LGBT-Related School Enrollment Issues in Catholic Education

Below are lists of LGBT-related enrollment issues within Catholic education. The first listing, “Enrollment Disputes”  lists incidents in which students have been denied enrollment to, threatened with expulsion from, or disciplined within Catholic education because of the gender identity, sexual orientation, and/or relationship status of the student and/or their parent(s). The second lists, “Positive Responses,” lists examples of when the institutional Church overturned such prohibitions or adopted LGBT-inclusive policies.

The list only includes those cases which have become public in the media. There are other instances in which those involved have chosen not to make such incidents public. The incidents below are listed in reverse chronological order and identified by the diocese in which they occurred. Links are provided for further reading.

For all of New Ways Ministry’s resources on LGBT issues in Catholic education, click here.

(updated March 19, 2019)

Enrollment Disputes

Archdiocese of Kansas City: In 2019, the pastor of a Catholic school, with the backing of the Archdiocese, denied enrollment to the kindergarten-aged child of a same-gender couple on the basis that “the parents cannot model behaviors and attitudes consistent with the Church’s teachings” and “this creates a conflict for those children and what is experienced at home.

Diocese of Little Rock: In 2016, new language was added to archdiocesan policies for Catholic schools that threatened students with expulsion if they “advocate, celebrate, or express same-sex attraction” or if their gender and/or sexual identity causes “confusion or disruption.”

Archdiocese of Denver: In 2010, Archbishop Charles Chaput defended a Catholic school’s decision to deny admission to the preschool-aged child of a lesbian couple, writing:

“Most parents who send their children to Catholic schools want an environment where the Catholic faith is fully taught and practiced. That simply can’t be done if teachers need to worry about wounding the feelings of their students or about alienating students from their parents.”

Positive Responses

Diocese of Rockford: In 2017, diocesan officials overturned a school principal’s decision to deny enrollment to the preschool-aged child of a lesbian couple. The diocese apologized to the family, saying Church officials needed to work on how it communicates about “sensitive subjects.”

Archdiocese of Southwark: In 2016, a Catholic school apologized to a transgender student it had suspended for wearing a school uniform consistent with the student’s gender rather than assigned sex. The school also announced new accommodations that allowed the trans student to wear the uniform and to use restrooms and locker rooms appropriate for their gender.

Diocese of Providence: In 2016, a Catholic high school in Rhode Island rescinded a new policy that would have banned transgender students from being admitted after facing intense pressure from alumni and the local community not to discriminate.

Diocese of Parramatta: In 2011, Bishop Kevin Manning overturned a Catholic school’s decision to deny enrollment to a lesbian couple’s child, saying, “There’s no way in the world one can penalise a child for what his or her parents do.”

Archdiocese of Boston: In 2010, officials with the Archdiocese overruled a local Catholic school’s decision to deny enrollment to the child of a lesbian couple. The superintendent of Catholic schools explained:

“The Archdiocese of Boston is committed to providing quality Catholic education, grounded in academic excellence and the teachings of the Catholic Church to the students at all of our schools. We believe that every parent who wishes to send their child to a Catholic school should have the opportunity to purse that dream.  . . . The Archdiocese does not prohibit children of same-sex parents from attending Catholic schools. We will work in the coming weeks to develop a policy to eliminate any misunderstandings in the future. “