Australian bishops offer Catholic schools advice on identity and gender

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Australia’s Catholic bishops have released guidelines for the country’s nearly 2,000 Catholic schools on gender, urging headteachers to resist pressure to adopt “mainstream gender rhetoric”.

“Created and Loved: A Guide for Catholic Schools on Identity and Gender” outlines a pastoral approach shaped by the theological, medical, and legislative context in which Catholic schools should treat their trans, non-binary, and gender-diverse students.


The bishops said that to “keep abreast of these changing social trends”, they consulted widely with education specialists, including school principals and teachers, sought advice from parents of children facing various gender issues as well as bioethicists and other experts in the field. field and the international church community.

The guide for more than 780,000 students in Australian Catholic schools describes gender as a “subjective personal choice” and that “the sex of a human being is a physical and biological reality”.

The guidelines oppose gender affirmation and its medical interventions such as puberty blockers, hormones, and gender affirming surgery. The guidelines state that gender-affirming surgery can lead to infertility. He suggests that terms such as “gender dysphoria” and “gender incongruence” be used instead of the word “transgender”.

Jacinta Collins, executive director of Australia’s National Catholic Education Commission, said the guidance was the subject of a session with hundreds of Catholic educators at the National Conference on Catholic Education in Melbourne in early September.

“This will be the first of many opportunities for Catholic education authorities and schools in training leaders and teachers to reflect on how they can respond to gender and identity with care and sensitivity,” he said. she declared.

She added that recent comments by psychologist Ian Hickie “highlight the growing number of health professionals who challenge the gender-affirming approach and support the biopsychosocial approach, which is less invasive, holistic and more closely aligned with a view of the Catholic world”.

“It remains essential that our Catholic schools be able to speak about the teachings of the Church on these issues in an informed way, underpinned by the principles of respect and human dignity.”

In Victoria, where the conference is being held, the state’s Department of Education says public schools “must work with gender-affirming students to prepare and implement a plan to support students” created in consultation with students and parents, where possible.

A department spokesperson said age newspapers that Victorian government schools need to support trans and gender-diverse students by encouraging them to wear their favorite uniform and use their favorite pronouns.

“Young transgender Victorians are 15 times more likely to attempt suicide than other young people,” the spokesperson said. “When people of diverse gender identities are welcomed and supported in school, they achieve better social, educational and health outcomes for life.”

Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli, chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Life, Family and Public Commitment, said: “The Catholic Church and our schools are based on the fundamental principle that each person is created in the image and in the likeness of God and is loved by God. .”

“This principle guides this document that we offer to our schools to help them walk with compassion alongside each student we are invited to educate.

Comensoli added that the report was grounded in Christian anthropology, which values ​​the value and dignity of each person, and also sees each person holistically, rather than defining that person by a single characteristic.


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