Saint Mary’s College Faces Backlash for Gender Policy Shift: Catholic Voices Call for Reversal

Controversy Surrounding Saint Mary’s College Nondiscrimination Policy

The recent decision by Saint Mary’s College to update its nondiscrimination policy has sparked controversy and drawn criticism from various quarters.

The move, aimed at being more inclusive, has been met with strong opposition, particularly from those advocating for faithful Catholic education.

Patrick Reilly’s Opposition:

Patrick Reilly, the president of the Cardinal Newman Society, an organization dedicated to promoting faithful Catholic education, expressed strong disapproval of the policy.

Reilly urged the college to “reverse course” on its decision, emphasizing the importance of Catholic educators speaking truthfully about gender issues.

He highlighted the severe consequences of embracing false gender identities and emphasized the need for opposition within the Catholic community.

Compassion for Confused Students:

Reilly argued that the college should reconsider its decision for the sake of compassion towards confused students.

According to him, adopting false gender identities is harmful, not only to the students but also to the institution’s Catholic identity.

He accused the college of being “disingenuous” in citing federal law, suggesting that it might be distancing itself from its religious identity.

Lisa Knox’s Response:

In response to the criticism, Lisa Knox, a spokeswoman for the college, defended the policy change.

She stated that the update was driven by the need to clarify the nondiscrimination policy in the current environment.

Knox mentioned that changes to the Common Application, allowing students to choose “F, M, or X” for legal sex, prompted the college to reconsider its language regarding admission and gender expression support.

Challenges Faced by Single-Sex Colleges:

Knox acknowledged the challenges faced by single-sex colleges in maintaining inclusivity while preserving their status as women’s institutions.

She revealed that the board of trustees sought guidance from other female-only Catholic colleges that had already updated their policies, emphasizing that Saint Mary’s College was not on the leading edge of this type of change.

Anticipating Disagreement:

Knox acknowledged that the college foresaw disagreement from parents, alumnae, and current students.

She mentioned that some have expressed concerns, while others have supported the more-inclusive policy.

Despite the controversy, Knox reiterated the college’s commitment to its founding mission, adapting to the needs of the times.


The controversy surrounding Saint Mary’s College reflects a broader debate within Catholic education about inclusivity, gender identity, and adherence to religious principles.

The clash of perspectives underscores the challenges faced by institutions striving to balance tradition with evolving societal norms.

As discussions continue, the college remains at the center of a contentious dialogue within the Catholic community.

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