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Obama directive on transgender access to facilities deeply disturbing

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administration’s May 13 directive on transgender access to bathrooms “that
treats ‘a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex’ is deeply disturbing,”
said the chairmen of two U.S. Catholic bishops’ committees.

“The guidance fails to
address a number of important concerns and contradicts a basic understanding of
human formation so well expressed by Pope Francis: that ‘the young need to be
helped to accept their own body as it was created,'” the two bishops said
in a statement May 16.

The statement was issued by Bishop
Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference
of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Archbishop
George J. Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska, who chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on
Catholic Education.

The directive, or guidance, was issued
by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education. The
departments said it applies to all public schools and colleges and universities
that received federal funding. It “summarizes a school’s Title IX
obligations regarding transgender students,” they said, and also explains
how the Education and Justice departments will “evaluate a school’s
compliance with these obligations.”

The federal Title IX statute prohibits
sex discrimination in educational programs and activities, like sports. AP
reported that the Obama administration earlier had warned schools that denying
transgender students access to the correct facilities and activities was
illegal under its interpretation of federal sex discrimination laws.

In their statement Bishop
Malone and Archbishop Lucas noted that the Catholic Church “consistently
affirms the inherent dignity of each and every human person and advocates for
the well being of all people, particularly the most vulnerable.”

“Especially at a
young age and in schools, it is important that our children understand the
depth of God’s love for them and their intrinsic worth and beauty. Children
should always be and feel safe and secure and know they are loved,” they

They said that children, youth
and parents in “difficult situations,” such as the focus of the federal guidance, “deserve compassion,
sensitivity and respect.”

“All of these can be
expressed without infringing on legitimate concerns about privacy and security
on the part of the other young students and parents,” the two prelates
said, but pointed out that the guidance issued May 13 “does not even
attempt to achieve this balance.”

“It unfortunately does not
respect the ongoing political discussion at the state and local levels and in
Congress, or the broader cultural discussion, about how best to address these
sensitive issues,” they said. “Rather, the guidance short-circuits
those discussions entirely.”

They quoted Pope Francis, who
said recently that “biological sex and the sociocultural role of sex
(gender) can be distinguished but not separated.

“We pray that the
government make room for more just and compassionate approaches and policies in
this sensitive area, in order to serve the good of all students and parents, as
well as the common good,” Bishop Malone and Archbishop Lucas said. “We
will be studying the guidance further to understand the full extent of its


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