The “pronoun battle” presently waged in schoolrooms across the nation will find no engagement in Catholic schools in the Omaha area.
This, thanks to the Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha’s published “Pastoral Guidelines for Gender Dysphoria.”
According to the guidelines, gender identity issues will be treated as a psychological malady (i.e., gender dysphoria) rather than a social construct meriting protection under anti-discrimination statutes and policies.
“It is necessary to affirm, first and foremost, that ‘the dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God’,” says the archdiocese in the document. “This image and likeness finds its expression in each of the two sexes as they provide an ‘image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way’.
“Thus, male and female are unique and complementary in their physical, moral, and spiritual aspects.”
The document outlines five “Guiding Principles,” to be respected when addressing gender dysphoric students. Number three states:
“The study of man’s relation to God is rooted in the unity of body and soul. The soul of man and his relation to God cannot be separated from the bodily expression of this identity. One’s gender is determined by one’s biological sex; there can be no separation between the two.”
Relatedly, the archdiocese’s “Policy on Human Sexuality” requires all school staff to act toward a person according to birth sex. Students will also be required to act, dress and use bathrooms in the same way. There will be no participation on sports teams opposite of a student’s biological sex.
“God created you the way you are. And [it’s] best we are able to help them to embrace that and to be grateful for that,” diocesan spokesperson, Deacon Tim McNeil, told KETV Channel 7.
McNeil also made clear the policy isn’t to be construed as making gender dysphoric students unwelcome.
“Our philosophy going ahead is truth and love. We share the truth with our students and their families,” he said. “At the same time, we bring forth our love and compassion. We would still admit that student. However, we would lay out what the expectations are with the student and parents.”
With the publication of the gender dysphoria guidelines, the archdiocese is making those expectations clear for students, their parents, and school staff, whether paid or volunteer.
“For those who might be confused by it all, that’s where we have to come alongside and, without imposing, to really accompany them and walk with them on this journey and hopefully to accept that which God has created,” McNeil explained.
The Archdiocese of Omaha oversees 70 schools in eastern Nebraska. The policies outlined are not new, but rather a codification of existing practices in response to a request for clarification from teachers and administrators dealing with increasing instances of students expressing gender dysphoric behavior.
The policy is not without critics, as members of the LGBTQ community consider it exclusionary.
However, public pressure campaigns that have been successful when employed against public schools have been met with stiff resistance when turned against Catholic and other parochial schools.
“[T]he simple fact is that a Catholic school exists to teach the Catholic faith, and its employees undermine that mission if they publicly reject Catholic moral principles,” Patrick Reilly of the Cardinal Newman Society wrote in the National Catholic Register, addressing a situation where a Catholic school’s job offer was rescinded from a prospective coach in a same-sex marriage.
Attempts to overturn the Church’s position through the courts have met similarly unfruitful results with judges routinely dismissing lawsuits, citing exemptions to anti-discrimination laws enjoyed by religious groups.
Groups taking similar positions on gender also include religious K-12 school systems sponsored by Protestant denominations and non-denominational churches as well.