Minnesota Catholic School Institutes New Ban on Same-Gender Prom Dates

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

9 replies
  1. Steven Stencil
    Steven Stencil says:

    I always thought Minnesota was the left-wing DEM state that accepted practically every variation on the theme. I guess when it comes to the Catholic Church there, “love means love” remains, hopefully, a future reality for the homophobic clergy, many of whom are gay themselves.

  2. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    Well ,then. This is just another hamfisted way of bullying someone by saying you disapprove of reality. Issue horse blinders to the school board who made the decision. Apparently this applies to guests from outside the school ? Have they not considered same sex couples within ?

  3. Richard Boyle
    Richard Boyle says:

    From the article:
    The student shared that when she spoke to a staff member about the policy, they responded, “Well rules are rules.”

    That “tone-deaf,” shallow, response of the staff member to the student is little more than the type of “logic” which is used by people in a position of power who rely on a traditional structure of power to remain unaccountable for decisions carelessly, callously (or worse), handed down. The sexual abuse crisis in the RCC thrived on a similar, parallel, type of unchallenged power structure.

    Church needs a change…and it starts at the bottom, with resistance, and the raising of alternate views and voices.

  4. Fr. Scott Hill, omi
    Fr. Scott Hill, omi says:

    As if life isn’t challenging enough for high school students, having the very institution built on the cornerstone Gospel welcome and engagement has turned its back on Queer students. Rather than embracing Gospel listening, school administrator’s chose to alienate and isolate a population of teenagers; perhaps putting some teens at risk for suicide. How much more the word has to go out to these “closeted” teens that there is help and welcome through the “Trever Project.” I continue to be disheartened by my church who refuses to listen and learn from the Queer Community, but find hope in the voices of teens who embrace Gospel teachings, taught in their Catholic School classes, by refusing to be silenced by the hypocrisy of school/diocesan leadership. This sad story reminds me of a Canadian teen who successfully sued the Durham Catholic School district (2002), bringing his male partner to his high school prom!

  5. Elizabeth Berneking
    Elizabeth Berneking says:

    I am very soaddened by repeataed reports of this nature. As a parent of a gay son and grandparaent of a young adult whom I believe to be gay or trans, I don’t know whether or not I’ll live long enough to see a world where the Catholic Church puts justice into place when it comes to sexuality. While I have, thankfully, seen progress since Vatican II, it has been a long, long time coming. My heart goes out to all the ostracized, and especially teen-agers, who are at an age when being left out is particularly painful.

  6. Poolgirl2
    Poolgirl2 says:

    Just today I was wondering why most religions focus so much on “sex”, “gender”, and who does what to whom in a sexual context? Really, sex should be a private matter between people or for yourself.

    There are so many much more important issues that the Bible, other religious books, religions, the hierarchy, governments, and individuals should be focusing on each and every day. Poverty, war, climate, education, Justice and fair treatment of people or even animals.

    Frankly, I’m about ready to walk off or quit paying attention to those obsessed with sex, gender, or other personal decisions that should be left up to individual consciences if they do no harm to others!

  7. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    I am decades away from high school dances, but as I recall if you couldn’t get an opposite sex date going with a friend, wingman, etc. was a perfectly acceptable thing. Aren’t the managers of this prom encouraging the same sex couples to have sex since they must have an opposite sex date? There was always a group of women couples who danced together just so they could get on the dance floor. I went to the University of Notre Dame in the 1960 and recall seeing photographs from the 1930s of male couples dancing together because there were no women at ND and few from St. Mary’s (neighboring college) or others available. Sometimes everyone wants to dance. As noted above managers should get their minds out of the gutter and let people have a fun social evening. If nature takes its course, well we are all God’s creation created in Her image.

  8. Jane Doe
    Jane Doe says:

    I’m the senior from the article, and I want to say thank you for all this support. I need to stay anonymous because I’m worried about backlash from the school. But these positive comments have me tearing up late at night. I’m attending the prom with a family friend of mine, who’s a guy, but all this support means so much to me. Much love.

    • Richard
      Richard says:

      Dear Jane Doe: I would like to assure you that you indeed have many friends and supporters “out here” in the regular, sometimes harsh and judgmental world! I hope and pray you discover them, us, over time, one-by-one, and realize that you are NOT alone, but loved!


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