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HomeNewsCaroline Farrow: Faith schools fall to the transgender zealots

Caroline Farrow: Faith schools fall to the transgender zealots


Looking for an education for your child which reflects what were, until very recently, normal mainstream Christian values? Then you’d better give all state-funded faith schools a miss and either find yourself a free school set up by like-minded people, give up your job and home-school or sell a kidney and send your children to one of the independent schools which has yet to succumb to the LGBT zeitgeist, because you sure as heck aren’t going to get anything resembling a Christian education in any state school.

I refer to the new guidelines for schools, called Valuing All God’s Children, issued by the Church of England designed to address bullying of LGBT pupils. To be fair, some of the instructions are sensible. If little Johnny decides to dress up in high heels, a tiara, frock and feather boa from the dressing-up box, then leave him be. As the advice points out, children use play to learn and find out about the world and there’s no need to stick labels on them because they might prefer an activity typically associated with that of the other sex.

That’s something the transgender lobbyists need to take on board – much of the testimony surrounding children who are supposedly transgender seems to centre solely around the fact that a boy went through a phase of wearing princess frocks and liking dolls or that a girl steadfastly refuses to wear a dress and loathes pink!

Leaving kids to play how they want (with the usual sensible caveats about behaviour) ought to be general advice for all educators in a nursery or reception-class setting, rather than specific to faith schools.

Schools ought already to have robust policies in place when it comes to dealing with bullying, instead of attempting to prioritise a particular minority. What about the children who are overweight, wear glasses, have sticking-out ears or gloriously titian hair? Don’t they get special policies too? Bullying is always wrong and should always be stamped upon firmly, no matter what form it takes.

The idea that faith schools need to have specific policies on LGBT bullying is solely about undermining traditional Christian teaching on marriage, which is deemed to be ‘harmful’. It’s why lobby groups such as Stonewall have been targeting faith schools and offering them free training. It’s a win-win. If faith schools don’t take up the training, then Stonewall can claim that it’s desperately needed, a real problem, there’s a need for more targeted resources and legislation. If they do, Stonewall can point to their success, co-opt the schools’ statistics to support their narrative and ask for more funds to support their ‘vital’ work.

Two of the listed authors of the guidelines are not specifically Church of England theological advisers but professional Stonewall employees, Dominic Arrall and Sidonie Bertrand-Shelton, head of projects and programme manager respectively.

It comes to something when the Church of England is telling teachers in their schools that the Christian faith and the Bible must be ignored. If a teacher inadvertently uses the wrong name or set of pronouns (like this poor chap), or their religious conscience compels them not to accept that a boy is now a girl, then this is in effect bullying and must not be allowed. Never mind the fact that affirming a child’s gender dysphoria is not the ‘watchful waiting’ approach advocated by medical experts, and neither is it the most compassionate or Christian approach.

Have they really thought this through? The Church of England still forbids same-sex marriages, therefore what if a transgender person now wishes to marry someone who was born into the same sex as themselves? What if two brides or two grooms turn up at the altar, one of whom is really a different sex to the other? Pity the poor vicar, it’s going to be like something out of a bad 1970s sitcom!

Another fatuous piece of guidance is that schools ought not to require children to wear uniforms which ‘present difficulties for trans pupils’. Again, this accepts the narrative that children can change sex, which is something wholly contrary to Christian teaching, as well as scientific fact. Why should girls be denied the opportunity to wear a dress or skirt just to suit the tiny minority of supposed trans pupils? Why should teachers and pupils, especially those who have chosen the school in the vain hope that it might be able to help and support them in exercising their religious conscience, be coerced into a practice which is in itself abusive and forces them to lie as well as deny their faith?

Nobody wants children to be bullied for any reason, but there’s something sinister about specific documents and tick-boxes encouraging teachers to name the bully, with children potentially having a permanent accusation of homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying on their record for what might have been an innocent mistake or harmless piece of playground banter.

Any schools that do not teach the importance of gay or transgender rights will be ‘failing in their duty to prepare their pupils to live in modern Britain’. In other words, unless schools teach children to applaud and validate the personal relationship decisions of individuals, unless they teach children to accept uncritically that men can marry men, women can marry women and that gender identity is all about feelings, they aren’t fit for purpose! Biblical or traditional Christian values have been distilled to vague platitudes about love and compassion, God letting you do what you please and that while He may have ordered creation and made you in His own image, he stuffed up along the way and gave you the wrong body.

Sadly, the Church of England is not alone in this madness. The Catholic Church’s Catholic Education Service released a similar document a few months ago, which they commissioned the Catholic St Mary’s University in Twickenham to write. It caused much controversy after it proposed lesson plans in which pupils were encouraged to be alert for and challenge perceived homophobia in the home, and examples of bullying included referring to another child’s trainers as ‘gay’. It transpired that huge swathes of the document, designed to be used by teachers in all Catholic schools, had been copied and pasted verbatim from Stonewall and LGBT Youth Scotland. Reports of individual Catholic schools around the country introducing transgender-friendly policies and uniforms for students have been popping up like mushrooms.

Following a complaint by a parent (whom I strongly suspect was an activist) at Holy Ghost Roman Catholic primary school in Wandsworth, which was upheld by the Office of the Schools’ Adjudicator, the Catholic Education Service is now understood to be preparing a form which erases the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ to be replaced by ‘family’. This is the direct result of the introduction of gay marriage, which in its attempt to extend the franchise to the minority has stripped the majority of their identities of mum and dad, in favour of the amorphous and asexual parents 1 and 2. Anyone wanting to claim differentiation between the sexes is now a transphobic bully.

The updated guidance for Anglican schools reflects the liberal drift of the Church of England for some years now, so it shouldn’t be all that surprising. What ought to concern us is that it appears to be fear of Ofsted and being marked down as extremist which is causing Catholic schools to follow suit. For all her talk about religious freedom, Theresa May’s government appears to be imposing its interpretation of Christian values on schools in a way which would make Beijing proud. If faith schools are forced to impart a bowdlerised version of their faith, there seems little point in having them. Those churches which still own their buildings and land should reclaim them, sell up and start again, free of state interference. Sometimes tiaras merit a tantrum.

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Caroline Farrow
Caroline Farrow
Columnist for the Catholic Universe

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