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Sioux Falls Bishop Issues Guidelines on Gender Ideology in Education

The courageous bishop of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, Bishop Donald E. DeGrood, has issued a set of common-sense guidelines on gender ideology that conform to Church teaching rather than to popular opinion.

Instead of cowing to cultural pressure from LGBTQ activists, Bishop DeGrood courageously laid out Church teaching on human sexuality and, in particular, gender ideology, in both a letter issued to the Faithful and a set of educational guidelines aimed at helping parents and educators navigate this controversial subject.

“Some people have come to accept transgender ideology out of a wish to express affirmation or tolerance for others. Insofar as this is motivated by the innate desire to love others, it contains a seed of goodness,” he writes in a letter to the faithful entitled, “Gifts of the Divine Creator: On Being Male and Female.”

“But at the same time, there are serious concerns around what transgender ideology claims or teaches. Given the relatively brief period it has been a part of our human experience, there is also a seeming lack of regard for transgenderism’s consequences for individuals and the human family.”

For this reason, his guidelines call for compassion toward those who suffer from gender dysphoria but, at the same time, firmly requires all educational facilities to remain faithful to Church teaching which states that “By creating the human being man and woman, God gives personal dignity equally to the one and the other. Each of them, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity” (CCC 2360-2363).

“As Pope Francis notes, we must always respect the sacred dignity of each individual person, but that does not mean the Church must accept the confused notions of gender ideology,” Bishop DeGroot writes in the guidelines entitled, “Conforming with the Church’s Teaching on Human Sexuality in Educational Settings.”

“We do not serve anyone’s greater good by falsifying the truth, for it is only the truth that frees us for the full life that God offers to each of us. Thus, when a person experiences same-sex attraction or some form of gender dysphoria, such struggles do not change the biological fact of how God created that person, and it would be untruthful for the Catholic Church or our Catholic schools to pretend otherwise.”

Therefore, while demanding that all persons deserve human dignity and must not be bullied or harassed in any way, at the same time students are not permitted to “advocate, celebrate, or express transgenderism in such a way as to cause confusion or distraction in the context of Catholic school classes, activities, or events,” he states.

The following conditions must be met in all Catholic schools:

• School records must be maintained at all times in ways that conform to the student’s sex as given to them by God.

• Students are to wear only those uniforms and conform to all dress codes in accord with his or her biological sex.

• Student access to facilities and overnight accommodations will align with his/her sex.

• Regarding the use of restrooms, a child’s sex shall determine which designated restroom shall be used by all students. Boys are only to use restrooms designated “boys” or “men,” and girls are only to use restrooms designated “girls” or “women” within the school building.

• All students, teachers, and school personnel must use accurate gender references and language in all circumstances and at all times.

• No student shall be admitted, enrolled, or allowed to continue as a student at a Catholic school if that student’s expression of gender, sexual identity or sexuality is the cause of confusion of or disruption to other students in the Catholic school system

• Regarding the admittance or continued enrollment of any student at a Catholic school who claims to be transitioning or transitioned, the bishop is to be consulted and shall serve as the final decision maker.

The guidelines go on to say that while all persons are children of God and are welcome to serve in or attend the parochial schools of the diocese, “all who teach, assist or attend Catholic schools agree to abide by the teachings of the Church while in this protected environment.” These teachings are reflected in enrollment and tuition documentation provided to prospective parents and are also reflected on teacher contracts and job descriptions provided to prospective employees.

“Any failure to uphold Church teachings in their words or actions will result in an invitation to change behaviors. If a student or staff member chooses not to comply with the expectations set forth in this policy, the privilege to attend the Catholic school or serve in an employed position for the school will be taken away.”

And because there is no right to attend Catholic schools, “those who cannot accept these norms have the opportunity to enroll in other schools or forms of education.”

While Catholics should not demean or deny the sincerity and struggle of those who experience gender confusion, caving to social pressure is not the way to handle it.

Rather, we must “seek to accompany them on their journey of life, offering them the light of the Gospel as they try to find their way forward.”

The guidelines elicited the usual complaints from the secular media with accusations of being “bigoted” and “trying to whip up possible violence” against the transgendered.

Others saw the Bishop’s actions in a much different light.

“The wording is precise and a much needed antidote to the reigning madness on this subject,” writes Catholic League president Bill Donohue. “Kudos to Bishop DeGrood. Not only is his policy a model for every diocese, it is a model for every school in the nation, public or private. Let him know your support.”

Email Bishop deGrood at: webpage@sfcatholic.org

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