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HomeGeneralJournalist Claims His Alma-Mater Discriminated Against Him for Being Gay

Journalist Claims His Alma-Mater Discriminated Against Him for Being Gay

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An Image of Alex Begnaud
Source: The Daily Adviser

In a poignant op-ed published on Nola.com, award-winning CBS Mornings correspondent David Begnaud revealed his recent encounter with anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination at Teurlings Catholic High School in Lafayette, Louisiana. In the same institution, he faced adversity as a gay teenager in the late ’90s.

Begnaud, who has been recognized for his outstanding journalism and the recipient of the George Polk Award for Public Service, recounts being bullied as a gay teen with Tourette Syndrome during his time at Teurlings. However, he found solace and support in his freshman English teacher, Josette Surratt, “She became my speech coach, mentor, and dear friend,” Begnaud wrote.

Returning to Teurlings last year to report on Surratt for CBS Mornings, Begnaud experienced an unexpected and disheartening turn of events. Despite initial enthusiasm from Surratt, who was nearing retirement and thrilled to be featured in the story, the school’s administration displayed a different stance.

Begnaud and his crew were restricted to filming on campus only when students were absent, and during Surratt’s interview, a suggestion was made to find an alternate filming location.

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The story aired successfully in September, seemingly with the approval of Father Kyle White, the school’s chancellor. However, months later, Begnaud received a disturbing phone call.

Father White, reportedly concerned that Begnaud’s presence might negatively impact the school’s image and suggest an endorsement of his sexuality, preferred to distance the school from any association with the LGBTQ+ community. Begnaud stated that White was “concerned that allowing me on campus might negatively affect the image of the Catholic school and suggest that it approved of my sexuality.”

“Father White, the caller said, didn’t want students to get the impression that being gay is OK,” Begnaud further stated. He said White never made a response to his request to discuss the incident. Despite the Pope’s more inclusive stance on homosexuality, Begnaud faced the harsh reality of the school’s refusal to acknowledge him.

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Expressing concern for the broader implications on the school’s community, Begnaud highlights the disparity between the Pope’s welcoming approach towards the LGBTQ+ community and Teurlings Catholic High School’s apparent stance.

He questions the school’s teachings on homosexuality and the potential impact on both gay and straight students, urging school leaders to reevaluate their approach to LGBTQ+ issues.

Begnaud wrote his op-ed as a poignant call to action. He emphasized the importance of meeting discrimination face-to-face within educational institutions. “My concern, as a proud alumnus, is not for myself.”

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“It is for the students of Teurlings Catholic High School — straight, gay, or anything else — if the school is creating an environment in which gay students are treated like outsiders and straight students are led to believe that this is how the church would have it,” he stated. “It is not.”

He brings attention to the school’s discriminatory actions. He challenges its leaders to reflect on their values, encouraging them to foster an inclusive environment that aligns with the evolving perspectives within the Catholic Church.

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