Vatican calls non-binary gender ‘fictitious’ in report tackling ‘education crisis’ over sexuality

The Vatican has described non-binary gender as “fictitious” in a guide for teachers about how to deal with questions around human sexuality.

The church‘s education ministry on Monday released the 31-page document, called “Male and Female He Created Them,” for parents, students, school leaders and bishops. It came as many countries mark Pride Month, an annual celebration of the LGBTQ community.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that we are now facing what might accurately be called an educational crisis, especially in the field of affectivity and sexuality,” the paper, by the Congregation for Catholic Education, begins.

It went on to say that when people tried to erase the differences between men and women, it “undoubtedly helped to destabilize the family as an institution, bringing with it a tendency to cancel out the differences between men and women.”

“The process of identifying sexual identity is made more difficult by the fictitious (construct) known as ‘gender neuter’ or ‘third gender,’ which has the effect of obscuring the fact that a person’s sex is a structural determinant of male or female identity,” it adds. “Similar theories aim to annihilate the concept of ‘nature’ … while at the same time implicitly reaffirming its existence.”

In recent years, a number of government institutions around the world have recognized non-binary gender identities.

However, the Catholic Church has traditionally had conservative ideas on gender and sexuality — although Pope Francis in 2016 said the church owed LGBT people an apology for historically condemning homosexuality. In recent years, the church has also come under intense scrutiny over its handling of sexual abuse cases and, in March, the Vatican issued tougher rules governing the sexual abuse of minors.

New Ways Ministry, a US-based ministry which advocates for LGBTQ Catholics, slammed the document as a “harmful tool that will be used to oppress and harm not only transgender people, but lesbian, gay, bisexual people, too.”

Francis DeBernardo, the ministry’s executive director, said it would confuse those struggling with questions of gender identity and sexual orientation — and could lead to self-harm, addiction and even suicide. Research has found LGBTQ teens have a much greater risk of suicide.

“The only truth that the document reveals is that the Vatican remains ill-equipped to discuss gender and sexuality in the modern world,” DeBernardo said. “The Vatican remains in the dark ages, promoting a false teaching that relies on myth, rumor, and falsehoods.”