Although the Archdiocese of Omaha insists a new transgender policy for archdiocesan schools changes nothing, merely formalizes current practices, one Catholic LGBTQ+ advocacy organization nevertheless has called the policy exclusionary.
The new six-page “Policy on Human Sexuality” says students must conduct themselves in accord with their biological sex at all times publicly and at school, including with uniforms, competitive and recreational activities, bathroom usage and dates at school-sponsored functions.
The policy also stipulates that behaviors which cause “disruption or confusion regarding the church’s teaching on human sexuality are prohibited,” and that “social media activity and other conduct by students shall be respectful of others and not promote, advocate, or endorse a view or conduct contrary to the Catholic Church’s teachings, including on human sexuality.”
A separate portion of the new policy applies to school employees and volunteers. It states that they must publicly be in accord with their biological sex at all times, including with dress, bathroom usage and names and titles.
In all, the policy covers students, parents, guardians, teachers, and volunteers. Violation can be grounds for dismissal or disciplinary action. The policy will officially become a part of each of the 70 archdiocesan school’s handbooks on Jan. 1, 2023.
“I think as society continues to normalize gender ideology, we have to anticipate that we could have more students present themselves as transitioning, so we gave our schools guidelines and now a policy on how they could respond when a student or parent might come forth,” Deacon Tim McNeil, the chancellor of the archdiocese, told Crux.
“This is what’s been practiced for many years, so it should be no surprise,” McNeil said.
However, Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry – an organization that works to bring together the Catholic Church and LGBTQ+ community – told Crux in an email that the document looks like it “was designed to exclude and turn people away.”
“It is astonishing that church officials would consider a child’s personal problems to be a threat to the church’s magisterium,” he said. “It is disheartening that church officials would rather expel a student with such problems than work to help the child become healthy and whole.”
The Omaha announcement follows a similar move from the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, earlier this month, and from the Dioceses of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Lafayette, Louisiana in July. In recent years, a number of other Catholic dioceses have issued similar policies as the conversation on gender ideology has become more prevalent.
The “Student Admission and Retention” portion of the Archdiocese of Omaha policy states that a student experiencing gender dysphoria – a sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity – should not be denied admission or dismissed from the archdiocesan school they attend for that reason, so long as the student and his or her parents “agree that the child will abide by the expectations and standards of conduct set forth in this policy.”
The section outlines similar regulations for prospective students, and further states that a child whose parent(s) permit gender-affirming care and medications, or authorizes sex procedures or surgery cannot be enrolled in an archdiocesan school. It continues that every current and prospective student and his or her parent(s) must respect Catholic teaching….
The above comes from an August 25 story in Crux.