CLEVELAND (WJW) – The Cleveland Catholic Diocese is implementing a new “sexuality and
gender identity” policy that includes banning preferred pronouns.

It’s all part of their new policy that applies to all schools and parishes within the diocese.

“Our first reaction was really heartbreak and a lot of sadness. Especially with the increase in the anti-LGBT rhetoric, the different types of legislation that are coming down the pipe,” said Gulnar Feerasta with the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland.

The rules apply to all parishes, schools and offices, as well as students, employees and volunteers.

Among the rules, staff are required to notify parents if minors are experiencing “gender dysphoria,” preferred pronouns are not allowed and people must use the bathrooms that correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth.

“It creates a real chilling effect in both schools and parishes,” said Ben Huelskamp, executive director of LOVEBoldly.

LOVEBoldly is an Ohio faith-based nonprofit for the LGBTQ+ community.

“It doesn’t surprise me but what does surprise me is that the diocese did it from a top down perspective rather than allow each parish or each school to come up with their own policy,” said Huelskamp.

The policy also bans the display of pride flags and same-sex couples at school dances.

It also prohibits gender-affirming healthcare such as puberty blockers, hormone medication and surgery.

The Diocese declined to answer questions about the policy Monday. However, they released the following statement:

“In response to societal trends and at the request of church and school leadership, 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, to help ensure that these matters are addressed in a consistent, pastorally sound and authentically Catholic manner across our diocesan and parish institutions and schools.”

They go on to say “every person is welcome and invited to be a part of the church.”