The Episcopal Conference of Puerto Rico urged people to participate in a recent protest against what they call “gender ideology” which was held in response to the launch of the government’s ‘gender perspective curriculum,’ which is part of a larger effort to help women and LGBTQ people subject to violence.
According to The Catholic Telegraph:
“The Puerto Rican bishops’ conference encouraged the island’s laity ‘with complete freedom and in the exercise of their rights as citizens, freely to discern their participation’ in the ‘march against the imposition of gender ideology’ in a July 26 statement.
“The bishops said they support parents and lay faithful, who, ‘making use of their natural right’ and with ‘the freedom they have, to strongly express, always peacefully, their concern and their demands regarding this imposition, more ideological than scientific’, decide to ‘participate in the context of their legitimate right, in the march against the imposition of gender ideology.’”
The “Gender Perspective curriculum” for public schools from Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, is an updated version of former Governor Alejandro García Padilla’s plan, which some Puerto Ricans also protested in 2015.
The demonstration against the curriculum took place August 14. At least one bishop attended.
In December 2020, Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres of Arecibo asked Pierluisi to stop promoting what the bishop called “gender ideology” and cautioned against what he framed as religious persecution upon the island. At this time, the bishop also stated his objection to bills 184 and 185, both of which support inclusive gender principles.
When Pierluisi took office in January 2021, he issued an executive order that declared a state of emergency for the island due to gender violence, including the targeting of transgender people, several of whom had been murdered in recent months. He also created the Committee for the Prevention, Support, Rescue and Education on Gender Violence, and announced the Gender Perspective curriculum. Pierluisi is a member of the New Progressive Party and affiliated with the US mainland’s Democratic party.
Initially, Carmen Ana González Magaz, Secretary of the Department of the Family, had announced that the new curriculum would roll out in the island’s public schools in August. However, in July, González announced that the curriculum implementation was postponed to implement gender issues training for faculty and the Department of Education.
Robert Shine, associate director of New Ways Ministry, commented:
“Puerto Rico’s bishops actions are failing to meet the island’s real needs. Puerto Rico has the highest rate of anti-transgender killings in the U.S. Such violations against the lives and human rights of LGBTQ people and women should be the bishops’ priority, not any perceived threats of ‘gender ideology,’ a term without any clear meaning that functions as church leaders’ red herring. Given the bishops’ inaction, it is incumbent that Catholics on the island make ending anti-transgender and gender-based violence a priority.”
—Beth Mueller Stewart, New Ways Ministry, September 3, 2021