“This is an important resource. If someone is not connected to the network, then how would they find you?”
A friend asked me that in a meeting a few weeks ago.
“Well, they wouldn’t,” I said.
That felt like a foolish answer, so the question became a catalyst for learning how to launch a website. A few days later, Without Exception was born.
In May 2021, while doing research and writing, I discovered there were no resources available for LGBTQ ministry in Catholic high schools, but there are LGBTQ kids in our schools. It’s difficult not to feel like the Holy Spirit served that research problem up on a platter.
“What are you going to do about it?” I thought. It’s a question I ask my students a lot, because Catholic faith is not just to be believed—it needs to be lived. That’s reinforced during the dismissal at Mass: “Go forth, the Mass is ended,” or “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
Basically, if this faith means something to you, then get out there and do something about it.
I started reaching out by email to groups of teachers, counselors and administrators in Catholic high schools, simply asking if anybody was interested in talking about LGBTQ ministry in our schools. Now there are over 200 people involved in this conversation, from 38 U.S. states and four countries. The group is named Without Exception—as in how the love of Jesus Christ is offered to all people.
This network does not exist to challenge the teachings of the Catholic Church, but to discern the art of discipleship and learn how to walk the narrow ridge as joyful witnesses of the Incarnation and the Resurrection. While chastity is the counsel for all teens, our ministry is more broadly focused on the universal call to holiness and living our baptismal calling to be priests, prophets and royalty.
As missionary disciples we seek to encounter, accompany, build community and send the next generation to minister God’s healing touch of love to all whom we meet on this journey of life. All children are welcome in our schools; “The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Lk 18:16).
A 2022 survey from The Trevor Project revealed that 50 percent of LGBTQ youths ages 13 to 17 considered suicide in the past year, while 18 percent attempted it. (A 2019 report from the C.D.C. found that 46.8 percent of high school-aged lesbian, gay and bisexual persons had “seriously considered attempting suicide.”)
Additionally, a June 2021 study from Just Like Us, an LGBTQ youth charity group, states that 55 percent of LGBTQ youth “worry about their mental health daily,” compared to 26 percent of heterosexual students. The study also found that LGBTQ youth were “twice as likely to feel lonely” compared to their straight peers.
These statistics are intolerable. If even one positive adult relationship makes a difference, then what are you going to do about it? Mother Teresa said, “Don’t worry about why problems exist in the world, just respond to people’s needs.”