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Denver Archdiocese bars child from school: lesbian moms 'not living in accord w/Catholic teaching'

“No person shall be admitted as a student in any Catholic school unless that person and his/her parent(s) subscribe to the school’s philosophy and agree to abide by the educational policies and regulations of the school and Archdiocese.  Homosexual couples living together as a couple are in disaccord with Catholic teaching… “Parents living in open discord with Catholic teaching in areas of faith and morals unfortunately choose by their actions to disqualify their children from enrollment.”

— statements made by the Archdiocese of Denver. Archdiocese spokeswoman Jeanette R. De Melo didn’t return calls or e-mails inquiring whether students whose parents are divorced, non-Catholic or used fertility medication also are not allowed to attend the preschool.

And the church and school, Sacred Heart of Jesus preschool in Boulder, have the constitutional right to do this — they have the religious freedom to discriminate against an innocent child. Parents are outraged and starting a petition against this decision.

“I grew up Catholic in a strong Catholic family with six kids, and I’m just deeply, deeply disappointed by the decision of Sacred Heart,” she said.

Another protestor said she believes barring the student goes against the teachings of the Bible.

“I have a daughter that goes to school at Sacred Heart,” Colleen Scanlan Lyons said. “I’ve had 16 years of Catholic education, and this just reached the core of my being as completely wrong and against the teachings of Jesus.”

Some parents are considering taking a full-page ad out in a local paper to blast the Archdiocese’s decision. Others say they might pull their kids from Sacred Heart school.

Inside the church, Father Bill Breslin explained his decision to his congregation. While he didn’t want to speak to reporters, he encouraged people to visit his blog to learn about why he decided bar the student.

On his blog, Breslin said, “This past week we implemented a policy that has been the most difficult decision of my life.” Breslin also said he “chose to protect the faith over doing what would have looked like the loving thing to do.”

GLAAD has called on the national media to shine a light on the Diocese’s decision and Sacred Heart of Jesus.

“These actions by the Denver Archdiocese harm the student by taking the child away from friends, teachers and community,” said Jarrett Barrios, President of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “It’s deeply troubling to see any school remove a child from their educational program simply as the means of rejecting that child’s parents.”

GLAAD is in close contact with local advocates who are on the ground in Boulder working to help community members organize around this situation. GLAAD will also continue to conduct outreach to local and national media to spotlight this story and raise awareness of the harms faced by LGBT families.

“[Friday] night, in conjunction with Wesley Chapel, Boulder Pride held a community forum about the situation, to provide people a space to talk about their feelings and plan action going forward. We have heard loud and clear from the LGBTQ community, as well as from allies, that this situation has stirred feelings of anger, pain and frustration,” wrote Boulder Pride’s Board President, Dave Ensign and Executive Director, AicilaLewis. “While this situation has been incredibly difficult and reminded us all of vital work that remains to be done, it also has highlighted our strengths as a community. We are grateful to live in Boulder County with engaged, passionate community members like you.”

As Boulder community leaders continue to help constituents deal with the hurt caused by this decision, GLAAD calls on the nation’s media to elevate the story to larger platforms and show the American public the concrete harms facing the children of gay and lesbian parents across the country. “The media has a responsibility to spotlight how this type of exclusion damages families and creates roadblocks to children’s future achievements,” said Barrios.

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Pam Spaulding

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