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New Catholic Diocese of Cleveland policy bars 'preferred pronouns,' LGBTQ+ expression, gender-affirming care

The new rules apply to all parishes and schools of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, impacting students, staff, and volunteers.

CLEVELAND — In a series of sweeping policy changes, the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland has issued new rules for its affiliated churches and schools relating to "sexuality and gender identity."

The policy, signed off by Bishop Edward C. Malesic and Chancellor Vincent Gardiner on August 30 and implemented on September 1, impacts everything from LGBTQ+ expression, to gender-affirming care, and use of bathrooms.

The changes come amid "a polarizing and tense time in our culture," Malesic wrote in a letter to the diocese. "Many feel lost and troubled about who they are and their purpose in the world. This search for life's meaning and purpose touches the core of who we are as human beings."

There are nine key items as part of the new policy:

  • "In the case of a person who is a minor, if and when a member of the staff or faculty of an institution becomes aware that such minor is experiencing gender dysphoria or gender confusion, the institution shall, with reasonable promptness, notify such minor's parents or guardian of that fact."
  • "Only pronouns that accurately reflect a person's God-given biological sex shall be used when addressing that person. No person may designate a 'preferred pronoun' in speech or in writing, and no institution shall permit such designation by any person on institutional email, correspondence, or other communications."
  • "When using an institution's bathrooms or facilities, all persons must use the bathrooms or other facilities that correspond to their God-given biological sex."
  • "A person may only be admitted to an institution that is designated as single-sex consistent with his or her God-given biological sex. A person may only participate in institutional activities (whether curricular or extracurricular, athletics, ministries, or other programs) that are designated as single-sex consistent with his or her God-given biological sex."
  • "No person may attend a dance, mixer, or similar event sponsored by an institution with a date of the same God-given biological sex or publicly express and/or display sexual attraction to or romantic interest in members of the same-sex at such event." 
  • "Every person is expected to present and conduct themselves in a manner consistent with their God-given biological sex. Specifically, this means that every person is expected to refrain from acting in a manner the purpose of which is to hold themselves out as being a sex or gender that is inconsistent with the person's God-given biological sex or which, regardless of intent, has the effect of causing confusion or scandal regarding the person's sex or gender relative to the person's God-given biological sex."
  • "No person may publicly advocate or celebrate sexual orientation or identity in ways that are contrary to the Catholic Church's teaching and that could cause disruption, confusion, or scandal regarding the Catholic Church's teachings. This includes, but is not limited to displaying symbols such as "LGBTQ pride" rainbows or "LGBTQ pride" flags or other symbols that can be construed as being opposed to Church teaching."
  • "No person may engage in so-called social transitions, surgeries, or medical treatments that seek to ''transition" the person to a sex or gender inconsistent with his or her God-given biological sex. This includes, but is not limited to, puberty blockers prescribed or taken to delay puberty in those diagnosed with gender dysphoria, and hormone and surgical treatments to "feminize" a biological male or "masculinize" a biological female."
  • "All institutional records and documents shall reflect a person's God-given biological sex and legal name."

You can read the complete Catholic Diocese of Cleveland's "Parish & School Policy on Issues of Sexuality and Gender Identity" below:

"Those persons who choose to openly express disagreement with Church teaching on matters of sex, sexuality, and /or gender in an inappropriate or scandalous way, or who act in ways contrary to the teachings of the Church, may be subject to restrictions on his or her participation in the life of the institution or, in appropriate cases, to disciplinary action, both for that person's own good and/or the good of others," the policy adds. 

The diocese says the new policy applies to "all offices, parishes, parish schools, and diocesan schools of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland (each an 'institution') as well as their employees, personnel, volunteers, students, and youth participating in parish or institutional faith formation."

Malesic says he has formed "a team of individuals who have background and understanding in the theological, moral, legal, pastoral, and educational facets of these matters" for further assistance and guidance. 

"The human person, created in the image and likeness of God, deserves the utmost respect, for each person's dignity is inherent and inviolable" Malesic closed in his letter to the diocese. "Let's keep this fundamental principle at heart as we move forward and engaged in our various ministries."

You can read Malesic's letter below:

In response, the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland released a statement calling the policies a "massive setback in creating an affirming community here in Northeast Ohio," while also calling out the diocese for, in their words, "contradict[ing] recent more accepting attitudes set forth by Pope Francis."

A statement on the Cleveland Catholic Diocese’s newly instituted policies. For families and youth seeking support and resources in light of this harmful rhetoric, visit our website or call us today.

Posted by LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland on Tuesday, September 12, 2023

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