In a move that’s already stirring controversy, the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland recently unveiled a series of anti-LGBTQ+ regulations affecting its institutions, from parish schools and diocesan offices to faith formation programs.
New Anti-LGBT Policies Impacting Multiple Institutions
The policies, which directly influence the actions of employees, students, youth, volunteers, and personnel, were signed into effect by Bishop Edward C. Malesic and Chancellor Vincent Gardiner on August 30 and began their implementation on September 1.
The Diocese Justified the New Guidelines
In an official news release, the Diocese justified the new guidelines in response to societal trends.
“Rooted in Scripture and Church Teaching”
“The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland has taken existing guidance and practice in matters of sex, sexuality, and gender identity and developed them into a formal policy, rooted in scripture and Church teaching,” the release said.
Key Aspects of the New Diocesan Policies
The policies touch on various aspects of daily life in these institutions: Pronouns used must match a person’s “God-given biological sex.”
Restroom and Facility Access
Restrooms and facilities access is determined by the “God-given biological sex.”
Admission Criteria for Single-Sex Institutions
Admission to single-sex institutions must align with one’s “God-given biological sex.”
Restrictions on Participation in Single-Sex Activities and Programs
Participation in single-sex activities or programs is restricted to one’s “God-given biological sex.”
Same-Sex Dates Banned
At events, attendees are prohibited from having dates of the same sex or openly displaying same-sex attractions. And institutional records will display only the “God-given biological sex” and legal name.
Gender Transition, Surgeries, or Treatments Banned
Transitions, surgeries, or treatments that shift a person’s gender from their “God-given biological sex” are not allowed. And LGBTQ+ symbols, such as pride rainbows or flags, are also banned.
Mayor of Cleveland Expresses Solidarity With LGBTQ+ Community
Cleveland’s Mayor, Justin Bibb, responded to these developments, saying, “I extend my heartfelt solidarity to our LGBTQ+ friends and students. Rest assured that this policy, along with any expressions of hatred, don’t go unnoticed.”
It Goes Beyond Pronoun Usage and Restroom Access
The Diocese’s directives go beyond just pronoun usage and restroom access.
Outing of Trans Students to Parents
Notably, they include outing trans students to parents, banning pride flags, and disallowing the use of preferred pronouns that do not coincide with the sex assigned at birth.
Pope Francis’ Critique
This comes at a time when Pope Francis, during a meeting in Portugal on August 28, criticized the “very strong, organized, reactionary attitude” of some American Catholics, accusing them of swapping faith for ideology.
Widespread Introduction of Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills in the U.S. In 2023
Across the United States, 2023 has witnessed the introduction of over 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in various state legislatures, as per data from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Restricting Gender-Affirming Care
Of these, ten were proposed in Ohio, spanning a range of topics, from banning trans women in sports and forbidding drag performances to restricting gender-affirming care.
Critics of the Catholic Diocese Policies
Critics argue that these policies foster an environment of exclusion and discrimination and attack a significant portion of the population who already find themselves battling prejudice and misunderstanding daily.
Following Their Doctrine
Social Media users’ reactions were polarized. One user said, “There are MANY references to homosexuality being against Christianity, and not just in the Old Testament like so many try to argue. 1 Timothy 1:10-11, Mark 10:6-9, and many more. All they are doing is following their doctrine.”
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As various sectors of society respond – many with complete approval and many with complete opposition – it remains to be seen how this policy will play out in real-world scenarios and what repercussions it might have for both the Church and the affected community.
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