The president of a New York Catholic high school sent a letter to parents this week notifying them of his decision to allow gay students to attend the all-boys school's junior prom together.
It seems that people are so used to reading about anti-LGBT sentiments regarding school proms, even from nonreligious schools, that from a Catholic school this decision speaks volumes.
McQuaid Jesuit High School president Father Edward Salmon's decision followed a student-run campaign on behalf of two gay students who expressed interest in attending as a couple. His letter called for students and parents alike to respect his decision, while insisting that they should not they should not interpret his decision as a violation of church law.
"[I]n the hope that I and all of us at McQuaid Jesuit will let a ray of light break through the darkness and the heavy clouds that have surrounded us, I have made the decision that, if our two brothers who have asked to attend the Junior Ball together wish to do so, they will be welcomed," it said.
He urged members of the McQuaid community to "confront their own fears about homosexuality and to curb the humor and discrimination that offend homosexual persons," noting that he is not "encouraging nor am I condoning homosexual activity just as I do not encourage or condone heterosexual activity at a dance."
It was previously believed that the school had already made a decision that would have excluded the two students, but Salmon insisted that was never the case. A student had called in to a local radio station to share what he believed to be fact at the time, and the misinformation spread quickly.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in New York since 2011, a fact that many people stated in their messages to the school in favor of its eventual decision. It seems only fair that, if these students are allowed to get married in the state, being able to go to junior prom together should be a non-issue.
The most hopeful section of Salmon's letter read: "The teachings of the Church make it clear that the fundamental human rights of homosexual persons must be defended and that all of us must strive to eliminate any forms of injustice, oppression, or violence against them."
Thank you, Father Salmon, for holding true to these words.