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Catholic women's college in Indiana to consider applicants that 'identify as women'

An all girls Catholic institution recently announced it will consider applications from biological men to attend if they have a history of self-identifying as women.

Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana recently declared it will consider allowing biological males to attend the university if they have a history of identifying as women.

President Katie Conboy told the faculty in an email on Tuesday about the change in policy, according to the Notre Dame student paper, The Observer

"Saint Mary’s will consider undergraduate applicants whose sex assigned at birth is female or who consistently live and identify as women," Conboy emailed. 

While the college is still reportedly determining the practices that will follow from the policy change, admissions will begin considering transgender applicants in fall 2024.


A campus newspaper reported that Conboy previously assembled a "President’s Task Force for Gender Identity and Expression" that is tasked with coming up with recommendations for housing and possible education surrounding "Catholic identity and women's college identity." 

Conboy’s email reportedly quoted His Holiness Pope Francis to justify the policy. 

"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. 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," the email reportedly said. 

Earlier this year, Pope Francis told journalist Elisabetta Piqué for the Argentine daily newspaper La Nación, that "Gender ideology, today, is one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations."

"Why is it dangerous? Because it blurs differences and the value of men and women," he added.

He also noted that there is a major difference between caring for people who identify as transgender versus actually endorsing their values, noting the contrast "between what pastoral care is for people who have a different sexual orientation and what gender ideology is."

The college received blowback for its decision from current students and some alumni. 

"St. Mary’s College is no longer Catholic," Saint Mary’s student Claire Bettag, a junior, told The Daily Signal. "It is no longer a women’s institution. This is fraudulent misrepresentation at best. Every student should be entitled to a refund for fraudulent misrepresentation. An attorney should file a class action lawsuit against the college. They have abandoned their faith, and they’ve abandoned the women. No woman should be forced to share a bathroom or living quarters with a man."


Some alumni spoke out against the school's decision on social media. 

"This decision is blasphemous & a complete rejection of the Church and it’s teachings on gender and sexuality," Clare Anne Ath wrote. 

"I chose @saintmarys because of its mission to serve as a Catholic, women’s college," education reform activist Shannon Pahls wrote. "This decision is a complete abandonment of that. Extremely disappointed in my alma mater."

"I’m deeply disappointed as a @saintmarys alum in this decision. The school has betrayed its Catholic mission," The Federalist Society Vice President and Director of Lawyers Chapters Lisa Budzynski Ezell wrote. In a separate post, she said the policy shift is "not a surprise" and that "I hope other alumnae will speak out and withhold donations."

The college has battled with social conservatives in the past over transgender issues.

According to The Daily Signal, the college "denied the foundation of a Turning Point USA chapter," because the conservative group's messaging on biological sex didn't "align" with the mission of the Catholic college. 

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