Cleveland Bishop Targeted for School Policy on Gender Ideology, but Tide Is Turning

Bishop Edward Malesic reminds his flock that the beauty of God’s design of being created male and female is imbued with meaning and purpose.

The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Cleveland, Ohio
The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Cleveland, Ohio (photo: Lucky-photographer / Shutterstock)

In modern times where authentic disciples are maligned by woke agendas, Cleveland’s Bishop Edward Malesic has become a target based on his directive, Parish & School Policy on Issues of Sexuality and Gender Identity.

The policy restricts LGBTQ+ expression in the Cleveland Diocese’s 84 schools serving roughly 42,000 students. It directs parishes and schools to affirm the biological sex of all persons. Parents are to be notified “with reasonable promptness” when students identify as a sex different than they were born. In cases where a teacher fears for parental abuse, they must “consult the Diocese Legal Office and the Bishop’s designated moral theologian.” Clothing, bathrooms, pronouns and sports programs are to be consistent with students’ “God-given biological sex.”

Bishop Malesic explained that the beauty of God’s design of being created male and female is imbued with meaning and purpose. “As stewards of these gifts, we are called to accept, love, and care for our bodies as they were created.”

He noted that throughout the U.S., students are being encouraged “to forsake their divinely created sexuality for a gender identity of their own, even at the cost of mutilating their bodies to construct a facsimile of a different sex. Their commitment to this fiction often regards parents as potential enemies who must be kept in the dark.”

According to him, “The Church recognizes that such experiences can be complex and emotional to work through and, for some, incredibly burdensome and painful.” But separating gender from biology, he explained, “is contrary to the divinely revealed reality of our true, God-given human nature.”

Catholic Institutions, he said, must “be committed both to providing a loving environment and to upholding the truth of God's created reality” following the Catechism of the Catholic Church to accept them with respect, compassion, and sensitivity and not unjustly discriminate (CCC 2358).

“All are welcome,” he said, “with the understanding that by voluntarily accepting the invitation to be a part of a Catholic community, a person also accepts the responsibility of striving to do good and avoiding what is not, consistent with Catholic moral teachings, as well as of upholding the rules and expectations of the community, which are designed to reflect the fullness of the Church’s teachings.”

The Usual Backlash

Naturally, this policy provoked passionate responses on both sides. Many applaud the bishop’s defense of truth while others demand reversing the policy.

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb tweeted, “This policy forces LGBTQ+ kids to hide their authentic selves and attend school in fear of persecution for who they are.” He blasted the policy as “a shocking betrayal of the Church teachings that have shaped who I am today.”

Some detractors claim Pope Francis would be very disappointed, quoting his words on acceptance and inclusion while ignoring that just this year, he referred to “gender ideology” as one of the “most dangerous ideological colonizations.”

Backlash includes Marilou Johanek’s editorial, “Vouchers awards public Ohio tax dollars to discriminatory private religious schools,” in the Ohio Capital Journal. She called the policy “blatantly discriminatory” and complained that tax dollars are being “used in the name of God against the humanity of LGBTQ+ people.” Johanek claimed, “The Church’s ‘all are welcome’ spin is a conditional precept based on strict adherence to unchristian bigotry.” She added: “The way Jesus turned nonconformists away.” 

That last worn-out accusation ignores that Jesus told people, “Go and sin no more.” Psychological illness is not a sin, but Jesus did not leave people in a state of illness or accept sin. Bishop Malesic’s policy is about helping people toward health rather than solidifying mental illness down harmful paths. 

Johanek also accused: “Apparently, inclusive, affirming, nonjudgmental love is overrated.” Using the adjective “affirming” assumes love demands supporting error and the word “nonjudgmental” ignores that we are required to judge right from wrong while still loving others. 

The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland is accused by her of aligning with “culture war” extremists. She says they have “effectively blessed the record wave of hateful anti-LGBTQ+ bills being introduced by right-wing politicians in Ohio and Republican statehouses across the country (500 and counting).”

Hateful? I heard only compassion during testimony in the North Dakota Legislature on transgender bills and likewise when reading of other states’ policies. It is no more hateful than helping an anorexic who is dangerously thin to see the feeling of being grossly overweight is not reality.

Tide Turning

The transgender agenda is losing ground. Even in states where it’s not legally banned, gender clinics are banning such treatment amid fears of being sued. Many are doing so, such as a 21-year-old in Minnesota, who was diagnosed with gender dysphoria by a therapist during a one-hour session and referred for “top” surgery after the second appointment, getting a mastectomy at 16.

This past summer, Denmark joined a growing number of European countries banning or recommending against transitioning minors. The Journal of the Danish Medical Association, Ugeskrift for Læger, confirmed that most youth now get therapeutic counseling and support rather than puberty blockers or surgery. In less than a decade, Denmark saw an exponential increase in gender dysphoria among young people. “In 2014, there were only 4 documented pediatric cases who requested gender reassignment. By 2022, the number of referrals grew by 8700% to 352, similar to the several-thousand-percent increase in less than a decade witnessed by a number of Western countries.”

In the U.S., data from Seattle Children’s Hospital gender clinic reported that more than 60% of the referrals underwent medical transition with puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones within one year of intake. However, some countries, including Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the U.K., are turning to counseling instead. 

The rationale for this shift, according to the Journal of the Danish Medical Association is the reality of a very limited understanding of the epidemiological shift in the population presenting for care, the increasing rates of detransition, and the uncertainty about long-term outcomes. 

The mainstream media has not been reporting on stories such as 19-year-old Chloe Cole, who called on Congress in July to halt gender-reassignment therapies and surgeries for minors, saying her “childhood was ruined.” And at least 12 studies show that 4 out of 5 kids who question their gender grow out of it on their own

Those regretting the permanently damaging treatments realize they were not born in the wrong body, and could never become the opposite sex, and their underlying mental-health issues should have been addressed instead. That is exactly the sentiment of Bishop Malesic’s policy.