A Catholic school in Kansas refused to admit a same-sex couple’s kindergarten-aged child. Now, more than 1,000 people are protesting the decision and urging the church to change its mind.

In a letter sent to the parents of students at St. Ann Catholic School in Prairie Village, the Rev. Craig J. Maxim explained that he had sought the archdiocese’s opinion on the matter: “Same sex unions are not in conformance with the Church’s teachings,” and same-sex couples could not model their “behaviors and attitudes,” wrote Maxim, pastor at St. Ann Catholic Church and the school.

The Archdiocese of Kansas City believed children of same-sex couples, and their potential classmates, would be exposed to “a source of confusion” and, as a result, advised against enrolling the kindergartner, Maxim said.

Maxim’s congregants circulated a petition to neighboring Catholics in protest of the decision; as of Wednesday, it had more than 1,000 signatories, the Kansas City Star reported. They also sent a letter to Archbishop Joseph Naumann and St. Ann Superintendent Kathy O’Hara last week, urging them to “prayerfully reconsider the policy.”

The letter goes on to say the decision “lacks the compassion and mercy of Christ’s message.”

St. Ann Catholic School declined to comment and referred all calls to the archdiocese, which did not return a request for comment.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the legality of same-sex marriage in 2015. The landmark civil rights case, Obergefell v. Hodges, held that the right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by the due process clause and the equal protection clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Still, Catholics seeking guidance look to church leadership, which has not yet changed its long-standing disapproval.

As a private institution, St. Ann Catholic School is likely on solid legal ground. As a moral matter, it’s not as clear-cut.

Although some dioceses do permit children of sex-same couples to enroll in Catholic schools, the Star reported, it does not seem likely in Prairie Village. O’Hara said in the statement to the Star on Wednesday, “Church’s teaching on marriage is clear and is not altered by the laws of civil society.”

The Catholic doctrine, she said, recognizes marriage “as a sacrament entered into between a man and woman.”

Read more