INDIANAPOLIS — Many members of Bishop Chatard High School’s community, including alumni, saw an invitation recently on the school’s website regarding a same-sex attraction seminar being held in October at St. Luke’s Catholic Church.
The response of a few alumni? Absolutely disgusted.
When Alumni 1 saw the letter floating around social media, she immediately sent it to FOX59 regarding her disgust in the matter.
Alumni 1 wrote:
“St. Luke Catholic School/Church is hosting a speaker (Kim Zember), who will be speaking on same-sex attraction. Bishop Chatard has sent this out as a follow-up to everyone from their school to try to get people to attend. I attended Bishop Chatard High School about 3 years ago, but my assumption is not only Chatard but all the schools in the archdiocese like Cathedral sent out a similar email to all their students. This is very disturbing that they are trying to have young teenagers listen to brainwashing opinions. A reason why many people in the LGBTQ+ commit suicide and suffer from many things is because of people like them. In the email, they do recommend people in high school or older but this is still not acceptable behavior. They say in short, by going to this meeting and restraining from same-sex attraction, you will be saved by Jesus Christ.”
After reaching out, I was able to contact two other alumni of Bishop Chatard, who identify with the LGBTQ+ community, in order to hear from the perspective of those who feel their sexual orientation and/or identity will be condemned in the seminar.
Alumni 2 explained to me her time as a then-closeted lesbian at Bishop Chatard. She told me she spent most of her high school career trying to figure out who she was and who she wanted to be, as most kids that age do. However, she felt she could not be her true authentic self attending a Catholic high school as a lesbian.
“Graduating and leaving Chatard gave me my first opportunity to be free,” Alumni 2 said, “I finally got to experience what it felt like to be my whole self.
Alumni 2 explained to me that as a senior at Bishop Chatard, you are required to attend a Mass with the archbishop to celebrate graduating from the school. Alumni 2 and her friends refused to attend this Mass. She explained this was set to happen right after all of the gay teachers at Chatard had been fired.
“We decided we did not want to attend mass with a man who was openly homophobic,” said Alumni 2.
With the help of one of their teachers, they wrote a letter saying they were not choosing to attend the Mass. After submitting the letter, their parents were unwantedly notified. They were told there would be disciplinary action if they did not attend.
“This essentially outed a lot of us and made for some very uncomfortable questions with our families,” said Alumni 2. “I did end up attending the mass, but I and lots of other students from my school and others wore rainbow pins, hairbands, bracelets, etc., to show our defiance against the archbishop and our support for the LGBTQ+ community.”
Already not having fond memories of being allowed to truly be herself in high school, Alumni 2 told me she felt “physically ill” when she saw the seminar information.
“I was heartbroken, to be honest,” she said.
“I texted a screenshot to one of my friends and I said ‘it makes me physically ill’. I am just so disappointed. I am well aware that the Catholic Church is not one for change, but I am still baffled that in 2022 they still stand by the horrible rhetoric that they have about being queer.”
Alumni 2 explained that while she wasn’t invited to a “same-sex attraction” seminar at her time at Chatard, she heard things similar to it quite often.
“We had this chapel on campus, and in the back of the chapel, we had pamphlets that we could grab and/or give to people,” she said. “They were on topics like birth control (it’s a sin), watching porn (also a sin), and being gay (definitely a sin). These pamphlets were clearly written with teenagers and young people in mind.
“The pamphlet about being gay contained things that were also being taught to us. It made points like, it’s possible to overcome your same-sex attractions or through God, it is possible to get past this phase.”
I reached out to Bishop Chatard regarding the seminar. This was their response.
“To clarify, Bishop Chatard did not send out any sort of seminar invitation. As the North Deanery high school of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, it is our policy to assist the nine parishes of the North Deanery by publicizing their events and programs. St. Luke Catholic Church is hosting the speaker, and requested this assistance. As a result, we posted speaker information on our website.”
Referring back to the letter that Alumni 1 sent the FOX59 newsroom, it’s clear that Bishop Chatard’s logo is at the top of it.
“How can a community try to teach everyone to love all and accept all when they do the exact opposite” said Alumni 1. “When something pertains to them that they want, they believe it’s okay. But anything that they don’t like, they refuse to budge on. They pick and choose and that’s not how it works.”
I asked for further comment from Bishop Chatard on the subject and the situations Alumni 2 and 3, another LGBTQ+ member, found themselves in during their career there – I have yet to hear back.
The seminar is set to be held at St. Luke’s Catholic Church on October 13 at 7 p.m. FOX59 plans to attend.