The LGBTQ+ community has been marginalized within religions across the globe seemingly forever. Despite recent leeway, this group has been fighting contentious battles in public education, especially this past school year. Amid growing tension, a private school known as Nativity School near Boston, Massachusetts has recently made headlines, as the school just was stripped of its Catholic status with the church for flying pride and Black Lives Matter (BLM) flags.
Nativity School in Worcester was founded in 2003. The middle school describes itself as an independent, Catholic institute. As the only tuition-free Catholic school under the Diocese of Worcester, it also is the only of its kind to enroll students from impoverished backgrounds, according to reports from NBC News. However, after failing to adhere to the Catholic church’s demands to remove the controversial flags, the bishop of the Worcester Diocese officially announced that the middle school can no longer use its longstanding Catholic title.
With losing this status, Nativity school will also be barred from holding masses and sacraments on school grounds. The Bishop, Robert J McManus, came to this official decree in a statement, saying that the middle school was sending “mixed, confusing and scandalous” messages about the Catholic church’s perspectives on certain social issues. Additionally, the bishop made note that the school was promoting ideologies that disconfirm Catholic teachings.
Furthermore, the bishop did not come to this decision on a whim. McManus alleged that the church had urged Nativity school officials to remove the flags for months. Refusing to take the flags down, the middle school’s president still stands by his decision, saying that the school will leave the flags flying above the campus. President Thomas McKenney said that the school made the decision to fly the pride and BLM flags as a show of support for his students, especially given that many of them are Black.
Refuting the bishop’s claims that Nativity school is promoting ideologies, McKenney feels that the flags simply show that the middle school is welcoming to all students, despite their background. He acknowledged that these symbols have woven their way into contentious political debates, but doubled down on his stance that they “fly in support of marginalized people.”
The Nativity school president now states the school will soon appeal the bishop’s decision. It will be interesting to see how the Catholic church rules on the matter, especially given their recent shift in support of the LGBTQ community. At the beginning of the year, Pope Francis gave a message to Catholic parents, urging them to support gay children. Before that, the supreme pontiff officially endorsed civil unions for gay couples. Overall, the Catholic church still condones clergy same-sex marriage, but their viewpoints and acceptance of the community have widely changed in support.
Given the recent state of affairs surrounding education in the United States, all eyes will likely remain locked on this story to see where the church stands on this ruling down the road. While more religions and people, in general, are showing greater support for pride matters, those against these measures being used in schools remain unwavering in their stance. But for now, Nativity school will no longer be able to claim itself a Catholic institution, and the ramifications may be larger than they currently appear.