Charlotte, N.C. — Students and parents at Charlotte Catholic High School are speaking out after they say a campus lecturer forcefully condemned homosexuality with outdated statistics, prejudiced stereotypes and other extremist claims.
More than 2,500 people have signed onto a Change.org petition asking the school to apologize for the lecture led last Friday by Sister Jane Dominic Laurel.
In a separate action, 64 students and 86 alumni signed onto a letter with similar requests, which was sent directly to school officials.
The letter and petition allege that Laurel made a variety of prejudiced comments about gay and lesbian people during her lecture on masculinity and femininity, including that masturbation or an absent father may make a boy more likely to be gay — two claims soundly rejected by mainstream medical professionals and associations.
According to the petition, Laurel told students that “people are gay because they have an absent father figure, and therefore they have not received the masculinity they should have from their father,” and then cited a statistic where “gay men have had either over 500 or 1000 sexual partners.”
A gay Charlotte Catholic student, who did not want to be publicly named because he is not fully out at school or home, said he was upset by the assembly, which was mandatory for all students to attend. He wants the school to apologize, too.
“I would like them to issue a formal apology to the students and to the parents and alumni,” the student told qnotes. “I want them to know how upset everyone is and for them to acknowledge that.”
The gay student corroborated the petition’s claims about Laurel’s lecture.
“She brought up an abusive Australian couple that was gay and they abused their child, portraying to us that gay people are unfit parents,” he said. “She also said that gay people can become gay because of masturbation or pornography or because they don’t spend enough time with their father because their parents are divorced.”
Laurel, a professor at Nashville’s Aquinas College, has a history of extremist, anti-gay views, and has previously partnered with the Ruth Institute to present lectures and conferences opposing same-sex marriage.
The Ruth Institute was formerly funded by the National Organization for Marriage, a group which has pushed anti-LGBT constitutional amendments nationwide and whose founder has compared gays to pedophiles. It was recently named an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
A number of Laurel’s other lectures and presentations posted online also contain wildly inaccurate accusations about gay people and sexuality, including claims that more young women are engaging in oral sex. “This is not a normal sexual act. It’s something that’s imported from the homosexual culture. It’s not part of the natural love between man and woman,” she says.
Students and alumni have described the lecture as “teachings of hate and intolerance.”
“Last week’s presentation represents a betrayal of trust,” the student and alumni letter to school officials reads. “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.”
Update: Charlotte’s Catholic News Herald, the local diocesan newspaper, reported Friday that Sister Jane Dominic Laurel is taking a “sabbatical.” The nun’s school, Aquinas College, announced the move in a statement on Friday, saying the nun will leave all of her teaching positions and will withdraw from speaking engagements.