Church Refuses to Let 9-Year-Old Girl Wear Suit for Her First Communion

girl can't wear suit to communion
Chris Mansell/Facebook

Cady Mansell from Indiana has been rocking her sense of style through suits ever since she first asked for a bow tie at age 4. She's worn them to church, to the daddy-daughter dance, and to school photos without ever having an issue. So when the 9-year-old was set to make her first Communion at St. John the Evangelist Church, where she also attends school, naturally she chose a killer white suit she felt amazing in. But three days before the event was set to take place, the principal called her mother into the office with an ultimatum. In order to receive the sacrament with the rest of her class, Cady would be forced to wear a dress.

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Cady's parents shared the discrimination their daughter was facing on Facebook. "She can't sit with her classmates. She can't be in any group photos. If she wears a suit we have to pretend like my daughter doesn't exist," her parents said on Facebook after the meeting. If Cady wanted to wear her suit, she would receive her Communion in a private ceremony, completely separate from her friends.

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girl wanted to wear suit to communion
Chris Mansell/Facebook

Cady's parents are both devout Catholics who were highly involved in their daughter's school. Her mother worked there; her father organized the annual Field Day and Vacation Bible School. Her dad explained how generous and selfless his daughter is, always looking for ways to help others. She even shaved her hair for charity. "She was born with a servant's heart. She volunteers to help friends with homework," he wrote on Facebook. "She helps me organize and facilitate multiple school and church functions ... She has donated her hair to Locks of Love twice; her first donation of hair was one of the longest donations ever received in NWI. Last March she shaved her head for St. Baldrick's and raised almost $6,000."

They asked the school to reconsider their position and allow Cady to wear her suit for her Communion. The school refused.

girl who wanted to wear suit for communion wasn't allowed
Chris Mansell/Facebook

So the Mansells did what any parents who love their child unconditionally would do -- they sided with their daughter. They explained how the priest's insistence that they were raising Cady immorally helped them decide that this church and school was no longer the right place for their family.

"The priest told us we are raising our daughter wrong and that we should make her dress feminine because she doesn't have the brain development and maturity to make decisions about how to dress. SO WE LEFT THIS CHURCH," he wrote. Their hope is that Cady's story can serve as a warning to other families with gender-non-conforming children or just daughters who like to wear suits that this church isn't the place for them.

Cady and her sister are now enrolled in a new school, and the family tells Scary Mommy they plan to attend a new church that's known for its more progressive views where non-gender-conforming kids are welcomed to make their sacraments. Still, her parents say the little girl is worried that her peers won't like her if there is another problem over her clothing choices like at her last school.

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It's hard enough to find self-confidence and feel like you're fitting in as a tween. Here's a little girl who's found something that makes her feel good about herself that's not hurting anyone else, yet her church's solution is to try to shame her for it? No child should have to go through this. Bullying and being ostracized for being different is traumatizing enough when it comes from a peer, but it's even more horrific when it's coming from adults in a position of authority from the church. It's no easy thing to uproot your kids into a new home and parish, but Cady and her family deserve a safe space to worship that will support them as they are. It's not just their new congregation that believes this. People from all over the world are stepping up to show their support for Cady and the Mansells.

"Excluding children from their peers over a pair of pants is not how you make lifelong Catholics," wrote Chris. "Making children feel bad about being different is how you create bullies, addicts, suicide victims. I refuse to be a part of it." 

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