Vatican’s LGBTQI school guide shouldn’t surprise anyone

RENDEZVIEW: The Catholic Church's latest attempt to ostracise gay and trans children might have come as a shock to some, but it shouldn't have. This is what a once almighty institute slowly losing its power looks like, writes Seb Starcevic.

This week - just in time for Pride Month in the US - the Vatican published a guide for Catholic educators titled Male and Female: He Created Them.

As you'd expect with a title like that, the 31-page guide takes a leaf out of the typical hate preacher's book, describing transgender people as "confused" and unnatural and accuses them of conspiring to undermine families.

"Efforts to go beyond the constitutive male-female sexual difference, such as the ideas of 'intersex' or 'transgender,' lead to a masculinity or femininity that is ambiguous … This oscillation between male and female becomes, at the end of the day, only a 'provocative' display against so-called 'traditional frameworks,'" the document reads.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that we are now facing with what might accurately be called an educational crisis, especially in the field of affectivity and sexuality."

The document also instructs educators to adhere to traditional, church-approved teachings on sex and gender.

The problem with that approach, however, is that the church's policies on gay and transgender students aren't evidence-based, and have routinely been slammed as unnecessarily cruel.

On Tuesday, Rev. James Martin, an American priest and scholar, tweeted that the guide "will be used as a cudgel against transgender people, and an excuse to argue that they shouldn't even exist."

This isn't the first time Catholic schools have snubbed queer students.

Catholic Education Melbourne (CEM), who are responsible for more than 300 Catholic schools in the Melbourne archdiocese, last year issued its own set of guidelines for Catholic educators that defines sexuality as "grounded in the ability to procreate".

Catholic Education Melbourne suggests homosexuality is a “passing phase”. Picture: iStock
Catholic Education Melbourne suggests homosexuality is a “passing phase”. Picture: iStock

The guide, which is not publicly available but has been obtained in full by RendezView, suggests homosexuality may be a "passing phase" and urges educators to avoid using the term LGBTQI "lest such usage be misinterpreted as an endorsement of theories of gender or sexuality which are incompatible with a Catholic understanding of the human person".

The guide goes on to condemn "radical gender ideologies and identity theories that undermine our fundamental beliefs and understandings regarding the human person" and discourages the formation of queer clubs and societies.

UNSW School of Social Sciences lecturer Dr Bianca Fileborn says some of the CEM guide's claims are "offensive" and contradicted by "decades of scholarship".

"The suggestion that same-sex attraction is a 'passing phase' trivialises young people's sexual identities," Dr Fileborn says.

"Refusing to refer to LGBTIQ identity labels is, in my view, a way of making these identities invisible and makes it very difficult to have meaningful discussions about diverse sexualities."

All of this goes to show that the church and Catholic schools still can't be trusted to prioritise the wellbeing of gay and transgender students over doctrine, no matter how far they declare themselves to have come.

As a nation, we're long overdue for tougher anti-discrimination laws, but despite Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's pre-election promise to close the religious freedom loophole that allows faith-based schools to expel or refuse to enrol students who come out as gay, bisexual or trans, a bill has yet to be tabled.

With Pope Francis declaring a "world war on marriage" and the Vatican meddling in the lives of queer kids, it's more urgent than ever that Catholic schools be held to account.

But hey, at least now we know what the street preachers will be yelling through their megaphones.

@SebStarcevic



Barbecue Fairy takes on the heat at Townsville battle

premium_icon Barbecue Fairy takes on the heat at Townsville battle

The 'steaks' are high for this barbecue chef

HookUp 2019: By the numbers

premium_icon HookUp 2019: By the numbers

The numbers have been crunched and revealed some interesting stats.

Motorcyclist taken to hospital after Glen Eden crash

premium_icon Motorcyclist taken to hospital after Glen Eden crash

The 52-year-old sustained lacerations to his nose and face