I just graduated from Calvert Hall College High School, a private, Catholic, all-boys school in Towson, Maryland. The institution is renowned across the country for its excellent academics and athletics, but an area I feel they could improve in is inclusivity and acceptance. While attending the school, I noticed an environment of homophobia which at times made students, including myself, feel unwelcome. This past year I wrote an article addressing this for the school paper, and thanks to the support of many teachers and friends it was at long last published.
Unfortunately I dropped parts for appeasement’s sake, and several parts were censored, so I decided to publish it elsewhere – not only to maintain the integrity of my writing, but to serve as inspiration for other private schools struggling with inclusivity. I hope members of school communities everywhere, not just Calvert Hall, can use this article as a springboard to becoming more diverse and inclusive.
As a student who was involved in Peer Ministry, theatre, liturgy band, McMullen Scholars, yoga club, and now newspaper, you would think I felt pretty deeply rooted in the Calvert Hall community … but there were days when I didn’t feel like a part of it at all. You might not think about it much, but people in our community are frequently subjected to harassment, particularly of the homophobic variety. Joe Sokoloff (’18) shared: “People often use homosexual slurs, but they’ll try to say it’s okay to say it because they don’t actually hate gay people, despite using the words intended to degrade them.”
I am writing this article to raise awareness of the discrimination and bullying that is taking place within our community, in the hopes that we can work together to improve. I just walked out of Calvert Hall College as a student for the last time, and I would like to share some experiences that I hope the class of 2022 and onwards will never have to face.
Homophobia, among other forms of discrimination, results primarily from ignorance. In spring of 2015, Thomas Mannion (’15) attempted to rally students and teachers to combat this ignorance by forming Calvert Hall’s first ever Gay-Straight Alliance. “As an openly gay man, I felt uncomfortable by the lack of visibility of queer students and the lack of talking about it,” said Thomas. “It felt like something that was tolerated, but not accepted.” Sadly, the group did not continue to meet.
It is not quite clear why the group stopped meeting. As a student, I had heard a rumor that the group was disbanded. To find out more, I spoke to Calvert Hall alum and long-time school counselor and basketball coach Mr. Mark Amatucci. “We got the ‘okay’ to establish the club, but it had to be ‘under the radar,’” he explained. “It went fairly well the first year; it was not exclusive to gay people, it had an agenda, and guys had different topics they wanted to discuss, including how to bring the community together when talking about sexuality. Then there were changes in the administration, and while we didn’t get an absolute ‘no,’ we did not continue to get the support we had initially achieved, and the club fizzled.”
Currently there is no organization of that sort, and homophobia continues to run rampant in our school. Mr. Amatucci, along with many other faculty members, would like to see the club be reintroduced: “I’m interested in letting guys have a voice, letting them know they have the support of the faculty,” says Mr. Amatucci. “Discussion is healthy; the topic is healthy. I truly believe in Christ’s teachings, and I believe that my purpose on earth to be a witness for those teachings. That’s my job! If I can go out into the community and allow people to have a voice, that’s what Christ has me on earth for.” t To be continued next issue.