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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — An email defending a dress code at a local Catholic school has prompted a family to pull their kids out right before the start of the year.

Abby and Patrick McInerney had every intention of sending both their 4-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son to St. Pius X in Aurora this year. Their son was excited to see the friends he’d made there last year, too.

The Archdiocese of Denver tells the Problem Solvers St. Pius X is in the process of phasing in a new dress code one grade at a time. It started with kindergarten girls last year, wearing skirts or jumpers, now the code is expanding to first graders this year. 

However, the dress code isn’t the issue for the McInerney family, they take issue with the new explanation for it, recently sent in an email to families.

“I went to Catholic preschool, grade school, high school and a Catholic college so I was absolutely fine with uniforms but it was the qualification,” Abby McInerney said. 

McInerney provided the email to the Problem Solvers. In the paragraph reminding families about the new dress code expansion, it states the following :

“As a reminder to families with GIRLS in kindergarten and first grade, your daughter must wear a skirt or jumper in our school plaid each day. Pants and shorts are not allowed for girls in kindergarten and first grade. Our world sends very confusing messages to our kids, telling them that they can choose their own gender. We work to help our kids embrace the gender God has given them at birth. One way to do this is to help them learn to dress for their gender. Let’s face it, men and women dress differently, even if they are both wearing pants! By helping young girls be excited to be a girl and show that through how they dress, we are supporting God’s work of creation of both male and female. Girls may wear shorts, leggings, or tights under their skirts or jumpers. We might have some used skirts or jumpers in the uniform room!”

“I just felt that this was morally wrong and goes against everything I was taught as a young girl in the Catholic religion,” McInerney said.

Archdiocese of Denver makes a statement

However, the Archdiocese of Denver’s response to the FOX31 Problem Solvers argues the opposite:

The Church serves the human person by striving to bring God’s compassion to each and every person. God is a loving Father, and his love is shown first in the great gift of creation. He has made human beings as a body-soul unity, with the soul as the life of the body, what truly forms it as uniquely human. The body cannot exist separately from the soul and the soul and body together constitute the self. A human person does not just have a body — he or she is that body. Sexual identity, embodiment as either a man or a woman, is a gift that is given to us from the moment of creation. 

Accepting God’s will for humanity, as expressed in his creation of the body, includes accepting the reality of sex as male and female. God has given us our bodies as a gift, which, despite any challenges, must be accepted and guarded. Pope Francis described this in his encyclical Laudato Si’

“The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment. It is not a healthy attitude which would seek “to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it (§155). – Pope Francis. 

The Catholic Church teaches that each human being is most fundamentally a beloved daughter or son of God, beautifully and equally created in God’s own image and likeness. 

Any individual who is struggling with gender dysphoria must be treated with genuine love and compassion, but especially for children, we must help affirm for them that God has uniquely created them as a boy or girl. 

Each of the Archdiocese of Denver’s private Catholic schools is trusted to establish policies to best serve, care for, and educate its students in cooperation with the child’s primary teachers – his or her parents. 

Catholic education is a partnership between the school, the parish, and the family, working together towards an agreed upon goal of providing an integrated education rooted in Catholic values and geared towards forming intentional disciples of Jesus Christ. 

If parents have concerns or questions about a particular policy at a private school or a teaching of the Catholic Church, they are encouraged to discuss it with the principal and pastor. 

However, if parents ultimately do not desire an education for their child that aligns with the mission and values of the Catholic Church, we fully respect their right as the primary educators of their children to pursue other educational options for their family. 

St. Pius X uniform policy 

The policy states: “St. Pius X Catholic School in Aurora is in the process of implementing a new dress code for its students. The pastor and principal made the decision to gradually phase in the new dress code by implementing it one grade level at a time, starting last school year with kindergarten students, this year with kindergarten and first grade, next year with kindergarten through second grade, and so on.”

“It broke my heart that’s the education they were going to receive,” McInerney said. “I’m not trying to start a huge ruckus but I just think that people should know that this is still going on and people should know that we are still trying to start a difference between girls and boys and focus on how girls dress and that’s just not okay.”