Non binary student surprised by school’s supportive stance
A 15-year-old Kavanagh College pupil who identifies as neither male nor female has been a “little surprised” at just how supportive the Dunedin Catholic school has been.
During the last term of last year Arryn, who identifies as non-binary and asks to be referred to using the pronouns they, their and them instead of he or she, changed uniform and stopped being called Erin.
All this happened with the school’s support and Arryn, whose parents asked their last name not be used, was “a little surprised” at just how willing the school was to let them wear boys’ pants and the girls’ uniform’s top half.
Arryn’s mother, Keely, said the school had been “absolutely brilliant” and concerns Arryn would be bullied after changing uniform were not realised.
Her advice to other parents with children who did not identify as either he or she was to “listen to what your child wants” and contact support groups if things were a struggle.
Mr Steve Read, the school’s deputy principal said Kavanagh College’s decision to be accepting fitted with its core values of service, respect, justice and truth.
“I guess justice and respect are the two that sit around this issue.
People don’t choose this path. They are born into it and feel like they are in the wrong gender and we need to respect that difference.”
Read accepted there would be some in the Catholic community who were against the school’s stance.
“Whereas we would say we are all made in God’s image … and therefore we should be being supportive and respectful.”
- Image: gender.wikia.com
- Kavanagh College, a Roman Catholic School in Dunedin, New Zealand, has proved to be a non-threatening environment for one of its adolescent pupils, who has been revealed to be ‘trans-gender’ – identifying as neither male nor female – who prefers to be treated as neither exclusively male nor exclusively female.
This tolerance at school has enabled Arryn to come to terms more easily with the fact that gender identity can be fluid, and that this need not lead to what might have been a climate of bullying at school. Any perceived problem with this situation has been largely resolved by the school’s acceptance of Arryn’s own understanding of what it means, in real life, to identify as a non-gender-specific human being, made in God’s image and likeness, but different from the majority.
How refreshing, that a Roman Catholic school can accept that the category of trans-gender is a reality, and that this should not interfere with the person’s education and flourishing in the school environment. That the school is Roman Catholic should be a wake-up call to other Christian Schools, that might not feel so inclined to tolerate a pupil’s desire to be treated as the person s/he feel more closely identified with.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand