- (Photo: Franciscan University of Steubenville)
A Catholic academic institution in Ohio has come under fire for having a class in which homosexuality is declared a "deviant behavior" alongside things like murder, rape, drug use, and prostitution.
Franciscan University of Steubenville came under fire from a homosexual alumnus who was researching a story and stumbled upon the course description for Social Work 314.
SWK 314 is a course that focuses on deviant behavior, stating that behaviors to be "primarily examined" would include "murder, rape, robbery, prostitution, homosexuality, mental illness, and drug use."
While Tom Sofio of the public relations department at Franciscan University declined to give direct comment to The Christian Post, he did provide a statement released last week.
"Franciscan University bases its educational mission on the teaching of Christ as proclaimed in Sacred Scripture and Tradition and authoritatively interpreted by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church," reads the statement.
"Accordingly, Franciscan University follows Catholic Church teaching in regard to homosexuality and treats homosexual persons with 'respect, compassion, and sensitivity' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2358) while holding homosexual acts as 'intrinsically disordered' (Catechism, No. 2357)."
According to NBC News, the controversy began when an alumnus who belonged to a Facebook group of homosexual graduates of Franciscan stumbled upon the course description while doing research on a story about a rape that took place near the campus years earlier.
The alum posted the course description on the Facebook group's wall, prompting many to contact a social work accrediting agency to investigate the matter and to contact the university.
In an interview with NPR, Stephen Holloway, director of the office of accreditation at the Council on Social Work Education, said the course description was a matter of concern.
"The fact that homosexuality was identified in the course description as a deviant behavior raises a flag," said Holloway. "Understanding diversity and difference and their dynamics in society is critical for social workers to be effective in working with diverse populations."
In their official statement, Franciscan University defended the course description and the materials used for the Social Work class.
"The course description for this class, to which some are taking issue, is little more than abbreviated chapter headings from the primary course textbook," reads the statement. "It is a book used in more than a dozen public universities, and uses the term 'deviant' in the sociological sense, simply meaning different from the norm."
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, told The Christian Post that the statements of some psychologists that homosexuality is normal are recent and political rather than scientific.
"There is an entire group of distinguished psychiatrists and psychologists, who think it is normal for adult men to be sexually attracted to boys, B4U-Act, but that doesn't mean that the shrinks are not themselves deviants," said Donohue.
"Having taught Social Problems to college students for a long time, I can say unequivocally that until fairly recent times, homosexuality was always listed as a deviant behavior. The change in thinking, seeing it as normal, is more of a political statement than a clinical one."