A San Francisco Catholic school supports transgender teacher’s decision to come out.

The Mercy High School in San Francisco, California, is a Catholic all-girls college preparatory high school. Part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, the school is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland. Gabriel Stein-Bodenheimer, a teacher and the English Department chair at the school, until recently has been addressed as Ms. Bodenheimer or just Bodenheimer by the students of Mercy High. However, from now on, he will be addressed as Mr. Bodenheimer.

Gabriel Bodenheimer, who has been part of the school's faculty since 2012, who had provided his gender identity as female upon joining the school, recently came out as a transgender man. Thanks to the fair and rational decision of the order of the nuns that runs the school and that of the school's sponsoring religious community, Bodenheimer will be continuing his employment with Mercy High. San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, supporting the official decision of the school, stated that the decision falls within the legitimate range of prudential judgment. According to him, in situations like this, respect for personal choices and institutional integrity has to be upheld.

This favorable decision to a transgender man comes amidst a growing national debate on transgender rights, including gender-specific access to locations such as locker rooms, bathrooms, and so on. Last Friday, a directive issued by the Obama administration has made it necessary for the public schools to allow transgender students to use locker rooms and bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.

According to the president of the 16-state region of the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community, Sister Laura Reicks, they took the decision based on their values. As per their values, the dignity of each and every person has to be supported, irrespective of religion, race, gender identification or sexual orientation.

In a press release issued by the school, Bodenheimer has been quoted as saying “For my own sense of authenticity in the classroom, it was important to name myself, to identify myself, to bring the whole self into the aspect of my teaching. It is important to speak to this issue, not to be silent.” According to the release, Bodenheimer is Jewish, but is committed to adhering to the Catholic values of identity of the school.

According to Bodenheimer, he is thankful for all the support that the sisters, the students, the faculty members, and the administration have given him. He says he love teaching at Mercy High. It was important for him to come out because he wanted to have a sense of authenticity in the classroom.

According to Mercy High’s board of directors chair, Diane Lawrence, the 10-member group was unanimous in their support of Bodenheimer.


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