Where Do We Go From Here?
The Massachusetts Board of Education recently issued formal "guidance" to the state's public schools, telling them how to implement new laws protecting against gender identity discrimination. The Board of Education insists that schools must not only provide equal access to educational activities programs but also proactively “create a culture” that would make gender-nonconforming and transgender kids “feel safe, supported, and fully included.”
Transgender children must be allowed to use the restrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex, if they so choose. Teachers will “work with” other students who object to the invasion of privacy, helping them overcome their “discomfort” and embrace the agenda of tolerance. In addition, schools must “eliminate” gendered policies such as dress codes (e.g., rules requiring girls, but not boys, to wear dresses to prom, or traditions that dress boys in blue graduation robes while girls wear white) and classroom management strategies that divide children by gender (e.g., a boys' line and a girls' line for the water fountain). Transgender children will have the right to insist on being called by any name or pronoun they choose, regardless of its biological mismatch. And other students must go along with it or face “discipline.”
Is the growing pushing for transgender rights in schools really a problem for Catholics? Can’t we all just be nice and get along? Why does it matter how schools approach gender identity?
Pope Benedict answered those questions in December 2012. lie said that when “sex is no longer a given element of nature that man has to accept and personally make sense of,” but instead is viewed as “a social role that we choose for ourselves,” human beings lose sight of "an essential aspect of what being human is all about.”
When “people dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being,” then they deny the truth that “male and female He created them.”
The implication, according to Benedict, is that man rejects God as Creator and loses the sense of his own dignity and value. “When freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God.” When human beings deny the truth about themselves, they deny the truth about God.
It's bad enough that children in public school must learn in an environment that no longer recognizes God. But it's even worse when that educational environment no longer recognizes basic truths about the human person.
Catholics in the past have been able to opt-out of public school sexuality education classes; it’s impossible to opt-out from a pervasive culture based on a flawed anthropology.
Mary Rice Hasson, the mother of seven, is a Fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D C. She blogs at wordsfromcana. com