Question 65 Rachel Jepson to the Chair of the Board of Education
What progress has been made by the Board on developing recommended policies and staff-training materials relating to the bullying of LGBT people, and have any recommendations of the Board in those respects been implemented in any Church of England schools?
Answer from the Bishop of Oxford
The Board of Education/National Society, and indeed all Diocesan Boards of Education, are clear that any form of bullying is unacceptable in Church of England schools. If the Board became aware that existing tried and tested materials for both staff training and pupil activities were proving inadequate in developing relationships of respect and acceptance for all, the Board would take advice from the schools to determine appropriate action.
Question 66 Robin Hall
How many incidents of homophobic bullying were recorded in Church of England schools in the last school year (or the most recent school year for which statistics are available)?
No national or even diocesan figures are collected.
Earlier in the day, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his Presidential Address had said this:
…The majority of the population rightly detests homophobic behaviour or anything that looks like it. And sometimes they look at us and see what they don’t like. I don’t like saying that. I’ve resisted that thought. But in that debate I heard it, and I could not walk away from it. We all know that it is utterly horrifying. to hear, as we did this week, of gay people executed in Iran for being gay, or equivalents elsewhere. 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, who are all without exception sinners. Again this requires radical and prophetic words which lavish gracious truth…
To put this context, in November 2012, Dr Jepson had asked a similar question. From the official record, here’s how the answers went:
37. Dr Rachel Jepson (Birmingham) asked the Chairman of the Board of Education: How does the Education Division intend to respond to the recommendations contained in the recent Stonewall report concerning the experiences of gay young people in Britain’s schools in 2012, in which it is reported that more than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people in Britain’s schools, many of whom attend faith schools, experience homophobic bullying?
The Bishop of Oxford (Rt Revd John Pritchard), in reply: The Board of Education is quite clear that no form of bullying, for whatever reason, is acceptable in Church of England schools and that it would expect all staff and governors to be vigilant and decisive. Diocesan boards of education work closely with their schools developing their Christian ethos and will be equally determined to put the absolute value of all children and young people at the heart of the Christian ethos of their schools.
Dr Rachel Jepson (Birmingham): Will the Education Division ensure that every school, at both primary and secondary level, has in place an LGBT anti-bullying policy and will provide training for all staff members on these matters?
The Bishop of Oxford: The Education Division itself cannot do that, but it can advise diocesan boards to do it and we will certainly consider that possibility.