Kellie Tran

Several Catholic elementary schools were absent from astronaut Anne McClain's speech, showing the close-mindedness of the Diocese of Spokane.

Cataldo Catholic, All Saints and St. Charles elementary schools' decision to not attend astronaut Anne McClain’s speech at Gonzaga Preparatory High School two weeks ago presumably came as a shock to students and parents of Spokane schools.

Allegedly, the Diocese of Spokane did not sanction Catholic school students to attend the assembly as it was not sponsored as a school event and McClain’s sexual orientation might've had something to do with it. Despite McClain attending Cataldo Catholic as a child. 

McClain is a graduate from Gonzaga Prep and recently returned to Earth earlier this year after being aboard the International Space Station.

It is hard to understand what McClain’s sexuality or marriage has to do with her speech on space travel.

At its core, the purpose of McClain’s speech was to spark inspiration and tell students that there is never a dream too big to attain, even that of space travel. Not only that, it's only goal was to be a motivational kick-starter at Gonzaga Prep’s pep rally. In addition to its innocent nature, the school’s reason for having McClain was to shed light on its graduate’s accomplishments and praise the NASA member and Spokane native for her undying devotion toward the pursuit of the unknown.

Nowhere in McClain’s speech was there any mention of her sexual orientation or marriage. Yet, the Diocese of Spokane still refused to sanction the event.

It can't have a positive impact on the impressionable minds of young students in attendance at these Catholic schools.

There is no doubt that not sponsoring a field trip for elementary students to see McClain’s speech will reflect negatively on the Diocese of Spokane and the Catholic Church. By preventing students from hearing McClain’s speech, the Catholic Church makes itself susceptible to comments about its hypocrisy. For a group that preaches love for all beings, marginalizing McClain for an attribute that is certainly private is not only sending the wrong message to students, but also perpetuates an atmosphere of intolerance that the church must try to avoid.

Despite ongoing pressure, Gonzaga Prep declined to release the schools that were not in attendance at McClain’s speech.

This information must be made public if schools are going to continue to claim to put their students education in the highest regard. The institutions that chose to prevent students from attending such a wholesome and educational event must be held accountable.

It can be understandable that some who hold conflicting values concerning McClain’s individual decisions, if they must, may choose to sit out of the event; however, it is ridiculous that students who have an interest in enriching their understanding of space travel are prevented in attending at all.

At the end of the day, regardless of everyone’s personal values, it is still advantageous to allow students to learn more about space.

It is essential for students to be educated on the realities of space travel, and it is never a bad idea to encourage youth participation in science. Discouraging student involvement in activities that are meant to further terrestrial engagement is regressive and perpetuates the stigma that surrounds careers in space.

The younger generation has time and time again struggled with censorship, and now it is more important than ever that schools reclaim their right to educate as they were once constructed to do.

The youth comprise our future, and there is no doubt in my mind that the Diocese of Spokane will regret its decision to prevent attendance to McClain’s presentation.


Kellie Tran is a contributor. 

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