Thinking Anglicans

Bishop says faith schools must tackle homophobic bullying

The Bishop of Manchester, Nigel McCulloch, has sent a message of support to the Exceeding Expectations Initiative, which is a project in Manchester aimed at tackling homophobic bullying in schools. Here is the full text of his statement:

“Bullying, of whatever kind, is always completely unacceptable. At its worst it leads to atrocities such as the Nazis’ persecution and extermination of people on the grounds of their race, religion or sexuality.

That is why faith schools must, as many do, lead the way in combating bullying – and not least the bullying of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, be they young or old.

I am very sad about the homophobic attitudes of some people. The exclusion, intolerance, prejudice, hatred and fear that homophobia feeds must be eradicated from our society – as I have strongly and publicly said on many occasions.

It is vital that the Church does as much as possible to keep dialogue going between all God’s people. That means everyone – whoever, whatever, wherever we are – including of course the gay community.

So much that goes wrong in our sad and divided world is because we do not listen or try to understand each other. Bullies never want to listen or understand – and so, in the end, damage themselves and their own quality of life.

Unfortunately, in the process, all of us who belong to a society in which bullies are allowed to flourish become sufferers. And, as projects such as Exceeding Expectations have shown, in its efforts to get rid of homophobic bullying in our schools, the children who are bullied can be deeply scarred for life.

That is why school staff should know how to challenge homophobic remarks – including the use of the word “gay” as a term of abuse. Teachers may need specific advice about this aspect of their role, because it is their job to affirm all pupils. That includes gay, lesbian and bisexual pupils, who, like everyone else, have a right to be themselves without being bullied.

One of the blessings that I frequently use at the end of worship includes the important command: “honour all people”. That is fundamental to the Christian faith. That is why Church schools – and schools of other faiths too – should always be places that encourage a climate of honour and respect.

Of course, as everyone realises, not everyone agrees about homosexuality. But that can never become an excuse for bullying.

I urge all faith schools to make sure that every pupil is fully included as part of the school community and encouraged in his or her studies. Each of us is made in God’s own image; and every one of us is precious to God. That should be the motivation of all our faith schools: to honour all people, including those who identify themselves as lesbian and gay.”

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Erika BakerFord ElmsFather Ron SmithdrdanfeeMerseymike Recent comment authors
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Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

A very important message to be sending out. It is so needed. Then people will need support to think it through thoroughly, face their (& others) demons, and implement it. Implementation is never straightforward.

(‘”this kind goeth not forth save by prayer and fasting” ‘, Jesus)

Maybe other bishops, deans religious order heads, and the Synods will take it up too. And take into every level of our communities.

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

This is the same bishop who suddenly decided to overrule all the plans for LGCM’s conference worship in Manchester Cathedral five years ago ……

Ah well I’m sure we can believe all he says ….

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

It certainly does need to be said, and often. That’s the meaning of the repeated official Church statements deploring the mistreatment of gay people, regardless of the theology used to understand homosexuality. This gives an indication that these are not just hollow words after all. But how useful is it? I mean, I don’t think faith schools are dressing kids up in T-shirts declaring homosexuality to be “unEuropean” or some such, faith schools aren’t agitating for the imprisonment of gay people, or declaring that we are not made by God, at least for the most part. So, while reducing or… Read more »

JPM
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JPM

Here is a current news story from the U.S. that illustrates graphically the importance of the bullying issue:

Mom says Springfield boy, 11, who committed suicide was repeatedly bullied at school

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/04/mom_says_springfield_boy_11_wh.html?category=Deaths&category=Education&category=Springfield

Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

“The exclusion, intolerance, prejudice, hatred and fear that homophobia feeds must be eradicated from our society – as I have strongly and publicly said on many occasions.”

Great words: does the Diocese of Manchester follow non-discriminatory employment policies with regard to its clergy, then? The “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” which seems to currently obtain throughout the C of E serves to maintain a culture of exclusion and fear, of course…

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

Many public [tax-payer supported and open for free to students living in its school district, eg, a town, a county] high schools have student-initiated gay/straight alliances, just as they have stamp clubs etc. The purpose is to give gay students ‘safe space.’ In many parts of the country, this is a safe place for students who cannot talk about sexuality issues at home or at church to explore their self-understanding. If you are interested, google “gay-straight alliance.”

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold)
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Tell all that to Akinola (as a start).

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

But why should schools honour people who identify as lesbian and gay – when their sponsoring church refuses to honour their loving relationships and their vocations to the ordained ministry

toby forward
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The Church of England is the market leader in homophobic bullying in this country. It has institutionalised oppression of homosexuals. Why should the children in its schools not follow this lead?

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

Bishop Nigel states a truth that needs to be heard – not least by the officials of the Church. A sea-change is need in attitudes towards the LGBT community that actually exists within the Christian fold – hitherto anonymous and silent because of the entrenched opposition of many of the clergy. A first step might be to acknowledge the incidence of LGBT people who are actually in the ranks of the clergy – but until the Church is honest about this reality, there can be no progress amongst the laity who are ignorant on matters of human sexuality and preference.… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

I think the Catholic Church has got the balance right… we are opposed to homosexuality but love the people and belive that they should not be treated unfaitrly and unkind terms like, queer, poof etc

Interesingly as a teacher I have had homophobic remarks shouted at me as a teacher. It is quite a common experience for teachers, whatever their sexuality.

There are three things I will not tolerate in my classroom..children taking God’s name in vein, homphobic and racist langauage.

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

By the way the Bishop of Manchester is married to a woman priest..so I wonder how he can revise St Paul in one area and not in another.

By the way I should have said in my previous post….take the Lord’s name in vain, not vein!

Sorry for the typos.

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“I think the Catholic Church has got the balance right… we are opposed to homosexuality but love the people and belive that they should not be treated unfaitrly and unkind terms like, queer, poof etc” So, we can be said to “get the balance right” if we come out with these high sounding pronouncements while showing by our behaviour that we don’t even know what those statements mean, let alone have any understanding of the people about whom we are making them, or indeed, about sexuality in general? That’s the “right balance”? Seriously? That really isn’t all that different from… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

I don’t think Robert’s stance is at all acceptable. The only acceptable position is full inclusion and affirmation.

And I do not believe religion should have any part in running education

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“The only acceptable position is full inclusion and affirmation.”

Acceptable to whom?

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Yes I too find it vexed when/if I try to give the bishop credit where credit is due. We know too much as modern, educated citizens and believers. A tipping point has emerged in the empirical studies published (mainly in the western democracies’ peer reviewed journals) since World War II; a sufficient number of positive cultural alternatives have played out for a sufficient number of years in various countries around the world as people did something other than and more positive than the traditional negative views about queer folks. The intellectually legitimate waffle room for citizens and believers to keep… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“Acceptable to whom?”

To many of the 94% who don’t go to church any longer?
To many of us who were once attracted to the message of a God who loves us, only to find that this love appears to be hugely conditional on being the right kind of person with the right kind of beliefs?

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“To many of the 94% who don’t go to church any longer?” And they get to tell not just us, but God Himself, what’s acceptable and what’s not? Human beings get to say to God “Well, I can believe this, but not that, and I’m kind of dodgy on this, so I’ll follow you, but only in the places where I agree with you”? The Church has to change Her teaching in response to that? All the same, I think it’s more a reaction to the Church than to God. But it still seems to share some of the adolescent… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“And they get to tell not just us, but God Himself, what’s acceptable and what’s not?” Well, the difficulty is to know what is acceptable to God. And ultimately, it’s a matter of faith not of doctrine. The RC church can have as many infallibility statements as it likes about women not being able to be priests and about homosexuals being deviants. I just “know” as much as I know anything about God that this is wrong. I cannot make myself believe that they’re right just because they say so. Nor can I make myself believe that the Anglican Communion… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“Exactly. And so people keep God in their lives but walk away from the church” – Erika – Dear Erika, whatever you think about the hierarchy of the Church – Anglican – Roman Catholic or other – there is no way in which you should ‘walk away’. As a child of God, baptised into his Son, Jesus Christ, you ARE THE CHURCH! Your membership of the Church is perhaps all the more important because you are different. Saint Paul tells us that ‘though many, we are all one body’, infused by the same Holy Spirit through our common Baptism into… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Fr Ron, you’re wonderful, thank you! The thread started out on a more impersonal basis when I butted in on a conversation that Ford and Merseymike were having. But you’re right to perceive that it is also personal. I suppose it all depends on how you define “church”. For me, it is the community of all believers, the real body of Christ. And no, I could never walk away from that! On the other hand, just as I have deliberately chosen not to become a Roman Catholic, or a Baptist, so I feel entitled to walk away from another denomination… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“I just “know” as much as I know anything about God that this is wrong. I cannot make myself believe that they’re right just because they say so.” And you are right to “know” that, Erika. I also “know” that God loves me, and that will never change, no matter how many Akinolas tell me I am not even created by God. But that doesn’t mean I have the right to demand that the Church accept what I “know” as God’s truth. It isn’t God’s Truth, it’s mine. I am just trying to work out my salvation in fear and… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ford “But that doesn’t mean I have the right to demand that the Church accept what I “know” as God’s truth. It isn’t God’s Truth, it’s mine. I am just trying to work out my salvation in fear and trembling like everybody else” I don’t understand fear and trembling. With a God of love, there is none. Well, if any truth you know to be true is only your truth, never God’s truth, then what are you doing, trying to discern God in your life? I think that if you and I and thousands of others “know” deep in our… Read more »