Questions about this were asked on Monday evening. This topic had also come up last July, and indeed the preceding November.
This time it went like this:
Dr Rachel Jepson: Which resources does the Board of Education recommend to be used with both staff and students in all Church of England schools to address LGBT bullying?
Bishop of Oxford: The Board does not generally recommend resources to schools except those produced by itself. In this case the Board is overseeing a project to produce materials for Church schools to help them to combat homophobic bullying within the framework of Christian values and belief. The project consultant is currently writing materials prior to their being piloted in schools over next term.
Dr Rachel Jepson: What is the timescale for the project to which you referred and who is the project consultant who is writing the materials and what is their relevant expertise, please?
Bishop of Oxford: We have gone to someone who has been deeply involved in producing material in a particular diocese, so we do know we’ve got someone of expertise there, she has that previous track record. Precisely what timescale is, and indeed the name of the person, has escaped me, but I’ll make sure that you know.
Mr Robin Hall: In his July presidential address, the Archbishop of Canterbury pledged to use – and I quote – the best advice we can find anywhere. As Stonewall is the leading charity committed to tackling homophobia, is the consultant working closely with Stonewall, to make the most of their experience and expertise?
Bishop of Oxford: Stonewall is indeed involved, as one of the consultants, and other organisations too, with a good track record in this field. We are committed to having the very best consultants and experience that we can get.
Mr Robin Hall: Given the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call in July for a “a commitment to stamp out” homophobic bullying in Church of England schools, what work has been undertaken to log or track the number of incidents of homophobic bullying in our schools?
Bishop of Oxford: There is no national collection of statistics regarding bullying in schools and the Board of Education doesn’t have the capacity at this time to engage in such a survey. The Board’s approach is rather to resource teachers and governors to create a strong anti-bullying culture with a specific focus on homophobic bullying.
Mr Robin Hall: As you know, schools are already obliged to report the number and type of bullying incidents each term, so this data I believe is readily available. If we don’t understand the scale of the problem, how will the Archbishop’s campaign to tackle homophobic bullying be targeted, and how will we know if it has been a success?
Bishop of Oxford: This will I hope come out of the work that’s being done by the group that’s looking into this, and if there is further action that the Board needs to take then obviously we’ll be ready to take it.
Mr John Ward: Would the Board take into account the useful debates in this place in February 2007, including the motion passed, proposed by The Reverend Mary Gilbert, which affirms that gay and lesbian Christians are full members of this church without reservation, and would the Board think that might be useful in its reflections on how we tackle homophobic bullying?
Bishop of Oxford: The Board is indeed fully committed to there being no homophobic bullying in any of our church schools. This is a very clear commitment that we have made, and we are not going to renege on it.