Published on January 14th, 2019

Memorandum of Opposition

A.747 Gottfried / S.1047 Hoylman
In relation to the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act

The New York State Catholic Conference recognizes the good intentions of the sponsors of this legislation to address unjust discrimination against individuals who are transgender or exhibit gender dysphoria. Every human being is made in the image and likeness of God, and we understand and appreciate the need for protections for all of New York’s citizens, each one having the same innate dignity as any other.

We are concerned, however, that there are legitimate religious principles which religious organizations may assert that may be compromised, and this legislation does not contain adequate religious liberty protections. Religious entities that, as a religious principle, recognize sexual identity and gender as a matter of biological fact, might be compelled to violate religious teachings by this proposed law. This is a concern regarding employment and benefits, and also in the operation of religious schools.

One specific concern is the addition of language amending the Education Law, stating that students in “religious or denominational educational institutions…shall have the equal opportunity to attend” such schools regardless of “gender identity or expression.” This language may be violative of the rights of religious schools (Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc.) that maintain on religious grounds that sex and gender are biologically assigned.

For this reason, we must oppose this legislation absent an amendment that would address the serious religious liberty concerns of religious schools.