Further to Anthony Archer's question (Q9) concerning young people's attitudes on the Church's stance on sexuality, and the Bishop of Ely's response that young people's views should inform and shape the Church's mission including education....
On the subject of state-funded Church of England schools, will gay and lesbian sexuality be promoted as legitimate expressions of human sexuality in these schools? will faith schools assert that sex should only be for heterosexual partners? will teachers, as role models, be able to openly inform pupils they are in lesbian and gay relationships and marriages? and will LGBT support groups be allowed and encouraged in school? The answer to another question (Q24) covers these concerns, but leaves me unconvinced about provision and care, and the impact (that Anthony alludes to) on young people's perception of the Church of England.
If civil government is funding faith schools, should those schools promote and encourage the values (of equal marriage, LGBT rights and legitimacy) of civil society to young people? If LGBT orientation and identity are not positively promoted, does that not leave young people feeling unvalidated and in some senses stigmatised by the faith ethos that permeates their education?
Should Parliament have a say in what faith schools should teach on sexuality (given a/state funding b/the vulnerability of LGBT young people if their identity gets vilified as sin)? If gay and lesbian sexuality are not positively promoted in schools, does that devalue and demoralise LGBT youth, and erase their sexuality as something to be suppressed or overcome? And does it play into the hands of homophobes and bullies, by confirming the lesbian and gay expression as somehow less open, less accepted, and 'less right'?
I was most surprised to read, on page 5 of the questions and answers, that the Shared Conversations showed little appetite for changing the church's teaching on marriage (presumably even to the extent of acknowledging the validity of second marriages after divorce). Of course few people would have expected any immediate changes to canon law. But it was my impression, from what participants said, that many would have liked to see liturgical marking of marriages of same-sex couples and eventually church weddings. This would, I thimk, be the view of about half the people who identify as Church of England members who have an opinion on the matter. Perhaps those who took part could comment?
I got the impression that the shared conversations were confidential and very different in nature to an opinion poll. The suggestion that they could have reliably shown the degree of appetite for changing anything seems absurd.
Live streaming currently not working, at least with Safari. Church House Westminster know this and have said there is a problem. Very sad.
Interesting supplementary question from Priscilla White, asking what work the Bishops are doing on BTQIA individuals and their sexualities.
Reply from the Bishop of Norwich: the bishops haven't got round to doing it yet and they don't yet know how to approach it. Anyone with ideas should offer them.
For a start, on the issue of trans people in and outside the Church, they may find it helpful to get in touch with Bernard and Terry Reed at GIRES, who have huge experience in helping organisations (such as the NMC) in exploring the specific needs and issues around trans people.
It might also be of great assistance if they co-opted Christina Beardsley, and drew on the insights of Chris Dowd who has done valuable research on the subject of Christianity and trans experience.
The assistance, insights, and advice of these four people would be a huge starting point for the bishops. I'm of course also happy to engage, but those four individuals would be go-to people in my opinion.
Re attitude to LGBT issues in church schools: whilst all schools are different, I have just run a selection process for a new Head of the Voluntary Controlled school that I am chair of Governors of. I put in the draft recruitment pack "we are inclusive churches and no one should feel inhibited from applying because of the circumstances of their private life". I was rather expecting to get slapped down, but the Director of Education (someone who presents as quite evangelical) in this Diocese (a Diocese with a Bishop whom I perceive as being somewhat in the Welby evangelical-managerial mould), made no comment and participated positively in our interviews. So credit there.
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