Catholic Principal Departs School Possibly Over Anti-LGBTQ Censorship

Sharon Redmond, center, with Ursuline alumnae

Today’s post features news about two LGBTQ-related disputes happening at Catholic schools in Ohio, including the departure of one principal possibly over anti-LGBTQ censorship concerns.

Principal Departs Catholic School Potentially Over Anti-LGBTQ Censorship

Sharon Redmond, president of Ursuline Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio, is retiring after more than a quarter century at the all-girls Catholic school, reported Cincinnati.com. Though the board denies such claims, there is speculation that Redmond’s departure could be related to the administration’s anti-LGBTQ censorship earlier this semester.

In early May, alumnae of Ursuline Academy launched a petition that gained more than 1,000 signatures as a response to school officials’ decision to pull all copies of the school newspaper’s latest issue because it featured an article titled “LGBT+ Book Master List.” Administrators said at the time that the paper’s content was “overtly sexual” and led to confusion about the school’s values.

But now alumnae have gathered in support of Redmond, releasing an open letter to the board with nearly 800 signatures. Kelly Byrnes Wendling, a 2003 alumna, wrote the letter saying the dismissal of Redmond was a “huge mistake” because she is “an institution” and “the face of the school.” To this point, the board has said Redmond’s departure is not related to the newspaper incident, and they will answer further questions at a later date, according to Cincinnati.com. But alumnae remain concerned and have questions, wrote Byrnes Wendling, because they “just want to know what’s going on.”

Catholic School Files Lawsuit Against Non-Discrimination Law

A Catholic high school in South Euclid, Ohio, has filed a lawsuit against that city over its 2018 non-discrimination law that includes protections for LGBTQ people. The school, named The Lyceum, stated in its federal lawsuit that while the school had not been accused violating the law yet, it likely would do so because of its Catholic beliefs.

This legal case may be interesting because of different claims about what the law actually entails. There is a religious exemption in it for employment, but reported Cleveland.com there are differing perspectives on what the exemption includes:

“A South Euclid official said the ordinance does not cover educational institutions and that religious discrimination is barred by federal law, which trumps any local or state law. But the city’s community services director said language about educational institutions was removed from the law before it passed, and an attorney representing The Lyceum said South Euclid officials deleted a religious exemption from the ordinance before it passed. . .

“The Lyceum has drafted a ‘sexuality policy’ to explain what beliefs are expected of students and staff members, as well as an employment policy. The school’s board of trustees has not formally adopted either, for fear that they will violate the city’s laws, the suit says.”

The Lyceum, which serves just 53 students, is unaffiliated with the Diocese of Cleveland and is being supported legally by the right wing and notoriously anti-LGBTQ Alliance Defending Freedom. In the year since the law’s passage, there have been no complaints of violations filed with the city.

For Bondings 2.0’s full coverage of LGBTQ issues in Catholic education, see the “Schools & Youth” category to the right or click here. For specific information on Catholic higher education, see the “Campus Chronicles” category or click here.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, May 11, 2019

2 replies
  1. Don E Siegal
    Don E Siegal says:

    The Lyceum v The City of South Euclid

    From the complaint: “4. The school draws its students from among those who are willing to submit to the school’s Catholic teaching and conduct standards.” This point completely ignores the primacy of conscience teaching of the Church.

    From a legal point of view, The Lyceum probably lacks standing to bring an action of unconstitutionally because it has not experienced a concrete harm or “imminent” harm. The case is likely to be dismissed on that basis. The case for standing is so weak that the ADF lawyers did not even address why the Lyceum has standing to bring the suit in the complaint.

    The complaint can be found here.

    Reply

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