The Catholic bishops of Cuba have issued a statement criticizing the proposed inclusion of what they call “gender ideology” in the national Cuban school curriculum.
Crux reported that the bishops issued a statement on Fathers’ Day objecting to proposed legislation which was drafted by the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) and put forward by the government’s Ministry of Education. The legislation is titled “Program of Internal Education in Sexuality with a gender approach and sexual and reproductive rights in the National Educational System. “
Crux reported that article four of the resolution “establishes the need” to “strengthen, from a holistic and positive vision of sexuality, the process of comprehensive sexual education with a focus on gender and sexual and reproductive rights in educational institutions and modalities.”
Responding to the legislation, the bishops wrote that “gender ideology,” while claiming to be scientific, is “a closed system of thought.” The term “gender ideology,” used politically here, is a sweeping term often used by Catholic hierarchs to denigrate a broad spectrum of feminist and queer theories and advocacy movements. The term has been contested by other Catholic theologians, such as Fr. Dan Horan, OFM.
The bishops’ statement argues:
“[Gender ideology] holds that the differences between men and women, appreciable in their anatomy, psychology, and genetics, among other things, do not correspond to the constitutive nature of the human person, but are merely cultural and conventional constructions, made according to roles and stereotypes that each society has assigned to the sexes.”
The bishops said in addition, “. . . [I]t is taught that a human being, even from their earliest age, could choose their sexual identity, regardless of the biological sex with which they were born.” They called for “a broad and participatory debate” of the resolution, “where everyone had the opportunity to be adequately informed and express their views on the matter.”
The bishops also stated that the inclusion of “gender ideology” into school curricula would “distance us from our history and cultural tradition. Crux reported:
“The Cuban bishops said it was both ‘necessary and indispensable’ that parents maintain the right to educate their own children, and that their input is considered in all forms of collaboration with teachers, school authorities, and drafting educational policy.”
The bishops also publicly opposed the inclusion of ‘equal marriage’ in the 2019 drafting of Cuba’s new constitution. The reference was eventually removed by Cuban parliament.
The bishops’ concluding words, in a different context, could actually be inspiring for those promoting LGBTQ inclusion in the Catholic Church. “Let’s not lose our strength when we have to swim against the current. Let us teach young married couples to work together and take care of their families,” the bishops said, asking that in Cuba, “respect, mutual listening, and social friendship will always prevail over all forms of intolerance and violence.”
Supporters of rights for LGBTQ people, especially the rights of LGBTQ people in the church, easily agree with these last ideas. We, too, believe that respect, mutual listening, and social friendship will prevail over intolerance and violence. We hope and pray that the Cuban bishops will understand that their opposition to marriage equality and to more nuanced understandings of gender expression is also a form of intolerance. Respectful, continued dialogue between the bishops and the LGBTQ community must persevere if the church is to truly learn to welcome all.
—Madeline Foley, New Ways Ministry, July 12, 2021