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Camden Catholic school under fire for not accommodating transgender teen

source: http://www.nj.com/burlington/index.ssf/2016/09/supporters_of_transgender_student_criticize_camden.html

By Rebecca Everett | For NJ.com 
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on September 13, 2016 at 11:45 AM, updated September 13, 2016 at 11:56 AM

CHERRY HILL TWP. — A 14-year-old Williamstown student was accepted to Camden Catholic High School and awarded scholarships earlier this year, but is not attending the school this fall.

Mason Catrambone is transgender, and the school refused to welcome him as a male when the student they had admitted was a female named Madelyn Catrambone, according to a petition supporting him.

The diocese spokesman said the school could not accommodate the student's wishes to live as male there because doing so would "contradict Catholic teaching on gender identity."

Now, the diocese is defending itself after an online petition in support of Mason was circulated. It had nearly 1,400 signatures by Tuesday morning.

"When Camden Catholic learned that since then Catrambone goes by Mason and identifies as male, the school refused to accept him for who he is," the Change.org petition states. "I ask that students, faculty, alumni, and anyone else who doesn't support Camden Catholic's decision, sign this and show that you stand with Mason."

The petition was started by a student at the high school, according to the website

Michael Walsh, a spokesman for the Diocese of Camden, said that it was the family's decision for Catrambone not to attend the high school and news sites have erroneously reported that the school refused to accept Catrambone as a student.

"We recently received a request from parents of a student registered as female to change the registration to male and to make various accommodations. After discussion with the student's parents and reflection on the requests, it was clear that we could not provide the accommodations, as they would contradict Catholic teaching on gender identity," Walsh said on behalf of Camden Catholic High School. "As a Catholic school, our principal mission is to form students in the Faith and we must always be true to the teachings of that Faith, even — indeed especially — when those teachings are challenged by the secular world."

Walsh said the teachings of the Catholic Church and Pope Francis are that biological sex and gender "can be distinguished but not separated."

He said the Diocese of Camden fully supports the school's decision.

"In the last several years the topic of gender identity has been pushed to the forefront of the national consciousness," the diocese statement said. "It is a subject the Church has wrestled with, as we have strived to remain open and welcoming to all, even though the philosophy of gender change sits opposite to Catholic teaching."

The family told the Philadelphia Inquirer that they insisted their son be able to wear a boy's uniform and said that he would be willing to change and go to the bathroom in the facilities in the nurse's office. But the school refused to allow these requests.

Catrambone, who came out to his parents as transgender in May, told the Inquirer that he doesn't want to go to a school that sees him as a "problem."

"They can't look past what I'm going through, and see me as a human being," he told the newspaper.

Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.