Parents protest Catholic school display of political signsAt Holy Rosary School in Duluth, it’s been a battle of the political signs some mornings, with one group of parents protesting the presence of a message to “Vote Yes” for the marriage amendment in front of the school.
By: By Jana Hollingsworth, Forum Communications, The Jamestown Sun
DULUTH, Minn. — At Holy Rosary School in Duluth, it’s been a battle of the political signs some mornings, with one group of parents protesting the presence of a message to “Vote Yes” for the marriage amendment in front of the school.
The Catholic Diocese of Duluth says parents shouldn’t be surprised that the school reflects the beliefs of the church that operates it.
On Monday, four Holy Rosary School parents gathered on a sidewalk outside the school wearing orange same-sex marriage amendment Vote No T-shirts and holding Vote No signs.
“I love the school,” said parent Maureen Tobin Stanley. “The children are taught to be kind, good human beings, which is what we teach at home, as well. And yet, I don’t think the signs fall into that. I think the signs are homophobic, and that is fostering fear and hatred rather than tolerance and acceptance.”
Minnesota voters will be asked Nov. 6 whether the state constitution should be amended to define marriage as a union between one woman and one man. Same-sex marriage supporters have waged a fight against the measure.
One parent of a Holy Rosary student, en route to work, had a sign tied to his bike. The mini-demonstration inspired two other Holy Rosary parents to approach the group for civil discourse: one politely, one angrily. Other parents offered thumbs-up signals to the quiet foursome during the morning drop-off.
The Vote Yes signs were placed on school property with consent of the school’s priest, Rev. Peter Muhich, and Principal Jesse Murray, said Kyle Eller, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Duluth.
“Holy Rosary is a Catholic school, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to uphold Catholic teaching on the nature of marriage,” Eller said. “They are supporting Minnesota’s Catholic bishops in this effort.”
But Tobin Stanley and other parents say they don’t think a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school, Catholic or not, is the place for such political messages.
Kim and Romesh Lakhan have two children at the school. The Lakhan parents and others demonstrated peacefully outside the school three weeks ago, they said, after the signs first went up. One parent upset by the protest called the police. Three squad cars responded, but said only that protesters had the right to be on a public sidewalk, Kim Lakhan said.
Their children wore Vote No shirts to school and were made to put sweatshirts over them, Kim Lakhan said. A Vote No sticker was removed from one child’s water bottle by a teacher.
“I believe the church has the right to express its opinion,” Kim Lakhan said. “But I do not want it in front of the school. I do not want my kids feeling pressured that their parents are going to hell if they don’t vote correctly. My kids, this is very close to their hearts and they want to be vocal. And we’re trying to teach them how to do so respectfully.”
But parent Scott Pionk, who supports the school’s Vote Yes signs, says the amendment vote is not only a political issue but a moral one.
“And that’s why my kids are there,” he said of Holy Rosary. “They get a spiritual education every day. When there is a spiritual issue that overlaps with politics, I want them to know about it. That’s one of the beauties of a Catholic school. They can’t be told that they can’t teach about morals on their own premises.”
Dan Glisczinski has four children at the school. A former Catholic school principal and teacher, and a current education professor, he thinks the marriage amendment issue is an important one to discuss inside the Catholic family, because “two signs don’t actually talk to each other.”