Father of trans soccer player speaks out against school system’s anti-LGBTQ policies

The father of a transgender son strongly opposes a set of school policies on LGBTQ+ identity recently released by the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, SD

“Students may not advocate, celebrate, or express same-sex attraction in a way that confuses or distracts in the context of Catholic school classes, activities, or events,” reads a document titled “Human Sexuality in Educational Settings”. “When speaking of homosexuality or homosexual inclinations, the use of the term ‘same-sex attraction’ is preferred, as it is a more appropriate description in accordance with the truths of faith and morals Catholics. For the purposes of this policy, the defense of civil unions between persons of the same sex and/or the granting of civil rights to persons participating in the union will be considered equivalent to the defense of persons experiencing same-sex attraction. »

He continues, “Students may not advocate, celebrate, or express transgenderism in a way that confuses or distracts in the context of Catholic school classes, activities, or events. … All policies should reflect appropriate considerations for people with gender dysphoria. However, these accommodations must be kept within strict limits. Whenever possible, these limitations should be made known to all parents so that informed decisions can be made while traveling with their child who has gender dysphoria.

To John Wilka, these policies and an accompanying letter from Bishop Donald E. DeGrood amount to bigotry. The letter argues that “transgender ideology undermines the very basis of marriage and family, which are the foundation of human society itself.”

“These policies in this letter are very frightening and very dangerous,” Wilka recently told Sioux Falls television station KSFY. “I’m afraid it will hurt the children more. That there will be suicide attempts. That there will be real cases of suicide.

Wilka’s 15-year-old transgender son Kris is South Dakota’s only trans student athlete. Kris made national news when he left the Sioux Falls Catholic school system so he could play football. Wilka said he thinks the diocesan documents, released this summer, are in response to his son’s transition. They tell LGBTQ+ students and their supporters that they are not welcome in Catholic schools, he says.

The policy states that “in respect to the admission or continued enrollment of any student in a Catholic school who claims to be in transition or in transition, the bishop must be consulted and will serve as the final decision maker.” It adds that “no student shall be admitted, enrolled or permitted to continue as a student in a Catholic school if the expression of their gender, gender identity or sexuality is a cause of confusion or disturbance for other students in the Catholic school system”.

It’s like telling students to think, “Oh, no, that’s different. It’s bad. I have to attack this. God doesn’t like that,” Wilka said.

He also denounced the bishop’s use of the term “transgender ideology”. “It doesn’t exist,” Wilka told the station. “It’s an expression [used] by people who don’t understand it, who are simply against it. These are the same people who thought maybe you could “pray gay”. It will not arrive.”

The policies and the letter reflect “the new culture wars in America,” Wilka added. “They lost gay marriage; they lost the interracial marriage years ago. And now they are attacking trans and non-binary youth.

Part of these culture wars, he said, is the implication that trans people are trying to “convert” others. “My son is no threat to you,” Wilka said. “He’s not going to come into your house and try to convert your kids and win an air fryer. He just wants to grow up to be the young man God wanted him to be.

DeGrood was unavailable to comment on the station.

Jeremy S. McLain