Catholic women’s school to accept trans students

A picture of two trans flags waving in an open area.

A Catholic all-women’s school in Indiana, US has announced that they will now consider applications from transgender women as part of a new non-discrimination policy.

Saint Mary’s College confirmed in an email to students that, from 2024, they would begin considering transgender women for admission.

The landmark decision has already been subjected to intense backlash from anti-trans activists, but the college president, Katie Conboy, insisted in the school-wide email, seen by Norte Dame student newspaper The Observer,  that Saint Mary’s was “by no means the first Catholic women’s college to adopt a policy with this scope.”

Conboy also stated in her email that the decision to consider students “whose sex is female or who consistently live and identify as women” is fully supported by the school’s board of trustees, who approved the move back in June.

Stock image of a person holding a trans flag
From 2024, the Catholic school will consider applications from transgender students. (Getty Images)

The email reminded students and faculty members that this step towards transgender rights and acceptance, falls in line with the mission of Saint Mary’s College, which is to “empower women through education, at all stages in life.”

“Essential to this mission is fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus experience. This mission is inherently tied to the vision and values of our founders and sponsors, the Sisters of the Holy Cross,” Conboy continued.

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“This confidence from our Board underscores their commitment that as an employer, Saint Mary’s must stand firm in its position as an inclusive community leader and that as educators, we should continue to create an environment where all women belong and thrive.”

Conboy claimed that the decision to update the school’s non-discrimination policy and ensure that transgender women were given a fair opportunity for consideration was inspired by Pope Francis and his LGBTQ+ advocacy.

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“Pope Francis advocates for love as the appropriate approach to those who are different from ourselves: ‘Love, then, is more than just a series of benevolent actions,” the email reportedly read.

Pope Francis
The Pope’s acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community is named as the inspiration behind the Catholic school’s new policy. (Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

“Those actions have their source in a union increasingly directed towards others, considering them of value, worthy, pleasing and beautiful apart from their physical or moral appearances. Our love for others, for who they are, moves us to seek the best for their lives.”

Just earlier this month, the pontiff declared that transgender members of the congregation could be baptised and act as godparents or witnesses to marriage under the same conditions as any other adult.

And last month, Pope Francis said for the first time that same-sex couples could have their unions blessed, reversing the church’s long-held stance.

After word spread of the college’s new policy, debates broke out on social media. While some moved by Saint Mary’s and its steps to be more inclusive, others were less than pleased with their alma matter.

Speaking to Newsweek about the response to their new policy, a spokesperson for Saint Mary’s said: “We know there are those who do not agree with this policy update.”

“Some of our current students, their parents, and alumnae have reached out to express their concerns. We also know there are others who support the more inclusive policy and have written and called to let the college know.”

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