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Religious reactions to gender identity: a comparative analysis of select Canadian and Australian Catholic schools

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-23, 04:00 authored by Tonya Callaghan, Alix Esterhuizen, Leanne HighamLeanne Higham, Michelle Jeffries

Determining the depth of discrimination against gender and sexual minority groups in Catholic schools of selected western nations is best undertaken from an international-comparative perspective.In this article, we compare the Canadian case of Alberta’s‘washroom wars’and a‘gender row’over uniform changes in an Australian Catholic high school. In each case, practises inclusive of gender diversity in Catholic schools were framed as  a departure from Catholic doctrine. To explore how  oppressive structures exist and operate within schools, we examine media accounts of each case using Critical Discourse Analysis and contextualize this analysis by examining Canadian and Australian educational and legal settings. We find that despite differing legal frameworks, some Catholic schools continue to place Canonical law above the rights of transgender and gender-diverse studentsi n both countries. We therefore argue that it is the Catholic system’s institutional stance on gender and sexual diversity that perpetuates discrimination.


This work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Development Grant # 430-2017-00047.


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Gender and Education


Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group



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© 2023 The Author(s). This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License(, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.

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