DENVER — The Archdiocese of Denver recommended that local Catholic schools not enroll or re-enroll transgender students, according to a guidance document sent to administrators in 2019.
The 17-page document, obtained and first reported by the Denver Post, also suggested that schools should treat gay parents differently than heterosexual couples.
A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Denver confirmed to 9NEWS the guidance document was sent, "to help clarify the Church's teachings regarding gender issues in our Catholic schools."
The document titled, "Guidance for Issues Concerning the Human Person and Sexual Identity," poses several questions and offers recommendations for administrators.
The guidance says Catholic schools, "cannot affirm a student's identity as transgender, gender nonconforming, non-binary, gender-fluid, gender-queer, or any other term that rejects the reality of the student's given male or female sexual identity."
Enrolling or re-enrolling such a student, "would not be appropriate," the document says.
Staff members at One Colorado, the state's leading LGBTQ advocacy organization, told 9NEWS they had seen the document before.
Executive director Nadine Bridges called the guidance from the Archdiocese disappointing and disheartening.
“When you are creating a space where some people can be accepted and other folks are not, then you are discriminating," Bridges said. “I wish that the members of the Archdiocese would actually sit down with the community and have a really honest and authentic conversation on being inclusive.”
The guidance sent to administrators also says that Catholic schools cannot treat, "a same-sex couple as a family equivalent to the natural family without compromising its mission and Catholic identity."
“Not supporting parents, LGBTQ parents, what message does that serve to your students who are trying to get an education?” Bridges said.
The executive director of Interfaith Alliance of Colorado said she's deeply concerned and saddened by the guidance from the Archdiocese.
"Religious trauma is an ever-present reality for many faithful Coloradans who continue showing up with sincerity, only to find out that they are unwelcome by their own faith families – not because of a lack of faith, but simply for being different," said Shara Smith. "We sincerely pray for the health and well-being of those families on the receiving end of these kinds of policies and maintain hope that our faith can be the force that brings us together rather than something that drives us apart."
The Archdiocese of Denver did not respond to questions about whether any Catholic schools had acted on the guidance and refused to enroll transgender students.
"We don’t expect everyone to ascribe to a Catholic worldview, but we strongly reject attempts to paint our position as bigoted or unloving," a spokesperson said.
Here's the full statement from the Archdiocese of Denver:
Thank you for reaching out to us. This guidance document was shared with administrators in 2019 to help clarify the Church's teachings regarding gender issues in our Catholic schools. If questions come up in a school, each case will be addressed individually with the utmost care and concern for all involved.
The goal of the policies in our Catholic schools is to create and foster an environment in which children can grow in virtue and be formed according to the teachings of our faith. We recognize there will be people who disagree with the Church’s teachings. Christian anthropology is unalterably opposed to many aspects of the gender ideology currently affecting the culture nationally and internationally. In these times of great confusion on what is true, we rely upon the natural law, a biblical understanding of the world, and Catholic teaching, because we believe the Church holds an understanding of the human person that truly leads to abundant life. The Church will not refrain from proclaiming Jesus Christ and the truth about who we are as human people and what we have been created for.
We don’t expect everyone to ascribe to a Catholic worldview, but we strongly reject attempts to paint our position as bigoted or unloving. It is precisely because of our love and reverence for the nature of the human person that we cannot stay quiet on this matter and must address what Pope Francis has said is the “ideological colonization” taking place in our world today.
Additionally, it is critical that our educational institutions and their leadership have clarity on this subject, since there cannot be proper education or true, loving accompaniment of a person if we don’t have a foundation for understanding who they are as human people, for what they have been created for, and what will bring them ultimate happiness and fulfillment in this world for the sake of the next.
Here's the response from Shara Smith, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado:
The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado has a history of working very closely with our Catholic friends on issues pertaining to the death penalty, mass incarceration, and homelessness, among other issues. We were nonetheless very disappointed to hear about the Denver Archdiocese's guidance to Catholic schools encouraging them to not enroll transgender students, as well as its position that "a Catholic school cannot treat a same-sex couple as a family equivalent to the natural family."
As an organization that promotes faith and freedom, we are staunch protectors of the rights of faith communities to practice their faith traditions without being discriminated against for their beliefs. It is specifically because of this that we are deeply concerned and saddened by any effort to discriminate against LGBTQIA+ individuals.
Religious trauma is an ever-present reality for many faithful Coloradans who continue showing up with sincerity, only to find out that they are unwelcome by their own faith families – not because of a lack of faith, but simply for being different. We sincerely pray for the health and well-being of those families on the receiving end of these kinds of policies and maintain hope that our faith can be the force that brings us together rather than something that drives us apart.
We walk a fine line as an interfaith organization with roughly two dozen faith traditions represented in our network. This effort by the Denver Archdiocese proves that as an organization, Interfaith’s work is more important than ever. We encourage the faithful to lead with love and acceptance, as well as to continue speaking up in favor of faith as a force for good in Colorado.
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