Hundreds of Catholics from Around the World Condemn Archdiocese of Indianapolis Policy Against Transgender Students
October 6th, 2020. Over a thousand people from 43 states, 10 countries, and 3 continents have signed a letter responding to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ recent policy that will bar transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students from enrolling in more than 60 Catholic schools in Indiana. The policy will also require currently-enrolled transgender students to use bathrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities that do not correlate with their gender identity, and require staff to use wrong pronouns for these students.
The letter calls on Catholic officials in Indiana and beyond to rescind the policy in Indiana and put a stop to similar policies around the world. It highlights the mental health consequences of policies like the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’, citing research that shows increased risk of depression and self-harm, among youth whose gender identity is suppressed by parents and caretakers.
The letter, authored by DignityUSA, is addressed to Archbishop Charles Thompson of Indianapolis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the current Papal Nuncio, Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, and Archbishop José Gomez, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Jeanne TeKolste, a retired schoolteacher who taught in Indiana Catholic schools for over 16 years, said that she was “deeply saddened and appalled” by the policy and felt called to speak out against the “tragic situation created by Archbishop Thompson.” For her, the policy is “the antithesis of Love, of God's call to all Catholics to be Love for one another.” “I can only imagine the pain and anguish this policy has and will continue to cause students and their families. I have spoken to several people who do not have children of school age, but are struggling to remain in the Church community due to this policy, as am I.”
Along with hundreds, she is calling on Archbishop Thompson to “rescind this policy, [and] to seek to understand how God is working through these children and adults, created in God's image.”
Hillary Cox of Indianapolis, the Co-Leader of DignityUSA’s Young Adult Caucus, was “not at all surprised by this policy.” He continued calling the policy “detrimental to students not only in the Catholic schools, but all of Indianapolis because it normalizes the idea that it’s okay to discriminate humans, more specifically children. From my own experience I know that it’s hard to be queer in a Catholic environment.”
He hopes that the Archdiocese will respond and that students will “not have to worry about their education or established community being compromised as a result of being open about themselves. It is the duty and purpose of the church leaders to pave the way in the teaching of what love is, how God loves us. All of us.”
DignityUSA joined GLAAD, PFLAG Indianapolis, Shelly’s Voice, and other Indianapolis-area groups in hosting a demonstration against the Archdiocese of Indianapolis on July 11th, organizing a caravan of vehicles to circle the Archdiocese headquarters in Indianapolis in protest.