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Diocese of Cleveland Policy Puts LGBTQ+ Youth At Risk


Russ Petrus, Co-Director –, 216-228-0869 x2
Deborah Rose, Co-Director –, 216-228-0869 x1

On September 1, 2023, the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland issued a Parish and School Policy on Issues of Sexuality and Gender Identity. FutureChurch, headquartered in Cleveland, is disturbed by the dangerous policy, which contradicts expert advice, puts LGBTQ+ youth at increased risk of harm, and co-opts teachers and administrators into oppressing the very students they are called to nurture.  

“The document acknowledges both the reality and the complexity of gender dysphoria, but the policies contained in it immediately seek to erase that reality rather than honestly and openly engage with it,” said Russ Petrus, Co-Director of FutureChurch. 

The directives within the policy directly contradict the advice and best practices offered by medical and psychological experts as well as the lived experience of the LGBTQ+ community.  “Sadly, it is clear that the Diocese of Cleveland didn’t just fail to consult medical doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, school counselors, and other experts in the field– including LGBTQ+ young people themselves; they went out of their way to ignore them entirely,” Petrus added.

“This policy was written out of ignorance and fear, not in the spirit of synodality, which Pope Francis himself has set as the future of the Church,” said Deborah Rose, Co-Director of FutureChurch. “At a time when the global Church is inviting the input, wisdom, faith, and experience of all God’s people, the Diocese is putting conditions on who is and isn’t welcome. In no uncertain terms, this policy tells our LGBTQ+ siblings they are only welcome as long as they’re willing to suppress and deny the truth of their experience,” she continued. 

“The bottom line is that the Diocese has failed these young people. This policy puts LGBTQ+ youth – a population that is already more susceptible to bullying, stigmatization, and death by suicide – at a greater risk of harm, by further ostracizing them from their school community and their Church and by pulling support systems out from underneath them,” concluded Petrus. 

To the LGBTQ+ community, and particularly LGBTQ+ youth, FutureChurch offers this message: Know that you are a beloved child of God and an equal member of the Body of Christ. Like our Creator, FutureChurch affirms and celebrates you and the gifts and diversity you have to offer our world and our Church. We are blessed by you, and we stand with you as together we seek a Church that finally and truly welcomes you just as God created you.


Take Action

Contact the Diocese of Cleveland and let them know that their dangerous policy harms young LGBTQ+ people.

Email: Vincent Gardiner, Chancellor | 
Toll Free: 1-800-869-6525
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