The President's Blog
Gender Identity Current Practices in the Hill-Murray Community
The Star Tribune Editorial in October shouted “Teen was bullied, and now he is gone” over a gay student who was “outed” on social media and committed suicide all at a time that the Supreme Court was debating whether protections based on sex apply to orientation or identity. These are contemporary issues in society and are impacting all institutions including catholic schools. I am writing to clarify the philosophy behind and practical aspects of our policy regarding Gender Identity.
A large sign in front of the school was installed in 1958 by the Sisters of St Pauls’ Monastery that says “All Guests Welcomed as Christ” that reflected the charism of the Benedictines and their commitment to the welcoming for students of all faiths who along with their families recognize the school’s dedication to providing a safe environment where students can flourish physically, mentally and spiritually in the tradition and teachings of the Catholic Church.
In recent years ALL schools, both public and private, have been presented with new challenges to address a growing ideology around gender identity that risks changes to programs, culture, legislation and choices of personal identity separated from the biological differences of an individual at birth. Hill-Murray is no exception.
1. Birth Sex. Refers to a biological identification as male or female based upon biological characteristics at birth. Hill-Murray currently relies on the students’ birth certificate signed by a physician as their Birth Sex.
2. Intersex. Refers to a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a disorder of sexual development in which reproductive or hormonal physiology making determination of the child’s sex less definitive. This represents 8.5% to 20% of those who have a diagnosis of disorder of sexual development which is less than 1% of the population. In cases where the birth sex is not clearly defined it is the responsibility of the medical academy to make the determination and coordinate the therapeutic intervention if any.
3. Transgender or gender non-conforming. These are adjectives describing persons who perceive their Gender Identity to be different from their Birth Sex and publicly present themselves as the opposite sex.
4. Gay, Lesbian refers to individuals who have a sexual attraction to same Birth Sex partners.
“The Congregation for Catholic Education has prepared a document to guide and support those who work in the education of young people to help them address in a methodical way (and in light of the universal vocation to love of the human person) the most debated questions around human sexuality”. The methodology is based on three guiding principles seen as best suited to meet the needs of both individuals and communities: to Listen, to Reason and to Propose.
The Congregation suggests that “it is necessary, above all, to listen carefully to and understand cultural events of recent decades” The institution should investigate and listen to all constituencies, proclaim the “equal dignity of men and women” and assure that the HM community is intentional about its culture of responsible citizenship and the ability to welcome all legitimate expressions of human personhood while acknowledging the biological difference between a male and female.
We reviewed the philosophical arguments related to sex and gender differences and complementarity in the formation of a set of community operating practices.
As a Catholic educational organization, we have the responsibility to do more than listen and reason. We have the task of providing a thoughtful and integrative student experience coherent with the teaching of the Catholic faith and the right of the family as the primary pedagogical former of children.
Our current practice for students with gender identity issues is as follows:
Ensure that all school policies and procedures are consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church and assure NO discrimination, the equal dignity of men and women and respect for every person.
The school also respects the rights of the family to be the primary pedagogical environment for the formation of children. But similarly, we expect that the family respect the right of the school to set boundaries that reflect the age and maturity of the child, the transformational social and interpersonal changes occurring in society and complement the educational alliance between family, school and society.
Any student who presents as having issues with their gender identity or same sex attraction to any staff member is to be referred to their counselor who will reach out to the parents to hold a listening session to confirm the parental directive for the school.
That directive will be shared with the administration, learning coordinator, counselor, advisor and classroom teachers if necessary.
No student will be discriminated against for expressing gender identity issues for academic, enrollment, financial aid or access to learning opportunities.
The school Chaplain and the school psychologist or administrator will meet with the student and then the parents following a notification to the school to be sure they understand any medical or emotional issues, assure that the family understands the school’s unwelcome behavior policy and the boundaries set by the school and agree to a written proposal addressing behavior and expression of beliefs that meets the school and the family’s desires.
The Chaplain and or Counselor will communicate as needed with the parents or guardians about their child’s behavior at school and inform them of any concerns relating to the physical, emotional, social and spiritual health, safety or welfare of their child except when advised otherwise by law enforcement or social service agency.
The school will:
Make accommodations for access to either their Birth Sex bathroom or a private dual sex bathroom.
Will accept changes to the students preferred name in the school systems databases only with parental approval.
Only the name chosen by the student and approved by the family will be used by school personnel.
Only the Birth Sex as evidenced by the students’ birth certificate will be used in school system databases.
Pronouns (he/she) neither their Birth Sex or chosen gender identity will be used with any student that has notified the school of gender identity issues. They will be addressed with the name chosen by the student and family.
Individuals will ONLY be allowed to play on single sex teams and extracurricular clubs of their Birth Sex.
Individuals will only be allowed in locker rooms of their Birth Sex or accommodations will be made for access to a private space at the discretion of the school.
Individuals will be allowed to choose school uniforms that conform with their chosen gender identity only with parental approval.
Individuals will be allowed to attend retreats, field trips or overnight events where accommodations can be made whenever possible to have access to either a Birth Sex housing and bathroom or private housing and bathroom facility.
Violations of the written agreement will result in following the school’s policies on restorative justice up to and including suspension and or removal from the school community.