Students in Catholic schools in Lansing are to be treated according to their biological sex, even if they self-identify according to a different gender, according to new “gender identity” policy announced by the Michigan diocese on Friday.
The move comes as the issue of the transgender rights is heating up after the election of Joe Biden. The president-elect has signaled that his administration will say that Title IX – the 1972 law that protects women’s access to equal education — also applies transgender people who identify as women or girls.
Critics have objected to this for a variety of reasons, including the need for “women only” areas to be respected as safe places for females and the alleged unfair physical advantages transgender athletes have in women’s sports.
In December, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from parents in a school district in Oregon after it passed a rule allowing transgender students to use locker rooms and bathrooms of the gender with which they identify, rather than their biological sex.
The new Diocese of Lansing policy requires that all Catholic parishes, schools, institutions, and charitable agencies apply all policies and procedures in relation to that person “according to that person’s God-given biological sex.”
According to the policies, all school students and their parents will be addressed and referred to with pronouns in accord with their biological sex; students will participate in competitive athletics in accord with their biological sex; and all students will use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their biological sex.
The diocese said on a case-by-case basis, students who have been clinically diagnosed with gender dysphoria may request the use of a single-person, unisex facility.
“Applying that compassion to new ethical dilemmas such as gender dysphoria can be challenging – that’s why this new diocesan policy on gender identity will help our teachers form our students in truth and love in order to promote authentic happiness and uphold the common good,” said Tom Maloney, the superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Lansing.
Richard Budd, the Director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Lansing, acknowledged that gender dysphoria is a real psychological condition “which causes real human suffering that has to be met with genuine compassion,” but noted “the Church teaches that our differences as male and female are part of God’s good design in creation.”
Budd, who co-authored the guidelines, said they will help families, parishes and schools to better provide the highest standard of care while also reaffirming the immutable realities of human anthropology
“The Church teaches that the human person is a body-soul union, and the body — created male or female — is a constitutive and integral aspect of the human person and, as such, everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his or her God-given biological sex and the sexuality that corresponds with that gift – only in this way lies a path towards an integral, sustainable and happy life,” he said on Friday.
The new policies make a distinction between “gender dysphoria” – in which a person believes their gender does not correspond with their biological sex – and “transgender ideology,” which “radically separates the material from the spiritual and treats the material as mere inert matter for the spiritual to act upon.”
The diocese also rejects as unethical the use of surgical or hormonal interventions for those suffering from gender dysphoria, especially the prescribing puberty blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones to children and adolescents.
“Such invasive treatments, especially for children, can inflict irreversible physiological damage coupled with long-term psychological, emotional and spiritual damage upon an already vulnerable person,” said Jenny Ingles, Director of Fertility and Life Ministries in the Diocese of Lansing.
Ingles is the co-author of the new guidelines.
“Our approach seeks to support moms, dads and families in helping their loved one – especially if that loved one is a child – through their gender confusion without further fueling that confusion or making their child think their problem can be ‘solved’ with surgical or hormonal interventions which, as more and more people are beginning to realize, is a cruel and, sometimes, catastrophic deception,” she said.
The diocese said the new policy was developed in response to Male and Female He Created Them, a 2019 Vatican document that dealt with gender identity issues in the Church.
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