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Catholic colleges embrace ‘demonic’ gender ideology in housing policies

Adam Cassandra

May 4, 2016 (Cardinal Newman Society) -- The College of the Holy Cross, a Jesuit, Catholic institution in Worcester, Mass., will implement a new housing policy in the 2016-2017 academic year that embraces gender ideology, which Pope Francis has called “demonic” and a threat to the family.

The updated housing policy “will allow students of different sexes to room together based on gender identity,” according to an April 29, 2016, report in the campus newspaper The Crusader.

At the University of San Francisco (USF), the gender-inclusive housing description was recently updated to indicate that students at the Jesuit-run institution should develop their own understanding about gender identity, including recognition that “human beings are not necessarily male or female as ascribed by their assigned gender at birth.”

Pope Francis, a Jesuit, reportedly called gender ideology “demonic” in an exchange with Austrian Bishop Andreas Laun. And the Holy Father has stated that the promotion of this ideology — which rejects the creation of human beings as male and female in the image and likeness of God — contributes to the destruction of the family.

Holy Cross says its housing of students on the basis of gender identity is “required by applicable law,” and cites Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972 in the policy section. Students who want to request housing based on gender identity are asked to contact Assistant Dean and Director of Residence Life and Housing Ed Coolbaugh.

The full section related to gender identity in the student housing agreement reads:

The College maintains separate housing for the different sexes as permitted by applicable law, including Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972. The College also assigns housing on the basis of gender identity as required by applicable law. Please contact the Assistant Dean/Director of Residence Life and Housing, Ed Coolbaugh, at (508) 793-2664 or by email at [email protected] to request a housing assignment on the basis of gender identity and to obtain further information. Requests for assignment in accordance with gender identity must be sent in advance of the applicable published housing selection deadline. The Office of Residence Life & Housing will for each housing selection process cycle establish a date in advance of the applicable housing selection deadline by which requests for assignment in accordance with gender identity must be received by that office. The deadline for the 2016-2017 academic year is April 1, 2016.

The Cardinal Newman Society asked Coolbaugh about the promotion of gender ideology with the implementation of this policy. Coolbaugh was also asked if there was any discussion at Holy Cross about requesting a religious exemption from Title IX with the U.S. Department of Education to protect the college from implementing gender identity policies. Religious colleges and schools can request exemptions from Title IX if the law’s requirements conflict with their religious tenets. No response was received bytime of publication.

The Crusader reported that the policy change at Holy Cross was spearheaded by a student who was concerned about the housing policy “as someone who identifies as genderqueer, neither male nor female.” The article also revealed that the College includes a “transgender designation on housing forms” for freshmen.

Gender-Inclusive Housing at USF

Last February, the Newman Society reported on a pilot program launched for the 2015-2016 academic year at USF to offer “gender-inclusive housing” to students who “identify as transgender” or “do not wish to be identified by any sex or gender identity.” A representative of the University told the Newman Society the program was scheduled to continue in the next academic year.

USF has since updated the description of their gender-inclusive housing, calling it “a safe, affirming, and inclusive community living option for students of the following identities and lived experiences”:

-Transgender students

-Gender queer students

-Students who are currently transitioning from one gender to another (i.e. transitioning from male to female or female to male)

-Students who do not conform to society’s expectations of their assigned gender at birth

-Students who do not wish to be identified by any sex or gender identity

-Students who are in the process of discovering their gender identity

-Students who appreciate and respect people with the above identities and lived experiences, and who would prefer to live in a community comprised of such

In addition to allowing biological males to room with biological females, USF’s gender-inclusive housing encourages male and female students to use the same bathroom facilities. “The bathroom is a communal bathroom and is shared by all members of the community (regardless of gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sex).”

Among the “community standards” for the gender-inclusive housing is recognition that human beings are not created male and female, contradicting the words of Genesis and the teachings of the Church: “’God created man in his own image . . . male and female he created them.’”

The standards include:

-Modeling behavior that reflects a positive value and respect for gender as a non-binary construct (human beings are not necessarily male or female as ascribed by their assigned gender at birth)

-Openness and desire to develop one’s own understanding about gender identity, sexual orientation, and other differences

-Working to create and promote a safe, affirming, and inclusive community for all students

-Use of inclusive and socially just language and the preferred names and gender pronouns of community members

-Education of guests about the values and community expectations of the gender inclusive community

Gender Ideology and Church Teaching

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) compiled a number of Pope Francis’ statements on the harms of gender ideology in a resource document published in December 2015. The document includes excerpts from various sources citing Church teaching on gender ideology.

The resource quotes Pope Francis from an address given in March last year calling gender ideology a “mistake of the human mind.”

“The crisis of the family is a societal fact. There are also ideological colonializations of the family, different paths and proposals in Europe and also coming from overseas.” he said. “Then, there is the mistake of the human mind — gender theory — creating so much confusion.”

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The document also points to a statement made by the Holy Father in April 2015 saying the embrace of gender ideology “creates a problem, not a solution.”

He said gender theory is “an expression of frustration and resignation, which seeks to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it. Yes, we risk taking a step backwards. The removal of difference in fact creates a problem, not a solution.”

Additionally, the resource points to statements made by U.S. bishops against the embrace and promotion of gender identity.

In a July 2014 statement responding to President Obama’s executive order on “gender identity discrimination,” Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore and Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, N.Y., speaking on behalf of the USCCB, called gender identity a “false idea that ‘gender’ is nothing more than a social construct or psychological reality that can be chosen at variance from one’s biological sex.”

The bishops added that this understanding of gender identity presented “a deeply flawed understanding of human sexuality, to which faithful Catholics and many other people of faith will not assent.”

In his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia released last month, Pope Francis used language from his 2015 encyclical letter Laudato Si’ to explain the duty of Catholic educators to teach young people about the biological realities of God’s creation:

[T]he young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created, for “thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation… An appreciation of our body as male or female is also necessary for our own self-awareness in an encounter with others different from ourselves. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment.” Only by losing the fear of being different, can we be freed of self-centredness and self-absorption. Sex education should help young people to accept their own bodies and to avoid the pretension “to cancel out sexual difference because one no longer knows how to deal with it.”

Title IX

In April 2014, the Obama administration expanded Title IX  to include “discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.” The expansion of the law was done without any action by Congress.

“Congress did not intend, when it adopted Title IX in 1972, to reach the question of gender identity. If Congress wants to change that, they can, but it’s inappropriate for an administrative branch agency to rewrite the law under the guise of interpretation,” Greg Baylor, senior counsel and director of the center for religious schools at Alliance Defending Freedom, previously told the Newman Society. He added that Congress also decided in 1972 “that if compliance with Title IX would be inconsistent with a school’s religious tenets, then the schools will be exempt from those requirements that are in conflict with their religious beliefs.”

The Department of Education published a searchable database last week of all the colleges that have requested religious exemptions to Title IX. LGBT activist groups urged the Obama administration to publish the list of colleges, which the activists claim are engaging in “discrimination.”

Since the changes to Title IX in 2014, four Catholic colleges have been granted religious exemptions by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights: Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, Okla., and John Paul the Great Catholic University in Escondido, Calif. A waiver request made by the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, is still pending. All five colleges are recommended as faithful Catholic institutions in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College

Abbot Placid Solari, O.S.B., chancellor of Belmont Abbey, told the Newman Society last December that the broadening of Title IX to include gender identity threatened the College’s religious mission, and would force the College to advocate practices that are “spiritually harmful.”

“A policy which would legitimize gender identity issues … would, first of all, abdicate the responsibility of the college community as a whole to act in accord with its fundamental identity as a community which publicly identifies itself as in communion with the Catholic Church,” he said. He added that such a policy “would contradict fidelity to the Christian message as it comes through the Church” and “would abdicate responsibility to serve the transcendent goal of life by advocating practices which, according to the Church's teaching, are spiritually harmful.”

The Newman Society has called on all Catholic colleges to apply for the Title IX exemption to protect their Catholic identity.

“Catholic colleges have a duty to uphold Catholic teaching about the human person, especially in the area of residence life,” said Adam Wilson, managing editor of The Newman Guide and author of the report Visitation Policies at U.S. Catholic Colleges. “In one respect, it comes as no surprise when Catholic colleges that set no hour limits for opposite-sex visitation, such as College of the Holy Cross and USF, drift further from Catholic ethos. But by catering to trends that contradict the faith, such institutions are cheating students of precious opportunities to grow in virtue through authentic Catholic formation.”

Reprinted with permission from The Cardinal Newman Society.

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