Dear STA Community,
For the past few weeks, the administration and I have engaged in multiple conversations and several listening sessions with various stakeholders discussing thoughts and opinions related to gender identity. Thank you to everyone who has participated. Some of these conversations have been very emotional, and many in our community are grappling with some very important journeys, anxieties, and decisions. Recently, many serious questions have been raised about pronouns and gender identity.
St. Teresa’s Academy respects, affirms, and protects the dignity of every single member of our community. We uphold our mission to be a community of welcoming and inclusiveness committed to equity and justice. Discrimination will not be tolerated, regardless of race, skin color, sexuality, gender identification, age, political beliefs, socioeconomic levels, zip code, or affinity group membership.
Since 1866, St. Teresa’s Academy has been guided by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet’s values and visions, as well as anchored in our mission of educating young women to think critically, encouraging them through Catholic values to love the dear neighbor without distinction, and empowering them to change the world.
I want to acknowledge that the administration did require a “pause” of a gender identity article that the Dart newspaper class was working on for various reasons of privacy that cannot be disclosed. The pause was not designed to silence the writers’ voices. Instead, it provides opportunity for further internal discussions and education about this complex topic within our STA community, and ensures that the class sponsor guides Dart students in the pursuit of journalistic integrity. There is also no directive to silence and censor the morning announcers of the Teresa Broadcasting Company. All school clubs and extracurriculars have guidelines that must be followed, consistent with our core values. As long as these articles and announcements are created in a spirit of respect, and adhere to our values, they can continue. Faculty and staff will continue working with the students now and going forward to ensure this criteria is understood. It is essential that we approach our work together thoughtfully, with informed perspectives and patience. We must work together in our community with deliberate planning and action at the forefront of what we do.
Principals Dr. Liz Baker, Ms. Barbara McCormick, and I have already made significant progress discussing the gender identity issue with many students, faculty, staff, and Board of Directors members. Because we are a caring, action-oriented community, we have been reviewing policies and procedures, lining up speakers who have expertise in the subject, as well as implementing constructive changes for student members. As always, my door is open should you wish to discuss any questions or concerns.
We are living in a time of great challenge, a time of rapidly changing issues, where there is not a single blueprint, road map, or instant remedy for many of these complex challenges. If we are faithful, have patience, and continue to work together in our community with respect, St. Teresa’s Academy will be an even better place. I look forward to forging and continuing effective partnerships that help support our mission. In the words of St. Teresa of Avila “In this house, all must be friends, all must be loved, all must be held dear, and all must be helped.”