A Catholic high school in France has apologized after it came under fire for the distribution of an anti-LGBTQ booklet to its students. The document, authored by a French Catholic priest, casts LGBTQ identity and relationships in a negative light.
As reported by MetroWeekly, Notre-Dame de Kerbertrand High School in Quimperlé, located in the western region of France, apologized after a backlash generated by the school’s dissemination of How to Be Successful in your Love and Sexual Life (translated from French) written by Father Jean-Benoît Casterman, a French Catholic priest.
According to LGBTQ Nation, a student from Notre-Dame de Kerbertrand, who was not identified by name, posted pictures of the booklet’s content on Facebook. Mr. Ghislain de Barmon, director of the school, apologized on Facebook, stating “sorry for this controversy,” as reported by PinkNews.
Father Casterman, founder of the St. Jean Community, an organization that focuses on poverty reduction, pathologizes LGBTQ identity in his publication and argues that sexual gratification is only possible in opposite-gender relationships. He writes:
“Today, some people act like homosexuality is normal However, sexual fulfillment is only possible with the otherness of a man/woman, and it’s both mental and physical.”
For Casterman, heterosexual relationships encompass “a richness that’s difficult to erase”.
LGBTQ Nation also underscored key homophobic excerpts from Fr. Casterman’s work. As Casterman argues, because same-gender attraction is “induced” as the result of negative or traumatic occurrences as a child, it is impossible for LGBTQ persons to be happy in their relationships. The Catholic priest writes:
“‘Homosexuality is often the result of emotional development marked by an excessive influence of the mother during childhood or as a result of sexual child abuse by adults that induced an attraction to the same sex or a fear of the opposite sex,’ Casterman wrote. ‘Homosexual tendencies are therefore not wanted and do not make a person happy. That’s why homosexual people deserve our sympathy.’”
Fr. Casterman continues to propagate his deeply harmful ideas on LGBTQ identity, writing that (1) gay adolescents are not “‘defined’ by their ‘homosexual tendencies,’” (2) encouraging LGBTQ youth to refrain from ‘act[ing] on these feelings,’ and (3) that they are ‘not irredeemable and can be overcome.’
In addition, the Catholic priest’s booklet promotes the misogynistic theory that women and girls are responsible for unwanted sexual advances, harassment, and discrimination based on how they dress. He asserts:
“‘You’ll look like a frivolous and available girl. . .If someone tries to pick you up, it’s your problem.’”
Previously, Casterman’s publications for an ultra right-wing conservative website articulated a connection between “gender theory” and “Islamization,” opining that those who seek to “format our children with LGBT indoctrination” are attempting to lure them away from their “family values.”
The French LGBTQ website Komitid reported that Casterman received financial support from the World Bank to publish the first version of the booklet back in 2006, as part of a campaign to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in West Africa.
This incident is not the first distribution of the booklet in a French Catholic High School. The director of Notre Dame de Sainte-Croix, located in the suburbs of Paris, had shared the school’s “deepest regrets” after students, parents, and teachers protested against the document’s circulation in 2017.
Father Jean-Benoît Casterman’s arguments and reflections on LGBTQ identity and gender equality are egregiously pernicious, as well as outdated. Social science research, as well as all major medical and psychological organizations concur that being LGBTQ is not a pathology or the result of any emotional problem or harmful parental relationship.
His writings hearken back to the 1970s in U.S. culture when the prevailing belief was that LGBTQ children and youth did not exist – legally, culturally, and spiritually.
Disturbingly, “overcoming” LGBTQ identity echoes the dangerous rhetoric of conversion therapy, the discredited practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The apology from the school’s leader is a good first step. The next step should be that no other schools should distribute Fr. Casterman’s booklet ever again.
—Brian William Kaufman, New Ways Ministry, January 5, 2021