First annual LGBT Catholic student summit to be held Saturday

Graphic by Felicia Pruitt Brown
Graphic by Felicia Pruitt Brown

On Saturday, more than 200 Catholic students from around the state will attend the first annual LGBTQ+ Catholic Youth Summit. It’s already created a stir as Catholic officials have prevented the event from being held in a Catholic church.

The event is hosted by the LGBTQ+ and Allied Catholic Student Coalition “is a group of individual students from Catholic Schools in Minnesota, and Catholic identified individuals who attend public or non-Catholic private schools, who are interested in advancing LGBTQ+ equity in their schools and local communities.” It has strong membership from Twin Cities Catholic schools including Members from: Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Holy Family, The Academy of Holy Angels, and Totino Grace.

The event, held at Edina Community Lutheran Church, is cosponsored by OutFront Minnesota and the Justice Office of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates.

The summit will focus on the tensions between the Catholic Church and the LGBT community at Catholic schools, tensions which have been increasing as LGBT equality advances and the church remains steadfast against those rights.

That was made clear on Monday as the summit organizers had to move the event from a Catholic church to a Lutheran one, after pressure from the Archdiocese.

The LGBTQ+ Catholic Student Coalition posted the following message on Facebook on Monday afternoon:

The LGBTQ+ Catholic Student Coalition regrets to announce that on orders from the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Christ the King Catholic Church is no longer able to host the LGBTQ+ Catholic Youth Summit.
Fortunately, Edina Community Lutheran Church (4113 W 54th St, Edina) has graciously agreed to host the event this Saturday, May 16.
While we are deeply disappointed that we are no longer able to host this event at a Catholic Parish, the decision from the Chancery clearly demonstrates the need for this event and the conversations we will be having on Saturday at the Summit.
Now more than ever it’s important to come together as a community in solidarity! Can’t wait to see you all there.

In addition, ample cases exemplifying that tension can be gleaned from headlines over the last five years. In 2010, a student newspaper at Benilde-St. Margaret‘s in St. Louis Park was censored by school officials after students wrote editorials in support of the LGBT community. In 2012, a teacher at a Catholic school in Moorhead was fired when she expressed disagreement with the church’s position on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In 2013, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis forced out two school staffers. A vice principal was forced to resign after he married his longtime partner. Shortly after, English teacher Kristen Ostendorf was fired after she told co-workers that she is a lesbian.

Ostendorf will give the keynote speech at the summit on Saturday. The event will also include a mass as well as student-led workshops on creating safe spaces in Catholic schools, the experience of being LGBT and Catholic, and how to talk to people of faith about LGBT issues.

Date: Saturday, May 16 from 9:30am to 3:30pm
Location: Edina Community Lutheran Church, 4113 W 54th St, Edina, Minnesota 55424
Admission: $10 suggested ticket, no one turned away. Tickets at Event Brite
For more information, visit Facebook

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Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.


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