Gender ideology (the “transgender revolution”) promotes a false vision of the human person radically at odds with Christian anthropology. Over the past decade, gender ideology has permeated the culture and has significantly influenced our language, laws, and leading social institutions, particularly schools and universities. The resulting cultural and legal changes are dramatically re-shaping the views and experiences of all Catholics, particularly adolescents, on matters of sexuality and identity. As a result, many Catholics profess beliefs more reflective of the surrounding culture than of Catholic teaching.
For example, 68% of Catholics say they have become more supportive of “transgender rights” in the past five years, and 53% percent say they would be “very or somewhat comfortable with a transgender child” (PRRI 2019).1 Pew Research reported in 2017 that only a bare majority (51%) of Catholics believe that “whether a person is a man or a woman is determined by sex at birth.” Nearly half (46%) of Catholics embrace the claim that a person’s identity as a man or a woman “can be different from sex at birth,” even though the unchangeable nature of sex (male or female) is a biological fact.2
Such widespread confusion about the truth inevitably affects Catholic institutions as they seek to be faithful to their Catholic identity and mission. It is critically important for institutions, such as schools, to ensure that leaders (administrators, board members, clergy, etc.) and staff members (lay ministers, teachers, counselors, etc.) are well-formed, committed to the Catholic identity and mission of their institution, and equipped to respond to the present challenges posed by gender ideology. Leadership formation is particularly important in light of the culture’s impact on the families and adolescents. As the cultural confusion spreads, Catholic youth and families may absorb and accept uncritically the tenets of gender ideology.