Gender diversity issues guide for schools


The National Centre for Religious Studies has released a document that provides Catholic schools with guidance on how to navigate issues pertaining to gender diversity among young people today.
Gender Complexity in Schools, which is endorsed by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, acknowledged that “gender dysphoria is real”. (According to the American Psychiatric Association website, gender dysphoria “involves a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify”.)

A statement released by the NZCBC explained that the document provides a point of reference for schools in the support and accompaniment of children and young people “who may be experiencing gender dysphoria in our schools”.

NCRS Director Colin McLeod

National Centre for Religious Studies (NCRS) director Colin MacLeod said: “This document is intended to provide appropriate and practical guidance regarding this complex issue in our schools. It does not cover every aspect, but acknowledges the need to treat every person with love and respect and to support students in their growing self-identity in a kind and sensitive manner.”

It was stressed in the document that “no person’s identity can be reduced to their gender or sexuality”, nor should they be “labelled by any other single aspect of their personhood”, for example, their ethnicity.

“The truly holistic view of the human person is what the Church teaches: to be understood as authentically human is to be “whole and entire, body and soul, heart and conscience, mind and will” (Gaudium et Spes, 3), noted the document.

“Recognising that we are all created in the image of God and are united in Christ,
we can then marvel at the diversity which marks the worldwide human family.”

As stated in the document, genuine questions may emerge for a small percentage
of young people in schools.

“Genuine questions when they arise should be responded to in a non-judgmental way showing care, compassion and a willingness to listen.”

The document contained a warning against interest groups pushing ideological
agendas such as gender theory “that distort rather than enhance who we are as human beings”.

“Great care should be taken that any individual student is not labelled by others in a way that diminishes the fullness of who they are.

“Any such tendency would be an objectification of the student,” stated the document.

It also warned against bullying, ostracising or personal teasing, which is “always abhorrent and wrong”.

Gender Complexity in Schools placed particular emphasis on the role of the child’s family/whanau in assisting and supporting the child.

As for the Catholic school community, it is responsible for ensuring that young people “are safe from all bullying behaviour and words, know that they are loved, respected and accepted in their personhood, have changing, toilet and showering areas which are adequately private, and are supported in their growing self-identity in a kind and sensitive
manner, which is nurtured by faith, spirituality and the sacraments”.

The document also stated, under the heading “Particular points to consider”, that “Consideration of gender identity in the school setting should be focused on developing positive self-esteem and truly authentic friendship with others”.

The NCRS also offered practical “suggestions for kindness and support in practice”.

In addition to suggesting that unisex or single toilets and changing rooms should be “designated on school sites”, the document advised that schools should undertake “careful discernment” concerning sleeping arrangements on school retreats or camps for a gender
dysphoric student or a transgender student.

The final decision needs to be agreed to by “the individual in question, other students and all parents”.

“Being made to sleep alone or in the same room as teachers is not appropriate.”

Schools should also consider seeking expert advice or professional development for staff from “expert groups or individuals” who understand and support the school’s Catholic context.

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Rowena Orejana

Reader Interactions


  1. John says

    The ten commandments have taken a beating with Television and other motion picture, which uses violence or gratuitous sex to entice and enslave unruly passions, into stygian depths of depravity. The flow on is invariably Catholic institutions which have one option: To reject abhorrent nonsense as they have done on the past, drawing on the ascetical and mystical theologies of church writers, and the example of saints and martyrs.
    Tragically also various heresies have risen from modernism to New Age, and these have impacted onto religious bodies aiming to reduce their effectiveness.
    When such new tensions and polarities occur, it becomes increasingly difficult to argue the case for orthodoxy, and for a conservative approach which suits protections of vulnerable people, particularly marginalised, and instead, a new set of alternatives are provided which have at their base more of an ideologically driven narrative, an atheistic promulgation which takes the extrinsic for a run without any real interest in values or the intrinsic which underpins these values. The soul is simply not part of the equation. The supernatural is simply not a reality. This is why vigilance is an absolute must before laws appear as they have done in places like Canada which are geared to enthrone an “Anti-God” religion and from this mediocrity to entrench a bureaucracy which will absorb ordinary people taxes, and simply supply a feeder system for anything which is not of Judeo-Christian origin. This has all been going on for a long time- from the early sixties, with modernism as a real heresy as far back as Pope St Pius X. The public or the faithful as they should be called is not as well educated and simply trusting “the system” because everybody else is doing so. It is an understatement to say that the matter is serious. Whole countries are caught up with it, and like the toad in cold water with the temperature, rising have no idea how they are being slowly cooked. Clergy have to be vigilant also, and not finish up “managers” as Pope Francis put it. Simple common sense, old-fashioned as it may seem to be has to be used.

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