Serving LGBT students in Catholic schools

What should Mount St. Charles Academy have done differently?
Rhode Island Catholic school Mount Saint Charles Academy ignited a national firestorm by refusing to admit transgendered students and then was pressured to reverse its policy. (photo from Wikipedia)

Rhode Island Catholic school Mount Saint Charles Academy ignited a national firestorm by refusing to admit transgendered students and was pressured to reverse its policy. (photo from Wikipedia)

The following comes from an April 27 Homiletic and Pastoral Review article by Dan Guernsey:

How do Catholic schools best serve students who struggle with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria (popularly called “transgendered”)? What should a school’s policies prescribe in order to prevent confusion, disputes and even litigation?

Previously, these questions were often addressed behind closed doors, as administrators worked quietly on a case-by-case basis and often within traditional moral norms. However, since this past summer’s Supreme Court ruling supporting same-sex marriage and the social acceptance of superstar Bruce Jenner’s gender dysphoria, Catholic schools face an increasingly public challenge to their teaching and mission.

This dynamic became painfully evident in the recent decision by a Rhode Island Catholic school, which ignited a national firestorm by refusing to admit transgendered students and then was pressured to reverse its policy within just a couple of days.

While some Catholic school leaders might be persuaded to avoid this thorny issue, or to embrace a false compassion that is inconsistent with Catholic teaching, instead the Rhode Island school’s misstep highlights the grave necessity of a more comprehensive policy approach to sexuality in Catholic schools. Catholic schools must bravely serve all students, including same-sex attracted or gender dysphoric students, by forthrightly presenting and upholding truth.

The final end for which Catholic schools prepare their students is union with God through Christ. A Catholic school also facilitates students’ participation in the common good. Both goals are accomplished by integrally and harmoniously developing the students’ minds, spirits, morals, and bodies so that they might use their freedom properly. What is proper or good as a means of attaining our final end of salvation is always understood in terms of Church teaching, based on the person and truth of Jesus Christ.

What makes the Catholic school distinctive is its religious dimension, and that this is to be found in a) the educational climate, b) the personal development of each student, c) the relationship established between culture and the Gospel, d) the illumination of all knowledge with the light of faith.

All students should be welcome in our schools, including those working through issues of gender dysphoria and same-sex attraction, but all students must be willing to work within the religious mission of the school, and comport themselves according to the social and moral norms of the distinctive Catholic environment they have freely chosen.

Catholic schools believe that the sexes are complementary, and that “male and female he made us.” Our given biological sex is part of the divine plan. The Church teaches that sexual identity is “a reality deeply inscribed in man and woman” that is rooted in one’s biological identity, and that a person “should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.” Biological identity and sexual identity are never disaggregated.

In this context, a student who wishes to express a gender other than his or her biological sex is understood as operating outside of the “reality deeply inscribed” within. Assisting the child in his or her disconnect with this reality—however sincerely experienced—by agreeing to participate in the child’s efforts to change gender expression, is contrary to the pursuit of the truth. Authentic love, a gift of the self for the good of the other, requires that we compassionately dwell in the truth, and assist those we love to do the same. We will lovingly accompany the student through the inherent challenges of this situation, but in the fullness of love, must also insist upon integrity between reality and comportment for the good of the child, and for the common good.

Once properly situated in the broad context of a school’s Catholic mission, particular efforts to work respectfully and holistically from within a Catholic context and culture with students experiencing same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria can be better understood, and more clearly articulated.

Because the Church teaches that for all its students sexual activity is only properly exercised toward the ends of both love and life in the context of a valid marriage, and because it teaches that same-sex attraction is disordered, the school can and should prohibit actively advocating for, or manifesting same-sex attraction, at school and school events. Similarly, because a Catholic school does not disaggregate gender from biological sex, the school can clarify that it accepts people with gender dysphoria, but still holds them accountable to all policies and procedures (including dress code and facilities use) concordant with the student’s biological sex.

Comments

  1. Tom Byrne says

    The two key points to our success in this matter are (1) Christ comes first: “male and female He created them”. God gave us one of those genders and the parable of the wedding feast reminds us what happens to those who refuse to wear the garment the Host gave them. We mislead our students to the peril of their souls- and ours. Then (2) we have to have each other’s back. We religion teachers have to stand with the Church and our principals, pastors and bishops have to stand with us if we are challenged.

  2. Michael McDermott says

    Pro-Acting to Prevent them is often better than Re-Acting to Attacks:

    “Suit First, Ask Questions Later
    https://www.frcaction.org/get.cfm?i=WA16E21&f=WU16E03

    The Justice Department promised a lawsuit over the bathroom debate — and today, it got one! There’s just one twist: the federal government isn’t the plaintiff — North Carolina is! After mulling it over, Governor Pat McCrory (R-N.C.) decided to go on the offensive in the showdown with the Obama administration over the state’s Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (H.B. 2).

    Late last week, the DOJ tried to force the governor’s hand with its usual scare tactics: financial blackmail. This time, the agency vowed to pull the plug on the state’s federal funding unless it…

    • Vincent Kelch says

      It’s time to throw down the gauntlet! My daughter, 11 years old, said she would not put up with a boy dressing as a girl coming into a woman’s restroom. Time to fight for common sense and decency. Deacon Vince

  3. d drewelow says

    probably no greater disservice could happen for the ‘gender dysphoric’ than to create a fantasy island where they are taught that their condition is actually a special gift and even an advancement in the evolution of humanity……as the lgb culture used to tell its a fews years before the ‘t’ was appended. what a balanced, thoughtful caring article this is.

  4. Save them and you’ll serve them

  5. Father Richard is right. It’s about the salvation of souls not politically correct feel good propaganda. Catholic schools are to go by the teachings of the Holy Bible and the Catholic Catechism.

  6. Michael McDermott says

    Education is a moving target – but Students are Captive to the Alinskyites:
    SEE
    Harvard Prof Urges Liberals to Treat Evangelical Christians Like Nazis

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/05/10/harvard-prof-urges-liberals-treat-evangelical-christians-like-nazis/
    A Harvard Law professor is telling his fellow liberals that the culture wars are over and the victorious Left should treat conservative Christians the way the allies treated Germany and Japan after World War II, offering no quarter or clemency.

    In an online post, the 70-year-old professor Mark Tushnet (pictured), a surviving member of the old guard of 1960s liberal elites, advises his like-minded minions to unabashedly take up “aggressively liberal positions,”…

  7. Linda Maria says

    A specialized, state-run school, with specially-trained teachers and counselors, would help a child to grow up and deal competently, with the serious mental illness of gender dysphoria. Such an illness is far worse than many people might realize! I bet many of these children cannot make it through their day, without terrible emotional storms, perhaps thoughts of suicide– and immense confusion– plus, bullying from other kids! A boy who feels trapped in a girl’s body, or a girl who feels trapped in a boy’s body– is a very, very serious mental illness! These children need specialized help, desperately!

    • Linda Maria says

      Modern teacher-education programs at all colleges and universities, try to include information on different illnesses and handicaps, which a classroom teacher may have to understand and deal with, on-the-job. I don’t think the illness of gender dysphoria is included, in these programs. To “mainstream” these students, and help them all to effectively handle the material they must learn — makes quite a complicated job, for a teacher! I think that students with very serious conditions, will learn best, and grow up best– in a special education situation, with properly-trained teachers, to help and to guide them!

  8. Michael the Harvard Professor that you speak about in your post is the most ignorant man that I have ever read about. The real Nazis are the ones who have killed more than 50 million innocent unborn baby children since Roe versus Wade was passed by the Supreme Court in 1973. Over one million unborn baby children are killed every year by supporters like this totally misguided professor and those that support this genocide. The pro life supporters are trying to save these children. Now which of the two sides reminds you of Nazis? The ones trying to save the children or those who are killing these children by the millions every year. I would be absolutely ashamed to have a man like him as my professor. Shame on Harvard. Adoption is…

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