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The bishop of the Catholic diocese in Cleveland, Ohio, faced harsh criticism from the city’s Democratic mayor and even some Catholics this month for his new policy on LGBT students.
The policy requires parish schools to inform parents if their child is experiencing gender dysphoria and bans preferred pronouns. The policy also requires students and staff to use the bathrooms corresponding to their biological sex, and students may only participate in the single-sex sports or activities that correspond with their biological sex. School records must reflect a student’s biological sex.
The diocese’s new LGBT student policy also prohibits same-sex student couples from attending school dances together or publicly displaying sexual attraction. “Pride” decor is also banned at parish schools, and students are banned from publicly celebrating “sexual orientation or identity in ways that are contrary to the Catholic Church’s teaching.”
Finally, gender transitions are prohibited, both “social” transitions involving clothing or haircuts and medical transitions involving puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or surgeries.
“We are experiencing a polarizing and tense time in our culture. Many feel lost and troubled about who they are and their purpose in this world,” Bishop Malesic wrote in a letter accompanying the policy.
“As Catholic Christians, we know that ‘God has formed us for Himself, and our hearts are restless until we rest in Him,'” the bishop wrote, quoting St. Augustine’s “Confessions.”
The LGBT student policy went into effect on September 1.
Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb criticized to the diocese’s new policy earlier this month, accusing the diocese of making students fear “persecution.”
“As a Christian, the Diocese’s policy is a shocking betrayal of the Church teachings that have shaped who I am today,” Bibb wrote in a September 12 post on X.
“For me, faith is about universal love and acceptance. Instead, the new policy forces LGBTQ+ kids to hide their authentic selves and attend school in fear of persecution for who they are. I extend my heartfelt solidarity to our LGBTQ+ friends and students,” Bibb wrote in his post. “Rest assured that this policy, along with any expressions of hatred, doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Several Cleveland area Catholic schools appeared to distance themselves from the policy, one reportedly saying it does not plan to make changes due to the policy, and one saying it is reviewing the policy, Cleveland.com reported.
Those schools are not run by the diocese itself, so they are not bound by the new policy.
Even some Catholics slammed the policy as well, but some disagreed, saying they are happy the diocese issued it.
“I think that it’s important for everybody to be on the same page. And for people to know what the expectations are,” Charley Heintel, 25, a St. Ignatius High School graduate and youth group leader, told Cleveland.com.
“It’s good to see that the diocese is making sure that they help guide all the Catholic institutions to adhere and stay true to our Catholic values and our Christian beliefs,” Heintel said.
The Catholic Church holds that a person’s gender cannot be incongruent with their biological sex and that sexual acts are meant for marriage, making things like acting on homosexual attraction, sex outside of marriage, masturbation, and using pornography sinful.