A Catholic church in Indiana is responding to reports that it denied a 9-year-old girl her First Communion because she wanted to wear a suit for the ceremony.
In comments emailed to The Christian Post on Monday, the parish stated that the Mansells had long agreed to adhere to the church's dress code regarding both First Communion and the private school that Cady was enrolled in.
"The Mansells freely joined this parish and enrolled in our school. They signed a covenant to abide by our policies, which includes a dress code for our school and events such as First Communion," explained the parish.
"They also had an older child who went through our sacramental program, so they were more than aware of the traditional expectation for appropriate dress."
The parish also told CP that church and school officials attempted to strike a compromise with the Mansell family, which included "a type of skirt she could attach to the suit" for the ceremony that Mansell had reportedly purchased, or a private ceremony instead.
"I reiterated the option of a private First Communion but stated that I could not allow her to participate in the public ceremony in deliberate disregard for the dress code," continued the Parish.
"[I told Mr. Mansell] if we had a ball team and the uniform was green, and your daughter showed up wearing a purple uniform, she would not be allowed to play."
The Facebook group "Pantsuit Nation – Public" posted a message last Thursday from Mansell arguing that the parish had disinvited her daughter, Cady, over her reported desire to wear a suit.
"We went all out and made a weekend out of finding her the perfect outfit...one that makes her feel beautiful and confident," read the Pantsuit Nation post, describing her daughter as being "heartbroken" over the incident.
"Unfortunately her school and church heard about the suit and told us today, 3 days before the event, that my daughter is uninvited to attend First Communion as long as she plans on wearing a suit because it violates the dress code that was just released last week."
Since the incident, the Mansells announced that they have left the parish and have transferred their children to a new school.
Regarding the claims of discrimination, the parish replied that the parents knew about the dress code and that the Mansells specifically said that "this is not a transgender issue" and that no physical issues like allegies to fabric were noted.
"Contrary to reports that cite the child's aversion to dresses, Cady wears skirts and dresses regularly. In fact just a few days before this incident, she chose to wear a dress for her school photo," noted the parish.
"From the beginning of this unfortunate affair, I have held Cady up in prayer. I worry what all this media attention will mean for her. I am trying not to be judgmental, but for the life of me I cannot understand why her parents would expose her to such scrutiny over something so trivial."