WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - Some Worcester streets closed Wednesday as people marched from the Worcester Catholic Diocese office to City Hall to protest a decision from the diocese saying local Catholic school students will not be allowed to change their gender pronouns at school.

Church leaders recently announced the policy which now has many people outraged and showing support for the LGBTQ+ community.

“We love you, we see you, there are people in your community and in your churches, in your social environments that do care about you and will support you,” said Joshua Croke of Love your Labels on Wednesday.

The Worcester diocese detailed its policy for local catholic schools in a statement, saying in part “…when a person experiences same sex attraction or some form of gender dysphoria, such struggles do not change the biological fact of how God created that person, and it would be untruthful for the Catholic church or our Catholic schools to pretend otherwise.”

State Sen. Robyn Kennedy, with 16 years of Catholic education, joined the protest on Wednesday. 

“I’ve read the Bible page by page and I know that the key message that comes out of it, that we see here today, that we’ve heard here today, is love,” Kennedy said. “And while government does not have the power to directly overturn this policy, I implore Bishop McManus to change his heart.”

At least one school has responded, with Saint John’s High School in Shrewsbury saying it will be sticking with its own policy. 

“Most importantly, the Saint John’s community will continue to ensure that all of our students know they are loved by God and feel safe and secure in our school each and every day,” the school said in a statement. 

In Worcester, LGBTQ+ supporter Rich Xenos on Wednesday wanted to be as supportive as possible for people.

“It’s killing me that, on a regular basis, we see young people shunned and put aside,” Xenos said. 

One nonbinary student who grew up going to Catholic school in Worcester and who currently attends Emmanuel College in Boston said they feel there is common ground to stand on.

“The level of wanting to learn about their students and wanting to accommodate people so that they can help find their relationship with God is really important, letting them know that this too can be a safe place for our queer youth,” said Tyler Charpentier. 

“You can see it in a lot of Catholic schools across the country and the Worcester diocese is not living up to the times,” Charpentier said.

The protest on Wednesday lasted for about two hours. Organizers said they hope the protest will prompt Bishop Robert McManus to respond in a different way as students return to school.

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