11-year-olds Quinn Maloney-Tavares and Polly Hamilton, two sixth grade students at St. George Catholic School in Ottawa, were recently assigned a project where they had to talk about a social justice issue. Naturally, they decided to focus on gay rights:
“A lot of people, they don’t know they’re being rude, but they make being gay a bad thing,” said [Maloney-Tavares]… “They need to know that it’s not a bad thing.”
That’s a great point — and one well worth making at a Catholic school, since Catholic teaching is that homosexuality is “ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil” and therefore an “objective disorder.”
But the principal of the school, Ann Beauchamp, told the girls they needed to find a different topic:
… Beauchamp wouldn’t budge. “She felt very strongly about her decision,” [mother Ann] Maloney said.
The students’ projects go on display at a social justice fair in January, attended by students from Grades 4 to 6. Beauchamp didn’t feel gay rights “was a topic that was appropriate for that age group,” Maloney said.
Human rights isn’t appropriate for that age group?! Do students take history classes? Because I promise you there’s plenty of violence and genocide and conquering in there, and no one’s suggesting we should hold off on teaching history until the kids enter high school. What do they read in English class? Green Eggs and Ham?
If kids are old enough to learn about family structures, they’re old enough to learn that there’s nothing wrong with having two dads or two moms. And if they’re old enough to talk about respect, it shouldn’t be a problem to extend that respect to people who don’t always receive it. 11-year-olds are well-versed in all of this.
The principal’s own stance justified the girls’ choice of topic.
Here’s the best part, though. The girls came back to school and responded in the most perfect way:
As a silent protest, the two wore rainbow colours to school and painted small rainbow flags on their hands.
When they explained why, their classmates said, “Oh my goodness, guys, that’s such a good idea,” Quinn said. Several other students painted rainbow flags on their hands in solidarity.
Want to know why the Catholic Church is in trouble? Because kids like these know more about human decency than many of the adults around them, and they get reminded of that every time Catholic leaders whine about marriage equality and women’s rights. These are the people who will walk out of the Church the first chance they get because they understand their faith is the problem here, not the solution.
By the way, forced to change their project, the girls decided to focus on discrimination in general — which I guess is age-appropriate — and they plan to include anti-gay discrimination in the mix.
Maybe their next project can focus on all the damage the Catholic Church has done over the years.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Steve for the link)