To the Editor:
As a former member/student of the St. John Vianney parish/school, a UMD alum who majored in psychology focusing on human sexuality, a graduate with an master's degree in counseling psychology, a teaching assistant for the Sex and Gender Differences class, a phone counselor on a mental health/suicide hotline, and a counselor at a domestic violence/sexual assault agency, I would like to offer an alternative perspective to the views Father Schuster offered on the definition of marriage.
The information presented on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community was blatantly false. Any reputable article, book or scholar would tell you that sexual orientation or "same-sex attraction" cannot simply be transformed into "chaste friendships." Father Schuster may be referring to the practice of conversion therapy, in which someone attempts to "pray away the gay." The American Counseling Association noted in a statement on May 22, 2006, that conversion therapy has not only been found to be ineffective, but is also unethical and harmful.
Regarding the comments made about marriage being the venue through which procreation of children should be accomplished - what about myself and my husband who are unsure if raising children is something we want? Does our marriage, though within your definition of a man and a woman, not count either? What about couples who are unable to have children?
The research that Father Schuster uses about parenting, without citing, is erroneous at best. One respectable article on this subject states "A sound body of empirical literature has demonstrated that the sexual orientation of a parent is irrelevant in terms of a person's ability to parent and has no lasting effect on the psychological adjustment of the person's children." (Tye, 2003).
The Catholic Church has strayed from its own teachings by condemning the LGBT community and engaging in social commentary to work to refuse them the rights they deserve, rather than living out Jesus' teachings to love one another. Perhaps the church should save its prayers for states facing a vote this fall and instead use them for the sick - the woman in the hospital mending broken bones she received during a beating from the husband she is told she should not divorce because God would not want her to; the wounded - vets returning from war with PTSD and depression; the orphans - children trying to survive the foster care system because their parents did not have adequate information on or access to contraceptives to prevent a pregnancy they were not prepared for; the prisoners - who ironically now include priests who thought they had the right to sexually assault young children; the homeless - of whom LGBT youth make up 20 percent after being thrown out of homes and communities.
The church needs to put down its picketing signs and pick up an academic journal, a book based on research ("What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality" by Daniel A. Helminiak, Ph.D is informative) or, better yet, a Bible to remind itself how Jesus really wanted us to live.
Chelsea (Schons) Schutter