By Patrick O’Dowd
As a product of Lexington Catholic High School, I was chagrined to see the headlines Sunday morning, May 13. I write ‘chagrined’ because it is entirely unsurprising. The “same-sex couple unallowed to attend prom” headline surfaces with regularity this time of the year—that my Catholic alma mater was now the latest institution to partake in this injustice seemed altogether predictable.
What was not predictable was the deft handling of the matter from students Hope Decker and Tiffany Wright. After being told the day prior by the school’s administration that she and her date, Wright, would not be allowed to attend prom, Decker said, “This is ridiculous. There’s gotta be something we could do about this.” So the students did, and as they were turned away from the dance by the school, cameras from two local news stations were there waiting to tell their story. Decker’s and Wright’s public response in front of the cameras was undramatic, level-headed, and deliberate; their actions taken to rebuke the school, savvy and smart.
As a proud graduate of Lexington Catholic High School, I was left embarrassed by the school’s administration but amazed at the good work of the school’s teachers whose efforts produce bright, young individuals like Decker, Wright, and the dozens of other students who stuck by their friends. It’s no small feat. The students’ courageous actions directed light towards the school’s dark injustice. It was an act of sharp criticism, and I have no doubt that the school’s teachers—those who work with the students day-in and day-out for years at a time—were the ones who helped instill this desire to resist injustice.
In stark contrast stands the institution within which this all took place, the Catholic Church. Lexington Catholic’ administration, now in the spotlight, hides behind doctrine and dogma. The school’s president Steve Angelucci now says, “As a Catholic high school, we uphold every teaching of the Catholic Church. The policies and procedures of our school reflect those teachings.” In an act meant to shame members of its own student body, the school now defends itself by hiding behind the dank and stagnant “policies and procedures” of Catholicism.
Decker, Wright, and the other students who joined them in protest spoke up for themselves and took claim to their own actions and identities. Lexington Catholic High School’s administration has, instead, found itself shamed and unable to defend its own action—made all the more clear by its desire, once exposed, to conceal itself behind the words of others.
Yet, the school’s desire to hide only comes now, once students like Decker, Wright, and countless others who do the same at their schools, have already exposed the actions of administrations like Lexington Catholic’s for what they are: unjust and cruel. This will not be the last time it hides or the last time a same-sex couple is banned from a school dance—institutions like the Catholic Church demonstrates their moral lethargy with great regularity—but these students’ actions represent another rip in the church’s veil; a death to injustice by a thousand cuts.