News (USA)

Award-winning journalist banned from his alma mater for being gay

David Begnaud
David Begnaud Photo: Screenshot / CBS Mornings

Out journalist David Begnaud says he recently faced anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination from the Louisiana Catholic high school he attended as a teen.

Begnaud, a lead national correspondent for CBS Mornings who has received the George Polk Award for Public Service, published an op-ed this week on detailing what happened to him when he returned to Teurlings Catholic High School.

He wrote that he endured “unspeakable bullying” as “a gay kid with Tourette Syndrome” attending the Lafayette, Louisiana, Catholic school in the late 90s. But his freshman English teacher, Josette Surratt, helped him unlock his potential.

“She became my speech coach, mentor, and dear friend,” Begnaud wrote.

Last year, Begnaud returned Teurlings to report a story on Surratt for CBS Mornings. He wrote that Surratt, who was nearing retirement, was “genuinely thrilled to be the subject of the story.” However, she told him that the school would only allow his crew to film on campus when students weren’t there, and later suggested that they find somewhere else to film her interview.

The story aired in September, and Begnaud wrote that he was told that the school’s chancellor, Father Kyle White, thought it was “well done.”

But months later, Begnaud said he got a phone call explaining that White had been “concerned that allowing me on campus might negatively affect the image of the Catholic school and suggest that it approved of my sexuality.”

“Father White, the caller said, didn’t want students to get the impression that being gay is OK,” Begnaud wrote. He said White never responded to his request to discuss the incident.

Noting that Pope Francis “has welcomed members of the LGBTQ+ community into the Church” since his accession in 2013—going so far as to approve the blessing of same-sex unions in December—Begnaud wrote that he is concerned about what the school is teaching students about the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality.

“My concern, as a proud alumnus, is not for myself. It is for the students of Teurlings Catholic High School — straight, gay or anything else — if the school is creating an environment in which gay students are treated like outsiders and straight students are led to believe that this is how the church would have it,” he wrote. “It is not.”

Begnaud ends by calling on the school’s leaders to “have courage” and address anti-gay discrimination.

Don't forget to share:

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Out lawmaker Evan Low explains how dismantling the GOP could save the world

Previous article

Utah governor signs bill to throw trans people in jail for using the correct facilities

Next article