making ends meet

By Diogenes (articles ) | Nov 02, 2007

Let no one claim Catholic educators have lost their knack for celebrating diversity, or their innovative spirit in supplementing tuition-based income. Kentucky Catholics know better.

The principal of a Catholic high school in Bardstown received a citation from Louisville Metro Police on Halloween Eve after they allegedly spotted him dressed like a woman in an alley in the Russell neighborhood.

Paul A. Schum, 50, of the 5100 block of Maryview Drive in Louisville, was cited Tuesday for loitering with the purpose of prostitution, according to police records.

Schum, the principal at Bethlehem High School, was wearing an all black leather outfit with fishnet stockings and a pair of fake women's breasts, the records show.

Schum requested personal leave from his post at the school pending the outcome of the investigation, according to a statement yesterday from the Archdiocese of Louisville, which oversees the school. Schum denies the allegation, the statement said.

Not long ago we were told of a pastor with a failing school who threatened a sermon-strike if he didn't get the parental support he wanted. I was inclined to dismiss the stunt as an over-dramatic (and counter-productive) response to the typically straitened circumstances of family-funded Catholic ed. But perhaps the crisis is severer than I thought. Today we learn of a headmaster who pads out his salary by moonlighting as a transvestite hooker. My own high school principal part-timed as a plumber weekends and summers to raise extra household cash, yet I don't think he would have prospered had he offered his services to the community as a lady of easy virtue -- even (or do I mean especially?) with the added allure of fishnet stockings. They certainly wouldn't have helped his welding.

More judgmental readers will be quick to decry Schum's avocation as intrinsically immoral and his libido as objectively disordered. Yet we just saw that Georgetown University has given its blessing (as well as its funding) to an LGBTQ Resource Center, and on that capacious scale our creative Louisville principal scores a T and a G and, for all I know, a B and a Q as well. One can imagine Georgetown's sterner moralists tut-tutting Schum's commercial interests ("Can't you sell candy bars the old-fashioned way?"), but from their own point of view it's hard to see how the Hoyas could impugn his Catholicism. And since Washington's best and brightest can embrace all 31 flavors of sexual diversity as kosher, it's unlikely that northern Kentucky will object to his lifestyle choice.

Schum isn't out of the woods, of course. He's denied that the non-taxable income was his motive for cross-dressing and -- should the investigation fail to corroborate his claim -- he's in imminent danger of becoming the school's Vice-President for Ministry & Mission, which probably comes with an even slenderer pay-packet. All of which should encourage us to redouble our efforts in support of the "cohort model" of Catholic education, so the Schums of tomorrow can spend more time in the classroom and less time in the alleys.

Please be as generous as your means permit.

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  • Posted by: - Nov. 03, 2007 11:40 AM ET USA

    Maybe he was just trying out his costume for the next night's trick-or-treating with the kids? See? It worked! The peace officers thought he was tricking!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 03, 2007 4:55 AM ET USA

    Do you mean "straitened circumstances"? Yes. Thanks for the catch, Dennis!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 02, 2007 5:27 PM ET USA

    Do you mean "straitened circumstances"?

  • Posted by: - Nov. 02, 2007 4:09 PM ET USA

    If he wants to be a real disciple he should walk away from his fishnets and follow the Lord.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 02, 2007 3:44 PM ET USA

    Gee. He could have at least worn a Catholic costume!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 02, 2007 2:03 PM ET USA

    Maybe he could head a liturgy committee?

  • Posted by: - Nov. 02, 2007 11:30 AM ET USA

    You have hinted at the perfect solution: With a flourish, whisk away Schum to Georgetown University where he can head the LGBTQ Resource Center and even serve as a role model and fashion consultant.