ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — The Rochester and Winona Catholic Schools may have a new policy on gender identity. The policy sets rules in place that specifically impact students within the LGBTQ+ Community.
The seven-page document was posted on the Diocese of Winona-Rochester’s website but has since been taken down. There is no timeline for if or when it will be put in place.
KTTC obtained a copy before it was taken down. It states, all students in Rochester and Winona Catholic Schools will be recognized by their gender at birth. An online petition has garnered more than 700 online signatures against implementing this policy.
It states, “Students shall conduct themselves in accord with their biological sex at all times.”
It also states, “Students shall be addressed at all times by their legal names, and referred to with pronouns consistent with their biological sex.”
A Lourdes High School student who we are not identifying believes the policy is leading Rochester Catholic Schools in the wrong direction.
“It already has massive pushback and I can’t imagine how much more it’s going to get. It just doesn’t look good for the system,” they said.
A Lourdes Alumni, and former teacher, agrees.
“Mostly sad that a school system I grew up in and taught us that acceptance is what we need to do not accepting some of its students,” said Amanda Pyfferoen.
Pyfferoen is a part of the LGBTQ Community. She now teaches in Thailand and believes in honoring student preferences
“My students here [in Thailand] are like ‘hey, can you please call me they/them?’ or ‘I would like to be she/them, can you refer to me in class as that?’ and I do it, and I see the smile on their face,” Pyfferoen said.
The Diocese of Winona-Rochester’s policy also says, “Using preferred names and pronouns will cause confusion for other students and could act as a source of scandal.”
Another Lourdes student gave us this statement:
“After reading through the entire policy, as a Lourdes student, I am disgusted at this new policy put forward. There are so many issues that this type of policy and attitude will bring but put simply, Lourdes and the Dioceses as a whole yet again become a more hostile environment to LGBTQ+ students and staff. The language used in the document completely disregards and invalidates people’s identities. What concerns me the most about the policy is the use and definition of the word scandal. It states that scandal is “an attitude or behavior which leads to another evil” and “takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized.” It says that using preferred pronouns and names can cause confusion and can cause scandal. My question is, how would using preferred pronouns be a source of evil? If it does cause confusion, then why would the people respecting the individual’s pronouns be causing evil? Other points made later in the policy are also concerning. In my opinion, it completely disregards the mental health of LGBTQ+ students.”
The policy also has a section on same-sex couples attending school dances.
“When attending school-sponsored functions as a “couple,” especially dances and prom, students may only bring a member of the opposite sex,” the policy said.
KTTC reached out to the diocese and got this response
“This policy regarding Gender Identity is in process of implementation which includes consultation with our school board members, staff and parents. After the completion of this process the Diocese will speak more directly on the contents of the policy.”