July 27th 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Fixing Australia: Can we trust the Morrison Government?

ENERGY Yallourn early closure more than a mere challenge, Mr Premier

CANBERRA OBSERVED Can Labor learn a lesson or is it unredeemable?

NATIONAL AFFAIRS High power prices lead to more deaths of elderly

GENDER POLITICS Catholic Ed's document strong on doctrine, weak on protocols

ENERGY Renewables do push up power price: Chicago economists

OBITUARY The eminence of Dr Joe Santamaria

HISTORY OF SCIENCE Faith and reason and Father Stanley Jaki, Part 6: Medieval Christendom sparks a revolution

ENVIRONMENT As many Pacific islands are rising as are sinking

ASIAN AFFAIRS Uyghurs lose in ethnic power play

POETRY AND HISTORY The epic of the White Horse

HUMOUR On patrol with Father Bruce

MUSIC Joao Gilberto: Carrier of melodies

CINEMA Crawl: Toothful entertainment

BOOK REVIEW America's postwar boom and its end

BOOK REVIEW The story of the drafting of a great document

BOOK REVIEW The facts behind an undying distortion



FOREIGN AFFAIRS Boris Johnson and the EU: Crash through or just crash

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Catholic Ed's document strong on doctrine, weak on protocols

by Terri M. Kelleher

News Weekly, July 27, 2019

The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education recently released an important statement on gender theory in education. On the same topic, the Victorian Catholic Education Commission has developed policies on sex and gender issues. Entitled Identity and Growth: A Perspective for Catholic Schools, it comprises four documents.

The first document, the Catholic Foundation Statement, has clear and strong statements on the Catholic position. It affirms the prior right of parents in relation to the education of their children in these matters:

“Schools need to inform parents about the human sexuality programs they are running, gain consent and encourage parental involvement. This is their right as primary educators of their children, a responsibility schools need to respect at all times. Schools do not replace parents, but complement them.”

It states clearly that no teaching program may be used if it is incompatible with Catholic Church teaching:

“Policy and programs which promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female are incompatible with a Catholic understanding of the human person … and have no place in a Catholic school.

“There is no place in a Catholic school for the promotion of radical gender ideologies and identity theories that undermine our fundamental beliefs and understandings regarding the human person.”

When it comes to what policies/protocols schools should actually follow in relation to sex and gender issues, it is not so clear.

The document on pastoral care of students experiencing gender dysphoria states that promoting inclusive school environments “may include consulting on:

the use of toilets, showers and change rooms that meet the needs of the student;

the appropriate uniform that reflects the gender identity of the student and meets the school’s dress or uniform code.”

What can parents with children in Catholic schools expect? Will all parents in the school be consulted about the impact of meeting the requirements of a transgender student on their children? Is this in accord with Church teaching/understanding of human sexual identity?

The fourth document, Upholding the Law, advises: “It is unlawful under state and federal laws to discriminate against a person on the grounds of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.”

However, the document makes no mention of exemptions in anti-discrimination laws, federal and state, which currently provide Catholic, and all faith-based, schools the opportunity to work out protocols/policies around same-sex attraction and gender identity and transitioning which are clearly in accord with the Church’s teachings on the truth and meaning of human sexuality.

Catholic schools do not wish to discriminate but to conduct the education of students consistently with the doctrines and tenets of the Church and to provide true pastoral care to students based on the long-term welfare of the student as the guiding principle. Catholic schools can develop protocols/policies around same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria that are consistent with Church teaching as is currently provided for in both federal and most state anti-discrimination laws.

It should be of great concern to Catholic schools (as for all faith-based schools) that there are at present calls to repeal these provisions, which they should call to be retained.

As well as pastoral and moral concerns around gender issues, Catholic schools should also be mindful of their legal duty of care to students and their potential legal liability for harm suffered by a student if the schools supports/affirms gender transitioning.

Schools supporting children to transition gender with the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones may find in the not-so-distant future that they are held legally responsible for supporting gender transitioning and/or not advising families to seek professional medical assistance to explore all the options for treatment of their child’s gender dysphoria, including the very real risks of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. Simply to support transitioning is to dismiss the available evidence of dangers and risk of harm from medical transitioning.

There are already known serious risks for brain development and fertility in transitioning treatments and increased risk of suicide. Further, the safety of transitioning treatments cannot be assured as the full extent of the risks are not known because there is not enough evidenced-based research yet available.

Schools should also be aware of child safety and protection. To meet the school’s duty of care to a student seeking to transition gender, schools should be mindful of the reporting requirements under relevant state legislation. There is a high correlation of sex abuse, mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, and vulnerability such as autism, with gender transitioning.

Principals, teachers and schools need to show they have not failed to protect a student from abuse or failed to report any instance of possible or suspected abuse or neglect of a student. Best procedure would be always to report any case of gender transitioning to the relevant authority, make sure they have formal acknowledgement of the report, and keep a record of that report.

Current exemptions in anti-discrimination laws mean that Catholic schools can, as can all faith-based schools, develop protocols/policies around gender dysphoria that ensure support for and meeting their legal responsibility for the care and protection of students while at the same time being consistent with the tenets of the faith.

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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