By Mary Beth Stein
Note: The following was first published February 13, 2014 as a letter-to-the-editor in the Twin Cities' Pioneer Press.
The Minnesota Catholic Conference rejects the Safe and Supportive Schools bill, expressing concern that the bill is part of a larger agenda to normalize same-sex attraction. These suspicions reflect the attitude of some of the ordained Church leaders but not the heart and soul of Catholics in the pews. As was demonstrated in the high Catholic percentage who voted against the marriage amendment, we already accept same-sex attraction as normal. Everyone is created by God; who are we to judge? Rather than judge we are called to cherish.
The real issue at hand is protecting students. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students are frequent targets of bullying. The concern for all Catholics, indeed all Minnesotans, is to protect these and other vulnerable students from harm. What could be more in keeping with Catholic values?
Background Information and Action Steps
The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act:
House File 826: The bill was passed in the House in May, 2013, and sent to the Senate.
Senate File 783: The bill was tabled in May, 2013, and is currently in Finance Committee. The MN legislature convenes February 20, 2014.
Legislators to Call: Finance Committee Chair Dick Cohen (651) 296-5931, asking him to pass the bill out of committee and send it to the Senate floor for a vote as soon as the legislative session begins.
Senator Scott Dibble, the author of the bill and member of the Senate Finance Committee, (651) 296-4191, supporting him in moving the bill onto the Senate floor.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (651) 296-8881, asking him to facilitate the bill's passing on the Senate floor.
Catholic Support for Anti-Bullying Legislation Without Exemption for Private Schools: A Position Paper – Daniel DeWan, Lisa Vanderlinden and Patty Thorsen for the Council of the Baptized (February 11, 2014).
Related Off-site Links:
Groups Organize Support for Safe Schools Bill – Andy Birkey (TheColu.mn, February 12, 2014).
Bullying's a Problem. Could This Proposed Minnesota Law Be a Solution? – Christopher Magan (Pioneer Press, February 8, 2014).
Pioneer Press Fails to Identify Anti-LGBT Lobbyist in Bullying Report – Andy Birkey (TheColu.mn, February 10, 2014).
GOP, Tea Parties Forge Ties with Anti-Gay Group to Stop Safe Schools Bill – Andy Birkey (The Colu.mn, January 27, 2014).
Meet the Team Behind the Minnesota Child Protection League – Andy Birkey (The Colu.mn, January 8, 2014).
In the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, "Regime Change is Not Enough" – The Progressive Catholic Voice (November 10, 2013).
Catholic Hierarchy's Rhetoric Does Not Reflect Changes to Safe and Supportive Schools Act – Rep. Jim Davnie (MinnPost, April 26, 2013).
MN Catholic Bishops Oppose Anti-Bullying Legislation – The Progressive Catholic Voice (April 6, 2013).
The Minnesota Safe Schools for All Coalition