A newly-announced policy on gender identity for the Archdiocese of Omaha’s Catholic parishes and schools has now been retracted for revisions. Today’s post features details of this development, while tomorrow’s post is about the Catholic schools who have already objected to the policy.
In August, the Archdiocese of Omaha published a six-page document titled “Policy on Human Sexuality,” which actually addressed issues of gender identity. Like most such policies in other dioceses, the Omaha document mandates that students be treated based on their assigned sex rather than gender. Crux reported further:
“The policy also stipulates that behaviors which cause ‘disruption or confusion regarding the church’s teaching on human sexuality are prohibited,’ and that ‘social media activity and other conduct by students shall be respectful of others and not promote, advocate, or endorse a view or conduct contrary to the Catholic Church’s teachings, including on human sexuality.’
“A separate portion of the new policy applies to school employees and volunteers. It states that they must publicly be in accord with their [assigned sex] at all times, including with dress, bathroom usage and names and titles.
“In all, the policy covers students, parents, guardians, teachers, and volunteers. Violation can be grounds for dismissal or disciplinary action. The policy will officially become a part of each of the 70 archdiocesan school’s handbooks on Jan. 1, 2023.”
But last week, Omaha’s Archbishop George Lucas released a letter saying implementation of the transgender policy is now delayed so “feedback” received thus far can help “draft revised norms that will be more clearly focused.” Nonetheless, even while in retreat, the archbishop harshly lashed out at trans and non-binary people, writing, per WOWT:
“The thought that gender can be a matter of a personal choice threatens the well-being of children and young people. It threatens the relationship between parents and their children established by God. It is a rejection of the place of God as the author of life and the object of true worship. . .It is incompatible with our Catholic faith and the mission of Jesus.”
Lucas concluded by warning parents that if they support their trans child’s health through gender affirmation, it might require “discernment about the appropriateness of the family’s place in the school.” The new version of the gender policy is to be released by the end of 2022 for implementation the following school year. For now, schools and parishes were told to abide by the existing “Pastoral Guidelines for Gender Identity.”
Catholics in Omaha and elsewhere have rejected this latest in a series of trans-exclusionary policies released by U.S. dioceses, including Sioux Falls and Lafayette, Louisiana this summer. Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, commented:
“This document is designed to exclude and turn people away. The terse and clipped style of the Omaha policy seems to indicate that it was written for legal, not pastoral reasons. This policy shows that these church leaders are more concerned with shielding church teaching from any kind of questioning than they are with the human flourishing of the youth in their care or the adults with whom they work.
“One of its most unreasonable statements is ‘Showing hostility toward or defiance of church teaching demonstrates that a student is not a proper fit for the school.’ Hostility and defiance in a school child more often demonstrates a problem with that child’s personal development, not a hardened theological position, which it would be ludicrous to assume that a child is intellectually capable of. It is astonishing that church officials would consider a child’s personal problems to be a threat to the church’s magisterium. It is disheartening and upsetting that church officials would rather expel a student with such problems than work to help the child become healthy and whole.”
Tomorrow, Bondings 2.0 will cover the actions of three Omaha-area Catholic schools who have opted not to follow any transgender-negative policies.
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, September 7, 2022