Monday, 12 May 2014

Archbishop Launches New Guidance for Tackling Homophobic Bullying in Church of England Schools

The Church of England’s guidance for tackling homophobic bullying in its schools was published this morning. The document Valuing All God’s Children: Guidance for Church of England Schools on Challenging Homophobic Bullying can be found here. The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued this press release.

Archbishop Launches New Guidance for Tackling Homophobic Bullying in Church of England Schools

The Archbishop of Canterbury has today launched a report from the Education Division of the Church of England “Valuing All God’s Children: Guidance for Church of England Schools on Challenging Homophobic Bullying.”

The guidance, which is being sent to all Church of England schools, provides 10 key recommendations which should be adopted by schools in combating homophobic bullying as well as sample policies for primary and secondary Church schools. Published by the Church Of England Archbishop’s Council Education Division, the guidance involved consultation and involvement with a number of Church of England schools with existing good practice.

Speaking at a Church of England Secondary School, at Trinity Lewisham, The Right Reverend Justin Welby said that the publication of the guidance fulfilled a pledge he made last July when addressing the Church of England’s General Synod.

“Less than a year ago I set out my concerns about the terrible impact of homophobic bullying on the lives of young people and I made a public commitment to support our schools in eradicating homophobic stereotyping and bullying.

“Since then an enormous amount of work has gone into producing this guidance so that commitment can be turned into action. I am extremely grateful to all those who have worked so hard to produce it and I particularly want to thank the schools and young people who have contributed.

“Church schools begin from the belief that every child is loved by God. This guidance aims to help schools express God’s love by ensuring that they offer a safe and welcoming place for all God’s children. This is a task we are called to share and I know it is one our schools take immensely seriously. I commend this guidance as a contribution to that work.”

In his address to the Church of England’s General Synod in July 2013, the Archbishop said:

“With nearly a million children educated in our schools we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying; but we must also take action. We are therefore developing a programme for use in our schools, taking the best advice we can find anywhere, that specifically targets such bullying. More than that, we need also to ensure that what we do and say in this Synod, as we debate these issues, demonstrates above all the lavish love of God to all of us.”

The Guidance published today notes that the purpose of schools is to educate and the aim of this guidance is to protect pupils in Church of England schools from having their self-worth diminished and their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived/actual sexual orientation:

“Church schools are places where boundaries should be strong, where any harmful words or actions are known to be unacceptable, and where there are clear strategies for recognising bullying and dealing with it in a framework of forgiveness and restorative justice. Children and young people in Church of England schools should be able to grow freely and to be comfortable and confident within their own skins without fear or prejudice.” (paragraph 19 of Guidance document)

Lambeth Palace issued Archbishop visits CofE school to launch anti-homophobic bullying plans.

William McLennan of The Independent anticipated the publication of the guidance with this report: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby condemns anti-gay bullying in schools.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written this article for i: Tackling homophobia in Church schools: There is room for everyone, but not for behaviours which cause harm

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 11:00am BST | TrackBack
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Comments

Justin Welby:
'the complexity of combatting homophobic bullying (in church schools) while still teaching the traditional Anglican view of marriage.'

Yes, I can see how that could be quite complex to a gay pupil in a C of E school:

We think bullying you because you are gay is awful, but when you grow up you can't get married in any of our churches because we think being gay is a sin, and you can never become a minister in our church for the same reason. Any questions?

Posted by: stephen Morgan on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 11:55am BST

"Children and young people in Church of England schools should be able to grow freely and to be comfortable and confident within their own skins without fear or prejudice.” Archbishop of Canterbury

So, when a gay teenager, who hopes to marry one day, discusses with his/her school Careers' Officer that they feel they have a call to ordination, the Officer won't say "The House [of Bishops] is not, therefore, willing for those who are in a same sex marriage to be ordained to any of the three orders of ministry."?

Also, a note to readers outside the UK: the Archbishop's references to "Church of England schools" and "our schools" means schools controlled by the Church of England but that are funded almost entirely by the State, including all salary and premises costs. I believe they are what would be referred to as 'public schools' in the USA.

I'm sorry, but guidelines to reduce homophobic bullying (however well-intentioned) are built on quicksand when they are issued by an institutionally homophobic organisation.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 12:23pm BST

I dare say I will not be the only person pointing out that whilst these are good words and intentions, coming from an organisation which can sack people for being in a gay relationship and which refuses to bless people in a gay relationship, these words looks hollow at best and hypocritical. Do as I say, not as I do. It is all very well telling other people how to behave but at some point you have to put it into practice yourself.

Posted by: sjh on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 12:37pm BST

This from the co-president of the House of Bishops who not three months ago issued (more) discriminatory "Guidance." Shame! May our school children be properly educated out of the prejudices our leaders still hold (or at best collude with.)

Posted by: Dan BD on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 12:59pm BST

"the aim of this guidance is to protect pupils in Church of England schools from having their self-worth diminished"

Excellent objective.

So Church of England schools will recognise that a gay or lesbian teenager's sexual orientation and future intimate sex is normal, natural, acceptable to God, and teach that gay and lesbian sex is as good and as legitimate as heterosexual sex?

Because self-worth needs that affirmation of that natural state of being and sense of who a young person knows they are.

Other protections from bullying are fine, and commendable, but it needs to go further than that, to affirmation and celebration.

Otherwise, the system acts as part of the diminution, the silence and erasure, the marginalisation.

Personally I don't believe state-funded schools should be faith schools anyway. But to the extent that they are, their teaching must assert the validity, alrightness, and equal excellence of gay, lesbian and heterosexual sex.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 2:00pm BST

It is like trying to combat racism whilst saying being black "falls short of the ideal." Quite a tall order!

Posted by: Iain Baxter on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 4:02pm BST

The hypocrisy is astonishing.

The doublethink is debilitating.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 4:41pm BST

Iain,
we're not racist because there is nothing wrong with being black as long as you don't act black.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 4:58pm BST

Plenty of racists believe there are two sorts of racism.

There's the bad sort (which, obviously, as they are good people they don't suffer from) in which they get involved in street brawls and the occasional killing.

But there's the gentle sort, the nice sort, which they can feel OK about. They convince themselves it comes from deep conviction rather than nasty violent prejudice. Then they just deny people of the "wrong" race employment, services and companionship, but in a gentle way which doesn't give them bruised knuckles. Joining the BNP or the EDL is so common, whereas genteel racism ("it's not that I don't think they should come to this college, more that I feel they wouldn't be comfortable here") is so much nicer, don't you think?

Justin Welby is now trying to figure out a way to avoid being a violent homophobic bully, while telling people that they shouldn't have sex, form relationships, seek to have children, attempt to become ministers or, indeed, do any of the things that he wants for himself. Sometimes, he might even convince himself. I suspect that the only people other than himself he might convince are similarly prejudiced.

But at root, for Welby to act surprised that some people are treated as inferior human beings, when he and most of his friends indeed think that those are _are_ inferior human beings, and want the legal right to treat them as such, seems pretty rich.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 5:11pm BST

@Laurence Cunnington: public schools in USA are entirely denominational/religion free (separation of church and state) and public funding shouldn't go to religiously affiliated schools at all in theory although there are lots of attempts to undermine this separation. I know the tradition is very different in UK, but for one I find the rule of thumb that public money can't (or shouldn't at least) be used to promote any religion a good one.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 5:12pm BST

What a load of mealy mouthed spin. Trying to teach the children in church schools to be nicer isn't going to work while the teachers and vicars are still having a go.

His schools turn gay parents away and his churches refuse to baptize their children.

These kids aren't even gay (most of the time) and church schools stick the boot in all the time. What chance do actual gay children have?

Posted by: CRW on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 5:33pm BST

Iain's comment sums the incongruity up brilliantly.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 6:16pm BST

On this occasion I would make an exception to my usual cynicism and wholeheartedly welcome this development. Yes there are some strange contradictions with current church practices, of course there are, but you have to start somewhere and to start with the care and education of children is the right place to start.

This is a very welcome development. Thank you ++Justin.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 6:37pm BST

As Head of the school where the new guidance was launched today the comments above are, of course, logically correct. It is not possible to square this circle. However, I am glad for this step on the church's journey to full acceptance of same sex marriage as equal marriage.
I hope and pray I am still Head of Trinity when an Archbishop comes to celebrate the Church's acceptance of equal marriage.

Posted by: Fr Richard Peers on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 6:38pm BST

I agree with everyone here. But this is a start and it is a much needed step for children. Justin and his Church House bishops will need to wrap their minds around the contradictions. Once they do that, it will become increasingly obvious that discrimination is not really compatible with the just and loving world of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Thank you, Laurence Cunningham, for explaining to us that a CoE school is more like a "public school" in the US. Here, a religious school would be privately funded.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 6:39pm BST

Laurence, sjh, et al - you are right, this does have a whiff of double speak. However, it is also possible that it is also something worse ... naïve.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 6:40pm BST

Church of England schools are useless at turning out practising or even nominal Anglicans---look at the proportion of children educated in them and the figures for affiliation among younger people. Anti homophobia education should have the effect of sensitising people to institutional homophobia as well as direct homophobia. Even those kids sympathetic to the c of e will be turned off the institution---though if any stick the course and become bishops perhaps the bishops' letter will be finally repudiated.

Posted by: Turbulent Priest on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 6:55pm BST

Yes of course this is hypocritical, naive, dishonest and all the other epithets used above, and I agree with every one of them.

But two things. It is a start and the contradictions in the policy are so obvious that they cannot stand. And secondly, young people aren't stupid. Being told that same sex marriage is legal but that the church doesn't like it, that it still says that all sex outside marriage is wrong and that same sex relationships 'fall short' will just further alienate young people from the Church. They see lgbt people all around them usually living happy, fulfilled and generous lives in spite of the Church's mealy mouthed convolutions and they will continue to reject the Church because it just doesn't accord with their own experiences of the world.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 10:11pm BST

A good start - that needs to be followed up with consistent pro-LGBTI polity affirming the right of such people, both clergy and laity, to monogamous, partnered relationships recognised by the Church.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 12 May 2014 at 10:40pm BST

I don't see double speak and hypocrisy in this, at least not deliberate double speak and hypocrisy. Rather, there is still a very deep and genuine lack of understanding. The Archbishop genuinely seems to believe that you can oppose gay equality on some abstract theological grounds, which makes the opposition moral, while at the same time deploring homophobia and affirming gay people.

That's a stance I would try to fight for in Africa: whatever you think of gay people, do not persecute them, take away their livelihoods, their civil protection, their place in society.

But the road to full acceptance does not end in a half way house. It cannot.
And in Western countries it is genuinely impossible to say "we affirm you but we will not treat you as our equal".

I find it quite shocking and deeply sad that the Archbishop still clearly does not recognise his stance nor see how untenable and counterproductive his stance is.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 13 May 2014 at 6:23am BST

It's all a bit like saying, we don't approve of lynching you, but you still have to sit at the back of the bus. Don't think MLK would have been happy with that. Story in Telegraph report says it all, young girl bullied because she was a sinner. I can only hope Richard Ashby is right, that the weight of the contradictions will see it all come crashing down.

Posted by: sjh on Tuesday, 13 May 2014 at 6:52am BST

"The Archbishop genuinely seems to believe that you can oppose gay equality on some abstract theological grounds, which makes the opposition moral, while at the same time deploring homophobia and affirming gay people."

Precisely. It's like claiming that you can oppose anti-Semitism while preaching a sermon enthusiastically supporting Matthew 27:25, or oppose sexism while supporting 1 Corinthians 14:34.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Tuesday, 13 May 2014 at 8:08am BST

If Jesus was able to protect the woman caught in adultery from bullying, whilst at the same time not condoning her behaviour, I'm sure his followers are capable of doing the same. You don't have to agree with someone in order to stick up for them.

Posted by: David Keen on Tuesday, 13 May 2014 at 8:32am BST

I teach GCSE Religious Studies to 14-16 year olds. In class we consider relationships - gay or straight and I am constantly amazed by the pupils' open-minded and tolerant take on issues like homosexuality.
In one GCSE module pupils have to evaluate a statement like this: 'Same sex couples should not be allowed to marry in a place of worship'. Do you agree? Give evidence etc.....
I can't wait to share this morsel of double-think with my class - they will see straight through it.
Who knows it could even end up being used as an example on a module that deals with 'discrimination' as well!
I can already hear the question coming through the ether - 'Sir, why do Christians say one thing but do the opposite?'

Posted by: Glyn Austin on Tuesday, 13 May 2014 at 7:08pm BST

"If Jesus was able to protect the woman caught in adultery from bullying, whilst at the same time not condoning her behaviour, I'm sure his followers are capable of doing the same. You don't have to agree with someone in order to stick up for them."

The difference here is that those doing the 'protecting' are also those doing the bullying.

Posted by: Fr Andrew on Tuesday, 13 May 2014 at 9:54pm BST

@ Mr David Keen: just one thing wrong with your reasoning, Mr Keen: "Gay" isn't a behavior: it's the ontological reality of millions and millions of people from every country, culture and continent. Why is it so hard for so many to get their heads around that? Why would you believe people would deliberately choose to be something that is so costly and so, well, dangerous in many cases and places?

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 12:09am BST

While I agree that it would be right and helpful for the Archbishop of Canterbury to change his views on same-sex partnerships, I do not see that his stance is necessarily hypocritical. Surely bullying should not be condoned, whether or not one approves of a child's parents' actions? For instance, if children were being bullied for being part of an old-style Mormon family, should not teachers intervene regardless of their views on old-style Mormonism? Likewise is it not possible to be a pacifist while opposing the bullying of children from army families or who are cadets?

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 12:28am BST

David Keen,
but in a society in which gay people now have full equality you cannot retain moral credibility if you "do not condone their behaviour".

Because we're not talking about "behaviour" as a standard that applies to all, but about, for example, "marriage" that is an intrinsically positive and moral state.

It's the double standard that wrecks his claim to be moral here.
So what he's really saying is "I believe you to be immoral and I am proud that I have tried to prevent you from being treated equally in law, but, hey, let me affirm you and welcome you and criticise those who think like me but express it a little more violently."

Won't wash.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 5:48am BST

If Jesus was able to protect the woman caught in adultery from bullying, whilst at the same time not condoning her behaviour, I'm sure his followers are capable of doing the same. You don't have to agree with someone in order to stick up for them. "

Jesus didn't tell her she had to remain in adultery with the man she loved. Huge difference. The "church" denies gays marriage and condemns them for being unmarried and sexually-active.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 7:08am BST

Savi,
children are rarely being bullied because their parents are gay. They are usually being bullied because they themselves are gay.
The problem is that the church doesn't need to go out and physically push gay people over in the playground. It has its own systems in place to make sure that gay people aren't treated as equals. It's much more grown up, much more polite, done with a smile and firm sincerity.

We've said in the past that the CoE among other churches is giving theological legitimacy to the policies enacted in Africa.

We are only talking about degrees of bullying here.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 9:15am BST

" For instance, if children were being bullied for being part of an old-style Mormon family, should not teachers intervene regardless of their views on old-style Mormonism?"

But in the case of the CofE's position, it's not about "[teachers'] views". It's about a large part of the actually bullying --- you should not marry, you should not have children, you should not adopt, you should not attend church and take communion, you should not discuss your sexuality --- coming from the church and its representatives. The CofE has not made a huge song and dance with petitions, briefing to MPs and the rest about old-style Mormonism. Welby's open distaste and condemnation of gay people for the sin of being gay is on record, and his followers are in some cases a lot nastier: if bullying gay people is so wrong, how come Welby hasn't said a word of criticism against Anglican Mainstream, whose statements are designed to make children feel bad.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 9:41am BST

". . . done with a smile and firm sincerity."

As one bishop said in a staff meeting: "when they 'want a word in love', protect your ****s."

Posted by: John Roch on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 11:07am BST

Ms Baker, I wish what you've posted were true. Unfortunately, in many instances (at least here in the US) children are most definitely bullied because their parents are gay--including, in some cases, by teachers and administrators in the children's school, I'm afraid.

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 11:46am BST

I now read that in an interview with the Pink News Justin Welby is quoted as saying that he thinks it is "great" that Gay people can now get married. Is it just me or do others also think that the Archbishop of Canterbury is slowly morphing into Dr. Spaceley-Trellis, the progressive Bishop of Bevindon?

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 11:58am BST

"The problem is that the church doesn't need to go out and physically push gay people over in the playground. It has its own systems in place to make sure that gay people aren't treated as equals. It's much more grown up, much more polite, done with a smile and firm sincerity." Erika Baker

Quite. And speaking as someone on the receiving end of it - replete with mawkish and insincere prayers tacked on - may I say that it feels *precisely* the same as being picked on in the playground.

I loved David Cameron's comment after the Equal Marriage legislation was passed - that young gay people could now walk with their heads held a little higher (or words to that effect). The CofE's interventions will have exactly the opposite effect - the perpetuation of shame and fear.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 1:05pm BST

As I have sometimes said, I don't think that Welby's position is necessarily illogical or hypocritical, though I think it is wrong. Nor do I think he himself is homophobic. I agree with James B. that some Evangelicals just can't get beyond the Bible. But progress comes progressively and Welby's initiative here is welcome. For Evangelicals who aren't necessarily locked in to to tight readings of the Bible, habituation is the key. Our sister church, which is varyingly Evangelical, has recently attracted some gay people, including a female couple with kids. They told our no doubt disconcerted new Bishop (of Durham) that St John's was gay-friendly. So it seems it has become (much to the surprise of our joint rector). As to 'Pink News', the headline is slightly misleading, to go by:

When asked if he had a ‘message’ for Britain’s LGBT community, Archbishop Welby told PinkNews.co.uk: “As you know I have said, and got a fair amount of flak for it within parts of the Church, we have to accept, and quite rightly, that the same-sex marriage act is law, and that it’s right and proper, it’s the law of the land, and that’s great."

A combination of methods is needed. I ended my speech on Saturday like this: 'As the Greeks say, this marriage is for everyone. But now marriage itself is for everyone. One of the reasons Ruth and I love St Margaret's is that it has long been a bastion of love and inclusiveness, in stark contrast to the loveless and low-grade responses of our bishops and archbishops to the recent legislation'. There were some very Evangelical people present, who are dear friends. They can't have liked this, but I think even they are coming to realise that this is a fight that they will lose.

Posted by: John on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 2:38pm BST

Father David,
It seems that 'Lambeth Palace insisted that despite the initiative, the Archbishop remained opposed in principle to same-sex marriage and that he had been speaking about the right of Parliament to change the law when he used the word “great”.'

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 2:48pm BST

Interested Observer, please could you cite a single instance over the past twenty years when the C of E officially told LGBT people that we 'should not attend church and take communion' or that we 'should not discuss your sexuality'? Or of Welby's 'open distaste and condemnation of gay people for the sin of being gay' (as opposed to the admittedly implausible notion that we are all called to celibacy)?

There is much to criticise the C of E for, in particular its treatment of clergy who wish to affirm their partnerships, but I think it is helpful to be precise. Otherwise one could end up condemning Michael Ramsey, who helped to push through the decriminalisation of gay sex, making himself the target of considerable nastiness, for being as bad as those bishops overseas who have sought to further criminalise LGBT people!

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 2:51pm BST

Welby says, "When young people are bullied for their perceived or actual sexuality, it is an assault on their self-worth that can leave deep wounds which take many years to heal, if they heal at all." What assault could be worse than the church telling a person that any expression of their sexuality is a sin in the eyes of God, a sin so terrible that it condemns them to burn in hell, forever?

The infuriating thing about Welby is that he understands, but does not act on that understanding. This advice might work for some, but it also gives cover to bigotry.

Posted by: James Byron on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 6:28pm BST

Erika, an injudicious use of the word "great", I fear, from the lips of the Archbishop of Canterbury, especially when he is diametrically opposed to the way in which the current Coalition Government has changed our centuries old understanding of the marriage bond.

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 5:06am BST

I didn't say "officially".

But as a simple of example of Welby's distaste for homosexuality, he was asked last month by Ann Widdecombe "Is homosexuality wrong?”, to which he responded: “I’m not going to answer that straightforwardly because it is a complex issue. "

He could have said "no", and then added the caveats. But he won't.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 8:58am BST

Does the Abc have a press officer? If so, what is he/she being paid for? With the C of E firmly trussed in a 'quadruple lock' and the ink barely dry on the Bishop's disastrous 'Pastoral Statement,' he comes up with 'advice' on homophobic bullying in church schools. I have never been in an Abc's office but I would think the boy who cleans the knives and boots would know enough to point out how hypocritical/pompous/arrogant/not very bright such advice might read/sound?
I know the previous Abc had a press officer, because I was told he advised his Abc not to publish the article on Sharia law and we all know what happened there!

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 10:42am BST

"Does the Abc have a press officer? If so, what is he/she being paid for?"

One really does have to wonder sometimes whether the CofE has anyone worrying about its long-term reputation.

The strategic/political thinking seems very poor.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 16 May 2014 at 10:37pm BST
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