• Greg Smith

Just Say No

As recreational drug use (especially cocaine) exploded in the 1980s, tearing apart communities, first lady Nancy Reagan launched a public campaign called, “Just Say No.”


She was viciously mocked for being a square and a scold, but it always struck me that she was right. Peer pressure is a powerful tidal force. And like the tides, it works both ways: pushing you to go along and pulling at you with the desire to belong. In the end, the power of “No” is your only real defense.


The redefinition of the human person into a fantasy role-playing gender game with made-up vocabulary has come upon us like a sudden madness in the last decade or so. It reminds me of Charles Mackay’s classic book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds that documented craziness like the Dutch Tulip Mania. “Gender ideology” will no doubt be a new chapter in a future update.


How are we supposed to respond? How do we navigate our way through these strange new times? Can we negotiate and finesse our way into some acceptable compromise? I doubt it. Bullies don’t back down when they are winning, they double down on their demands.


There is another way: just say no. No, we aren’t playing dress up and word games. No, we don’t agree with your demands to redefine human life. No, we won’t let you corrupt the next generation. But that will take courage, and a willingness to face consequences.


Some Catholic dioceses in the United States have started crafting legal policies that positively affirm the Catholic understanding of gender and sexuality within their diocesan school system.

The Diocese of Green Bay has added a clause to its education policy manual that prohibits the use of pronouns and wearing clothes that do not align with a person’s biological sex.
With 54 Catholic schools in the diocese, this policy will apply to around 9,000 students. It will also affect 12,000 people who attend religious education classes. The punishment for violation of the policy, which took effect July 1, can range from corrective action to suspension or expulsion.
“The Church teaches that our identities as male and female are part of God’s good design in Creation, that our bodies and sexual identities are gifts from God, and that we should accept and care for our bodies as they were created,” the policy reads.

Working carefully with civil rights attorneys, they’re asserting private property rights, and the First Amendment freedoms of religion, speech, and assembly. The Diocese of Green Bay isn’t the only one. I suspect that orthodox-minded bishops are collaborating and sharing best practices to keep their Catholic schools, well, Catholic.


There will be consequences. Almost certainly they’ll get sued. The Left will be searching for test cases. Governments will attempt financial reprisals, or exclude Catholic schools from athletic competitions, or whatever. Nike won’t sell them jerseys. There will be nasty social media posts, protests, vandalism. Some parents will pull their kids out. Some teachers and students will give tearful interviews to sympathetic media. The drama!


But on the other hand, I believe that Catholic schools with these policies will see more families coming in than going out. This will bring net growth. There are parents desperate for alternatives to the public schools. Combine this with tuition assistance (state education vouchers?) and we may have to build more Catholic schools.


From the first pages of Genesis we learn that Satan hates God’s creation, especially his creation of humanity, male and female. For two thousand years, Catholicism has articulated a vision of humanity, brilliantly summarized in Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. But we are currently in a struggle over that vision. Tidal forces are pushing us away from it, and pulling us toward a denial of the goodness of God’s creation.


Many people want to just say, “No.” They want our priests and bishops to just say, “No.” I believe that most of them want to just say, “No.” Now, some of them are.


Pray for our bishops.