Abellanosa: LGBTQ in the workplace

Fringes and frontiers

MORE articles are coming, both local and international, regarding LGBTQ in the workplace. Just recently, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis declared that Brebeuf Prep School, a Jesuit co-educational pre-college school, would no longer be recognized as a “Catholic” school. The reason is due to the different stand the school administration took on one of its faculty who tried to “contract same sex marriage”. The Archdiocese explains its decision:

“All those who minister in Catholic educational institutions carry out an important ministry in communicating the fullness of Catholic teaching to students both by word and action inside and outside the classroom...”

In its response, Brebeuf describes the decision and action of the Archdiocese as an “unprecedented” and “direct insertion into an employment matter of a school governed by a religious order.” Part of the statement also defends the concerned teacher’s right to employment. To quote from the school’s statement itself:

“What’s more, we also recognize the harm that adhering to this mandate [the Archdiocese’s] would cause our highly capable and qualified teachers and staff. As an institution with a mission to develop men and women for others, our intent has been to do the right thing by the people we employ while preserving our authority as an independent, Catholic Jesuit school.”

Interestingly, the school administration did not elaborate nor even picked on the issue of homosexuality or LGBTQ per se. There is no indication or trace that Brebeuf would like to question the Church’s teachings in the substantive level. It hasn’t, for example, interrogated the philosophical or scientific validity of the Church’s stance on homosexual activity as sinful. The battle therefore, if we may call it, between Brebeuf and the Archdiocese is in the technical sphere.

It is interesting, as a matter of speculation, to think – what if the situation happened in the Philippines? What if a certain Archbishop or Bishop “X” would revoke the status of a Catholic school on the basis of non-adherence to Catholic doctrine, specifically on the issue of LGBTQ. Closer a case was when the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines called the attention of the administration of Ateneo de Manila and De La Salle University in 2012. This was when a number of the said universities’ professors signed in support of the then proposed RH Bill.

Morality issues are always contentions. Moral philosophers and ethicists have been telling us on the distinction between the “ought” and the “is.” Theoretically this is sound. We cannot say that we should set aside moral and ethical standards all in favor or in the name of efficiency. However, morality and ethics are not absolutely fixed. Even those who belong to the “Natural Law” school of thought are not in exact agreement as to the definition or meaning of nature.

We can only tentatively conclude for now that we have more questions than answers on the LGBTQ challenge. I would say that it’s a challenge up to now because Philippine society is practically not yet ready to fully embrace an emerging phenomenon that would put into question some age-old values. Given that a significant number of schools in the Philippines are managed if not owned by religious institutions, I’m sure that the battle of perspectives on the LGBTQ issue has a long way to go.

We can only anticipate more labor and civil cases coming. But if such cases are needed to clarify what is minimally acceptable as a matter of secular morality, then we have to confront whatever may come along our way.


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