Archdiocese of Omaha Policy Endangers Vulnerable Transgender Youth

August 25, 2022. DignityUSA, the world’s foremost organization of Catholics committed to justice, equality, and full inclusion of LGBTQI people in our church and society, strongly condemns the Archdiocese of Omaha’s new policy as outlined in “Pastoral Guidelines for Gender Dysphoria.” This policy, scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2023, is extremely harmful to transgender and nonbinary individuals and their loved ones and will negatively impact the 19,000 students enrolled in 70 Catholic schools across the archdiocese.

The new policy states that the schools “shall, at all times, act towards a person according to his or her biological sex at birth.” This includes, but is not limited to, refusing to acknowledge the student’s pronoun, chosen name and bathroom choice, as well as enforcing gender-stereotypical dress codes and restricting athletic participation of trans students with others of their same gender. The policy goes on to state that “students will conduct themselves in accord with their biological sex at all times publicly, at school, at school-sponsored activities and events, and when representing the school.” Not conforming to these rules is grounds for dismissal.

Martin Witchger, vice president of DignityUSA, stated: “This policy disregards the lives and experiences of transgender and nonbinary people who have found authenticity, a sense of true self and comfort in affirming their gender identity. It also goes against the consensus of mental health professionals, physicians and organizations—including the American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Medical Association—who promote transition as a primary treatment modality for individuals experiencing gender dysphoria. There is also a shocking absence of any acknowledgment or mention of intersex people.”

Madeline Marlett, co-chair of the DignityUSA Young Adult Caucus, stated: “My journey as a Catholic transwoman has shown me that loving, accepting and affirming my transgender identity as a unique gift from God is the only path forward in my life. I accepted my transgender identity, and through that acceptance I am able to keep loving others. That is the true fruit of divine love. The Archdiocese of Omaha policy’s claim of ‘love’ is appalling. It damages the wellbeing of their transgender students in the most fundamental ways. Young transgender and nonbinary people already face considerable hardships in today’s society and we see this tragedy reflected in the increased rates of self-harm in this population. To have to face more discrimination and rejection is heartbreaking.”

DignityUSA urges the Archdiocese of Omaha to revoke this damaging policy before it goes into effect, and encourages other dioceses with similar policies, or those drafting similar policies, to reconsider. DignityUSA also commends the families and individuals who are standing up in protest and supports all transgender and nonbinary individuals trying to live out their lives in Catholic spaces.

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We must speak up against this harmful policy! Join us in urging the Archdiocese of Omaha to revoke this damaging policy before it goes into effect.