One Equal World

Catholic High School Supports Transgender Teacher

Posted on: June 3, 2016

Gabriel Bodenheimer, a teacher and the English Department chair, speaks in class at Mercy High School for girls on Thursday, May 12, 2016, in San Francisco. Bodenheimer who came out as a transgender man at a Catholic high school in San Francisco has been allowed to keep his job by the order of the nuns that runs the school. The San Francisco Chronicle reports an order of the Sisters of Mercy announced its support for Gabriel Bodenheimer on Wednesday. (Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT PHOTOG & CHRONICLE; MAGS OUT; NO SALES; TV OUT; INTERNET OUT

Gabriel Bodenheimer, a teacher and the English Department chair, speaks in class at Mercy High School for girls on Thursday, May 12, 2016, in San Francisco. Bodenheimer who came out as a transgender man at a Catholic high school in San Francisco has been allowed to keep his job by the order of the nuns that runs the school.  (Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

 

Coming out is often fraught, full of fears of losing things. For Gabriel Bodenheimer, a trans man eating at Mercy High, a San Francisco Catholic school, he was nearly sure of losing his job. The Catholic church doesn’t have an official doctrine on transgender people, but many churches have addressed the issue, standing almost unanimously against the idea of gender identity.

But Mercy High and its governing body, the Sisters of Mercy, surprised everyone by coming out in support of Bodenheimer and any future trans staff. With an official announcement of support, they insisted that the English teacher would remain at the head of all his classes at Mercy, fully accepted as the man he is.

Sister Laura Reicks, president of the 16-state Midwest region of the Sisters of Mercy Community, says that the choice was obligatory but not easy. Reicks says that the decision is in line with the messages of mercy and universal respect that have been the decree of Pope Francis, even if the same Pope has not agreed with the ‘theories’ of transgender identities and gender spectrums.

The announcement told staff, students, and parents that while the nuns had conferred with San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, they came to their decision internally, and regard it as the only decision that aligns with the values of their order.

Bodenheimer says that students and parents alike have been entirely supportive.

“It was very important to speak, and name myself, and not be silent,” he said in a phone interview with the San Francisco Chronicle the day after the announcement. “The response I got was tremendously positive.”

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