A Minnesota Catholic high school has barred students from bringing guests of the same sex/gender to the prom.
Lourdes High School, Rochester, Minnesota, issued a guest policy saying that if a student wishes to bring a guest from outside the school, they must be of the “opposite sex/gender.” The policy states:
“While in attendance the student is expected to follow all rights, rules, and regulations established by the Lourdes High School and the Rochester Catholic Schools. All students guest’s MUST be the opposite gender/sex of the Lourdes Student Accompanying them.”
An anonymous Lourdes senior told KTTC, “It’s hurtful. It wasn’t on there before, and suddenly it’s there.” The student dealt with this policy previously when she wished to take a female friend to a different school event. They were at first told they could not go together, but the school eventually allowed them to do so.
“Before, I think my sister took a friend [to a dance] that she had and they were just friends, strictly friends, and they went as friends, and all of a sudden it’s not okay,” she said.
Lourdes sent a statement to KTTC that said:
“‘The Lourdes High School Prom Guest Permission Form has consistently been required for students wishing to invite guests who do not attend Lourdes as our ability to accommodate all those wishing to attend is limited. The expectation of opposite gender guest invitations has been in place at Lourdes for years and reflects the Catholic values upheld by Rochester Catholic Schools. It was included on the form this year to avoid confusion and be upfront with students before submitting a form. If Lourdes students and parents would like more information, they are encouraged to reach out to school administration.'”
The Lourdes student said she simply wanted to attend the prom with her friend and says the policy is “a direct diss” against queer students.
“It’s homophobic,” she said. “I don’t remember it ever being in place because I remember girls could go with groups of girls to homecoming and prom, we could all just go as friends.”
Her friend commented, “It’s not our choice to be part of different schools and knowing that I’m not allowed to attend their special events like prom, especially prom, since it’s such a big part of high school. It’s really sad.”
The student shared that when she spoke to a staff member about the policy, they responded, “Well rules are rules.”
At a time when other Catholic high schools are instituting policies to support their LGBTQ students, the discriminatory policy at Lourdes, and similar ones at other Catholic schools are out of step. However, students are pushing back against these institutions. Catholic students are calling for the schools to uphold the values of justice and dignity instead of targeting and harming students in the name of Catholic teaching. These young people are the leaders of social justice in our church as they foster safe spaces for all young people to become their authentic selves.
—Elise Dubravec (she/her), New Ways Ministry, April 28, 2022