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A Catholic diocese in Iowa has raised the cultural standards for its schools and is now prohibiting boys from entering girls' bathrooms or locker rooms as well as the use of chosen pronouns by students confused about their sex.
Following debate and a "discernment process" that lasted nearly two years, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines released official guidance to teachers and school officials last week regarding students' identity issues.
The new rules apply to the 80 parishes, 17 schools, and 130,000 members under Bishop William Joensen's leadership.
The diocese says that it's "important to engage individuals and situations involving gender dysphoria with personal sensitivity, compassion, patience and pastoral solicitude" and that "unjust discrimination and harsh treatment must be strongly avoided and corrected. However, the diocese also says it believes that the use of experimental drugs, cross-sex hormones or body-mutilating surgeries in an attempt to present the opposite se and the use of chosen pronouns to be against "the common good of society."
In part, the guide reads: "The diagnosis of gender dysphoria does not merit the alteration of one's body through drug-induced hormone therapies or surgery; rather, one is entitled to receive unconditional love and support, as well as psychological and pastoral care.
"... it must be understood that diocesan practices in our parishes and schools (including sacramental records and school records, bathroom and locker room use, participation on sports teams and other cocurricular activities) will refer to all persons by employing gender pronouns that correlate with their biological sex."
The guide was distributed to all students as well as church employees, personnel, volunteers, those entrusted to the care of the church.
The new policies, as expected, have drawn backlash not only from some in the community, but in the political realm too. Iowa State Sen. Claire Celsi (D) posted this message on Facebook last week:
"I'll never forget the bulletin board in my Catholic grade school classroom when I was a six-year-old student in 1972. It said, 'God doesn't make junk.' This bulletin board was put up by a Catholic nun, my teacher, Sister Francita.
"Now, the @DMDiocese is trying to shun and exclude people based on their sexual orientation and gender expression. This is clearly NOT behavior that should be allowed in schools that already get $100 million in public taxpayer dollars and are clamoring for more."
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Shawn A. Akers is the online editor for Charisma Media.
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