Homosexuality not learned or unlearned, it simply is

Jan 22, 2014
Following Sandusky news from 2,000 miles away has its benefits. I can keep up with local news, turn off the computer when I’ve had my fill of snowstorms, and be grateful I relocated to Arizona.

One storm I have not been able to turn off, however, at least in my mind, is the one surrounding the resignation/firing of St. Mary Central Catholic High School band and choir director Brian Panetta.

I have read the stories and opinions regarding the legality, morality and outrage surrounding the issue. But, in sifting through the bluster of emotion and opinion, I realized something important was missing throughout this discussion: The impact on students, especially an often overlooked group of young people who hide their homosexuality or who silently struggle to make sense of their sexual orientation.

An ongoing debate in any community is whether or not homosexuality is a choice. If one asks gays or lesbians when they “became gay” most will explain they knew from an early age they felt different from others even before they understood why. That “feeling” was not a choice; it was as much a part of them in childhood as it is now. Only when they learned the terminology and heard about what is “normal” and “not normal” did they discover they failed to fit into the described norm, heterosexuality.

I understand the issue is not necessarily that Mr. Panetta is gay. The issue is that by announcing his plans to marry and, thus, become physically intimate with another man, he violated the terms of his employment agreement. This violation led to his resignation/firing, and it’s obvious the community feels the impact.

This is when I noticed that missing from this discussion was the potential impact this situation has had on those silently struggling students. As I thought about them, my attention drifted back to my own experiences.

In school, gay classmates were harassed and shunned. I saw their pain and tried to ignore the fact that I could relate so well to them. I feared someone might see what I was trying to suppress even from myself, and I hid behind schoolwork and tennis.

It wasn’t necessarily because I enjoyed those activities; they kept me safe. The more desperately I tried to change the “different” feeling I had known since childhood, the more I grew to detest myself. I fell into a long-lasting depression almost hoping that my selfhatred would destroy me.

My high school guidance counselor accepted me unconditionally, however, and that connection saved my life. She was not gay, but I saw kindness and traits that inspired me to keep going. Without her presence, I might have given up.

Life experience has taught me that homosexuality is not banished by fervent prayer. It is not something that can be turned on or off. It is not learned or unlearned. It simply is.

Reaching that understanding takes time and support.

I do not know Mr. Panetta but, from what I understand, he did an outstanding job and inspired excellence. He used his God-given talent to help students tap into their own gifts. And, yes, he violated his employment agreement in the interest of being true to himself. Whether or not you agree with how he chooses to live his life, it is his life.

When this story fades, SMCC will still have its employment policies and Mr. Panetta will have moved on. However, the young people silently struggling with their sexual orientation and their fears of the consequences of not fitting the norm will remain.

This is the most salient facet of the SMCC/ Panetta storm. I noticed that concern for them was absent from the inches of opinion published these last few weeks. Not because I was looking for it, but because I sensed the void.

I believe we must do what we can to reach these young people, support them, accept them, and help them to reach their potential as they walk their personal path. Each one is important and each one belongs to us. The storms of life will come and go, and all of us deserve to feel accepted both internally and among others.

Tiffany Gray, M.S., ACSM-CPT, is an adjunct faculty member in the Exercise Science department at Mesa Community College, Mesa, Arizona, where she teaches introductory courses in wellness. She also›owns and operates Gray Wellness Consulting LLC, and serves as the exercise specialist for the Family Wellness Program at St. Vincent de Paul, Phoenix. Gray formerly worked for The Sandusky Register as a news clerk



Anybody who has ever watched anybody "come out of the closet" knows that sexuality is NOT a "choice." If it were, especially in the past, nobody would choose it and the agonies that often accompany it.

I watched a long term partner refused access to his partner's FUNERAL by the man's parents (who, by the way, had refused to speak with their own son for years prior). I watched a man who loved his family dearly lose all contact with them because, as his mother explained, "it hurts too much" to talk to a son she knew would be "going to hell." I watched a relative who all but worshipped his father almost destroyed when his entire family, daddy included, disowned him.

In most cases, we've come further than that. But Ms. Gray makes a valid point here where SMCC is concerned: The school is merely enforcing the terms of a contract where Mr. Panetta is concerned, but it's ALSO effectively "disowning" some of its impressionable students because they're all "going to hell." Nice.



Licorice Schtick

For Sandusky, the timing couldn't be better. Thousands of pages of secret church documents released Tuesday provide a gut-wrenching look at how the Archdiocese of Chicago for years failed to protect children from abusive priests.


Good thing we don't have that problem in Sandusky. We even protect our students from gay band directors.


but the thing is, there is no hell, except here on earth.


I agree completely, Sam. It's sad that lack of knowledge and understanding drives the actions of so many people.

From the Grave

I can never remember a time when I didn't want to dig someone's grave.


Re: "And, yes, he violated his employment agreement,"

The salient point to the story, the rest is tangential.


Are you trying to make a point or just letting us know that you learned how to use the online dictionary? We're all very proud of you!


Re: "Are you (snip)"

Are you asking a question or just spewing juvenile pejoratives?


Are YOU trying to make a point or are you just being condescending?




Contango, my response was directed at PirateBacker. I was defending your comment.




I like to think that the whole point of these types of articles on homosexuality are to provoke us to look at ourselves and realize that there is still bigotry and hate for those that are different from ourselves in this world . What we do with that knowledge from that point is up to us , for better or not . The thing is , in time all things change and there will be those that will fight that change , "to their end anyway" . I wonder , if there is a Heaven and those who have entered it and shed their physical being will be limited to whom they love (In the truest sense) according to the meat that surrounded their souls ?


Bluto hit the nail on the head. Kudos for your viewpoint :)


Just because I do not agree with someone's lifestyle does not mean that I hate or fear them just as the fact that I love someone does not mean I embrace their choices and agree with their lifestyle.

John Harville

And, yes, he violated his employment agreement IN THE INTEREST OF BEING TRUE TO HIMSELF.

You just like to pick and choose, don't you?

The salient point is that now others - gay, shy, talented - will even more greatly fear being true to themselves.


I agree with Ms. Gray, and as a matter of fact I did bring up the poor kids, watching this unfold. The day after the story broke, this was my comment.

SAT, 01/11/2014 - 5:56PM

No one has mentioned the silent victim in this mess...the poor little boys that are just coming of age, and have feelings for the same sex. They may have looked up to, or been able to relate to Mr. Panetta. Now they are watching what happens if you admit your feelings, or come out. You get fired from a job you love and are good at. As if their lives were not confusing enough already.




Yes, but if the termination had remained a private matter where it belonged and not been placed into the public eye by a newspaper hungry for ad revenues and an activist group bent on stomping all over others' rights to privacy and religion for publicity would the children have been subjected to this public circus?

In other words, if Mr. Panetta truly cared about the students and the school would he have not kept this matter private and worked quietly to help students? It was his choice to go public with a private employment matter.


If we adopted Babo's twisted reasoning, minorities should have done nothing to call attention to the injustices they endured in the 50's and 60's. They should have just kept quiet, and let the discrimination continue.

This is workplace discrimination and certainly newsworthy, which is why the story received coverage across the country, not just in our area. It's newsworthy, because it's school-sanctioned and church-sanctioned discrimination. Sounds like news to me...


Spoken like a true Catholic, BABO, This behavior is exactly why the Catholics are in trouble now! All the skeletons are finally falling out of Catholic closets!

6,000 pages worth of lies and cover ups in Chicago's Archdiocese!

Blame the messenger, it's all the greedy Registers fault, for telling the SMCC's dirty laundry!

Blame the victim, it's Brian's fault he got fired, if he would have kept quiet it wouldn't hurt the kids.

"If Mr. Panetta truly cared about the students" I am sickened by you saying that! Do you know why? It's exactly what a pedophile says after he is done molesting a child! "if you really care about your family, you won't tell anyone! This a private matter between you and I "

The Catholic's obviously have not learned their lesson have they? Keeping dirty secrets about pedophile priests, don't let the parish know, just pass him along to another church. Don't talk about it, don't tell people about it, blame the little boys for telling "lies" about their priest.

Babo, ten years ago, you spoke out about something you felt needed to go public. You talked to the press, you had a blog, you sent emails, you did everything you could to be heard!

Now you are are bad mouthing and blaming Brian Panetta for doing the same exact thing you did!!! You don't have to agree with what Brian or DCFRED have to say, but how can you criticize them for doing exactly what you did?!

How many times did you "use" the Register to get your word out? Why was that ok for you, but not ok for Brian? Your negative comments about the Register are obviously sour grapes from all the negative press you got. I think you should feel grateful to the Register for giving you this FREE platform to come and spew your hatred!

I, for one enjoyed the last six years of silence.




Nobody is disputing that terrible crimes happened in the Roman Catholic Church but one cannot analogize the termination of an employee for cause under their contract by a private institution with sex crimes against children. IMO that's irrational and indicative of anti-social behavior.

Mr. Panetta is not a victim of the Roman Catholic Church. He is an adult who made his own decisions and has to deal with the consequence of those decisions. How dare you compare the suffering of victims of sexual abuse and crimes of violence by cleric, law enforcement and other men of power to the loss of a job for violating a contract.

As stated in other comments, I support the right of Mr. Panetta and his supporters to use whatever legal means possible to tell their story. I also support the right of people who disagree to use whatever legal means possible to express their viewpoint.

I don't know where you got the notion that I'm criticizing Mr. Panetta and his supporters for expressing their political and religious viewpoints. They have that right.

I just wish they would have had more sensitivity for the children and not used them to advance their political and personal agenda. The children's rights and their parents' rights to privacy and religion IMO have been stomped upon by supporters of Mr. Panetta. In fact IMO it borders on emotional abuse.

Finally, you may be confused with someone "else". Though it is interesting that you are grateful the government imprisoned a woman for expressing a political viewpoint concerning government corruption and or exposing sexual abuse crimes by the politically connected. That activity was largely selfless, it benefitted the community while the activity by Mr. Panetta and supporters is IMO selfish (own financial interests and trying to force personal beliefs on others).

Your writing reveals a man with deep seated hatred of women and mastery of emotional abuse. No wonder you don't care about anyone else's rights but your own and those who benefit you.


No, Elsebeth, I'm not confused. How can I take seriously anyone who has been adjudicated to be mentally unfit?

The Order of the State Board of Pharmacy, finds Elsebeth Csizmadia-Baumgartner to be impaired mentally to such a degree as to render her unfit to practice pharmacy, to wit: the Supreme Court of Ohio has stated: "we share the concern that respondent, who is apparently also a licensed pharmacist and has no history of professional disciplinary sanctions, may suffer from some mental illness or other disability that is compromising her professional judgment and contributing to the misconduct . . ." Disciplinary Counsel v. Baumgartner (2003), 100 Ohio St. 3d - 41.

You were not imprisoned for "expressing a viewpoint", you
were sentenced in January 2007 for intimidation and retaliation counts when she made threatening Internet postings and e-mails. Threatening a judge is not selfless, it's a felony.

Babo, (aka Elsebeth) is the ONLY person in the state of Ohio that would call Elsebeth Baumgartner SELFLESS, that's a dead give away!

FYI , spending time in prison, does not make you Mandela.

Does your probation even allow you to be back on the internet, pretending to be a lawyer?


Again, you are confused and making illogical statements. Check my language, it stated "largely selfless".

Also for the sake of argument: Did the judges and pharmacy board base their rulings on a doctor's report. Do you believe just anybody can diagnose a person as mentally ill? I read the decisions, I can't find a citation to a medical report.

Since you know so much about her case, I am curious what were the actual threats against a judge that were made by Elsebeth Baumgartner? I can't find them as they don't seem to have been published.

Also if she was "mentally ill" a common smear on women of a certain age and others who report abuse or who challenge power why would anybody take her "threats" seriously?


Babo, I follow your comments but that doesn't mean that I always agree with you. I will try to find out who you are and will either send you an email or postal mail. It might take a couple of weeks so be patient. Don't worry as all will be confidential between you and I. Don't post your email address. I once did that on another newspaper online site and got all kinds of SPAM and emails from porn sites. If I do not contact within 30 days, it is because I was too busy with other things. Meanwhile, keep on posting comments here. Two things never to debate about are RELIGION and POLITICS. That is just asking for online fights, trolls and flamers.

What happened to that troll and flamer "4shizzle" that used to follow me around here?


DickTracey, I do follow your comments and saw your earlier comment (Wed, 01/22/2014 - 5:52pm). You provided a lot of clues so I and others wanted to know who Babo (like the Comet cleanser?)is. We have ruled out that Elsebeth Baumgartner was using that name. A couple of years ago, somebody mentioned that Frugal Spender was EB and was using a computer from prison. That was not true. Just wanted you and the readers to know.

DT, I believe that is was you who posted comments that EB was released last year from prison. I understand that EB is prohibited from posting comments on any newspaper forum. I am very busy at the moment and might post some links to OHIO court documents about EB's release from prison, that is, if the public can view the documents via the links. Stay tuned.

By the way DT. I and others have researched Elsebeth's problems with OHIO's corrupt, good old boys courts. What a joke to throw into prison an OHIO political activist.

At one time, I was able to send private messages to the people who post comments here and they could also send me messages.

I would post my email address here but I get enough SPAM and garbage. Any way that you can contact me, DickTracey?


Cent, I'm going to pass on the offer to contact you. And I'm going to use your own reasoning.

You do not want to hang around gay guys because your friends might think you are gay.

I don't want to hang around crazy people because I don't want people to think I'm crazy.

Elsebeth (Babo) has been adjudicated to be mentally unfit, and you are her number one fan, so that doesn't say much about you.

Your late night, paranoid rants last night about the FBI, CIA, death threats and arrests, make you sound like you two are two peas in a pod!


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