Catholic College Draws Fire for Course That Calls Homosexuality ‘Deviant’

A course at the Franciscan University of Steubenville that cites homosexuality as “deviant behavior” has sparked an outcry from the Ohio institution’s gay alumni, and could jeopardize the accreditation of its social-work program, NPR reports.

The course description for SWK 314, “Deviant Behavior,” says the “behaviors that are primarily examined are murder, rape, robbery, prostitution, homosexuality, mental illness, and drug use.” Members of an alumni group on Facebook spotted the language and asked the university to amend it, pointing out that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association’s guidebook, stopped categorizing homosexuality as a disorder in 1974.

But Franciscan University, an institution with strong ties to the Roman Catholic church, has so far declined to do so. The university told NPR in a written statement that the term “deviant” is meant only to identify behavior “different from the norm.”

The institution’s social-work program has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education since 2001. But the director of the council’s accreditation office said its diversity standards included a sexual-orientation provision. The course description “raises a flag,” he said.

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