Transgender Teachers in Catholic Schools?
On May 11, the administration of Mercy High School in San Francisco announced that a Jewish woman who was finishing up her fourth year as an English teacher at the Catholic school would now be accepted as a man and could keep her job.
The Mercy Sisters who run the school offered counselors to help the students of the all-girls school accept the biologically female teacher’s new gender identity as a man. In a letter to parents, the school explained how important quality relationships are for the school: “[W]e strive to witness to mercy when we honor the dignity of each person in a welcoming culture that pursues integrity of word and deed.”
The fact that this tragedy is unfolding in San Francisco is important. Just last year, unionized teachers in four high schools owned by the San Francisco Archdiocese — which do not include the independent Mercy High School — threatened to strike when Archbishop Cordileone sought contracts requiring teachers to witness to the Catholic faith in both their teaching and their behavior. Some of teachers were concerned that their private lives might be unduly scrutinized by the archdiocese, but eventually the archbishop got the contract he wanted.
In fact, the Vatican has taught for decades that Catholic school teachers are expected to uphold the Catholic faith in both word and deed, and so the situation at Mercy High School presents a public test case amid the growing acceptance of a false “gender ideology,” as Pope Francis describes it. Does a teacher who claims a gender that’s not her biological sex go against Catholic values? And does this impact the teacher’s ability to teach?
Daniel Guernsey, Ed.D., has worked for over 20 years in Catholic education as a teacher, principal, consultant and associate professor of education. He is the Director of K-12 Programs at The Cardinal Newman Society.