Catholic student sent home after following rules

Timothy Kincaid

September 28th, 2015

CBHSIt can’t be easy being a Catholic school administrator, especially when it comes to gay issues.

On the one hand, most Catholics are supportive of gay people and wish for inclusion and respect. And this Pope, those opposing legal equality, speaks the language of compassion and conciliation.

On the other hand the American Bishops are, by and large, pedophile-defending, gay hating, sanctimonious royalty with less compassion than the 17th Century French royalty. And within every parish there are self-righteous zealots standing at the ready to raise a hue and stink if a school tries to find some approach other than sin, Sin, SIN AND ABOMINATION!!!

But though it must be tough, sometimes they just make it a lot harder on themselves than they have to. Sometimes they are their own worst enemy.

Take, for example, the story of Lance Sanderson.

Lance attends Christian Brothers High School, an all-boys Catholic High School in Memphis Tennessee with an emphasis on human dignity and a commitment to social justice. And when he told an administrator last year that he wanted to bring a male date to the Homecoming Dance, he was told that the school didn’t discriminate and suggested that it would be allowed.

But that administrator left over the summer and now the school is taking a less favorable view. (Memphis Flyer)

“I was sitting down talking to one of the current administrators over the summer, and at the end of our conversation, I mentioned it, expecting him to say the same thing. And he had a very different response,” Sanderson said. “He mentioned a [gay] couple in Texas and said I was a lot like this one person and said that the guy’s boyfriend murdered him. It was a little rough.”

I suppose that it goes without saying that “you shouldn’t date because of this one drunken fight in Texas” is phenominally bad advice, however well intended. Surely by 2015 we don’t have to rely on wild anecdotal evidence to know “what gay people are like”.

But considering that he is being taught to stand for social justice, no one should be surprised that Lance decided not to just accept that administrator’s response. He started a petition requesting the school to change it’s mind, and received support from about 24,000 signatories. And a couple dozen alumni marched with him at pride.

The school did not back down. Which is their right. But the way they went about is just plain stupid.

The school could have issued a statement along the lines of “We support Lance and respect diversity, but we are a Catholic School and same-sex dating is contrary to Catholic teaching, so we cannot allow that at official school functions.” Not a great outcome, but not likely to cause many waves.

Instead, the school compiled a committee that came up with a policy:

CBHS students may attend the dance by themselves, with other CBHS students, or with a girl from another school. For logistical reasons, boys from other schools may not attend.

Logistical Reasons. Because, you know, boys get into interschool rivalries and cause fights, especially those gay boys who are going to murder you later. And we just don’t have the logistics to deal with that.

Then they announced that the Homecoming Dance is no longer a date dance.

No, no, there won’t be anyone at the Homecoming Dance on a date. It will just be the students hanging out with their buddies (but not buddies from other schools) and with some random girls who somehow wandered there for no apparent reason but which are definitely not on dates. So, you see, we aren’t discriminating against gay students who want to bring a date, because no one is on a date. At the Homecoming Dance.

Just a note of advice to Catholic school administrators: If you’re going to say something stupid, even colossally stupid, try to come up with something that at least has some semblance of believability.

So Lance didn’t go to his Senior Year Non-Date Homecoming Dance on Saturday. Because while other students were there with their not-dates, Lance wasn’t allowed to bring a not-date, so as to avoid fights over interschool rivalries and later being murdered.

And the story should have ended there on that note of silliness.

But Christian Brothers’ administration wasn’t quite through with truly stupid blunders. Today they pulled Lance out of school and told him to stay home for the week. Even though he didn’t bring a date to the Non-Date Homecoming Dance. (Logo)

Today I arrived at school around 6:30am. I sat down to complete my assignments for the classes I planned on attending today. At 7:30am, I was speaking to a teacher when an administrator walked into the room and told me to gather my books and come to the office.

When I arrived at the office I was told that the administration “had 890 other students to worry about” and could not deal with me. I was told to go home for the week. I said goodbye to a few teachers and students, then drove home.

And so now this matter of committee policy is now a story for the mainstream media. Congratulations Christian Brothers, you make the Three Stooges look like policy wonks.

Though the school is not telling anyone why they sent Lance home, in their letter the CBHS Community, they suggest that Lance was wrong to use social media to stand up for himself. They are embarrassed and have yet to realize that their embarrassment has everything to do with themselves and nothing to do with Lance. So Lance must be punished.

I guess at Christian Brothers in Memphis, social justice means standing up for inclusion and speaking truth to power… except when you are the power.

Clearly, this is not going to end well for the administration at Christian Brothers High School.

Frank DeFrancesco

September 28th, 2015

At least your coverage is not vitriolic anti-Catholic verbiage like some recent articles I’ve read in the gay web, especially as directed recently toward Pope Francis. As a gay former Catholic who has issues with the church, I nonetheless detest disrespectful discourse of any kind. The limited editorializing in this article is at least done with a modicum of respect.


September 29th, 2015


Quite Frankly, the Catholic Church deserves all the vitriol it receives. Right now they are trying to strip gay couples from the right to marry in Brazil. Its history of centuries of human rights abuse, of torture and murder, and all those other wonderful “christian” things has earned it rightful scorn. As the christians would say towards “sinners”, I don’t hate catholics I just hate catholicism. As a side note, you do realize that the conservatives had as much, if not more, disrespect for the pope, right?

In relation to this post, I’m glad to see that he stood up and didn’t take this. I am aware that he can’t sue the school, but I wish he could for the school punishing him for no reason. Really it’s amazing how the school thinks they can get away with that bs about it not being a “date dance” anymore. They just happen to allow girls to attend.


September 29th, 2015

It says a lot about the self-awareness of the RC Church when an organisation that has time and again been proved to be involved in rape of children the world over and engaged in various conspiracies to cover it up chooses to judge gay people based on a random incident in a single US state.

Priya Lynn

September 29th, 2015

Frank, religion isn’t a valid excuse for discriminating against gays and lesbians. The Catholic church should be treated with disrespect.

Timothy Kincaid

September 29th, 2015

Thanks, Frank. We try not to make this site another hate page.


September 29th, 2015

Timothy and I guess Frank,

I don’t want to start a huge argument here, but I would just point out that many individuals have reason to “hate” catholic dogma and what it has done especially now that we know how hard the hierarchy worked to cover its ass. People may seen it as just individuals who “hate” the catholic church and the pope, but many have reasons for why they feel the way they do.

I am willing to admit that I hate the catholic hierarchy, and I do find many beliefs evil, but not the average catholic. I hate the mormon hierarchy and their actions, but not the average mormon. The same goes for Islam. I can never forgive this institutions that used/are using their money and power to deny rights and to prevent advancements that could make life better.

Why should someone that has said religious beliefs should supersede secular laws or that adoption by gay or lesbians is discrimination against children get a free pass? There are people that can become outright nasty, but criticizing the catholic church and it’s leaders is not necessarily hateful. Just like criticism of islam doesn’t make one islamaphobic or criticizing israel makes one antisemitic.

Just tangential, but if you ever want to see real hate just pop over and read some of the comments on barbwire.

Timothy Kincaid

September 29th, 2015


You know that we don’t give free passes here. We also try not to engage in hate. We believe that you can criticize and analyze and respond without dosing out hatred.

As for the comments on barbwire, yep those people are motivated primarily by hatred for others. Sadly, that’s true of some of the other gay sites.

Priya Lynn

September 29th, 2015

Gays have a valid reason to hate anti-gay churches and people. Anti-gay people don’t have a valid reason to hate gays.

Paul Douglas

September 29th, 2015

I have to agree with Priya Lynn on this one, Timothy. The only good to come out of it is that it will cause more people to turn away from this sick religion.
Frank, the catholick church through its bishoprics and ancillary organs like the Knights of Columbus have consistently & viciously opposed civil rights for LGBT people. Why do you blame those they persecute for their reaction, rather than those who do the persecuting in the first place? Similar to blaming the victims of the church’s pedophile scandals instead of the perpetrators and their protectors IMHO.
The romanist church really is a f*ckd up mess.

Priya Lynn

September 29th, 2015

“Why do you blame those they persecute for their reaction, rather than those who do the persecuting in the first place?”.

Exactly. This is not a case of some gay sites being full of hatred therefore they are as bad as the anti-gay sites that are full of hatred. Not even close.


September 30th, 2015

One last comment,

This isn’t very surprising given how the very top of the catholic hierarchy behaves. The school officials claim one thing publicly, but in private they show just how much “compassion” they have for lgbt individuals. Just like Pope Francis who many people think is so progressive towards the LGBT community publicly and who privately gives comfort to those that think their right to discriminate trumps human rights.

I don’t think anything bad will happen to the administration. At other schools that have done similar things to gay students/ teachers nothing happened.

Timothy Kincaid

September 30th, 2015

To the defenders of hate:

As you’ll recall, the original comment was directed to me as the author and in appreciation of my lack of “vitriolic anti-Catholic verbiage”. I’ll continue to try and present stories in a way that is content driven and not based in expressing contempt (though I’m sure I’ll screw up from time to time). Sorry, that’s just how we do things here.

But fear not. If you want mean-spirited hate-filled rants against the Catholic Church, there are plenty of sites to visit. And they are more than happy to have you say anything you like in the comments. The nastier the better.

Meanwhile I’ll try to keep this a little corner of relative decency for when your psyche needs a break.

Priya Lynn

September 30th, 2015

“Why do you blame those they persecute for their reaction, rather than those who do the persecuting in the first place?”.

Priya Lynn

September 30th, 2015

Let’s not forget who the wrongdoers are here. Hint: Its not the gays who hate them.

Mark F.

September 30th, 2015

And this Pope, though opposing legal equality, speaks the language of compassion and conciliation.”

And meets with the nut Kim Davis.

Priya Lynn

September 30th, 2015

“And this Pope, though opposing legal equality, speaks the language of compassion and conciliation.”

Like so many christians he hides the bigotry to try and get you into the fold and then after you’ve made several steps into going along with it all they bring out the bigotry gradually and softly but increasingly demandingly to try and get you to swallow it without balking.


September 30th, 2015

It’s a small sample, but the alumni are not happy.


October 1st, 2015

Because this comment thread veered off toward the Pope’s meeting with Kim Davis, I share this link posted by a UCC pastor who is a former Catholic nun. Lots of suppositions and conspiracy, but there may be a kernel of truth here.

Eric Payne

October 2nd, 2015


In an item regarding a teen gay who is, for all intents and purposes, suspended from school because he is gay, your lead with:

It can’t be easy being a Catholic school administrator, especially when it comes to gay issues.

Sympathy for the school administration? Really?

Let’s feel sorry for these guys because they have tough decisions to make? Let’s not judge the Church for carefully scouring the Bible to find passages they can utilize to justify themselves?

I’ll save my sympathies for the child who has had his life disrupted by the full force of the Church, thank you.

Priya Lynn

October 2nd, 2015

Hear Hear Eric.

Timothy is all too ready to give undeserved consideration to the bigots. Religion is not a valid excuse to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Timothy Kincaid

October 2nd, 2015


I guess you didn’t read beyond the first line.

Eric Payne

October 2nd, 2015


I actually want to give Timothy the benefit of the doubt; sarcasm can be very difficult using only the written word and, if being sarcastic was his intent, in this instance it failed, spectacularly, for me.

If Timothy was being sincere; that is if he truly wishes for the readers’ sympathy be directed to school/Church officials who must make “tough decisions” balancing real-life against (what many perceive as) mythical dogma, then I differ in opinion.

In suspending Sanderson, the administration sends two messages. It tells Sanderson there is something inherently wrong about himself simply for being alive. It tells others there is something so wrong with Sanders the ostracization is the only solution.

If that mindset pervades, then how can Sanderson return, safely, to his school?

When elected officials, such as Lakeland Commissioner Charles Plunk, feel comfortable enough to make the public statement (on his Facebook page):

I would say let the little homo sue all he wants. The alumni of CBHS will meet him dollar for dollar and lawyer for lawyer. This is a threat to our values, our Christian values. Everyone shudders when the homosexuals say the word sue. They are vicious spiteful people.’

How is Sanders supposed to feel safe in his own home? (Sanders has never, publicly, threatened any litigation, nor has any attorney as a spokesperson for Sanders)

Both Sanders and the Church are caught between that proverbial rock-and-hard-place.

But my sympathies are reserved for Sanders.

Eric Payne

October 2nd, 2015


I read the entire item.

I also know the rules of writing, and the purpose of both an introductory statement/paragraph (“the lead” or “the lead-in”) and the closing statement/paragraph.

As I said to Priya, if sarcasm was your intent then for me that intent was not successful.

If, however, the intention was to evoke sympathies for school administrators especially when it comes to gay issues and for whom, because they choose dogma Clearly, this is not going to end well for the administration at Christian Brothers High School, you were also unsuccessful.


October 5th, 2015

Can someone make a list of opposite-sex domestic violence victims (especially married) to share with this administrator as proof that boys and girls should also not date or get married?

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