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Administrators at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis have decided that Catholic beliefs require them to refuse to recognize the fact that one of their students is transgender.

Last spring a female student arrived at school with parental units to meet with administrators because the student had come to realize that he was a boy and wanted to be referred to as male.

They asked the school where we stood on it.  We explained we were there to care for her, love her, and we still wanted her to be a student in full standing.

--Principal Dave Worland

The fact that they couldn't use the pronoun "him" should have been an indication that things weren't going to go so well.  Principal Worland contacted the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.  There was a decision made at that level that teachers and staff would not address the student using his male name or use male pronouns.

Apparently compassion and respect for transgender people is against Catholic catechism.

We wanted to make sure they would realize we still recognize her as a female, call her by the name she used when she enrolled as a freshman, and treat her throughout the day as a female student.


The student has attended Cathedral High anyway.  On National Coming Out Day last Thursday, a host of Cathedral High seniors voiced their support.  Twitter and Facebook accounts were abuzz with stories of the school's behavior.
I probably met with over a hundred of our seniors over this.


Worland claims that he explained to the students that the school's stance was rooted in the Catholic Church's teachings that say that changing one's gender is wrong.  Worland did not go as far as to explain why.
I felt like at the end of the day the students were much more understanding of the school's view.


You wish.

Anonymous student comments:

As a student at cathedral I believe that the administration is taking this way too far. Sending students home for supporting a classmate is ridiculous. On a daily basis we are told by the administration to "be yourself" and accept yourself for who you are, but they won't even give him a chance to do that. When it comes down to it cathedral doesn't really care about us, it just has a name to uphold.
He is my best friend and I will always support him.  It's completely and utterly ridiculous.  The day consisted of the administration freaking out over small pieces of adhesive paper.  All we were doing was showing our support for him.  I've been asking over and over again why Cathedral takes direction from the Archdioses [sic] when we are NOT affiliated with them.  We do not receive money from them.  The only reason I have been given is that they have control over our Catholic title.  My question is why do they have control over our title?

All in all, I love ya, man. We are all behind you. :)

Originally posted to TransAction on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 09:19 AM PDT.

Also republished by Invisible People and Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  There was also some commentary from non-students: (23+ / 0-)

    Here's a sample:

    The "devout" of many strains of Christ, no, Paul-ianity like to think that accepting people as gay or trans would be tantamount to saying that God makes mistakes.  They prefer to think that only what they see in front of them is what God made, and that people who "think" they are gay or trans are being tested by God; that they must reject these "mis-guided" feelings to be one with God, and the faithful (thereby also reducing the anxiety of those among the faithful who clearly are worried about such types of feelings).

    It never occurs to those same faithful that maybe the real test for gay or trans people is to accept themselves the way God made them (even if they don't understand the 'why' of it), and to be true to themselves and that creation, rather that to continue to deny and lie about who they really are just to please, or avoid the scorn and/or reticence of others.  Such a "test" would of course also challenge the faithful, revealing whether they trusted 
God to make a perfect world as he/she/it, rather than they saw fit, and to accept that world.  The existence of gay and trans persons also tests whether the hearts and minds of those faithful are tempered by God's compassion……

    Exactly which teachings are those, please?  Up until around 2000, there were trans people in the Church & it was even possible to have your records changed.  Perhaps it's based in the Bible somewhere?  No, that's not it.  The only mention is Deut, but that was clearly refuted and clarified later in Issiah, Matthew and Acts -and they even cross reference each other to make it perfectly clear that gender variant people are welcome and will have a "special place in God's Kingdom".
  •  Republished to (7+ / 0-)

    Street Prophets and to Invisible People.

    Thanks for posting.

  •  This sounds to me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coffeetalk, rserven

    Like the school is respectfully disagreeing, unless you think it is impossible to respectfully disagree.

    •  Exactly how does one respectfully disagree... (5+ / 0-)

      ...with who another person is and how they feel and what they think about themselves?

      How does one respectfully disagree with self-determination?

      •  I think it is possible to respectfully disagree (0+ / 0-)

        With people who are wrong or mistaken about who they think they are and what they think about themselves.  I believe it is possible to be wrong or mistaken about who you are.  (This should be taken as an abstract comment that does not imply that I think this student is wrong or mistaken.)

        I would find it acceptable if the school refused to formally cooperate with any gender change, but declined to punish or expel this student or to force other students to refer to this student as female.

        When does a vegetarian disagreeing with people who feel that they need to eat meat as part of their identity (or a carnivore disagreeing with a vegetarian) cross the line from respectful to disrespectful?

        •  So if the church decides that you are *really* a (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rserven, Avilyn

          Chinese female and insists on respectfully giving you a Chinese language curriculum, and treating you in all respects as a female, that would be cool, since it is ok to respectfully disagree with people about who they are. Right?

          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

          by enhydra lutris on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 02:57:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Right (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            enhydra lutris

            I'm pretty tolerant of people who are wrong, as long as they are not jerks about it.

          •  ... well, that's an interesting shift in topic (0+ / 0-)

            If a student declares that she really is Chinese, despite having no Chinese ancestry or adoptive influence, is the school (and/or society at large) obliged to respect her self-identification?

            •  You can tell somebody's genetic make-up and (0+ / 0-)

              life history from a quick glance at their name and overall appearance? Maybe the bible tells you those things, that must be it.

              That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

              by enhydra lutris on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 01:37:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  who are you talking to? (0+ / 0-)

                I didn't say "despite appearing to have no Chinese ancestry or adoptive influence".  I said "despite having no" etcetera.

                Let me make that simpler:  if a student self-identifies as Chinese, while she herself acknowledges that she has no Chinese ancestry or adoptive influence but simply feels Chinese, do you feel that the school and/or society at large is obliged to respect her self-identification?

                •  Not remotely relevant to the issue under (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  rserven, Bronx59

                  discussion, because gender identity appears to be other than capricious whim, but, nonetheless an interesting question in its own right. I think it would depend upon what the effect(s) and manifestation would be. If it meant that they wished to dress in traditional  Chinese attire and eat with chopsticks, why not? If they wished to apply for some heritage scholarship endowed and reserved for ethnic Chinese, then no.

                  Again, this is different from gender identity insofar as it is stipulated that it is arbitrary and capricious. When I posed the question to the other user, it was the obverse, the church/school arbitrarily imposing an identity upon him that was not based on the reality of his person, as they do when they ignore gender identity.

                  That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                  by enhydra lutris on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 03:33:45 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  look, you're the one who brought in ethnicity (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    I didn't stipulate arbitrary and capricious; I stipulated not based on observable data, but rather based solely on the feeling of the person claiming the identity.  Which is the crux of the difficulty with getting others to accept the self-identified gender of transgender people: it is, in their minds, not only based on no observable data but contradicted by observable data.

                    It is not arbitrary to insist on identifying people by their birth-assigned gender.  False, closed-minded and dangerous, yes -- but not arbitrary.  It's based on a concept of gender binary that almost every single human being in the world is raised with, and those of us who know that it isn't that simple had to learn that.

                    Right here, you're declaring that somebody claiming to be "transethnic" (no, I did not make up the term; apparently some people are actually claiming this) is the one being arbitrary and capricious, and should maybe be allowed to dress and act like a member of another ethnicity (because what's the harm?), but should not be allowed to claim any serious privileges of that identity.  That strikes you as obvious and self-evident.

                    That is how a whole big lot of people feel about gender dysphoria.  They flat-out do not believe in it.  And the best they can offer is the kind of respectful disagreement you offer above.

                    Here's the kick: I don't believe in "ethnic dysphoria".  But I can't for the life of me come up with a solid reason why it's fundamentally different from gender dysphoria, which I do believe to be a real thing.  Why is it different?  All I've got is it just is.

                    Food for thought, maybe.

                    •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      That is how a whole big lot of people feel about gender dysphoria.  They flat-out do not believe in it.
                      Because they were not only taught to, but they are constantly being told to ignore evidence to the contrary by, who else, some of history's original and most steadfast bigots.

                      I am not up to speed on the literature, but more reports say that scientific evidence says that gender identity is real and is in the brain, not the crotch. That's why the shrinks backed off from treating gender dysphoria as a disease.

                      I have seen no reports of any such findings with respect to ethnicity, which is why I picked it for my example of the church being arbitrary.

                      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                      by enhydra lutris on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 05:13:42 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

  •  The kids give me hope. (8+ / 0-)

    I was at first very dismayed that this kid's parents sent him back to that school knowing the admin's position.   Then I realized that for a senior, it was even more important to be able to finish hs with his friends.  And his friends in turn are standing up for him.  Awesome kid, awesome friends.

    Thank you for posting this, rserven.

  •  H/T The Kids (n/t) (6+ / 0-)

    Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

    by Actuary4Change on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 11:56:20 AM PDT

  •  The kids have more smarts than the admin.! (7+ / 0-)

    Apparently, they also learned the lessons of the Christ a bit better than the admin. as well.  

    There is, to the best of my knowledge, absolutely NO reason to deny this student his remaining time in Cathedral High, nor to imply that what he IS is in any way contrary to Canonical Law.

    Dogma??  pfffft.  They are better off not going there, I think.

    With the Catholic Church under such scrutiny these days for the laws of God and Man that they have broken, I suspect we would all be better served if they stuck to clearing up that mess before they take on another challenge they cannot hope to win.  


    We cannot call ourselves a civilised society if we refuse to protect the weakest among us.

    by The Marti on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 12:41:24 PM PDT

  •  I wouldn't expect anything more or less (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    from the school.  I am surprised that the student wasn't expelled.

    I'm always at a loss to reason why someone would choose to have their child be the center of this kind of confrontation.  They can hold no hope that the school will have a change of heart no matter how many other students get involved.  

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 02:09:25 PM PDT

  •  I went to Fordham U for graduate school (5+ / 0-)

    There were, at one point, posters for a talk "Is the Catholic Church ready for the 21st century?"

    It's not ready for the 20th!

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