Catholic Massachusetts Schools Demand 5,000 Students to Act Like Their “Biological Sex”

New rules affecting 5,000 students state that Catholic school children must conduct themselves in a manner “consistent with their biological sex.” LGBTQ+ activists say the guidelines will cause significant harm to transgender children.

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The Diocese of Worcester ruled that the 21 affected schools must ensure students use names, pronouns, and bathrooms corresponding to their biological sex. The new guidelines also cover “school athletics; school-sponsored dances; dress and uniform policies; the use of changing facilities, showers, locker rooms” and “official school documents.”

In the case of names and pronouns, the guidelines state that a few “rare exceptions only on a limited, case-by-case basis” may be allowed. Exemptions may be made at each school principal’s discretion.

The guidelines went on to state that children must display “modesty in language, appearance, dress, and behavior.” Same-sex relationships and attraction were also targeted, as the rules argued that such incidents may lead to “confusion or distraction” among students.

Catholic schools superintendent David Perda stated that while a few schools in the diocese already enforced gender guidelines, “individual situations” had “underscored a need for a single policy which clearly states church teaching.”

The new rules are designed to align with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Francis. However, the Pope has confused some by stating that homosexuality is a “sin” but also emphasizing that it is “not a crime.” Additionally, the pontiff has encouraged the parents of LGBTQ+ children to support them and not “hide in an attitude of condemnation.”

Several LGBTQ+ advocates have expressed concern over how the anti-trans rules will affect students. Joshua Croke, head of the nonprofit Love Your Labels, argued that the guidelines were “harmful” and may pressure trans children to “stay in the closet.”

According to recent statistics, 65.5% of transgender and gender-expansive youth reported that their families never use correct pronouns screened positive for depression, compared to 49.6% of those whose families always use correct pronouns​.

The Massachusetts rules add to the existing list of gender policies affecting children throughout the U.S. For example, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Kansas recently ruled that transgender girls must not participate in K-12 girls’ sports teams at school.

Many conservative commenters expressed concern over the lack of gender conformity in public schools. One person said, “More and more families are turning to private schools in order for their children to get the education needed to be successful in school.”

Others argued that it only makes sense that a Catholic school imposes rules aligning with Catholic teachings. One person said: “I would expect nothing less in a catholic space. In a public secular school, I would expect different. But I don’t have kids. So I don’t really worry about it.”

As of 2022, it is estimated that over 1.6 million adults and youth (ages 13 and older) in the United States identify as transgender. This figure includes about 1.3 million adults and approximately 300,000 youth (ages 13-17).