A policy at DePaul University in Chicago was recently approved by the University’s executive leadership making it possible for students to choose preferred genders and names on college records, even though the policy contradicts Church teaching on human sexuality and statements made by Pope Francis and the U.S. bishops about the harms of embracing gender ideology.
“DePaul students are now able to designate their preferred identity thanks to a new policy aimed largely at improving inclusion for those who are gender nonconforming,” the student newspaper The DePaulia reported last week.
The Cardinal Newman Society first reported on the policy in December when it was being proposed to a joint council of executive leadership. The council, made up of University President Father Dennis Holtschneider, C.M., deans and other administrators, passed the policy, according to the DePaulia.
The University and Fr. Holtschneider’s office were contacted to comment on Catholic identity conflicts raised by the policy, but no response was received by time of publication.
“It is an exciting day at DePaul!” the University’s Office of LGBTQA Student Services celebrated last week on a Facebook page post. “The Student Preferred Name and Gender policy is live! This is a huge move toward inclusion for DePaul students who identify as trans and non-binary though we recognize that more work is always needed.”
The new policy allows students to choose their preferred names and genders through “Campus Connect,” an online portal for students, faculty and staff that provides access to email, course management systems, class schedules and other University records. Students’ preferred “identities” will reportedly be reflected in class rosters, directories, official transcripts and diplomas.
The details of the policy can be found on DePaul’s LGBTQA Student Services web page under “Trans, Non-binary, Asexual and Bisexual Resources.” Students can add a preferred name and gender to their Campus Connect profiles, or the gender marker can be changed to “unspecified” if the student wishes.
The policy was “spearheaded” by DePaul’s LGBTQA student services coordinator, Katy Weseman, who told the DePaulia that this policy “is one piece of the puzzle of best practices around trans inclusion.” Weseman was hired as DePaul’s first full-time LGBTQA student services coordinator in 2012.
Other initiatives supported by LGBTQA Student Services include a mentorship program called Queer Peers, an official student organization called Trans*(formation) DePaul and a discussion group called “Gender ?” which provides “a trans, non-binary, gender queer, and gender non-conforming focused space.”
DePaul’s LGBTQA Student Services is part of the DePaul Center for Identity, Inclusion and Social Change which “promotes artistic expression and intellectual inquiry that challenges students to explore all aspects of their identity,” according to their web page.
“We could always have more gender-inclusive restrooms, which is a huge thing, and something we could certainly be better at,” Weseman told the DePaulia. She reportedly cited “gender-inclusive housing” as another step the University should take towards inclusiveness.
In another article on the policy, Weseman told the DePaulia that this change would be “[v]ery much in line with DePaul’s mission” because “part of honoring a person’s human dignity is honoring and respecting how they identify and how they refer to themselves.”
The Church has been consistently clear in its teaching that masculinity and femininity — “being man” or “being woman” — are part of God’s creation and should be respected as such.
In December 2015, the U.S. bishops issued a new resource on gender identity that highlighted important Church teachings on human sexuality that reject gender theory. The seven-page document is “a compilation of quotes from the last three pontificates, as well as other Church documents that address this phenomenon of ‘gender ideology’ or ‘gender theory,’ which is a position on anthropology (who a human being is) that is in conflict with the Christian one.”
The resource quotes Pope Francis from an address given in March last year calling gender theory a “mistake of the human mind,” and also points to a statement made by the Holy Father in April 2015 saying the embrace of gender theory “creates a problem, not a solution.”
Pope Francis has warned about the dangers of gender theory several times, including in his encyclical Laudato Si.
“Pope Benedict XVI spoke of an ‘ecology of man’, based on the fact that ‘man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will’,” Laudato Si explains. “[V]aluing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different … It is not a healthy attitude which would seek ‘to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it.’”
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