When facing new cultural challenges like “transgender” students at Catholic schools, educators must remember that “values are an integral, indivisible part of all that they are,” writes clinical psychologist Dr. Frank Moncher in an analysis published collaboratively by The Cardinal Newman Society and the Culture of Life Foundation.
Dr. Moncher, senior fellow of social sciences at the Foundation, analyzes two legal cases in which religious colleges have been granted exceptions to carry out their faith-based missions with regard to “transgendered” students.
The first case deals with a female student who applied to California Baptist University (CBU), but later revealed “that she was a ‘transgendered’ male.” As stated in the brief, “[t]he judge ruled that the University was within its rights as a religious institution to expel the student, but at the same time stated that the University could not bar the student from public spaces or online programs.”
Dr. Moncher questions dividing the values of the institution from its own spaces and programs:
While on the surface this may seem to have some rational basis, it completely fails to recognize that for institutions that take their religious identity seriously, there is no area in which their values are extraneous. For such institutions, their values are an integral, indivisible part of all that they are.
The second instance that Dr. Moncher addresses is a case in which the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) rejected a formal complaint lodged by a “transgender” student at George Fox University (GFU). The student, who identifies as male, requested to live in all-male housing but was denied. GFU offered the student a private room, but the student alleged that Title IX of federal nondiscrimination law was violated. The DOE cited exemptions that it had granted GFU concerning housing, locker rooms, facilities and athletics.
Dr. Moncher disputes concerns that “transgender” students are in danger of experiencing violence and harm due to these institutions’ policies.
He concludes that there is “no essential conflict between non-discrimination and upholding one’s values.” He agrees that all persons should be protected and that any acts of hate or prejudice or violence should be condemned and stopped, but that “non-offensiveness” should not be elevated as a virtue and freedom should be tempered by responsibility:
Freedom on campuses in the United States is fundamental; such freedom is not, however, rampant license for forcing upon others one’s own predilections. Instead, it is freedom within the boundaries of the community which one joins. No person is compelled to attend a college or university that has values and goals at odds with those that he or she holds.
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