuality and masturbation.

This situation in Charlotte is extremely troubling. Sr. Laurel’s record of inflammatory anti-gay remarks is well known. One wonders why administrators thought she would be appropriate for a teenage audience, of whom at least some are struggling to define their identity, including their sexual orientation and gender.

What gives hope from this terrible incident is that the students have shown they are people well-formed by the Gospel. They condemned Sr. Laurel’s intolerance from a faith perspective, following Pope Francis in living out a Catholicism defined by “love, compassion, and humility.”  As we witnessed with the students at Eastside Catholic High School in Seattle these past months, and now in Charlotte, the Church’s emerging generation has little tolerance for anti-LGBT prejudice from the Church’s leadership. Most importantly, they show a willingness to act up and ‘make a mess’ as the pope urged them when injustices do occur.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

0 replies
  1. Lynne Miller
    Lynne Miller says:

    it’s wonderful to know that these teens and their parents had the strength and courage to speak out about such an egregious breach of trust. we place our children in the hands of teachers who are expected to teach them about equality, kindness, love, acceptance, and appropriate ways of discussing divergent views. i am encouraged to see that they are well enough educated to be able to do this when confronted with an inappropriate teacher. no matter what her education has been and what degrees she has, she has learned less about how to be a christian than these students have.

  2. Friends
    Friends says:

    Wow! Talk about a prime candidate to be “woodshedded” by Pope Francis! But in doing online follow-up, I discovered quite a range of opinions about this (IMO) “rogue nun”. Supporting our view (and that of so many furious parents and students) is this:

    But supporting the view of “the nun’s side” is this — from some far-right-wing priest named “Fr. John Zuhlsdorf”:

    Clearly there is no end in sight for the horrific culture wars that are ripping the Church apart — and this in spite of the astounding healing initiative launched by Pope Francis himself.

  3. pjnugent
    pjnugent says:

    This is good news about the students and parents of Charlotte Catholic. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear some good news about US hierarchy? Is there any?

  4. mgardener
    mgardener says:

    I went to 12 years of catholic school in the 60′s and 70′s.
    Even I never heard such garbage. What is wrong with the Catholic church.

    • Patricia
      Patricia says:

      Thanks for the address. I will have a letter going out to her. People like her are the reason we can’t bring our gay or lesbian children to mass. They think we’re foolish for following a religion that denigrates them. Good to know our young people are fighting the good fight and ‘making a mess’ of it all. God bless them! We must never give up or give in to this bigotry, but to live as Christ lived full of mercy and compassion.

      • JohnM
        JohnM says:

        Assistant Professors are at the bottom of the Tenure rung. Let’s hope Sister doesn’t attain the rank of Professor before changing her views.

  5. Tim Parsons
    Tim Parsons says:

    Imagine Sr. Jane Dominic saying: “You students must stay away from those Samaritans! They are unclean, subversive, and don’t follow the law. They are to be shunned at all costs! Wait a sec. What’s that guy Jesus doing over there with those Samaritan women? He’s going into their home to break bread with them? We better keep an eye on him as well. He could be trouble.” It seems to be what her message is saying.

  6. barbara anderson
    barbara anderson says:

    Sr. is a very tragic representative of the Dominican Sisters. As a longstanding OPA in Ohio I am saddened by her lack of charity and love toward those who do not meet her skewed interpretation of Jesu’s command to love one another as He has loves us. Instead of anger I will continue prayers for those who have eyes but do not see.

  7. David
    David says:

    I believe that the Sister’s views were well known long before she came to speak….Who invited her? That is where the problem starts…..

  8. Mickey
    Mickey says:

    Well, This is why the Catholic Church has lost close to 70% of it’s followers. No one is buying this anymore.

  9. Marilyn Davis
    Marilyn Davis says:

    How very sad! Even Jesus did not adhere to the letter of the law if it meant a loss of compassion & love.

  10. Annette Magjuka
    Annette Magjuka says:

    I am so encouraged by the wonderful young people who speak up for justice and love. The Holy Spirit is truly speaking through these great kids. Keep speaking out. We are called to love our LGBT brothers and sisters–they are part of the Body of Christ, and are worthy of full participation in the Catholic family. There seems to be a rift in the church between the majority of Catholics who want to be loving and inclusive, and some bishops, priests and nuns who are stuck in a negative interpretation of doctrine. The faithful must speak up loud and clear for inclusion and love. And more than speaking up, we must ACT. We must make it clear that bigotry is not and can never be a tenet of faith. Jesus demands that we act in love, and only love.

  11. Stephen
    Stephen says:

    Why were people removed wearing bracelets that say “We are all God’s children”?? What is the problem with that? Does the church not teach that? So insane.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] explained his coming out during as a high school junior. His personal process was sparked by a homophobic lecture, given by Dominican Sister Jane Dominic Laurel at Charlotte Catholic High School, North Carolina. […]

  2. […] a parish position for marrying his husband. Last year, the high school hosted anti-gay speaker Dominican Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel who told students at a mandatory all-school assembly that homosexuality results from absentee […]

  3. […] anti-gay discrimination. They reject disrespectful and fallacious remarks from authority figures,  as in the incident in North Carolina several weeks ago. Yet, more hopeful is their engagement in the work of building up local […]

  4. […] broke down. First, the controversy at a North Carolina Catholic high school after a Dominican nun made anti-gay remarks during a school-wide assembly. Second, Zagano cites the firing of former Mozilla CEO Brendan […]

  5. […]  Following a heated meeting of parents who were upset that a nun with an anti-gay message was allowed to speak at an assembly at Charlotte Catholic High School, North Carolina, Bishop Peter Jugis of the Charlotte Diocese has written a letter “to express […]

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