Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, will begin allowing men who identify as women to enroll at the college in the fall of 2024, an email obtained by The Daily Signal shows.

President Katie Conboy told faculty in an email sent Tuesday afternoon that “Saint Mary’s will consider undergraduate applicants whose sex assigned at birth is female or who consistently live and identify as women.” That news was first reported by the Notre Dame student newspaper, The Observer.

The college is still determining the “practices that will follow from the policy,” Conboy’s email said. She wrote that she selected a group of individuals to serve on a “President’s Task Force for Gender Identity and Expression” that is “charged with gathering information and best practices from other Catholic colleges and women’s colleges and will present their recommendations on student housing considerations.”

“We are by no means the first Catholic women’s college to adopt a policy with this scope,” Conboy wrote in the email. “In drafting the language for this update, I have relied on the guidance of the Executive Team and others to ensure that our message is not only in line with best practices for today’s college students, but that it also encompasses our commitment to operate as a Catholic women’s college.”

Advocates for protecting women’s spaces were quick to condemn the move.

“In the name of empowering women, St. Mary’s has abandoned women,” Independent Women’s Voice adviser Riley Gaines told The Daily Signal. “It would be comical if there weren’t real consequences women have to endure. Men would not put up with this mistreatment and gaslighting for a second. It’s time women take back our spaces, our opportunities, and our language.”

“St. Mary’s College is no longer Catholic,” junior Saint Mary’s student Claire Bettag told The Daily Signal. “It is no longer a women’s institution. This is fraudulent misrepresentation at best. Every student should be entitled to a refund for fraudulent misrepresentation. An attorney should file a class action lawsuit against the college. They have abandoned their faith, and they’ve abandoned the women. No woman should be forced to share a bathroom or living quarters with a man.”

St. Mary’s alumna Clare Ann Ath also slammed the decision, saying that “Saint Mary’s College has yet again failed to uphold an authentic Catholic worldview.”

“The decision to allow biological men admission to Saint Mary’s College, a Catholic women’s institution, is a rejection of God and his design,” Ath said. “You are not a woman just because you ‘consistently live and identify’ as a woman, and it’s a disservice to promote such a radical ideology.”

Conboy’s Tuesday evening email, sent as the college dispersed for Thanksgiving, included the following non-discrimination policy:


Saint Mary’s College is a Catholic women’s college. Saint Mary’s considers for admission undergraduate applicants whose sex is female or who consistently live and identify as women. Saint Mary’s College undergraduate admission policies are informed by Title IV of the Education Amendments of 1972, which allows for single sex admission policies in institutions that have historically served women. Graduate degree programs are open to all. 

The mission of Saint Mary’s College is to empower women, through education, at all stages in life. Essential to this mission is fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus experience. This mission is inherently tied to the vision and values of our founders and sponsors, the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Through these values, Saint Mary’s is committed to respecting the dignity of each person and valuing what each individual brings to our community.

Outside of the specific undergraduate admission criteria, Saint Mary’s does not discriminate
in admission, employment, or administration of its programs and activities on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender expression, gender identity, age, disability, genetic information, military service, or any other characteristic or class protected under federal, state or local law. The College complies with all state and federal laws that prohibit discrimination, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Pay Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

The policy can be found on our website here.

The email also quotes Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church: “Pope Francis advocates for love as the appropriate approach to those who are different from ourselves: ‘Love, then, is more than just a series of benevolent actions. Those actions have their source in a union increasingly directed towards others, considering them of value, worthy, pleasing and beautiful apart from their physical or moral appearances. Our love for others, for who they are, moves us to seek the best for their lives.’”

“The revised non-discrimination clause seeks to advance just this kind of community, where we honor the dignity of all persons who work at the college and we follow an inclusive admission process that retains our identity as a Catholic women’s college,” Conboy wrote.

The Daily Signal previously reported that Saint Mary’s had denied the foundation of a Turning Point USA chapter, allegedly because Turning Point USA’s messaging on biological sex does “not align” with the Catholic college’s mission.

In one email reviewed by The Daily Signal, Liz Baumann, director of student involvement and advocacy, claimed that because Saint Mary’s is a “Catholic institution of higher learning,” the school has an obligation to be “diverse, inclusive, and equitable. Baumann added that the “approved student-led clubs” must “be the same.”

In another email to Bettag, then a sophomore, the college’s dean of students, Gloria Jenkins, pushed back against the idea that denying the Turning Point USA club was discriminatory, accusing Turning Point USA of “messaging around LGBTQ+ issues” that does “not align with the mission and values of Saint Mary’s.”

Her email cited Turning Point USA’s live feed pages to “Transgender Issues and other LGBTQ+ issues” as well as the organization’s “Real Men Aren’t Women” merchandise, which she called “anti-trans.” She also pointed to the Turning Point USA’s Second Amendment merchandise featuring the word “COEXIST” spelled out in weapons.

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