'It's really upsetting': Students speak out against Catholic high school's gender pronoun policy

WHEATON, Ill. -- After the first week of school at St. Francis in Wheaton, Ill. some upperclassmen are speaking out about the high school's policy on pronoun use.

"I don't have a problem with someone wanting to be called a different pronoun if that's what they feel like," said Daniel O'Connell, a junior at St. Francis.

"I don't see a reason why you shouldn't let them use different pronouns. It's not hurting anyone or anything like that," added a fellow classmate.

Pronouns: Showing respect and inclusion

"I think we should just love them and respect their opinion of what they want for their own body," said Carter Riggs, who is also a junior at the school.

Wednesday night, St. Francis sent a letter to parents clarifying that the high school will adhere to the Joliet Diocese policy for staff to interact with students based on their biological sex.

"The wording in their policy was really alarming to me," said Regan Kasprak.

"They are kind of going backward in time instead of changing," added Jenna Jamieson.

Senior Jupiter Beck had used female pronouns but with the start of school this week, has since asked to be called him or them.

"It's really upsetting as a student to have the most powerful people in the school ignore who I am," Beck said.

Some alumni are petitioning the school to reverse this policy.

The Diocese of Joliet and St. Francis declined ABC7's invitation to be interviewed on camera, but the spokeswoman for the Diocese said in a statement:

"Many students at St. Francis High School received a 'get-to-know-you' hand-out that included questions about their hobbies, favorite vacation spots, ideal learning techniques, nicknames and preferred pronouns, to name a few. The question of preferred pronouns does not conform with Catholic Social Teaching."
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