….This past Monday, the new principal at St. Joseph’s, Father Steve Kim, who started the job this month, sent an email to parents seeking to “reassure” them that St. Joseph’s “will continue to be a safe place for all of our students to feel comfortable being who they are.” Kim said he was moved to comment on the issue due to “recent articles that have appeared about the Diocese of Oakland’s considerations of gender-related guidance.”
He also apologized for what he described as the “signs of distress, discomfort, and unhappiness” surrounding the meetings on new guidance.
“Our school will continue to adhere to best practices of non-discrimination while also upholding and offering a genuinely Catholic education as demonstrated by our commitment to and celebration of people and community members from all walks of life,” Kim wrote.
One former staffer of St. Joseph’s who left the school because of the expected gender guidance told The Oaklandside that they think Kim is trying to establish himself “as a mediator and listener.” They did not want to use their name because they feared it could affect their career.
“They need to spell out what they’ll do to ensure the community feels included and welcomed other than maintaining the gay-straight alliance club,” the former staffer said.
A parent that read Kim’s statement thought it was reassuring but is still waiting on the diocese to issue the new rules.
“We shall see if the guidelines reflect what [church officials] have heard,” the parent said.
Karen Bane, a parent of a St. Joseph’s student, said the Church should consider what it could lose if narrow-minded rules push parents to stop exposing their kids to faith-based education. She said that currently, all types of people of different faiths, genders, and races can learn about social justice from Catholic teachings.
“You’re leveraging all these other faiths to be siblings with you in bringing the social justice of Jesus as gospels into the world. But this is what’s in jeopardy—this wonderful, beautiful thing that’s life-giving,” she said.
She described how her son feared for his LGBTQ+ friends and teachers. “My son [was] telling me about the information session with the students, and he started weeping. His eyes were red, his face was tense, his body was quivering.”