Opinion: Why I stood in protest of Fr. Paul Scalia

By Kevin Jones | September 19, 2018 9:09pm
Assistant Professor Kevin Jones shares why he stood in protest alongside students, faculty and staff.

My name is Kevin Jones and I am an Assistant Professor of Social Work here at the University of Portland. I just want to say a few things about why I stood this evening with hundreds of students and faculty outside of the Chapel in protest of Fr. Paul Scalia being invited as a featured speaker for the annual Red Mass dinner.

My primary responsibility as a member of the faculty is for the well-being, growth and education of our students. I would not be upholding that responsibility, I would not be doing my job, if I did not show up with our students, our faculty and our community to resist and reject the false and dangerous ideas of Fr. Scalia.

The faculty handbook says: “Extra and co-curricular activities, campus facilities, and opportunities for involvement…shall be designed to support the curricular focus of attention on moral, ethical and spiritual questions.”

Well, today we had a serious moral and ethical issue on our hands. In a series of writings and speeches widely available online, Fr. Paul Scalia has a loud and clear message for LGBTQ folks. And by his presence on our campus today, Fr. Scalia has a loud and clear message for our LGBTQ students. 

His message is: Your feelings are disordered.

His message is: The love and attraction you feel for your partner are disordered.

His message is: The way you naturally are and the way you naturally feel – those things are not natural.

People like Fr. Scalia will offer semantic contortions and say: The gay person is not disordered. It’s just that their feelings, inclinations, actions and lifestyle are disordered.

Those semantics are no help or comfort for the 86% of LGBTQ youth who are verbally harassed at school. It doesn’t help the 25% of LGBTQ youth who have been physically attacked in school. It certainly doesn’t help the 50% of LGBTQ youth who are rejected by their own parents, or the 26% who are kicked out of their homes as minors because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

So what does Fr. Scalia have to say about the abuse and suffering that LGBTQ people experience?

He says, in essence: It’s your own damn fault.

Not in those exact words, but he very clearly states that addiction is a RESULT of homosexuality, that depression is a RESULT of homosexuality, that suicide – yes, suicide – is a RESULT of homosexual activity.

Our faculty handbook says: The University places superb teaching as both its first virtue and a central tenet of its mission.

The teachings of Fr. Paul Scalia are false and dangerous. 

The TRUTH is: Queer kids that are depressed are victims of a society that degrades and devalues them. 

The TRUTH is: LGBTQ youth that abuse drugs and alcohol are numbing the pain inflicted on them by an intolerant and violent society. 

The TRUTH is: Queer kids who kill themselves do it because they are attacked, disowned and left with no hope. 

The teachings of Fr. Paul Scalia are false and dangerous. I do not believe they represent the values of this institution that aims to educate the whole person: head, hands and heart.

The truth is that queer folks are whole, beautiful and powerful people. The truth is that LGBTQ students, faculty and staff need the University to be a place of unconditional acceptance, love and support. We all need more than tolerance; we need and deserve full affirmation of our humanity.

The truth is that in these times of division, scapegoating and increased violence toward those who are most vulnerable. We, the University of Portland community, must stand together against misinformation, against homophobia and against transphobia, to ensure that our school provides a safe, supportive and affirming environment for every student, every faculty member and every staff person, period.

Thank you to everyone who showed up today. Thank you for standing up for truth and what is right.

Kevin Jones is an Assistant Professor of Social Work can be reached at jonesk@up.edu