France’s President Francois Hollande says Catholic schools in his country should remain neutral regarding upcoming legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage. Holland was supporting an earlier statement by Education Minister Vincent Peillon, who criticized efforts by the Catholic Church to bring up the subject of gay marriage with students.
Last month, Eric de Labarre, secretary-general of France’s Catholic school system—which educates about one-fifth of the country’s children—sent a letter to school heads urging them to discuss same-sex marriage and adoption in the classroom. “Every primary and secondary school should take the appropriate steps to ensure everyone has the freedom to make an informed decision over the choices the government is considering today,” Labarre wrote.
Peillon fired back with strongly worded missive:
“It doesn’t seem appropriate to bring the debate over equal marriage rights into schools. I have the deepest respect for the Catholic school system. But, the institution, which is under contract with the state, must respect the principle that everyone has the right to a neutral and free thought.”
In his statement, Peillon urged caution when dealing with young students, as gay teens are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.
While Hollande’s government is losing favor in France, support for same-sex marriage is at 60%. Ironically while nearly 70% of those polled would like the issue to go to a public referendum, leaders from major all major religious groups oppose such a move.
Guess they do things differently on the other side of the Atlantic.