An archbishop in a big pointy white hat stares menacingly at the camera.

Portland Archbishop Orders Catholic Schools to Misgender Trans Students

In a major blow to Oregon’s transgender students and those who care about them (meaning all decent people), an Archbishop for the Portland area has told Catholic schools in the area to completely rebuff what he calls the “theory” of gender identity. Yes, a “theory”—as if transness is just a fun idea some of us had hanging out after school, not the reality for real people and real bodies.

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Archbishop Alexander K. Sample distributed a 17-page document late last month that details all the ways in which he wants Catholic school teachers and officials to ignore and actively harm trans and non-binary kids and teens. Primarily, he told Catholic school teachers and staff they must intentionally misgender trans students and also to please generally make school hell for them.

Here are some gross directions from the instructional document the archdiocese sent that schools and churches are supposed to adopt:

  • “Pronouns should accord with biological sex.”
  • “Any formal institutional documentation should use legal names. Nicknames may be used on an informal basis … as long as this is not part of a social transition process.”
  • Schools should not have all-gender bathrooms, and students should use the bathroom of their biological sex.
  • Sports and extracurriculars “should be based on biological sex, rather than self-perceived gender.”
  • Students must wear clothing and uniforms “that accord with his or her biological sex.”
  • “Catholic institutions should not post signage or display symbols in support of gender identity theory.”

Not only is the document scary in that it reads like a laundry list of legal and persistent institutional hate crimes, but it’s also frightening that these rules are being applied in a region that has such notoriety for being liberal, progressive, and dare we say at least getting closer to a state of safety and support for trans youth. While Oregon state as a whole isn’t completely liberal, the greater Portland area is extremely progressive, even including much of the Catholic population. So can we expect there to be a major local outcry against this hateful decree from Archbishop Sample? We can be hopeful. 

Several of the Portland area’s top-ranking high schools are Catholic. As a result, about 44% of students in the area’s Catholic high schools are non-Catholic and have little reason to want to follow the archbishop’s bigoted orders. Even at the elementary level, about 25% of Catholic school students are non-Catholic. Back in 2015, local pushback reversed a Portland Catholic high school’s decision to fire a counselor after she came out as a lesbian, even when Archbishop Sample supported her firing.

So, let’s see how many local supporters you get with this garbage, Sample.

(via The Oregonian, featured image: Franco Origlia/Getty Images)


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Cammy Pedroja
Author and independent journalist since 2015. Frequent contributor of news and commentary on social justice, politics, culture, and lifestyle to publications including The Mary Sue, Newsweek, Business Insider, Slate, Women, USA Today, and Huffington Post. Lover of forests, poetry, books, champagne, and trashy TV.