June 10, 2019, Boston, MA. The Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education today released a document entitled “Male and Female He Created Them: Toward a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education.” Leaders of DignityUSA, the organization of Catholics who support justice, equality, and full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people in the Church and society, called the document “dangerous, disingenuous, and divisive.”
Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, said: “Although presented as a call for dialogue, this statement reinforces the Vatican’s entrenchment in a simplistic and outdated ideology of biological determinism. From the very title, Church leaders are perpetuating a vision of humanity that fails to respect the diversity of human experience. This document fundamentally disregards and disrespects LGBTQI people by claiming our gender identity and sexual orientation are simply ‘choices.’ It denies the truth of our experience of gender and sexuality as innate, God-given blessings. The Vatican’s stubborn refusal to reconsider its stale vision of gender complementarity as the exclusive basis for human identity and relationships in the light of decades of contrary scientific findings and personal testimony from millions is tragic.”
Duddy-Burke continued: “It feels especially cruel and insensitive for this statement to be released as people all over the world are marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion, a pivotal moment in the LGBTQI movement for visibility, respect, and equality. For the Vatican to depict the courage, struggle, and sacrifice of so many individuals and families as an effort to destroy the concept of gender and destabilize families is not merely personally hurtful to countless people. It also has potentially dangerous consequences for LGBTQI people all around the world, by giving justification to those who see us as inherently threatening and frequently resort to violence against us.
“Furthermore,” Duddy-Burke said, “this document’s insistence that the official Church teachings on gender and sexuality be promoted not only by teachers in Catholic schools but also by Catholics teaching in other educational settings disrespects the mission of public education and other faith communities that have more openness around issues of sexuality and gender.”
In response to this document, DignityUSA calls on Catholics, especially parents and educators, to speak up about the harm caused by attempts to suppress gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as for a need for authentic dialogue and openness about these issues and how they impact education. DignityUSA stands ready to assist in any way possible with this dialogue, which the document calls for in its title and in several passages.
“Finally,” Duddy-Burke said, “we recommit ourselves to working for a Church and Catholic institutions that affirm people of all gender identities and sexual orientations as blessed, beloved, valued members of our communities, without condition or limitation.”
DignityUSA, founded in the early days of 1969, is the world’s oldest organization of Catholics committed to justice, equality, and full inclusion of LGBTQI people in our church and society. We are a founding member of Equally Blessed and the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.