CV NEWS FEED // Archbishop Alexander Sample has temporarily closed the Department of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon after school officials revolted against his guidelines on gender ideology.
Two Catholic school principals have resigned following the archbishop’s release of a gender ideology guide, while three staff members at St. Rose School had their contracts terminated after refusing to sign a statement promising to uphold the directives, according to OregonLive.
A group of parents and teachers requested to meet with the archbishop to discuss their concerns with the guidelines, while over 1,000 community members signed a petition against the guide.
The document, issued in January 2023, detailed how Catholics should respond to gender ideology. Sample recommended that Catholic schools not use false “gender” pronouns for students and keep male students out of girls’ bathrooms. His document also called on schools to request that students wear standard boys’ and girls’ uniforms that align with their true sexes.
“Catholic institutions and programs should not endorse gender identity theory nor enable any form of gender transition, whether social or medical,” wrote Sample. “This means that names, pronouns, facilities use, attire and sports participation should depend upon biological sex identity, rather than self-perceived gender identity.”
The archbishop’s document also stated that formal documents should use a student’s legal name, and all educational material should follow Catholic teaching. Sample discouraged gender-ideology-related signage and recommended prohibiting “transition medicine” on school grounds.
Last week, the archbishop dissolved the three-person Department of Catholic Schools that oversaw the 41 schools within his archdiocese. Sample will now be more closely involved in school operations. The archdiocese notified school administrators of the change on June 22.
It is rumored that superintendent Jeannie Ray Timoney was fired, though this has not been officially confirmed. Administrators at Portland Catholic schools have written that “she will be missed” and asked their communities to pray for her.
According to an archdiocesan spokesperson, the archdiocese will evaluate its strategies while the department is temporarily closed.
“The Department of Catholic Schools is temporarily closed as we work to reevaluate how to best integrate schools more fully into our mission,” said the archdiocese’s director of marketing and communications, Douglas Markwell.
“Our Catholic schools are an essential part of our mission of evangelization,” said Markwell:
They serve a vital role in teaching, witnessing to, and spreading the Gospel. We have seen great changes in the environment in which our schools operate, but the importance of the mission and our dedication to our families is unchanging.
“This decision [to close] is unrelated to the publication of “A Catholic Response to Gender Identity Theory” or to one school adopting a classical education model,” Markwell said in the statement.
Though the document aligns with Vatican guidelines, some Catholic community members have pushed back against the recommendations.
A priest publicly spoke out against Sample’s directive on June 13 during a homily at the Madeleine School’s eighth-grade graduation. Fr. Mike Biewend, St. Madeleine’s pastor, said the guidelines fail to embrace the “preciousness of every child” and lauded the school’s former principal for following her “conscience” by resigning.
Catholic schools in Portland have increased in popularity after COVID-related policies overtook other schools. Most Catholic schools reopened faster than public schools. The cost is typically lower than at other private schools because school parishes often subsidize tuition.
Some Portland Catholic schools are prioritizing classical education. Christ the King, for instance, integrates a program from the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education (ICLE). The Catholic program hopes to bring students and teachers to a “deeper encounter with Truth, who is Jesus Christ,” through learning.