BRISTOL, Conn. (WTNH) – There is now outrage over a school handbook, which includes a section on gender identity. St. Paul Catholic High School’s new rules for the year say St. Paul’s will “accept and relate to students according to their God-give biological sex.”
Former students say that policy discriminates against LGBTQ+ students.
In the school’s eyes, gender is male or female. Some former students, including those who are LGBTQ+, say that policy is designed to make people like them invisible.
“How damaging is that to a child to hear basically that you are ungodly? And you have to hide who you are while you’re in these walls,” said Alex Cardona.
Cardona left St. Paul in the middle of his senior year. Disheartened, he says, because he found little support among students or staff after coming out as transgender. Cardona says the school’s gender identity policy, as laid out in this year’s handbook, made it clear to him that little has changed.
“I know what trauma those kids are going through because I went through it and I almost wish they didn’t have to, and I think that’s what’s so upsetting because, in 2021, they still have to go through this,” Cardona said.
The wording is straightforward: “God made male and female in His image and likeness. He made every child exactly as He intended… Accordingly, and consistent with Archdiocesan OEEC policy, St. Paul Catholic High School shall accept and relate to students and all members of the school community for the duration of their years in attendance at St. Paul, according to their God-given, biological sex as male or female.”
“I can’t imagine being 13 and being handed a book that says ‘your identity – if you want to break the binary at all – it’s not allowed in your school,’” said Julianna Lacovelli.
Lacovelli is an alumnus who identifies as gay. She says her heart hurts for the LGBTQ+ students who attend St. Paul’s and may be affected by the guidelines.
In a statement to News 8, the Archdiocese of Hartford doubles down on behalf of St. Paul’s, with Father Michael Whyte, Vicar for Education, Evangelization and Catechesis, writing the following:
“All students enrolled in the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Catholic schools are first and foremost recognized with the fundamental dignity possessed by every person as created by God and are thus treated with the love, respect and the compassion they deserve. As Catholics, we believe God has created every human person out of love, exactly as He intended, and our schools follow Catholic doctrine regarding human sexuality and gender. Consistent with Archdiocesan policy, we accept all students and all members of our community according to their God-given, biological sex during their years in our Catholic schools. Catholic schools are a safe place for all students, and their safety, health and well-being are our greatest concern.”
There is a petition and more reaction coming.