Comparing closets: A transnational study of homophobia in catholic schools

Year: 2012

Author: Callaghan, Tonya D.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Caught between the religious edicts of the Vatican and the secular laws of the state, publicly funded Catholic schools in Canada respond to non-heterosexual students and teachers in contradictory and inconsistent ways, including expulsion, firing, or more subtle forms of exclusion (Callaghan, 2007). This homophobic discrimination is incongruous in a country such as Canada that is respected the world over for its Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Department of Justice Canada, 1982.). Charter rights regularly clash with Catholic doctrine in Canadian Catholic schools (Callaghan, 2007; Covert, 1993; Grace & Wells, 2005) and Canada is not alone in this problem. Conflicts between civil or common law and Catholic canonical law in publicly funded Catholic schools are occurring with growing frequency in the nations of the European Union, North America, Australia and New Zealand. This study is a comparative cross-case analysis of Catholic school systems in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom vis-à-vis sexual minority groups. These nations are purposefully selected because they share many recognizable traditions and customs as well as similar legal and political systems. A comparative study between peer nations advances understanding of this particular clash between common and canonical law in Catholic schools.