Thursday, April 16, 2015

#LetMatthewTeach

It really amazes me that in 2015, we still deal with things such as discrimination. I'm not even talking about racial discrimination, which is absurd because as we all know, it's not like we can control our ethnicity or how we look. Yet people think it's completely acceptable to treat someone differently based on that.

What also is unacceptable is discriminating against someone based on who they have relationships with. You may not agree with a persons life choices, and that's OK, but it doesn't give you a right to treat them differently based on, or blatantly discriminate against them.

Yet that is exactly what is happening in a Catholic school in Nebraska.

You may have heard about the #LetMatthewTeach movement, and maybe you haven't. Maybe it doesn't concern you because you don't live in Nebraska and your kids don't go to Skutt Catholic School. I encourage you to keep reading because this could lead to a domino effect that could land right in your city. Currently there is a petition outlining details of the possible termination of Matthew Eledge solely based on his romantic relationship with another man. Let that sink in: he's facing termination of his teaching job because of who he goes home to at night, who he enjoys spending his free time with, and who he partners with in life. Not because he's a bad teacher, because a student complained, not because his students have low test scores or any other reason pertaining to his ability to lead a classroom and further the education and provide stability in a school setting for students every year.

Because apparently, Skutt Catholic believes none of that is more important. No, what is more important to them is what he does when he goes home. Which isn't even lascivious. It's what we ALL do when we go home. We often go home to our own partners, man or woman it doesn't matter, we give them a hug, maybe a kiss, we ask how their day was. We talk about plans for the upcoming weekend. Maybe we discuss what we're having for dinner. And sometimes, we may share intimate moments with our partner.

The great thing is that none of that is criminal. It also is nobody else's business.

When faced with the ridiculousness of this hate campaign this school is pursuing, their best argument is from the Chancellor of the Omaha Archdiocese who said, "There have been single, pregnant teachers and those who've divorced and remarried outside the Catholic church who have lost their jobs." That's a direct quote.

I won't even get into the irony that Jesus apparently forgives but the Archdiocese won't at all. God forbid you find yourself single and pregnant, for whatever reason, because you also could lose your job. (Could you imagine if you had an abortion and they found out? Basically, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.) It doesn't sound like they take into account the circumstances leading up to this because if you end up pregnant and aren't married, surely you must be a slut, there can be no other argument.

While I don't agree with most religions because of things just like we see playing out in Nebraska, I understand that some people really need religion in their life. It's their guiding light through life and if that's what you want to do, super. That's really great that you have that at your disposal and I hope you have a wonderful, blessed life.

What you don't have a right to do is discriminate against someone and hide behind your religion. You can't discriminate against a person and say, "Jesus says so." when Jesus doesn't say so. You can point out all kinds of passages to support your argument, but so many other passages can be used to refute it. It's hard to take a text seriously that provides arguments against itself or can be interpreted in many different ways. Let alone the fact that there are many religions out there, that we know about, and yet they all claim to be "The One". At the end of the day, it isn't on any of us to decide if the way a person lives their life is right or wrong. I have found in my short 33 years of life so far, that some of the most hateful, hurtful, and toxic people cling to religion as the basis for their actions.

Which, if Jesus was real, he'd be real disappointed in you. Shame on you for treating any human being less than how you would want to be treated.

Can you imagine what this world would be like if we just thought kindly of others? Even if they are so completely different from us and we don't understand their choices? What if we just chose to say, "You know, I don't get it. But you're a great person and I like you anyways." Especially in the case of Matthew Eledge. The Catholic Church very well may fire him anyways. I don't think they really care what kind of upset they cause because at the end of the day, there are others who support them. Who think that this kind of discrimination is OK. The other thing I find interesting is that when Skutt Catholic alumni reached out to the school to say they don't support this move and want Matthew Eledge to remain a faculty member, they are promptly ignored and/or banned from their social media. (But you can bet these alumni will still get a request of donation, right?) It's like the Archdiocese believes they wield more power than God himself.

That's the real travesty here.

The second travesty is that the students are missing out. There is a Buzzfeed article discussing this in depth.  In a generation where students are not competitive globally, where students could care less about school and spend more time taking pictures of themselves for social media, where they are not able to be articulate enough to gain employment and keep it, we need more Matthew Eledge's. As a parent with children in school, as someone who works in a school, and who is at a school almost every day- I know first hand the challenges teachers face day in and day out. When you have a teacher who is as engaging and mindful, who is willing to go above and beyond to encourage students to keep trying, to try harder, to expand their goals, and helps them achieve those goals long after they've left his classroom? You need to keep that person. You need to keep them and snatch up anyone else like them for your school if you want your students to succeed and be a worthwhile alumni of your education system.

Because here's the thing: being gay isn't catchy. I firmly believe it's just how we're born, your brain is hardwired to love who it wants to love. Even if you are not of that opinion and you view it as a lifestyle choice, it doesn't give you the right to discriminate against someone. You would feel angry if you were being fired from your job because you preferred dogs over cats. Or because you like to go to the casino on payday. Or because you like to drink wine at your book club. If you look at the basics of this, and you don't weigh the validity of being gay as genetic or a choice, the ramifications of this are huge. Absolutely huge. Because it would open the door to employers discriminating against anyone for anything.

Is that fair?

Seriously, think long and hard about that. And then look at yourself. Look at your current lifestyle and your past. Would you want someone to discriminate against you because of any of it? Can you really say that you live a 100% authentically Christian lifestyle? You never partake in vices, you are kind 100% of the time, you are 100% selfless, you do not revel in wealth and you help those less fortunate than you all of the time leaving you on the brink of poverty? I can tell you right now that describes nobody. Not one person I know who considers themselves a child of God lives their life in the manner God tells them to. You don't get to pick or choose. You can't do what you want and go to church on Sunday and beg forgiveness so you get right with God, only to start Monday off no better. That's an abuse of religion and you make a mockery of the entire system when you do that. I often compare it an abusive husband. He comes home, beats his wife, but the next day he apologizes and all is right again. Only for him to come home later and beat her again.

We need to teach children that there is more value in being a decent human being, and being kind to others, looking at someone else's differences from you as a strength and as something that makes them unique and special, than learning how to judge someone based on what they look like, what they believe in, or who they love. Period.

If you want to learn more about this issue, I invite you to read the petition, sign if your heart moves you to do so. There is also another blog post written by someone who is far more articulate than I am that you may find interesting as well. Also, there is a Facebook page giving updates on the situation. If you weigh in on this controversy online, you're encouraged to use #LetMatthewTeach.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

At first I thought you were talking about the one here in Iowa. Almost the same thing is going on at Dowling Catholic High School in Des Moines.
It seems to me that older people have more of a problem with it then the young. My daughter goes to school with openly gay teens. But, people my age and older seem to think it is such a big deal. which I find odd. My own mother doesn't have an issue with it and she is 70. My niece is engaged to a great woman. I hate the fact that she ma face ridicule for that, but otherwise I don't care.