The Church of England has produced new guidance for Church Schools to prevent homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic bullying.
The Archbishop of Canterbury writes for ACNS:
One million children are educated in Church of England schools. We are determined to make them places where every child can flourish. Our new guidance to help Church schools tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying is about making every one of our 5,000 brilliant schools safe places to grow up. All bullying causes profound damage: it leads to higher levels of mental health disorders, self-harm, depression and suicide.
The Church of England is committed to an education that enables people to live life in all its fullness, and fulfils the words of Jesus in John 10:10: “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.” This guidance helps schools to offer the Christian message of love, joy and the celebration of our humanity without exception or exclusion.
The guidance is about prevention of bullying, not sexual ethics. It reflects the Church’s understanding that every person has intrinsic dignity as a human being
The guidance underlines the importance of recognizing, recording, and addressing HBT bullying, and refers to the British Government’s instruction to schools to “prevent extremism and to teach British Values.”
Schools must now ensure that they promote British Values which include challenging extremist views, understanding the importance of identifying and challenging discrimination and the acceptance of individual liberty and mutual respect. In July 2016, following a rise in hate crime after the Brexit vote, the Government issued Action Against Hate. This plan for tackling hate crime includes the need to challenge homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools.
If any school is not educating pupils to understand the rights of all people to live freely within their sexual orientation or gender identity without discrimination they would be failing in their duty to prepare their pupils to live in modern Britain.
The guidance includes recommendations for the provision of trained pastoral care for students in need of support, and that curricula should include, “Opportunities to discuss issues to do with self-esteem, gender identity, and anti-bullying including HBT bullying …The curriculum should offer opportunities for pupils to learn to value themselves and their bodies.” Relationship and sex education (RSE) should take LGBT people into account, and include “the Church of England’s teaching on human sexuality and a range of Christian views …, as well as a range of perspectives from other faiths and world views.”
Schools should ensure that their Christian ethos statement offers an inclusive vision for education. This includes affording pupils a sense of their own dignity and a vision of the innate dignity of all humankind. Inclusivity and hospitality should be hallmarks of Church of England schools: every child should be revered and respected as a member of a community where all are known and loved by God.