JACKSON — Was an Ocean County teen asked to complete his religious instruction at home because he is gay?

Peter Lanza, a 13-year-old boy from Jackson who had been studying for his confirmation at St. Aloysius Church, was told in December by Jennifer Draeger,  the church's religious education director,  that he could no longer attend class at the church and would have to join the home study program.

"A parent had called and said they were uncomfortable with my son being  in the same class as their child," Lanza's father, also named Peter, told New Jersey 101.5. Lanza Sr. said despite numerous attempts to contact the Rev. John Bambrick, he got no further information about the parish's decision.

Lanza said a friend put him in touch with a monsignor at the Diocese of Trenton, who told him it was a "parish issue" and he could not get involved.

The Diocese did not return a message from New Jersey 101.5.

Lanza said that just before Chasing News aired their story about the situation, his lawyer got what he called a "generic answer"  from Bambrick blaming "behavioral problems," which officials did not elaborate on.

"I pay for that school. If you're going to tell him he can't be there, what's the reason he can't he there? I have no reasons," Lanza said. "And that's supposed to be OK for me? No it's not OK with me. That's disrespectful to me and my family. We go to that church every Saturday for years,"  Lanza said.

Lanza's son, who came out as gay last year, told Chasing News that "I feel very upset, very frustrated, also confused as to why I have been kicked out of CCD." He believes it is because "of who I love."

The older Lanza is also concerned about whether or not his son will be able to successfully complete his CCD education and partake in related confirmation activities.

In a statement on the church's Facebook page, the church called media reports about the teen being “kicked out of the program because of his sexual orientation ... completely false." The statement said that no one has been dismissed from the program for any reason.

"There are times when any number of circumstances might warrant that a student should change from in-class instruction to home study," said the statement, adding that nearly 400 of their 2,000 religious education students are currently on home study.

"St. Aloysius Parish respects the dignity of all persons, without exception, and welcomes the opportunity to teach the faith to every Catholic who wishes to learn it," concluded the statement.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.


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