FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL: An English seminar class at Villanova University reportedly required students to read a play depicting a graphic sex scene between minors, one of whom identifies as transgender.
Jennifer Joyce teaches the Core Literature and Writing Seminar Class at Villanova, ENG 1975-020, titled Narratives of Belonging in Contemporary Irish Literature. The specific class is one of several options for students who are required to take the core seminar, though students may be forced to take the class if the other class options have been filled.
On Tuesday, Joyce led discussions of the play “Scorch” by Stacey Gregg. “Scorch” is inspired by stories of biological women in the United Kingdom who tricked other women into having sex with them by pretending to be men. Examples include Fiona Manson, who now goes by Kyran Lee, charged with assault by penetration for having sex with another woman while pretending to be a man, as well as Gayle Newland, sentenced to eight years in prison for pretending to be a man in order to dupe her friend into having sex with her.
“Scorch” takes the side of the woman doing the duping.
“The reading was mandatory because there was a quiz on it, so if you did not do the reading, you would have failed the quiz in class,” a female student who is taking the class told The Daily Signal. “Further, the discussion in class labeled everyone who did not understand what the main character ‘Kes’ was going through as homophobic or transphobic.”
The student, who asked to remain anonymous since the class is currently still in session, said the play contains a sex scene between two minors who are 17 and 15. Both of the minors (Kes and Jules) are biologically female and met on a dating app, she said, but Jules thinks that Kes is a boy. Kes’ character is reportedly “confused” about her gender identity and deciding whether or not to transition to attempt to become a boy.
When the sex scene takes place, Jules is apparently unaware that she is having a sexual encounter with a biological female.
“I was visibly uncomfortable throughout the whole discussion as the teacher offered no opportunity for dissent and was oblivious to the members of the class who were clearly [made] uncomfortable by this transgender sex scene,” the student told The Daily Signal.
WARNING GRAPHIC: The following excerpt is taken from “Scorch” and may be unsuitable for some readers.
Neither Villanova nor Joyce immediately responded to requests for comment.
“Even the most liberal members of the class did not know which pronouns to use to describe the main character of the play because the main character is a girl who is clearly lesbian and hasn’t undergone a transition yet, but goes to a transgender support group where they talk the character into using terms like ‘agender,’ ‘gender fluid,’ etc., etc. and convince her it is a good thing to transition,” the female student explained.
The Daily Signal spoke with this student following a report from The Daily Caller’s Sarah Weaver that Villanova had removed a number of gender identity terms from its housing application. The move came after The Daily Caller reached out to the university asking why it included the gender options, such as “two-spirit,” “gender fluid,” and “gender queer.”
Villanova told The Daily Caller that the initial options were provided by an “outside vendor,” and its housing application form now offers only three gender options for students: male, female, and “nonbinary,” terms reportedly consistent with those on the Common Application.
“The latest version of the housing application included a more comprehensive list of gender identity options than Villanova typically uses; this default list was provided by an outside vendor and has since been updated,” the school said.
“The Office of Residence Life is committed to ensuring every student feels comfortable and welcome in their on-campus housing situation. As part of our Augustinian values of Veritas, Unitas, Caritas—Truth, Unity and Love—Villanova seeks to be a welcoming and inclusive community that respects members of all backgrounds, identities and faiths.”
The female student who spoke with The Daily Signal said that she feels like she has been “slowly going insane” as she strives to get a good grade in Joyce’s class, believing that she must emphasize themes of sexism in order to please her instructor.
“The whole class is about identity, I feel like my identity is being shredded here, because I kind of have no choice. I feel like I’m slowly losing my soul,” she said, describing her experience in the class as being “gaslit, 24/7.”
“And also, I’m at a Catholic school where my parents paid so much money to send me, and the fact that this is being taught in a Catholic school is probably the most frustrating part,” she added.
Villanova is, in fact, known as a private, Catholic university, but it is unclear how faithful to Catholicism the institution actually is. As The Daily Caller reported, it boasts of so-called anti-racist and diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings as well as uses “gender inclusive” practices in language and curriculum.
It is not among the Catholic colleges promoted by The Cardinal Newman Society, an organization which advocates for solidly faithful Catholic education. Many thousands of Catholic families reference the Newman Guide when deciding where to send their children for college.
“An authentic Catholic university is devoted to the truth of Catholic teaching, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church does not recognize a ‘nonbinary’ gender,” Patrick Reilly, president and founder of The Cardinal Newman Society, told The Daily Signal. “The complementary of men and women is essential to Christian anthropology and marriage.”
“Yes, a Catholic university should welcome students who struggle with error and seek the truth,” he added, “but a university that willingly compromises truth is worthless and even dangerous.”
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