After LGBT protests targeted a private Catholic academy in Rhode Island for its policy against catering to crossdressing students, the school now says it is open to reversing its rules and making “reasonable accommodations” for children who want to be treated as members of the opposite sex.
According to the current school handbook, Mount Saint Charles Academy in Woonsocket “is unable to make accommodations for transgender students” and therefore “does not accept transgender students nor is MSC able to continue to enroll students who identify as transgender.”
The academy presently forbids boys from using the girls’ bathrooms or locker rooms, but that may soon change under pressure from activists. Protesters set up an independent Facebook page attacking the school, under the name “No hate at MSC.”
LGBT activists crowdfunded more than $5,000 to “educate” school administrators on gay issues and “create safe spaces” for transgender students in locker rooms and bathrooms, even though the school has had no requests for admission from transgender students. One local LGBT group, YouthPride, also offered to help educate the school on best practices for indulging transgender students.
The academy is run by a Catholic religious order called the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, a community founded in France after the French revolution to “to rescue young people from ignorance, to prepare them for life, and to give them knowledge and love of religion.” The school’s declared primary mission is “the evangelization of young people,” which presumably includes a Christian understanding of sexual identity.
Moreover, the academy expressly aims at “the formation of the whole person, traditional values, high expectations, self-discipline, fairness, professional competence, and collaboration,” which would preclude encouraging young people from self-destructive experimentation with gender fluidity, contrary to Catholic teaching on the human person.
After the community backlash, however, the school “has been exploring ways in which it might provide reasonable accommodations for transgender students,” officials said in an apologetic statement on March 4. “Please know that we would very much like to address the issue, and your prayers and kind assistance would go a long way in allowing us achieve that goal.”
Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has fought against what he calls “gender ideology,” arguing that the manipulation of gender constitutes an assault on the Creator and a disrespect for his designs. In his encyclical letter on the environment, Laudato Si’, the Pope denounced the relativism at the core of gender theory and urged those struggling with gender identity issues to accept their bodies as God made them.
“The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift,” Francis wrote, “is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation.”
The Pope argued that human ecology underscores the relationship between human life and the moral law, which is “inscribed in our nature.” This human ecology, he wrote, is based on the fact that man “has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will.”
“Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology,” Francis said.
Accepting one’s nature also carries over into gender differences, Francis observed, underscoring the Christian vision of humanity as male and female.
“Valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different,” he wrote. “In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment.”
On the other hand, Francis insisted, “it is not a healthy attitude which would seek to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it.”
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