Do Pride Flags Belong in Catholic Schools? One Teacher Says, “Yes!”

Do Pride flags belong in Catholic classrooms? According to Kevin Considine, a teacher and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, the answer is ‘yes.’ 

In his U.S. Catholic article, Considine tells his story of interweaving LGBTQ+ acceptance into his Catholic school classroom. As a cisgender, heterosexual male, Considine still believes that he has a theological duty to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. According to Galatians 3:28, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Considine’s way of showing his students that they “are one in Christ Jesus” is by acknowledging the diverse sexual orientations and gender identities of his students.

Over Christmas break, Considine decided to hang a Pride flag in his classroom, specifically next to images of Jesus, Mary, and the Trinity. Considine wanted to create an inclusive environment that fostered dialogue and contemplation. 

While some may assume that crosses and Pride flags are contrasting symbols, Considine argues that both are “multivalent” with “coexistent meanings.” He writes about the importance of symbols as a form of connection:

“The symbol invites people to a shared sense of self, to participate in something larger. Some of these meanings become shared amongst a community and assist in forming group identity. They become dominant meanings through which we better understand our relationships with and connection to others.”

While the cross at one time reflected Roman supremacy, it has turned into a symbol of multiple meanings: salvation, condemnation, oppression, triumph, among others. Considine argues that crosses’ diverse representations coincide with God’s “diverse expressions of love, joy, and eros amidst great difference.”

Similar to the cross, the Pride flag is a symbol of infinite love, acceptance, and support. While the Pride flag is not an ancient theological symbol, Considine argues that it does have “theological meaning.” The flag reminds us that every person, including those in the LGBTQ+ community, are children of God. God’s image is one of “unfettered compassion and acceptance” and is carried by those of all sexual orientations and gender identities. 

Over time, Considine noticed that the Pride flag became a respected part of his Catholic classroom. Whenever the flag fell down, a student would put it back up. It created a space of discussion and validation where he would remind his students that the “denigrating and dehumanizing words that have been cast at them from some Catholics and other Christians do not come from God.” Rather, both the cross and the Pride flag symbolize a strive for love and community.

Considine’s story reminds us that we have the power to reimagine the symbols of the Pride flag and the cross. In reality, these seemingly-contrasting images may not be as different as some may assume. Just as the cross preaches acceptance and community, the Pride flag has the power to further educate us on God’s divine love. If this is the case, Pride flags should be hung up in more Catholic classrooms.

Sarah Cassidy (she/her), July 6, 2022

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