Policy Number: SCS2022012
Date Released: 20 April 2022
Review Date: 20 April 2025
The Catholic Church affirms the inherent dignity of each and every person, and advocates for the wellbeing of all people, particularly the most vulnerable. The Church teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC.) that “the human body shares in the dignity of the image of God” (CCC. 364) and that all people should acknowledge and accept their sexual identity (CCC. 2393). At the same time, the Church recognises that occasionally there may be instances where people experience dissonance between their biological sex and their ‘affirmed gender’.
While there is no explicit Catholic teaching on the nature or causes of gender dysphoria, the Church affirms the inherent differences between males and females. Furthermore, the Church affirms that “beyond the understandable difficulties which individuals may experience, the young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created.” (Amoris Laetitia, n. 285).
The issue of gender dysphoria is sensitive and complex. It is important that students experiencing gender dysphoria understand the depth of God’s love for them and their intrinsic worth and beauty, and that they and their families are treated with compassion, sensitivity and respect.
The purpose of the policy is to affirm that Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) is committed to providing a safe and supportive learning environment for students experiencing gender dysphoria. The policy sets out how a pastoral response will be developed with parents or carers, informed by the mission, vision and values of SCS, the common good of the school community, and the individual needs of the student and their family.
- This policy applies to all SCS staff and parents or carers.In this policy staff means all employees of SCS, members of religious orders engaged in schools, volunteers, trainees, interns and labour hire employees.
- Failure to adhere to this policy may lead to disciplinary action, including termination of employment of SCS staff.
The following principles inform the implementation of this policy within SCS.
Respect for the dignity and worth of every person is the key priority at all times.
Sound clinical advice, including that of a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, will be sought, and this is likely to routinely involve second opinions.
An open and ongoing dialogue between the Principal, parents or carers and other SCS staff members as and when required is essential for ensuring the provision of effective support for the student.
All decisions will have regard to the age, capability and maturity of the student, and will be informed by advice from the treating Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist(s) about the potential impact on the student’s wellbeing.
Gender dysphoria – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) states “Individuals with gender dysphoria have a marked incongruence between the gender they have been assigned to (usually at birth, referred to as natal gender) and their experienced/expressed gender. This discrepancy is the core component of the diagnosis. There must also be evidence of distress about this incongruence.” (p.453).
Gender dysphoria is recognised as a mental health condition. It should not be confused with the occasional gender experimentation or gender questioning experienced by some children and adolescents during their maturation and development.
5.1 NOTIFICATION AND DISCERNMENT
Any notification or application relating to a student experiencing gender dysphoria must be directed to the Principal, who will discuss the matter with the Manager, Student Wellbeing and Learning and, the Parish Priest.
The Manager, Student Wellbeing and Learning will immediately advise the notification and any related request to the:
- Executive Director;
- Director, Education and Research;
- Director, Mission and Identity; and
- relevant Director, System Performance.
Upon receiving a notification or application relating to a student experiencing gender dysphoria, the Principal will compile all available and relevant medical reports, including those from the treating psychiatrist/s, as well as any other information relevant to the request from the student’s parents or carers.
Following the provision of the information, the Principal, the Manager, Student Wellbeing and Learning and the Director of Mission and Identity will review and assess the documentation. A recommendation will then be made to the Executive Director following consultation with the Director, System Performance and the Director, Education and Research.
The Executive Director will ensure that the Archbishop, or his nominated representative, is informed of the background and status of the case and notification, and the substance of any related request(s).
All details will be kept confidential to those parties outlined above and the school.
A follow up meeting may be held with the student’s parents or carers to provide further information and decide the best way forward.
5.2 DETERMINATION AND IMPLEMENTATION
The Executive Director will make a final determination in relation to any request concerning a student with gender dysphoria. In considering a request, the needs of the student are to be balanced with the ability of the school and parish community to provide the necessary and appropriate support to the student and their family.
In instances where a request for support cannot be accommodated within the school, the Principal and the Manager, Student Wellbeing and Learning will meet with the student’s parents or carers to discuss alternatives.
The decision to accommodate a request for support within a school community must be accompanied by a pastoral support plan. This plan is developed by the school in consultation with the Student Wellbeing and Learning Team and should be supported by the Parish Priest. The plan must be agreed to by the student’s parents or carers, and where appropriate, the student.
The school, with support from the Student Wellbeing and Learning Team, and in consultation with the student’s parents or carers, will agree to protocols regarding the student’s specific areas of need. Particular emphasis will be given to private needs, such as toileting and use of change rooms, as well as participation in sport.
The school will develop specific strategies so the student is not subject to bullying and/or harassment.
The Manager, Student Wellbeing and Learning and the Director of Mission and Identity will liaise with the school to determine the educational needs of the community. Where appropriate, education sessions will be held for staff, students and/or parents or carers. These sessions will explain the nature of gender dysphoria and examine the potential implications for the student, their family, and the wider school community.
All cases will be treated with confidentiality and sensitivity. If a Principal believes they need to issue any correspondence to the school community, they must obtain the approval of the Executive Director through the Manager, Student Wellbeing and Learning, in consultation with the student’s parents or carers.
If you have any questions about this document or would like further information, please contact the Manager, Student Wellbeing and Learning at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Phone number (02) 9568 8485.
- Policy Number: SCS2022012
- Documents Rescinds/Replaces: RE201701-1.0
- Date Released: 20 April 2022
- Review Date: 20 April 2025
- Policy Type: Strategic
- Audience: Public
- Approved by: SCS Board
- Document Owner: Director, Education & Research and Director, Mission & Identity