If Calvin Hillesland wants to get back into teaching, the Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools appear to welcome his attitude toward transgender students. KELO-TV reports that Bishop Donald DeGrood has told the Sioux Falls faithful that boys will be boys and girls will be girls and that anyone saying differently is undermining marriage and God’s will:
Human beings are male or female. In Holy Scripture, we read, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Male and female complementarity reflects God’s image because it is a communion of persons that bears fruit in new human life. In this way, the marriage of a man and a woman, where “the two become one flesh,” is an icon of the Holy Trinity, itself a fruitful communion of divine persons. Transgender ideology contradicts and undermines this nuptial principle inherent in male-female differences, which are for “communion and generation, always in the ‘image and likeness’ of God.”
There is a “given-ness” to male-female human sexuality, too, that is not fluid or changeable. Human identity as male or female is a gift to be received, not an individual choice that can be selected or changed….
Regardless of whether we are male or female, married or celibate, understanding our bodies as gifts from God is important to living healthy, happy, and holy lives. This gift is oriented towards fatherhood and motherhood. Transgender ideology undermines the very basis for marriage and family, which are foundational to human society itself. This problem is so very concerning, as all children need and have a right to a mom and a dad [Bishop Donald DeGrood, letter to “All Catholic Faithful” of the Sioux Falls Diocese, 2022.08.04].
Bishop DeGrood says “all the baptized” have a “duty” to “joyfully announce” the immalleable binarity of gender. To this end, the Diocesan Policy on Human Sexuality in Education Settings, effective July 1, 2022, imposes these restrictions on all students in Sioux Falls Catholic schools:
Students may not advocate, celebrate, or express same-sex attraction in such a way as to cause confusion or distraction in the context of Catholic school classes, activities, or events. When discussing homosexuality or homosexual inclinations, the use of the term “same-sex attraction” is preferred, as it is a more appropriate description in accordance with the truths of Catholic faith and morals. For the purposes of this policy, advocating for civil unions between individuals of the same sex and/or civil rights to be granted to the individuals participating in the union shall be considered equivalent to advocating for individuals experiencing same-sex attraction.
Students may not advocate, celebrate, or express transgenderism in such a way as to cause confusion or distraction in the context of Catholic school classes, activities, or events… [Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, “Diocesan Policy: Conforming with the Church’s Teaching on Human Sexuality in Education Settings,” effective 2022.07.01].
The policy admonishes pastors and school administrators to avoid “material cooperation and scandal” because “cooperation with individuals experiencing gender dysphoria can be viewed by the parish or school community as an implicit form of endorsement.” All administrators “should seek to counsel as early as possible individuals who experience gender dysphoria, especially explaining Church teachings based on natural law,” with the aim of helping students “discover and resolve the underlying issues that gave rise to their perceived incongruence between their biological sex and perceived gender identity” and “learn to accept and align their sense of self with their biological sex.”
Schools must alert the bishop to any applicant or student “who claims to be transitioning or transitioned.” The bishop decides whether that child may enter or remain enrolled in a Sioux Falls Catholic school. No student who expresses “gender, sexual identity, or sexuality” that causes “confusion or disruption to other students in the Catholic school system” may attend any Sioux Falls Catholic school.
All students will use the bathrooms and locker rooms aligned with their biological sex. The schools may not create or designate “transgender” bathrooms.
In sports, boys will play on boys teams and girls will play on girls teams. If a Catholic school team hosts a team which has “individuals whose gender is opposite his/her teammates,” the school may not allow those mixed team members to share a locker room. To avoid litigation, the school is to advise the visiting team that “a locker room may not be available for their use during competitions” and that the visitors may need to find their own location to dress for competition.
In a similar vein, Sioux Falls Catholic schools may not provide meeting space for any organization that doesn’t support the strict binary definitions in this policy.
All Sioux Falls Catholic school documents are to reflect students’ biological sex “as determined from conception and manifest at birth and at the time of the student[s’] enrollment.” If students or alumni legally change their names, the Catholic schools may not erase original names; all subsequently issued records must bear students’ original names along with their new legal names.
Students, teachers, and staff at the Catholic schools must also adhere to biological sex in speaking to each other:
All students, teachers, and school personnel must use accurate gender references and language in all circumstances and at all times.
- No references to an individual student through the use of a pronoun that correlates to the opposite sex shall be made by teachers, administrators, and staff members. (e.g. Christopher will always be “he,” “him,” etc. and Theresa will always be “she,” “her,” etc.)
- Whenever a class/schoolmate of a student experiencing gender dysphoria uses a pronoun that is inconsistent with the student’s sex, this behavior shall be addressed immediately with instruction given to refrain from using the incorrect gender-specific pronoun.
- When a student who discloses that he/she is experiencing gender dysphoria, his/her proper name shall always be an acceptable and proper reference for that student so long as the name reflects what is on the child’s birth certificate. If the student has legally changed his/her name, proper documentation to support this change must be provided before the changed name is to be used in the context of the school [Diocesan Policy, 2022.07.01].
In case those policies don’t deter every transgender person from engaging with the Sioux Falls Catholic school community, the policy forbids “those who chose to live a transgender lifestyle publicly and declare such his/her intent in either word or action” from serving as “lectors, music ministers, or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion during liturgies celebrated at a Catholic school.” The Diocese reminds the miffed that this policy is the same for all grave sinners and makers of scandal:
While this policy is intentionally exclusionary, it is essential to note that this same reality exists for any member of the parish whose actions place them in a state of grave sin or public scandal (sex outside of marriage, cohabitation, homosexual union, etc.). All persons may attend liturgies, consistent with the norms of the Church [Diocesan Policy, 2022.07.01].
The Diocese prohibits hiring any teachers, administrators, or staff who live a transgender lifestyle, are transitioning, or even consider transitioning. “Particular consideration for this expectation must be given when evaluating candidates for positions that involve direct ministry with youth and which have a high probability of the adult spending extended time alone with youth,” because, well, you know….
The Sioux Falls Diocese extends this interpretation of gender dysphoria beyond its schools to parish ministries. Individuals “publicly living a transgender lifestyle or undergoing a transition are to refrain” from taking communion “until they fully accept the teachings of the Church.” (If you’re just thinking about transitioning but haven’t told anybody, you can still sneak in for wine and wafers, which undergo their own remarkable transition.) Confirmation and adult baptism “should be delayed” for people who have transitioned, are transitioning, or are thinking about transitioning. The Diocese permits baptism of children of transgendered parents, but it forbids transgendered or transitioning adults from serving as godparents, confirmation sponsors, or members of bridal parties. Just like school records, baptismal records must always bear the baptised’s original name; they may not indicate any “self-determined change in gender.” At your funeral, if you’ve transitioned, the priest will refer to you by your birth name and gender and prohibit the circulation of any obituary at the funeral Mass that “publicly endorses the false notion” of your “transition”.
The Catholic Church and its schools are a private organization. They may accept or reject whatever students, employees, and worshippers they wish. While the Church welcomes all to the faith, this policy for the Sioux Falls schools and parishes makes clear that the Church rejects the idea that there is any identity between or beyond male and female as established at conception.