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INDIANAPOLIS (ChurchMilitant.com) - The archdiocese of Indianapolis has released a controversial directive that gives its 67 Catholic schools guidance on how to address gender-confused students.
Earlier this month the archdiocese released its "Policy and Norms on Sexual Identity in School Ministry," a new directive that upholds the Church's teaching on sex and the natural law. The document suggests that schools work with so-called transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary students in order to assist them in understanding and accepting the truth of the human person and of their own sexuality. The document tells educators to "pastorally address their needs in alignment with the Church's teachings."
The document, which mixes compassion and truth, directs the schools to "accompany" students and work with them to "navigate the difficult issues related to sexual identity while obeying God's will for their lives, and living in accordance with Church values."
"We strive to integrate our faith and the teachings of the Catholic Church into all aspects of our school culture and curriculum," the archdiocese said in an independent statement. "Some students who attend the archdiocese's schools question their sexual identity and we recognize that their struggles have a profound effect on their lives."
The document states that parents who enroll their children in a Catholic school must understand, affirm and support the archdiocese's mission and policies. Parents and students that cannot meet these expectations may not be admitted. That mission includes upholding the moral tenets of divine Revelation and the infallible teachings of the Catholic Church. "The truth of human sexuality as 'male' and 'female,'" the document states, "belongs to the very core teaching of Christianity on the human person."
While students who are "experiencing confusion regarding their sexual identity may be admitted," the policy states, "any student whose gender has been legally changed from their biological sex, or who has chemically and/or surgically altered their given biology, may not be eligible for enrollment."
Advocates for so-called LGBTQ youth say the policy could inflict damage on a group of young people that are already at greater risk for suicide, and claim the Church is doubling down on discriminatory practices. Last year the Indy archdiocese was spotlighted for firing several teachers and guidance counselors who publicly manifested their own homosexual lifestyle. It is currently being sued by former employees of two area Catholic high schools.
"They're talking about a large portion of their students that they are alright with inflicting mental health issues and perhaps suicidal ideation on," said Chris Paulsen, executive director of Indiana Youth Group, which advocates for gender-confused children. "I can't believe any competent education institution is alright with that."
Using a student's sex at birth to determine their pronouns and dress code requirements, only letting them participate on single-gender sports teams, and using facilities like restrooms and locker rooms that match their sex at birth are harmful for non-binary students, Paulsen added.
The national group GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), which advocates for sexual deviancy in the public sphere, also condemned the document.
"The Indianapolis archdiocese's attempt to target transgender young people rather than create safe and accepting environments for them is shameful and dangerous," said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. "Research shows transgender youth face a higher risk of suicide from just this kind of rejection and refusal to see their authentic identity. To codify this rejection further isolates and threatens the very young people in need of love and protection."
Catholic LGBTQ advocacy group DignityUSA, which contradicts the doctrine of its own Church, called the policy "unspeakably cruel."
"It is essentially religious shunning of children experiencing gender dysphoria," said Meli Barber, DignityUSA's vice president and a former director of religious education for the archdiocese of Indianapolis. "I am deeply, deeply embarrassed that my former employer has chosen exclusion over welcome. That is not the Catholic Church I felt called to serve."
The archdiocese of Indianapolis has been one of the most active in the nation for enforcing employment contracts that bar those in so-called same-sex marriages from working within its schools.