A Roman Catholic school in Prairie Village, Kansas, denied admission to the child of a same-sex couple. A petition asking church leaders to reconsider the decision was signed by more than 1,000 people, including several parents. It was addressed to Archbishop Joseph Naumann and school Superintendent Kath O’Hara.

The petition read, “Respectfully, we believe that the decision to deny a child of God access to such a wonderful community and education based on the notion that his or her parents’ union is not in accordance with the Church’s teaching in Sacramental marriage lacks the compassion and mercy of Christ’s message."

The petition also argued that the school allowed students who were not Catholic and asked the archdiocese to consider the various ways in which “modern marriages may be inconsistent with the Church’s teachings” as they include divorce, vasectomies, remarriage without annulments and fertility treatment.

In a letter to the parents in February, St. Ann Catholic School priest Reverend Craig Maxim said he sought guidance from the Archdiocese of Kansas City after the couple sought enrollment for their child in kindergarten at the school. The letter said the Archdiocese refused to accept the child since the parents could not “model behaviors and attitudes consistent with the Church’s teachings.”

The letter further said that admitting the child in the school may create a conflict for the child and what is experienced at home. It may also become a source of confusion for the other children. Though some of the dioceses across the United States allow children of same-sex parents to join their schools, this stance applies to all the schools under the local archdiocese, he said.

In response to the petition, O’Hara said, “Church’s teaching on marriage is clear and not altered by the laws of civil society. Catholic doctrine recognizes marriage as a sacrament entered into between a man and a woman. The Church teaches that individuals with the same sex attraction should be treated with dignity. However, the challenge regarding same sex couples and our Catholic schools is that same sex parents cannot model behaviors and attitudes regarding marriage and sexual morality consistent with essential components of the Church’s teachings.”

The issue of Catholic dioceses and their willingness to adapt to changing attitudes about gay marriage and gay clergy is one that is being debated over, all over the country.

In 2018, a priest in Hilton Head Island in South Carolina refused to allow the children of a married lesbian couple to enroll in a Catholic school, drawing criticism from parents who also called it discrimination. The diocese did not have a policy for children of same-sex couples and the decisions of enrollment were often left to individual priests.