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Monica Doumit: When Catholic schools miss the mark

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Wear It Purple Day is designed to ’foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environments for rainbow young people.’ Yet it risks bullying of Christian students and their families and is officially opposed to religious freedom legislation. It also actively undermines the role of parents who wish to accompany their children – straight or otherwise – in faith and love. Why do Catholic schools participate? Photo:Youtube

What are families to do when schools embrace fashionable ideologies that paint them and their children as intolerant bigots – and undermine parents?

Is your child or grandchild’s school celebrating Wear It Purple Day?

I know a number of Catholic schools in dioceses across Australia that are participating in this event because I have been contacted by parents and teachers to ask my thoughts on whether schools should encourage kids to ‘wear it purple.’

My thoughts, to be blunt, are that Catholic school leaders who promote Wear It Purple are misguided in doing so.

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The event is marketed as being about ‘diversity’ but the only diversity celebrated is specifically gender and sexual diversity.

Organisers encourage staff and students to wear purple clothing or accept a purple ribbon in order to show their support for their LGBTQIA+ peers.

The promotion of Wear It Purple Day in schools is often accompanied by promotional materials that tell students those who experience same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria are more likely to suffer from mental health issues.

In other words, wearing a purple ribbon shows your support for your peers. Declining to do so is a visible sign that you’re a bigot who does not care for their safety.

Even if they are well-meaning, schools who simultaneously invite staff and students to ‘wear it purple’ and highlight the mental health concerns of students who identify as LGBTQIA+ risk emotionally manipulating and/or coercing the consciences of staff and students on this matter. After all, every student and teacher at the school will be able to tell which staff and students had chosen to collect the ribbon and which had declined.

‘Wear It Purple’ schools also raise the risk that students who choose not to participate will be bullied or labelled as homophobic and transphobic.

We have just had a very public example of this type of labelling with the seven Manly Sea Eagles players who declined to wear the ‘pride’ jersey. So vicious was the response to the ‘choice’ of these players that NSW Police recommended they not attend the game out of fears for their safety. I have not heard of any school that has a policy in place to protect children who might be targeted as bigots.

The concern is not just about the safety and wellbeing of the students who decline to ‘wear it purple.’

A quick look at the Wear It Purple Instagram page shows a statement opposing the Religious Discrimination Bill and specifically, the protections it would provide to religious schools, a “chest binder” giveaway (for girls looking to appear like boys) and an advertisement for the Minus18 Queer Formal.

The Queer Formal is advertised for children aged between 12-19 years of age. Minus18 fundraises for children to attend, which has the effect of ensuring kids can attend without having to ask parents for money. Buses are arranged from various meeting points to take them to the formals, and news reports surrounding these events have highlighted that some of those attending are doing so without the knowledge of their parents.

Wear It Purple also showcases ambassadors, many of them transgender social media ‘influencers’ with their own Instagram and TikTok channels and one aged just 11 years old.

How the Wear It Purple organisation with its chest-binder giveaways and formals for children can be promoted to kids in Catholic schools beggars belief.

It is not clear but highly doubtful that schools promoting Wear It Purple Day have undertaken research into the organisations and sites promoted by Wear It Purple to determine the appropriateness of the material to which it directs kids.

The intentional or reckless promotion of these types of days and organisations is very risky for Catholic schools, and this is even before we get to talking about how they undermine Catholic teaching on gender and sexuality, marriage and family.

When a school promotes events like Wear It Purple Day, it takes extraordinary courage from parents and students to decline to participate because of the risk of backlash and bullying. Parents are scared to complain because they worry that their children will be targeted for hostile treatment from staff as well as students.

It is a terrible scourge when Catholic parents of Catholic students in Catholic schools fear that adhering to Catholic teaching to marriage and sexuality will result in their child being unfavourably treated.

Related:

Monica Doumit: A day of reckoning on trans kids looms

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