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Denver Archdiocese's guidance to Catholic schools: Don't enroll transgender students, treat gay parents differently

Elizabeth Hernandez, The Denver Post on

Published in Religious News

DENVER — The Archdiocese of Denver provides local Catholic schools with explicit written guidance on the handling of LGBTQ issues, including telling administrators they should not enroll or re-enroll transgender or gender non-conforming students, and that gay parents should be treated differently than heterosexual couples.

This 17-page document, titled “Guidance for Issues Concerning the Human Person and Sexual Identity,” was obtained by The Denver Post and confirmed by the archdiocese. In advising administrators on how to deal with gay and transgender students, parents and staff, it warns that “the spread of gender ideology presents a danger to the faith of Christians.”

Among other guidance, the document said schools should not allow students to use pronouns “at odds with the student’s biological sex.” School officials are advised not to promote students’ acceptance and approval of LGBTQ identities. Teachers who decide to transition are “not suited to teach in a Catholic school or to carry out the school’s mission in any capacity.”

At the same time, the document implores schools to show compassion for gay and transgender students, saying ministry toward LGBTQ students should be executed with “charity and prudence” and affirm God’s unconditional love while still being faithful to church teachings and “the truth.”

“Christian anthropology is unalterably opposed to many aspects of the gender ideology currently affecting the culture nationally and internationally,” the document notes. The guidance is intended to show “how schools can help Catholics withstand the cultural current that threatens to unmoor us from our foundations.”

The Denver Archdiocese’s guidance contradicts the American Academy of Pediatrics, which states LGBTQ youth should not be considered abnormal and are not inherently engaged in “risk behaviors.” Rather, LGBTQ youth who encounter homophobia often experience psychological distress, the academy said, which can lead to health disparities such as depression, suicidality, substance abuse and other mental health issues.

 

The Archdiocese of Denver confirmed the document was shared with Catholic school administrators “several years ago to clarify terminology and Catholic Church teaching regarding questions around gender.” Two sources from different Denver-area Catholic schools told The Post that the document was again distributed to administrators earlier this year.

When asked if schools could expect consequences from the Archdiocese of Denver for not following the guidance in the document, Cynthia O’Neill, a spokesperson for the archdiocese, said: “If situations arise, they will be addressed individually depending on the unique circumstances.”

Officials with the Archdiocese of Denver declined an interview request for this story.

The document, which has not been previously reported, illustrates the growing friction between the archdiocese, led by conservative Archbishop Samuel Aquila, and some of the church’s more socially liberal parishioners in Colorado — and even among Denver-area Catholic schools, some of which have been more accepting of LGBTQ students.

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