Outcry forces Catholic school to put off ‘Pray away the gay’ speaker

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, November 19, 2013 16:07 EDT
google plus icon
Leanne Arena via screencap
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

A Catholic school in Bronx, New York has postponed a presentation by anti-LGBT activist Rev. Donald Timone, a retired priest who preaches that non-heterosexual orientations and feelings can be overcome with prayer and a 12-step program of his devising.

According to the New York Times, Cardinal Spellman High School in Bronx, NY drew fire from concerned individuals both inside and outside the school when it invited Timone to speak to its students. Timone’s “pray away the gay” philosophy is controversial, and forms of the so-called “reparative therapy” that he advocates have been outlawed in California and New Jersey.

On Monday, school officials announced that Timone’s appearance — which was sponsored by two Roman Catholic groups and scheduled for Tuesday during school — has been postponed.

Cardinal Spellman High School president Rev. Trevor Nicholls said in an email to reporters that Timone’s engagement with the school was put off on the advisement of the school’s board of trustees.

When Timone does come to the school, Nicholls wrote, he will address parents, not pupils.

“Parents are the first educators of their children,” he said in his email, “and our aim is to provide them from time to time with the opportunity to listen to speakers who, in one area or another, may be able to offer them information, guidance and support as they fulfill that role.”

“As a gay kid there, I was bullied of course, but I always felt like I could go to a faculty member to vent or talk or whatever,” said on alumni, Carlos Tomas Solano, 38, to the Times.

“I feel like since this situation is coming from up above, from administration, I feel like these teachers are being put in a position where they cannot help a student struggling with their sexuality, and this is where my anger stems from.”

Student Christian Lopez told ABC News New York, “He may be doing something right because he’s going with the Catholic community, but it’s somewhat disrespectful to the gay community.”

“I think God made everyone and everyone deserves to be who they are and there’s no person that can change that,” said parent Leanne Arena to ABC.

Watch video about this story, embedded below via ABC News New York:


[Ed. Note: Father Nicholls was incorrectly identified as the principal of Cardinal Spellman High School in an earlier draft of this article. Raw Story regrets the error.]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
By commenting, you agree to our terms of service
and to abide by our commenting policy.