Catholic School Sends Invitations Featuring Ellen DeGeneres, Promptly Promises to “Destroy” Them

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
May 21 2014 3:10 PM

Catholic School Sends Invitations Featuring Ellen DeGeneres, Promptly Promises to “Destroy” Them

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Ellen DeGeneres with wife Portia de Rossi.

Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images

Because Ellen DeGeneres is so universally beloved in most of mainstream America, it’s easy to forget that she is still seen as an agent of the devil, more or less, in certain homophobic pockets of the country. Apparently, St. Andrew Catholic Elementary School in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County recently decided to remind the rest of us that, yes, being openly gay still makes you a Mephistophelean figure for some anti-gay holdouts. The school recently sent out invitations to its eighth-grade graduation dance that featured a picture of DeGeneres holding an Oscar—a logical tie-in, given that the dance’s theme is an Oscar-reminiscent “Hollywood Nights” and DeGeneres has hosted the award show twice.

But on Tuesday, principal Nancy Matteo sent out a school-wide email apologizing for the grievous error and demanding that every last invitation be returned. Matteo claimed that using DeGeneres’ image was “completely wrong,” as DeGeneres is a “poor role model” and “lives her life outside the teachings of the Catholic Church”:

A role model, as defined by Webster's Dictionary, is a person who is unusually effective or inspiring in some social role, job, position, etc. This does not describe her at all. We work so hard to be good role models and then I go and do something stupid!
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Matteo, however, had a clever plan to quickly correct her error:

I need every single invitation returned and I will personally destroy them.

It’s unclear whether Matteo received complaints from parents, or whether, after realizing her own error, she took it upon herself to uphold the morals of her students by shielding them from the diabolical picture of a smiling lesbian holding an Oscar. Either way, at least there’s a pleasantly ironic coda to this otherwise depressing tale of sound and fury: Around the same time that Matteo sent her email, Judge John E. Jones III invalidated Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban, permitting same-sex marriages to begin immediately. Good luck to Matteo keeping her students from seeing those pictures.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.

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