Catholic Bishops: Administration's Guidance on Transgender Restrooms ‘Deeply Disturbing’

By Lauretta Brown | May 17, 2016 | 12:42pm EDT
Bishop Dale J. Melczek of Gary, Ind., front left, and Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis, right, pray during the semi-annual meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008, in Baltimore. (AP Photo)

( – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on Monday called the guidance issued Friday by the Obama administration that public schools must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their “gender identity” - not their biological sex - if they expect to receive federal funding “deeply disturbing.

Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; and Archbishop George Lucas, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education called the guidance “deeply disturbing” adding that it “contradicts a basic understanding of human formation.”

“The Catholic Church consistently affirms the inherent dignity of each and every human person and advocates for the wellbeing of all people, particularly the most vulnerable,” they wrote in a statement.

“Especially at a young age and in schools, it is important that our children understand the depth of God's love for them and their intrinsic worth and beauty. Children should always be and feel safe and secure and know they are loved,” they added.

“The guidance issued May 13 by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education that treats ‘a student's gender identity as the student's sex’ is deeply disturbing,” they continued.

The bishops emphasized that the guidance “fails to address a number of important concerns and contradicts a basic understanding of human formation so well expressed by Pope Francis,” quoting the pontiff’s apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, where he wrote that "the young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created."

“Children, youth, and parents in these difficult situations deserve compassion, sensitivity, and respect,” the bishops concluded, adding that “all of these can be expressed without infringing on legitimate concerns about privacy and security on the part of the other young students and parents.”

“The federal regulatory guidance issued on May 13 does not even attempt to achieve this balance,” they emphasized. “It unfortunately does not respect the ongoing political discussion at the state and local levels and in Congress, or the broader cultural discussion, about how best to address these sensitive issues. Rather, the guidance short-circuits those discussions entirely.”

“As Pope Francis has recently indicated, ‘biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated’ (Amoris Laetitia, no. 56),” the bishops wrote. “We pray that the government make room for more just and compassionate approaches and policies in this sensitive area, in order to serve the good of all students and parents, as well as the common good.”

The bishops added that they “will be studying the guidance further to understand the full extent of its implications.”   

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