The general secretary of the Italian bishops conference stressed on Friday that the attempt to introduce textbooks into the nation's schools that present gender theory as a fact are an effort to turn biological data upside down.

Bishop Nunzio Galantino of Cassano all'Jonio, general secretary of the Italian bishops conference, spoke following a meeting of the Italian Bishops Permanent Council, which took place Jan. 26-28.

On the bishops' agenda were new regulations for  church buildings and the theme for the general assembly to be held in May, as well as some general issues, the most compelling of which was the introduction into Italian schools of texts supporting gender ideology.

Gender theory or ideology is the notion that one's 'gender' is chosen and need not correspond with one's biological sex.

In his opening address, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa underscored that the issue is pivotal, and mentioned Pope Francis' concern over the ideological colonization of families, which he expressed twice during his trip to the Philippines earlier this month. Pope Francis lamented that foreign aid to developing countries is often tied to acceptance of gender theory, and called it a form a colonization.

Cardinal Bagnasco talked about the adoption of gender-oriented books in Italian primary schools, asking, "Have the books by the A.T. Beck Institute - captivatingly titled 'Educating for diversity in school' and inspired by gender theory - really disappeared from Italian schools?"

He then said the aim in spreading those books is that of "colonizing the minds of children, boys and girls, with a distorted anthropological vision, without having previously requested and obtained the  authorization of parents."

Cardinal Bagnasco's denouncement followed a lengthy struggle of parents' associations in Italian schools.

Following the 2012 issuance of a "National Strategy for the prevention and contrast of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (2013-2015)," Italian schools have included sexual education plans that follow gender ideology.

Parents' associations have taken a strong stance against these plans of sexual education, including opposition to the adoption of the book "Educating for diversity in school", issued by the National Office of Anti-Racial Discrimination.

The books have been printed, but were not distributed following the large protests from parents' associations.

In December, an initiative of CitizenGo gather almost 50,000 signatures asking the Italian Minister for Education to ban gender ideology in Italian schools.

"Currently, educational projects are often presented with the aim of 'combating discrimination'," reads the petition.

But "the generic topic of 'non discrimination' very often hides the negation of the natural sexual difference and its reduction to a cultural phenomenon; the freedom to identify as any gender, despite one's biological sex; the equivalence of any form of union and of family; the justification of almost every sexual behavior."

This year, Amnesty International has presented a "high school teachers' handbook" titled "Schools active against homophobia and transphobia. LGBT rights, human rights."

The handbook stresses that, as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child considers children able to express their own ideas and make decisions, "it is necessary to understand that LGBT persons' rights are human rights," and that if a school child "is wondering about his sexual orientation or gender identity," then it is important to provide "positive images of the life of LGBT persons."

The handbook also deals with gender theory, and explains to teachers "the difference between biological sex and gender."

All of these issues have been widely discussed at the Italian Bishops Conference Permanent Council.
The final declaration of the Bishops Council stressed that this culture "does not preserve the family as the central cell of society," but that it "denaturalizes the family," and equates family "with any other affective link."

Bishop Galantino called the "effort carried out with textbooks to propose gender theories to boys and girls as a matter of freedom" a "poisoned chalice."

He added that "individual rights are legitimate, but they cannot be smuggled as the path that leads to the common good, which is based on other grounds."

The bishops' concerns echoed those observed by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, when he said Dec. 19, 2013 that "today one of the greatest problems (facing Catholic schools) is when large organizations want to impose gender ideology."