How to have tough conversations during pride month

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Pride Month
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In June, Catholics often face challenging discussions stemming from the LGBTQ community’s pride celebrations and the arguments that ensue concerning the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

Jason Evert, an international chastity and theology speaker, has faced his fair share of difficult conversations about same-sex attraction, LGBTQ issues, and pride month. In an interview with Our Sunday Visitor, Evert shared his thoughts on these topics, explaining that Catholics must think of June, not foremost as pride month, but rather a month devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

“The first thing we need to remember as Catholics is that June is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus above anything else,” Evert explained.

He continued by sharing that the Church should respond to pride month events and to critics of the Catholic faith within the LGBT community with an invitation to encounter Christ and the Church’s call to live a chaste life, not with rejection.

Jason Evert

“To those who experience same-sex attractions, I think the Church’s response should be that we see these individuals and God loves these individuals,” Evert said. “Although the world will give them the option of basically gay pride or gay shame, the Church is extending a different invitation of chastity, and it doesn’t involve a life of repression, isolation, loneliness and misery, but brings about a life of intimacy with Christ.”

Evert shared that everyone must embody the virtue of chastity. However, many Catholics do not understand what this virtue fully entails due to poor catechesis and a lack of frank conversation.

Get over your insecurities

“Parents need to get over their insecurities when it comes to talking to their kids about these things. The parent is the primary sex educator, not me, not the priest, not the youth minister. Many of them aren’t sure where to begin with this conversation,” Evert said. “This idea that you wait until they’re 13 and then you drop ‘the talk’ on them is wrong. This is not about having a talk. It’s about having a lifelong conversation.”

Evert proposes that parents look to Pope St. John Paul II’s landmark Theology of the Body in order to educate their children on the dignity of the human person and the gift of their sexuality.

“The Theology of the Body is a timeless teaching. It isn’t just sexual ethics,” Evert said. “It’s who I am, and how should I live? And it’s essential to understand what it means to be human. And the core teaching there is this spousal meaning of the body, which means that we’re made in the image and likeness of God. And God is love. So we’re made in the image and likeness of love.”

To help parents and teachers facilitate and guide these critical conversations, Evert has partnered with Ascension Press to update the “Envision” workbook, a Theology of the Body education program for middle school students that includes readings and videos discussing human sexuality.

“‘Envision’ is versatile; it can be used in either the classroom or at home,” Evert said. “If the parents and teachers do not speak up on the subject, the world will fill the void of that silence with a very contrary message. These kids are battling this worldview on a daily basis. If we’re not equipping them with the best possible tools, we’re just leaving them to the world to be decatechized.”

Don’t dodge the question

Despite its contrary message, pride month can be a great opportunity for parents to begin having some of those conversations within the house, Evert said. Instead of dodging a child’s question about homosexuality or the pride flag, parents should instead see it as a teaching opportunity.

“All of the pride messaging is overwhelming,” Evert said. “But instead of hiding in a bunker until July comes, we’ve got to realize that these are teachable moments, and we need to be able to speak into this with our kids in an age-appropriate manner. We cannot simply condemn the misuse of God’s gift of sexuality, but parents should put before kids a vision of human love that’s true, good and beautiful.” 

Jack Figge

Jack Figge has written for multiple diocesan papers, including covering World Youth Day 2023 for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas. In addition to his local coverage, he has written for the National Catholic Register, FOCUS and Catholic Vote.