Diocese of Des Moines bans preferred pronouns in schools

Diocese of Des Moines bans preferred pronouns in schools

A Catholic diocese in Iowa has enforced seven strict “gender identity” policies for all its parishes and schools — forbidding puberty blockers, cross-dressing and even preferred pronouns on its property.

The Diocese of Des Moines said the policies are mostly aimed at those it says suffer “gender dysphoria” and were produced “after two years of study, prayer, listening and consulting.

“Respect for creation includes respect for one’s biological sex,” the diocese said in a six-page policy plan, which was enforced starting Monday.

“The human person is a body-soul union, and the body — as created male or female — is an essential aspect of the human person,” its guide says.

“The mystery of human sexuality as a key component of personal identity is received as a gift created by God that we are not authorized to seek to change.”

As such, its rules are “binding” for the 80 parishes, 17 schools and 130,000 members under Bishop William Joensen.

Bishop William Joensen.
Bishop William Joensen leads the diocese, which has 80 parishes, 17 schools and 130,000 members.

The first rule states firmly that “no person may designate a ‘preferred pronoun’ in speech or in writing when related to ministry activities of any kind,” including schools.

Everyone must also “use the bathroom or locker room that matches their biological sex” — and only be involved in sports or other extra-curricular activities “consistent” with their “biological sex.”

Church members and students must also “follow the dress code or uniform that accords with their biological sex,” which the diocese describes as being “in a manner consistent with their God-given dignity.”

Single-sex programs and designated buildings are also “restricted to persons of the designated biological sex.”

Bishop William Joensen and two other church members.
The diocese said the policies came “after two years of study, prayer, listening and consulting.”

The diocese also forbids the use of “any medications for the purpose of gender reassignment.

“Students and those entrusted to the care of the Church are not permitted to take ‘puberty blockers,’ even if self-administered, on parish or school property, with the purpose of a potential or actual ‘gender reassignment,’” the diocese wrote.

Elsewhere, the guide compares such treatments to a form of “mutilation,” maintaining that such treatments are “morally prohibited.”

Instead, those “who express a tension between their biological sex and their ‘gender’” should be “guided to appropriate ministers and counselors who will assist the person in a manner that is in accord with the directives and teachings of the Church.

“The diagnosis of gender dysphoria does not merit the alteration of one’s body through drug-induced hormone therapies or surgery; rather, one is entitled to receive unconditional love and support, as well as psychological and pastoral care,” the diocese says.

Despite the restrictions, the diocese said it “fervently hopes that all persons experiencing gender dysphoria know … they are unconditionally loved by Jesus Christ and by the Church, and that they are vital members of the Body of Christ who have a home in the family of God.”

Des Moines diocese building.
The diocese said it “fervently hopes that all persons experiencing gender dysphoria know … they are unconditionally loved by Jesus Christ and by the Church.”

The policies received backing from some Catholics online, with supporters saying “good” for the church and another writing, “At last!”

“Finally, a church that is acting like a church,” someone wrote.

But some local faith leaders and politicians joined LGBTQ+ advocates in condemning the rules, which the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa called “dangerous.”

“This is not what Jesus would do,” Democratic state Sen. Claire Celsi wrote on Facebook, saying the rules “codifies ostracism of transgender kids.”

State Senator Claire Celsi.
State Sen. Claire Celsi said the diocese’s new policies are “not what Jesus would do,” claiming they could drive transgender church members to suicide.
Senator Claire Celsi

“These schools want public dollars and want to treat kids in a way that might cause them to commit suicide,” she wrote.

“To actually come out, and say, ‘We’re going to stamp this out, we’re going to pretend like it doesn’t exist,’ and issue this kind of edict is, I think, reprehensible,” Celsi told the Des Moines Register.

Courtney Reyes, executive director of the LGBTQ+ equality organization One Iowa, ripped the diocese’s statement for claiming the policy was born from “genuine compassion” for transgender people.

“No other members have to fight to be called the correct name, have their correct pronouns used or receive access to the appropriate restroom,” Reyes said, according to the Register.

“Calling this ‘compassion’ is equivalent to confusing ‘hate’ with ‘love,’” Reyes said.

“You cannot pretend to be compassionate while misgendering people and denying them access to any and all spaces under your control.”

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