Thursday, May 12, 2016

San Francisco Catholic school won't fire transgender teacher

Dan Morris-Young
National Catholic Reporter
May 12, 2016

In a letter released to parents of San Francisco's Mercy High School students last evening, the president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas West Midwest Community confirmed that the order, the San Francisco school's administration, and the school's board president are supporting the continued employment of English department chair, Gabriel Stein-Bodenheimer, who recently self-identified to administrators as a transgender male.

"Because some students and parents, faculty and staff may appreciate having assistance with processing their views regarding the teacher, who identifies as a transgender man, we have arranged for counselors to be available for you this week at the School," wrote Mercy Sr. Laura Reicks.

She said there would also "be an optional informal meeting with the administrative team and me for parents between 6 and 7:30 p.m. at Rist Hall" on campus today, May 12.

In a statement released to NCR this afternoon by the San Francisco archdiocese, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said he was "grateful that leadership of the Mercy Sisters spoke to me in advance and explained their reasoning and their plan on how to address the situation. In so doing the Sisters strongly affirmed our Catholic beliefs and values and that they and the school do not advocate for policies or causes that contradict these values and beliefs."

"I expressed my appreciation for this affirmation," Cordileone continued. "Often in such situations a balance must be struck in a way that distinct values are upheld, such as mercy and truth, or institutional integrity and respect for personal decisions affecting one's life. In this particular personnel matter I am thankful to the Sisters for seeking a response consistent with Mercy and Gospel values and the corporate identity of the school as a Catholic institution of secondary education."

The archbishop indicated he felt that the school's officials' decision falls within the "legitimate range of prudential judgment."

Reicks wrote to parents, "We are grateful to you for your consideration and proud of how the Mercy High School faith community demonstrates its strong commitment to Mercy and Gospel values — respect for human rights and dignity, compassion for others and the courage to act — as well as its Catholic Identity."

"We also believe the Sisters of Mercy's statement of Catholic Identity for our secondary schools underscores the importance of quality relationships for everyone associated with the School," the educator added. "And, we strive to witness to mercy when we honor the dignity of each person in a welcoming culture that pursues integrity of word and deed."

The Mercy Sisters also sponsor Mercy High School in Burlingame, also an all-girls campus.

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