St. Mary’s Catholic Women’s College Drops Plan to Begin Admitting Male Transgender Students

St. Mary's Catholic Women's College Drops Plan to Begin Admitting Male Transgender Students


A private Catholic women’s college in Indiana has reversed plans to begin admitting male students who identify as women.

In June, St. Mary’s College changed its policies to state it would consider admission of undergraduate applicants “whose sex is female or who consistently live and identify as women.” The policy would have, in effect, allowed for males who identify as transgender to be admitted into the college, which is located across the street from Notre Dame University.

On Thursday, St. Mary’s College announced it had reversed the decision. In an email to the St. Mary’s college community obtained by the Catholic news site The Pillar, President Katie Conboy and Board Chair Maureen Karantz Smith said they had elected to reverse the policy allowing admissions of males who identify as transgender, citing the divisions the policy had created among the school’s community and alumni.

“When the Board approved this update, we viewed it as a reflection of our College’s commitment to live our Catholic values as a loving and just community. We believed it affirmed our identity as an inclusive, Catholic, women’s college,” the Thursday email states. “It is increasingly clear, however, that the position we took is not shared by all members of our community. Some worried that this was much more than a policy decision: they felt it was a dilution of our mission or even a threat to our Catholic identity.”

The Thursday email states the June policy decision underestimated the St. Mary’s College community’s desire to have input on such policy matters and lost the trust of many in the St. Mary’s community. Ms. Conboy and Ms. Karantz Smith apologized for the divisions created by their earlier policy announcement and announced plans for a series of listening sessions through which St. Mary’s College can “explore what it means to embrace our values as a Catholic, women’s college.”

Ms. Conboy and Ms. Karantz Smith also expressed commitments to move forward on the “journey toward equity, inclusion, and justice” and said the college “should continually grapple with the complexity of living our Catholic values in a changing world.”

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NTD News reached out to St. Mary’s College for additional details about the latest change to its admissions policy but did not receive a response by press time.

Local Bishop Weighs In on Transgender Admissions Policy

Though St. Mary’s College initially adopted its policy to begin admitting male transgender students in June, the policy change had gone largely unnoticed until November, when Ms. Conboy sent an email notifying the college community that college officials were still deliberating how to implement the policy. In a Nov. 21 email, Ms. Conboy proposed a timeline to begin admissions of male transgender applicants starting in the Fall 2024 semester.

As news of the new admissions policy began to circulate, the local Catholic bishop weighed in on the admissions policy.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, the bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend—which includes the Notre Dame community—wrote in a Nov. 27 statement that the transgender admissions policy would compromise the St. Mary’s identity as a Catholic women’s college.

“It is disappointing that I, as bishop of the diocese in which Saint Mary’s College is located, was not included or consulted on a matter of important Catholic teaching,” Mr. Rhoades wrote.

He also argued against St. Mary’s rationale that the transgender admissions policy affirms a Catholic value of inclusivity.

“The desire of Saint Mary’s College to show hospitality to people who identify as transgender is not the problem. The problem is a Catholic woman’s college embracing a definition of woman that is not Catholic,” he wrote.

From NTD News

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