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Revised gender policy provides framework for schools to partner with parents

The revised Gender Policy for Schools in the Archdiocese of Omaha balances the pastoral needs and obligations of parents, guardians, students, school leaders, and the archdiocese’s responsibility to uphold Church teaching.

“The policy expresses our continuing determination for our schools to partner with parents whose children face special challenges, to the extent that we are able to do so,” Archbishop George Lucas said.

A broader draft of this policy was prematurely shared this fall. The revised policy is narrower in scope and deals only with students in schools and gender.

More than 150 individuals from various professional backgrounds, demographics, and competencies contributed to the revised policy, according to Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Omaha. These individuals included school leaders, priests, deacons, mental health professionals, professors, pediatricians, community leaders, parish leaders, and individuals with first-hand experience of gender dysphoria.

“Over 40 similar policies and guidelines from dioceses and professional organizations were studied in advance of our revision efforts,” Deacon McNeil said.

Students experiencing gender dysphoria will not be denied admission into a Catholic school. If a student experiences gender dysphoria, school leaders and pastors will partner with parents to establish an accompaniment plan that follows the teachings of the Catholic faith.

If a parent, guardian or student wants an accompaniment plan contrary to church teaching, it may be necessary to begin the school transfer process. This decision would be for the sake of the student and the school community since such a plan would harm the family-school partnership and fail to uphold Church teaching.

“The family-school partnership is defined primarily by the truths of the Catholic faith,” Deacon McNeil said.

The revised policy, which applies to the 52 archdiocesan elementary and 12 co-ed high schools, will go into effect at the start of the 2023-24 school year. Non-archdiocesan high schools can use the policy as a template as they articulate their own policies over the coming months, according to their established procedures.