COMMENTARY: DepEd, Catholic schools, and LGBT students
(This is the second in a two-part series. The first one can be accessed here.)
Despite the noble goals of DepEd’s push for a gender-responsive basic education, this is not likely to go smoothly. At this point we will discuss two major reasons why.
1) DepEd is still in the midst of the transition to the K plus 12 curriculum. Although it was put in place back in 2013 through Republic Act 10533, it was only last year that DepEd got to formally implement the senior high school level (the pioneer batch of SHS completers is scheduled to graduate this April 2018).
Although it got little attention from the public in general and the media in particular, the roll-out of the senior high school level last year couldn’t have come at a worse time. It’s for the simple reason that the final phase of the transition to a K plus 12 curriculum coincided with the transition in the leadership of DepEd which needed to happen because of the change in Presidency. Rubbing insult to injury, the people who conceptualized K plus 12 all had to go since they’re political appointees of the outgoing President.
Up to now, DepEd is still grappling with a lot of issues related to the introduction of senior high school like the sudden explosion on the number of students in public schools, the slow hiring process of new teachers, acquisition of books and learning materials, as well as the completion of new facilities.
If DepEd is still having difficulties over how to implement K plus 12 even if it’s been staring them on their faces for the last five years, how can we expect them to deliver on their new promise to develop a gender-responsive basic education system?
2) Catholic schools are not likely to be cooperative on this new DepEd mandate. Although there is a persistent hope among many that the Catholic Church under Pope Francis would be more accepting of LGBT people, that hasn’t gone anywhere.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which sought to summarize the beliefs of the Catholic Church and was formulated during the time of Pope John Paul II, remains unequivocal that homosexuality is “contrary to the natural law.” It further adds: “They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
Given that, it is hard to see the administrators of schools like San Sebastian-Recoletos in Manila or Saint Theresa’s College in Cebu City allowing the celebration of the LGBT Pride Month in their schools every June. It is also tough to imagine class advisers in Catholic schools to tell their gay student that it is okay for them to be attracted to people of the same sex (some probably will, but without the knowledge and consent of their superiors).
And these schools can possibly use the Supreme Court’s ruling invalidating portions of RA 10354 or the Reproductive Health law because it punishes the so-called “conscientious objectors.” Meaning, people cannot be penalized legally for not doing things that are firmly against their religious views.