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Insights: CA’s Healthy Youth Act; Mental Health Study Guide

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August 17, 2018

Back to School: What you need to know about CA’s Healthy Youth Act

The school year has either already begun or is about to start for families everywhere, and after the backpacks and lunches are packed and children are settled into their desks, parents of public school students should take time to review California’s sexual health education law, which could impact how their child is educated regarding transgender youth.

While the California Healthy Youth Act (HYA) does specify that parents and guardians are to be notified and supervise their child’s sexual health education, there is still ambiguity regarding the “opt-out” provisions of the law. 

In particular, there is confusion and concern in several California public school districts about whether the “opt out” provision applies to instruction involving discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation.  The confusion stems from a seemingly conflicting provision in the HYA (Section 51932(b)), which states that the law (and therefore the “opt-out” provision) “does not apply to instruction, materials, presentations, or programming that discuss gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, discrimination, harassment, bullying, intimidation, relationships, or family and do not discuss human reproductive organs and their functions.”  The Orange County Board of Education has taken the position that if sex education instruction is offered in “separate modules” and one those modules discusses gender identity or sexual orientation without reference to reproductive organs or functions, then parents are not permitted to excuse their children from that particular module or discussion. 

Read more on the CCC’s interpretation of this law and find important questions to ask your school and school district here.

 

Hope and Healing Study Guide Now Available

Earlier this year, the Bishops of CA released Hope and Healing: A letter from the Bishops of California on Caring for Those Who Suffer From Mental Illness Addressed to All Catholics and People of Goodwill. The statement laments the heartbreaking prevalence of mental illness in our society and the dire need to move past stigmatization toward ministry and care.

The Conference has now released a comprehensive study and discussion guide to accompany the statement including a list of resources available in each diocese.

This guide breaks down the six core sections of the pastoral letter, summarizing points and providing thought-provoking questions to consider in response. The document can be used for personal reflection or to help guide small group discussions that promote a sense of community surrounding these challenging themes.

The document concludes with a list of resources available to those suffering from mental illness, their loved ones, or anyone who wishes to learn more about these important topics.

 

Evangelization in Light of Ladauto Si

The California Catholic Conference of Bishops Ad Hoc Committee on the Environment was recently presented with Creativity and Conversation: Evangelizations in Light of Ladauto Si, a commentary by Franciscan Brother Keith Warner Keith Douglass Warner, OFM, who directs Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for education, fellowship, grants and action research activities.

In the piece, Br. Warner urges the Church to respond to Pope Francis’ call to protect and care for the environment in his encyclical, Ladauto Si:

“Pope Francis calls us to conversion, not depression, and certainly not paralysis,” Br. Warner writes. “Unlike conventional environmental messages, Pope Francis calls for a profound moral renewal of humanity. He calls us to love all, as God loves, all of creation and the peoples of the earth.”

Read the entire piece here.

 

Church Leadership Speak on Pennsylvania Investigation

This week saw the devastating grand jury report released investigating sexual abuse of children and the lack of action by six of the eight dioceses in Pennsylvania.

The Bishops of the six Pennsylvania dioceses released statements on Aug. 14, the same day the report was made public, expressing extreme sorrow over the tragic situation and looking to the protection and care of victims.

“I express our profound sorrow and apologize to the survivors of child sex abuse, the Catholic faithful and the general public for the abuses that took place and for those church officials who failed to protect children,” write Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Harrisburg. “We are committed to continuing and enhancing the positive changes made, to ensure these types of atrocities never occur again.” Read his statement in its entirety here.

“There are simply no words that I can offer to take away the pain this has caused. Simply put child sexual abuse cannot be tolerated and must be eradicated from our church,” writes Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton. “Sadly, the church has taken far too long to do that. While the investigation and the report represent a disturbing and painful chapter in the life of our church, it is necessary for us to address them in order for us to move ahead in a more positive way.” Read the rest of his video statement can be viewed here.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is hosting a series of meetings this week responding to the broader issue of safe environments within the Church. An update will be offered upon their conclusion.

In response to the grand jury report, Cardinal DiNardo joined Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette in Indiana, Chairman for the USCCB's Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, and published a statement.

“We are profoundly saddened each time we hear about the harm caused as a result of abuse, at the hands of a clergyman of any rank,” said Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Doherty in their joint statement. The USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People and the office of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection will continue to offer avenues to healing for those who have been abused. We are committed to work in determined ways so that such abuse cannot happen.

We pray that all survivors of sexual abuse find healing, comfort and strength in God's loving presence as the Church pledges to continue to restore trust through accompaniment, communion, accountability and justice," they said.

Continue Reading including a list of related comments and statements from California Bishops.

August 17, 2018
Vol. 11, No. 26

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