FILE UNDER: Insulated, monolithic, callous, tone deaf church power structure
By Tammy Mutasa
Worcester Diocese says students must use names and pronouns assigned at birth
Worcester Catholic schools have started a new policy on sexual identity in which students must use their names and pronouns assigned at birth.According to the policy starting this fall, students at the diocese’s 21 schools must “conduct themselves” in a way that’s consistent with their biological sex, which includes what they wear and which restroom they use.
The Diocese of Worcester said they wanted a consistent policy across all schools because some had policies while others did not. The diocese said the policy is adopted from Catholic teachings about “accepting one’s own body as it was created.”
“They want to be honest. What does the church teach about sexual identity? As Catholics, we believe that not only is our life is a gift from God, but that our sexuality is also a gift from birth,” said Ray Delisle with the Diocese of Worcester.
The policy does emphasize that bullying or harassing students based on their perceived sexual identity will not be tolerated.
“We still respect everyone, even when we disagree with people,” said Delisle.
The new policy is already being challenged by LGBTQ+ advocates. Some said it will push out students who need love and acceptance.
Eighth grader Finn Santora said the policy is pushing him out of the Catholic school system. Like every student, he was looking forward to walking across the stage and hearing his name called. But for graduation, Finn said his school, St. Paul Diocesan Junior/Senior High School, would only call him by his birth name before he transitioned, saying it was school policy.
“They don’t understand that kids just want to be themselves and live with no fear,” Finn told WBZ. “It just made me feel like I’m not a human, like they don’t care.”
As a result, Finn and his family decided not to go to the ceremony.
“It’s just humiliating, degrading and embarrassing,” said Jai Santora, Finn’s mom. “And that type of behavior leads to bullying and segregation.”
LGBTQ+ advocates said the policy itself undermines students. Joshua Croke, the co-founder of “Love Your Labels,” said they are organizing to challenge the policy on every level and circulating a petition online.
“We know that LGBTQ+ young people have higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicidality,” said Croke. “We want young people to know that they matter, that they are loved, that they are worthy, that they are celebrated for who they are.”
For Finn though, the policy has left him no choice but to leave the Catholic school system.
“All I want is to live a normal life as a child and be who I am. They’re taking that away from me,” said Finn.
The Archdiocese of Boston said right now, it doesn’t have a policy for schools, but they are going through a collaborative process which is not completed. Officials said it’s too early to discuss anything.
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