Ateneo Guidon: Physics prof draws flak over comments on ‘homosexual’ thesis

A colleague of mine called me up yesterday that he got copies of the recent issue of the Guidon, the official student publication of the Ateneo de Manila University.  He told me that I was featured there, so he asked me sign about 10 copies.  It’s for history’s sake, he said.  The article was entitled, “Physics prof draws flak over comments on ‘homosexual’ thesis.”  The article was about the comments I received in my blogpost: https://monkshobbit.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/ateneo-psychology-department-has-an-undergraduate-thesis-poster-exhibit-on-homosexuality/.  

Physics prof draws flak over comments on ‘homosexual’ thesis

by Katerina D. Francisco

A theoretical physicist who posted comments about a thesis poster exhibit on homosexuality drew angry comments from students, who called the professor out on his alleged homophobia.

Quirino Sugon Jr., Ph.D., an assistant professor from the physics department, wrote an entry in blog entitled “Ateneo Psychology Department has an undergraduate thesis poster exhibit on homosexuality.” The entry was posted last February 18.

His post contained a notice from the psychology department, which announced a poster exhibit featuring this year’s senior theses.  Two of the featured theses had themes related to homosexuality.

Sugon then commented that the Ateneo was being besieged by “homosexual propaganda,” a remark that drew the ire of one of the thesis groups he had pointed out.

Dark Ages?

The exhibit, held last February 21 to 24 at the MVP basement, showcased theses of senior psychology students presented in poster format.

The notice from the psychology department also contained a list of five nominees for the best undergraduate thesis.  In his comment, Sugon highlighted two of the theses for their topics on homosexuality.

“If Ateneo de Manila University does not defend its Catholic traditions against the siege of homosexual propaganda, Ateneo shall become a Catholic-In-Name-Only just like other Jesuit schools like Georgetown and Fordham who caved-in to homosexual ideology.  The Dark Ages are at hand,” Sugon said.

Such remarks did not sit well with Leia Erika Obias and Paolo Stephen Banaga.  They, along with Joy Albertine Mae Valenton, worked on a thesis entitled, “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It: An Interpretative Phenomenological Study of Filipino Homosexual Men in Mixed Orientation Unions.”

Obias clarified that not all of the theses in the exhibit were about homosexuality.  She also commented that Sugon’s note at the end implied that her group’s thesis was “homosexual propaganda.”

“This is what angered me… the most,” she addressed to Sugon in a reply to the blog post.  “You have made assumptions without first getting the facts.”

“I might not be Catholic and have verses from the Bible at hand to strengthen my point, but I’m sure that there must be something there that tells you not to discriminate against anyone, homosexuals included,” she added.

Obias found out about the entry when she saw a link to the blog site posted on Facebook.  Upon reading the entry, she informed here thesis partners and their adviser, Mendiola Ten-Calleja.  Banaga said the entry quickly gained notoriety in the department.

Obias explained that their thesis was about mixed orientation marriages, or marriages between homosexual men and heterosexual women.  Banaga said they decided to work on this topic because most studies have been devoted to studying unions between homosexuals.

“We wanted to open the eyes of the people that it’s a reality that’s out there.  We wanted to address it.  We wanted to give the views of both spouses [so] people will understand,” Banaga explained.

Asked for comment, Sugon said care must be taken in the things that one chooses to work on or publish.

“They have to [read] it very carefully, [because it is like] a precipice,” Sugon said regarding the student’s thesis. “[Once] you work on [or] study something that the Church calls sin, ultimately you [can be convinced] on the ideas and propositions of the [other ideology].”

“So without the guidance of the Church, it is perilous for an ordinary student to just [work on it] in a carefree way.”

He added that the things that one publishes become support for or against an ideology.

In the wake of the issue, the psychology department released an official statement on the undergraduate students’ research on homosexuality.

“Psychology is the scientific study of human behavior and mental processes.  As an empirical science, it seeks to describe, understand, and explain human phenomena, as these exist in society.  Homosexuality is one such phenomenon that can be subject matter of social scientific investigation.

With reports by Jam D. Paclibar

About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

3 Responses to Ateneo Guidon: Physics prof draws flak over comments on ‘homosexual’ thesis

  1. Arvin says:

    They must at least include your last comment where you have apologized. But for me, there’s nothing wrong with what you have said. It seems like what you have said about it is a warning for them. What’s funny is that one of them(Erika), instead of defending their stance, threw some harsh and uncivilized statement like this:

    “I just want to end this extremely lengthy comment with a thank you for (hopefully) taking the time to read it and for opening my eyes to the reality that people with your opinions still exist.”

    I hope that Guidon will include Erika’s comment above. :) It’s good to see that you even share to us the one-sided article from Guidon. It’s good to see you always side on what is true even though some truth were made by other people are biased. God bless you, Dr. Sugon. :)

  2. My sincere prayers for you, and my heart-felt thanks for your defense of the Faith.

  3. Angelo Perez says:

    I read your other blog post, Sir, and I’m impressed with your grasp of the Catholic Faith. If anyone should ask another on what it takes to be a real Atenean, an Atenean true to its Catholic and Jesuit heritage, then that person should ask you. :-) I’m an amateur apologetician (my word for defenders of the Faith), and I can learn many things from your knowledge of the Bible, St. Ignatius, the Jesuits, and Lord of the Rings.

    This issue involved many other things than homosexuality: the definition of being “liberal” in terms of education, the Ateneo itself, the Catholic Church, the RH Bill (by your mention), Mama Mary, among others. However digressing they might be, I quite learned a lot from the discourses.

    Thank you for your defense of the Faith and promoting the integrity of the Church. Your position is the Church’s position, and you are just expressing your side. Your comments on the thesis posters stirred up ample controversy, enough to land you a spot on our school newspaper.

    In fairness to the other side, I quite agree that we should read their works in their entirety first and then make our comments later. I’m glad you apologized. Since this Church is a Church of love, then in the spirit of that same love, we should try to understand these individuals as much as we can. CCC 2357 says that “Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained”. I am in support of the research, as long as it is guided by Church teachings. If this research can help us Catholics understand homosexuals better, which should elicit a kind of direct response from us, then all for the better. We condemn the sin, but not the sinners, well at least if they are on the sure path to repentance and conversion. The Catholic Church condemns homosexual acts, contraception and illicit sex, yet it remains the largest organization who administers health care and guidance counseling to AIDS victims.

    I pray that the debate did not weaken you and your Faith. I myself falter at times and my beacon of light slowly extinguishes whenever I am surrounded by darkness. However, prayer always helps right? I know that Sir Sugon will not falter, like the last group of soldiers of Aragorn at the Black Gate, when they were surrounded by so many Orcs. Well, the good guys did not falter, especially when the Light helps them.

    Due to this exercise, I’m now reading the Church’s more direct response to homosexuals: “Letter to the Bishops on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons”. I would be glad if you will make a blog post on this matter, since you have already delved into homosexuality and the Church’s stand on it.

    More power and prayers to Monk’s Hobbit!

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