Mount Saint Charles criticized for transgender student policy

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — A local school is coming under fire for a written policy stating the school will not accept transgender students.

Mount Saint Charles Academy in Woonsocket said it won’t allow transgender students to continue to enroll.

According to the Catholic school’s 2015-16 Student Handbook:

“Mount Saint Charles Academy is unable to make accommodations for transgender students.

Therefore, MSC does not accept transgender students nor is MSC able to continue to enroll students who identify as transgender. “

Eyewitness News started looking into the school after an upset alum contacted us asking for an investigation.

We went to the school but administrators wouldn’t talk on camera.

While there, Eyewitness News ran into another alum, who said she was at the school trying to return her diploma because she was so hurt by the policy.

“It felt like a punch to the gut – I started crying,” said Megan Jackson.

Jackson, who graduated in 2014, said she felt the need to inform administrators for the first time that she is a lesbian – and is hurt by the new policy that she feels is an attack on the LGBTQ community.

“I wouldn’t want to be able to keep my Mount diploma if there are other kids who weren’t going to be able to get it,” she said.

After talking with the school’s president, Jackson said she decided to keep her diploma and is hopeful the school will make changes and become more inclusive.

“People should be able to be safely out of the closet clearly but …it was just the fact that they put it down in words that certain students are not allowed. It was such a jolt,” she said.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, the school added clarification, saying in part:

“Mount Saint Charles Academy deeply regrets the unintended hurt feelings at and seeming insensitivity of our policy regarding the acceptance of transgendered young people.

The policy that currently appears in the Mount Saint Charles Student Handbook is not intended to be discriminatory toward transgendered students nor is Mount Saint Charles Academy’s intent or desire to exclude transgender students.

The policy was put in place for the simple reason that Mount Saint Charles feels that its facilities do not presently provide the school with the ability to accommodate transgender students.

The school also mentioned that no transgender students have applied and that they will look at ways they can accommodate them in the future.

An online petition to get the school to change its policy already has hundreds of signatures.

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