LGBTQ+ Children Share the Inherent Dignity of All God's Children
Friday, Jul. 01, 2022
Imagine being a parent whose teenage child comes home deeply upset from something that was said or happened at school. Picture for a moment that child’s brokenness, his or her struggle as a child to feel comfortable with all the changes happening to their bodies at any given moment made infinitely more difficult by a cruel comment from another.
Now imagine those comments come not from other children who are also struggling with mental, physical and emotional development, but from fully-grown adults. Adults who are telling your child he or she is evil because of something over which that child has no control – his or her sexual orientation. And the adults are doing so on television news programs, across social media, and through legislation.
This is the current state of affairs in our nation, and our kids are listening. Children in our Catholic and public schools are hearing adults claim their parents are making them into something less than human. More importantly, children are hearing that they themselves are less than human. They are being told sexual orientation is a choice. And because it is a choice, if the child is beaten or abused for being gay, it is the child’s fault for making the “wrong” choice, with or without parental complicity.
We know better than this. Scripture is clear, we are called to love all of our neighbors, no exceptions. Catholic teaching recognizes that every human has equal value, that every human is made in the image and likeness of God. Sexual orientation is not chosen by the individual, or “groomed” into the child by parents or anyone else, but is part of who that person is from conception.
The current public discourse around LGBTQ+ individuals and issues seems to have devolved, like so many political issues in our nation, into efforts to demonize human beings. What makes this debate worse than some others is that in this case the people being demonized are minors. LGBTQ+ youth know there will be those among their peers who will want to torment them, perhaps through words, but far too often also through physical abuse. In my years of teaching and parenting, I have yet to meet a child who has freely chosen to be the subject of so much torment from their classmates.
Nor have I met a child who was emotionally ready to sustain similar abuse from adults, most of whom the child has never even met.
We talk about the thick skin needed to be in politics, but few mention how tough a child must be to reveal that he or she is LGBTQ+. Once the child owns that part of his or her person, it is alarming how many strangers actively and regularly seek to deny the youth the basic human dignity inherent from conception.
The dignity and sanctity of the gay or lesbian child’s life is every bit as deserving of protection as any other child. Nothing about same-sex attraction makes the child any less human. But we make ourselves far from Christ-like if we do not stand up against public commentary that paints all LGBTQ+ individuals as predators or otherwise subhuman.
Whatever the political issue, we must always begin from the premise that the people involved have the same intrinsic value as all other persons created in the image and likeness of God. In fact, we just might build some bridges across our growing political divides if we faithfully adhere to this Biblical principle.
Jean Hill is director of the Diocese of Salt Lake City Office of Life, Justice and Peace. Reach her at email@example.com.