Todd is 16 years old and a sophomore in Catholic High School. From a young age, he always knew he was attracted to other boys. Even if he hadn’t known, the jeers and homophobic slurs hurled at him on the playground would have been enough to figure it out. Although Todd knows he’s gay, he has never kissed a boy or talked about it with his family.

Todd is currently taking a course on Catholic morality in school. He has been told that although queer individuals are welcome in the Church, sex with someone of the same gender is not permitted. In fact, it’s a mortal sin. Todd feels that all eyes are on him when the teacher lectures about homosexuality in the Church. Worse, in class the other day, the teacher asked Todd to read aloud a passage from Leviticus in the Old Testament that condemns sexual relations between two men.

Because Todd is still bullied, he feels like everyone is waiting for him to come out of the closet. He had considered telling his mother, but after learning that gay sex is a mortal sin, he’s afraid. His mother is a devout Catholic and he doesn’t want to let her down. Since his father left, his mother has been very emotional, ready to cry at the drop of a hat; she relies on Todd for emotional support and treats him as a confidant, sometimes blurring the lines between parent and child. But he knows if his mother finds out from someone else, she’ll be even more devastated.

One of Todd’s close friends, Rachel, recommended that he speak to the school guidance counselor, but Todd worries that he will just be told more about Catholic theology. Todd feels that he isn’t being seen or heard. His teachers care more about following the rules of Catholicism than his feelings, but he wonders whether he even has a right to be upset. Todd knows that he can live a life of prayer and avoid sexual or romantic relations with another man and still be considered a good Catholic, but he has sexual feelings and a desire to be loved that he can’t deny. Since his father is gone and his mother is not there for him emotionally, he feels the need for companionship even more now. 

What can Todd do to stay true to himself? Is it important that he is honest with his mother? When have you felt that being honest with yourself would hurt other people? What did you do? Have you ever had the feeling that dogma was getting in the way of living your truth?