Omaha, Sioux Falls bishops adopt policies affirming students' biological sex

Catholic bishops from two U.S. dioceses have issued policies that would prohibit Catholic schools from promoting a view of sexual identity that contradicts Church teaching.

Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska, and Bishop Donald DeGrood of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, join several other dioceses that have implemented such policies as discussions over the use of pronouns have taken up debate in the public square.

The Archdiocese of Omaha's policy requires all students, parents, guardians, employees, and volunteers to "act toward a person in accordance with his or her biological sex at birth."

Students are required to use bathrooms and locker rooms "that correspond with their biological sex" and may not attend school-sponsored dances with a date of the same sex. Failure to abide by the policy can result in possible termination for employees and possible dismissal for the student.

In addition, students' eligibility to participate in sports is based on their biological sex, the policy states.

The policy does not deny school admission to those experiencing gender dysphoria, as long as the student and parents agree to abide by school policies. "Behaviors of a student that cause disruption or confusion regarding the Church's teaching on human sexuality are prohibited," according to the guidelines.

The policy also covers parents and prospective students. If a parent "resists the school's instruction to the child in the Catholic tenets respecting the human person and human sexuality," their child can be dismissed or refused enrollment. The policy says that a student can be dismissed or refused enrollment if the student's expression of gender, sexual identity, or sexuality should cause confusion, disrupt the educational integrity of the Catholic education program, or cause scandal ..."

The policy prohibits bullying or discrimination against students who experience gender dysphoria and refers to the school's policy for bullying and harassment if such behavior has taken place.

"All individuals are children of God and entitled to dignity," the policy says.

The Diocese of Sioux Falls' policy, titled "Conforming with the Church's Teaching on Human Sexuality in Education Settings," is similar to the Archdiocese of Omaha's. Sioux Falls' policy prohibits enrollment if a "student's expression of gender, sexual identity, or sexuality is the cause of confusion of or disruption to other students in the Catholic school system."

The policy prohibits bullying and harassment against any student and says that those found displaying such behavior "shall be confronted."

"It should be emphasized that all persons have inherent human dignity and are thus deserving of innate respect," the policy says.

The policy requires students to dress in the school uniform that is in accord with their biological sex. It also requires students to use facilities such as bathrooms and locker rooms that are in accord with one's biological sex. Like Omaha's policy, students may only participate in sports based on their biological sex.

Students, teachers, and school personnel are required to use "accurate gender references and language in all circumstances and at all times," the policy says. The policy says that if a classmate addresses a student who experiences gender dysphoria with a pronoun inconsistent with biological sex, "this behavior shall be addressed immediately with instruction given to refrain from using the incorrect gender-specific pronoun."

The policy says that if a student makes known that they experience gender dysphoria, they must use the name on their birth certificate. There is a potential for "scandal and confusion of the faithful regarding Church teachings," if those living a transgender lifestyle publicly serve in the liturgy in any way, the policy says. The policy, therefore, prohibits those individuals from serving as lectors, music ministers, or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion during Mass at a Catholic school.

The policy says that teachers, administrators, and staff members living a transgender lifestyle, considering transitioning, or currently transitioning, "are not eligible to carry out employed ministry" at the Catholic school, again, citing the "potential for scandal."

Sponsoring, chartering, or providing a meeting place for any organization "that violates the definition of marriage, sex, or gender" as listed in the policy is also prohibited.

An accompanying letter to the policy says, "As Pope Francis notes, we must always respect the sacred dignity of each individual person, but that does not mean the Church must accept the confused notions of gender ideology.

"We must not demean or deny the sincerity and struggle of those who experience same-sex attraction or who feel his/her true gender identity is different from his/her biological sex. Rather, we seek to accompany them on their journey of life, offering them the light of the Gospel as they try to find their way forward."