WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – Two committee chairmen with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have issued a statement decrying the Obama administration's attempt to force new "guidelines" on public schools that allow transgender students to use the restroom or locker room corresponding to their gender identity or, presumably, risk the loss of federal funding.
In a joint statement from the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice May 13, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Secretary of Education John King Jr. said federal guidelines for Title IX education funding require school districts to avoid "discrimination" of any student based on his or her sex, "including a student's transgender status."
For example, the letter claims schools may not require students to have a medical diagnosis before allowing them access to an opposite-sex facility, require them to undergo medical treatment or even require them to produce a birth certificate before allowing them access "consistent with their gender identity."
Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Archbishop of Omaha George Lucas, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education, called that line of reasoning "deeply disturbing."
"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. 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," the bishops said.
But, they added, the guidance issued by Lynch and King treating "'a student's gender identity as the student's sex' is deeply disturbing. The guidance fails to address a number of important concerns and contradicts a basic understanding of human formation so well expressed by Pope Francis: that 'the young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created.'"
The bishops said those dealing with transgenderism and attempting to live and work in society deserve compassion, sensitivity and respect, but they added that these qualities can be expressed without infringing on the rights of others. Privacy and security are major concerns, the bishops added, and must be balanced with whatever effort the Obama administration takes to push the LGBT agenda.
The new guidelines, the bishops said, do "not even attempt to achieve this balance."
"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," they said.
Under the guidelines created by the two departments, "both federal agencies treat a student's gender identity as the student's sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX."
Lynch said the guidance, which seemed to several governors nationwide to be a federal mandate overriding state and local laws, creates "safe, nurturing, and inclusive" classroom environments for all children.