Metro Weekly

Green Bay Diocese Compares Being Trans to Sexual Abuse

New policy outlines ramifications for students, staff, or parents who affirm transgender identity, in opposition of Catholic doctrine.

Bishop David Ricken via wikicommons

The Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, released a new policy regarding LGBTQ students in its Catholic Schools that equates being transgender to being sexually abused. 

The Diocese, led by Bishop David Ricken, published the new gender policy last month in its Education Policy Manual for the 2022-2023 school year.

The manual explains how to “restrict” participation in the Catholic education of transgender students, staff, volunteers, and ally parents.

The manual contains a section titled “Catholic Principles of Human Sexuality,” which promote current Church doctrine on sexuality and gender, including the idea that there are only two sexes, that every person’s body, as created by God, cannot be altered through social transition or medical interventions, and that heterosexual marriage is the ideal relationship for raising children and continuing the propagation of the faith.

The manual also compares homosexuality or “expressing a gender that is discordant with one’s biological sex” with other sinful behaviors that are viewed as reprehensible or crude among polite society, including: the use of vulgar language, “immodest dress or deportment,” masturbation, pornography, fornication, adultery, cohabitating outside of marriage, obtaining an abortion, and sexual harassment or abuse. 

Section 5045 of the “Education Policy Manual” mandates that trans and non-binary people be addressed as their gender at birth, rather than based on how they identify.

Based on this understanding, schools are expected to refuse to allow trans-identifying children to use their preferred names or pronouns, access gender-specific facilities that do not match their assigned sex at birth, or take puberty blockers to prevent the onset of secondary sex characteristics.

Anyone found in violation is subject to expulsion from Diocese-affiliated schools. 

“A student of any Catholic school who insists, or whose parents insist, on open hostility toward, or defiance of, Church teaching, or who otherwise intentionally violates this policy, may be expelled from the school pursuant to this policy,” the manual reads.

The policy is in effect for faculty as well as students. 

“There are a number of troubling aspects to this policy,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, an organization that focuses on LGBTQ Catholic affairs. “It blatantly disregards the reality of transgender and nonbinary people and fails to honor their dignity and agency in living as they know themselves to be.” 

In 2019, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education released a policy entitled “Male and Female He Created Them.”

That policy was meant to guide Catholic educators on how to discuss ideas of gender and sexual identity in schools, but failed to go beyond restating what existing Church doctrine is. 

“In the U.S., it has led to the promulgation of policies, developed without any input from transgender people, family members, or professional caregivers, that make it difficult for transgender and nonbinary people to find support in Catholic schools and communities,” said Duddy-Burke. “This is tragic.”

She continued: “It is time to end Catholic attacks on transgender people. We urge the people of the Diocese of Green Bay and other people of goodwill to urge this policy be revoked so Catholic schools can serve all who need them.”

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