Thinking Anglicans

homophobic bullying in church schools: more coverage

Updated Sunday afternoon

See the original article on the publication of the report last Monday here.

The Church Times reported on this twice, first on Monday with Welby launches anti-homophobia schools guide and then in the paper edition on Friday with Church schools urged to stamp out anti-gay bullying.

And there is a leader comment (scroll down to second section)

Beware of bullies

THE new church guidelines about homophobic bullying are to be commended, as much for their existence as their content. After years of clumsy official statements (e.g. Resolution 1.10 from Lambeth 1998), it is good to read: “Pupils may justify homophobic bullying because: they think that homosexual people should be bullied because they believe homosexual people are ‘wrong’; they do not think that there is anything wrong in bullying someone because of their sexual orientation; they do not realise that it is bullying. . .” The authors, throughout, seek to separate bullying from the ex­­pression by Christians of a neg­ative view. Bullying is defined tightly: insen­si­tive use of language, direct abuse, and physical harm. But if the definition were widened to in­­clude discrim­inatory be­­haviour, persistent condemnation, and the scape­goating of gay marriage for “under­mining” Christian marriage (unmarried cohabitation, divorce, and serial marriage being a few elephants in this room), surely the Church would find itself in detention. We would not pick out one group of children to hector persist­ently about a sensitive area of life. Why treat adults in this way?

This leader is discussed further by Colin Coward in Church Times nails the challenge to homophobia in the Church.

LGCM welcomed the report with this press release: LGCM warmly welcomes the Cof E guidance to combat homophobic bullying. The last paragraph reads:

This is certainly a step in the right direction but as the document states itself in a quote from a teacher in a CofE school:
‘Whilst welcoming this initiative, the CofE’s own institutional homophobia and the theological/moral confusion behind it is a big problem!’ [report page 26]

John Bingham wrote in the Telegraph Welby tells Church schools to teach respect for gay and lesbian relationships

The Pink News interview is covered in yesterday’s article.

Today, Deborah Orr has written at Cif that The Church of England is homophobic, despite Justin Welby’s trendy-vicar act

…Presumably, he thinks “homophobia” is being personally rude and aggressive to gay people because they are gay, but that asking them to kindly observe the “heterosexuals only” sign is fine, as long as one is polite about it. He is wrong. He and his church discriminate against people because of their sexuality, so the Anglican church is homophobic. Since it’s an established part of the state, the state is homophobic. In part. It’s all a bit of a curate’s egg.

The idea we’re all supposed to accept is that the Church of England is an innocuous purveyor of spiritual pomp and circumstance, unifying state, crown and church with tradition, ceremony, and most importantly, great outfits, accessories and interiors. Otherwise, all the prelates are off helping their communities as well as they can, marking life and death’s big occasions, organising fetes and occasionally mentioning to the government that poverty is miserable. Quite where fighting against the development of a secular morality that seeks to protect the rights of all responsible citizens fits into this is hard to say.

Of course, the Church of England would probably be happy to go with the UK flow, self-preservation having always been its primary concern, were it not for the fact that it wants to preserve its worldwide communion just as much as it wants to preserve its 26 undemocratic places in the House of Lords.

Can it really be right that we have to accept a homophobic established church trying to vote down progressive legislation just because that might upset its really homophobic members overseas? The rest of us have had to come to terms with the fact that the days of empire are over, and also that they might, just might, not have been all they were cracked up to be. Why the Anglican church believes it can and should defy that logic is a mystery that surely can’t endure much longer.

Update

The BBC Sunday programme carried a discussion about the report, featuring The Revd Jan Ainsworth and Bishop Alan Wilson. The item starts at 35 minutes, 45 seconds into the programme. This is worth a listen.

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JCF
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JCF

Not all bullying is homophobic, but all homophobia is bullying. QED, Justin.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I thought the interview with Bishop Alan Wilson and the Revd. Jan Ainsworth worth listening to – as were the other items on the BBC programme.

However, most notable is the distinction drawn – by both the BBC interviews and Deborah Orr’s article – between what the Archbishop Justin Welby has said about the presence of homophobia in Church schools (which, presumably, he finds abhorrent) and the extant culture of the Church of England which seems to militate against the Blessing of monogamous same-sex partnerships.

Is this just another incidence of the classical “Anglican Fudge”?

Robert ian Willaims
Guest
Robert ian Willaims

A teacher speaks: “The worse bullying in schools is actually between teachers.Some of the worse bullies I have met were head teachers”

Homophobia is still present in schools, but less so then when I was a pupil. Many heterosexuals are the butt of homophobia, as it is still used to belittle people.

Whilst I do not agree with name calling, I do not agree that children should be told that a boy or girl of thirteen who experiences same sex attraction is gay. I find many in the gay lobby simplistic and bigoted on this.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Many heterosexuals are the butt of homophobia, *** as it is still used to belittle people. Whilst I do not agree with name calling, I do not agree that children should be told that a boy or girl of thirteen who experiences same sex attraction is gay. I find many in the gay lobby simplistic and bigoted on this.” *** Hello Robert! The asterisked clause shows that there is great complexity in the bullying. And I’m sure that no LGBT people, children or grown ups, feel comforted because heterosexual kids are bullied with anti-gay epithets!!!! I don’t believe the “gay… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“I find many in the gay lobby simplistic and bigoted on this.” I find those who deem LGBTs seeking their God-given (AND civil) equality a “gay lobby” to be . . . well, y’know. RIW, do you seriously believe that a gay identity arises because someone is TOLD (with whatever intent) that they’re gay? That a youth in 21st century UK or USA (etc) falling in love w/ another youth of their same sex will have NO idea what this means, unless someone imposes a “you’re gay!” on them? Can you really be that naive? [NB: I’m not discounting a… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I’d be surprised if anyone simply “told” any child that they were gay. Rather, if a child of whatever age begins to realise they fancy other people, and if they have a crush on someone of the same sex, they need to be given all the information they need to put their own emotions in context. For some, that will simply mean having a crush on someone of the same sex, for others it will be the first awareness of their own homosexuality. The other thing proper sex education and a firm anti bullying policy does is to provide straight… Read more »

Andrew F Pierce
Guest

“The authors, throughout, seek to separate bullying from the ex­­pression by Christians of a neg­ative view.” This is essential for the debate within a school (just as it is within the church) if we want children to grow up to be well reasoning adults (or ‘Thinking Anglicans’). When simply speaking against or taking a contrary view is immediately decried as distressing, offensive, hostile and therefore, in this case, homophobic bullying there can be no discussion or learning because one point of view cannot even be stated. As Christians we are facing into a day where we as a group will… Read more »

robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

JCF

Adolesence is a very painful and confusing time. Many people experience a crush on some one of their own sex, but that doesn’t mean they are homosexual. Hence my concern about stereotyping and simplistic ” diagnosis.”

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“As Christians we are facing into a day where we as a group will face ‘Christophobia’ on a daily basis” Oh get over yourself. The only people who seriously believe that Christians are “persecuted” in the UK are the likes of the Christian Institute, who are desperate to circle the wagons and create an illusion of oppression. The only response you’ll get to this argument is uproarious laughter. “We should, with this in mind, set the example by treating others as we wish to be treated” Ah, Christianity, where the only reason to behave decently is in order to protect… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Hence my concern about stereotyping and simplistic ” diagnosis.”” Robert, stop your concern, rest easy, there is no need for it. Sexuality is a spectrum and young people will find what works for them, they will find who God created them to be and the loving partner that makes their lives whole. They are not going to “choose” because of a bully or a “gay lobby” (Good Lord!!!). There was an amusing comedy show in the US where everyone who “converted” a person to the “gay lifestyle” (an insanely stupid phrase) got a toaster. It was hysterically funny, because it’s… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Many people experience a crush on some one of their own sex, but that doesn’t mean they are homosexual.” True. They could be bisexual, or —via intimate trial&error— even discover they’re straight. “Hence my concern about stereotyping and simplistic ‘diagnosis.'” My concern is every bit as serious (or moreso) that these same-sex “crush”-experiencing youth are being pressured to state that they’re NOT gay/bisexual. That’s the difference between us, RIW: I think that, whatever the ID of sexual orientation (gay, bi, straight), it’s MORALLY NEUTRAL/EQUALLY HEALTHY/EQUALLY GOD’S GOOD “ORDER”. You, following Ratzinger et al, find a gay or bisexual identity “disordered”.… Read more »

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

Cynthia, Sexuality is a gift from God, and he sets the standard. Original sin has distorted sexuality and its all the more important to listen to God. otherwise we do so at our peril.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

But no-one is asking anyone to state anything about their sexuality. Where is that idea coming from?
The point is simply that schools should ensure that children are not bullied, either on the basis of their assumed sexuality or their stated one.

A decent anti bullying policy will extend to teachers not being bullied for being gay or suspected of being gay.
And it will protect children who live in same sex families.

None of this should be remotely contentious.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Dear Robert. So out of touch with the real world. Celibacy may also be a gift from God, but not many choose to receive it. And here is where the rubber hits the road,at what point does one decide which gift God has bestowed on one, personally? And what if that gift is to be intrinsically Gay? Does that make God’s gift invalid, do you think? Inconvenient, maybe. But definitely not invalid. Unlike celibacy, to be hetero or homosexual is not a choice.

Robert ian williams
Guest
Robert ian williams

Ron you always erect straw men and misrepresent what I am saying. In Roman Catholic theology if a person has predominately homosexual orientation, then they must remain chaste. Homosexuality is not seen as a gift, it is a cross to bear like being born blind. However if individuals triumph over this adversity, they will be rewarded richly, in this world and the world to come. Many Anglicans would also identify with this theology as well.

Murdoch
Guest
Murdoch

Mr Williams, there was no original sin. History shows no original state of perfection, followed by a Fall. It shows a long development of awareness, manipulative skill, and language in our specie of animal. We are what we are, building on what we have been. When you call on us to listen to God, it seems to mean, listen to you channeling your idea of God. I think listening to Erika Baker has exactly the same import — she, too, speaks from a tradition and meditations upon it. All communications from God have come from human beings, interpreting their experiences.… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Cynthia, Sexuality is a gift from God, and he sets the standard. Original sin has distorted sexuality and its all the more important to listen to God. otherwise we do so at our peril.” Yes, Robert, it is a gift. My partner is an incredible gift to me. God was generous and loving in putting us together and sustaining us for 23 years. God set for us a standard of loving and supporting one another, which helps us in our ministries. I can’t imagine why anyone would think that they can speak for God against LGBT people when the evidence… Read more »

Murdoch
Guest
Murdoch

I see that Mr Williams can claim not to be personally channeling the voice of God, but echoing his tradition’s doing the same. However far you go back, it’s still human beings deciding what their God would say. Probably based on conventional wisdom of the time, which may not be wisdom in our day. I was taught Mr William’s theology — that homosexuality is a cross to bear and a temptation to be resisted. This led to forty years or more of guilt, shame, repeated repentance. Yes, you get the satisfaction of pastors and authorities assuring you that you’re doing… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

And this, Robert, is why Catholic theology continues to fail through its arrogance. I’m sorry. I know you are not a purposefully cruel person, nor are you able to understand the position from which we are taking you to task, but there it is. You are simply wrong, because the theology is wrong. The theology you present sounds far too much like what men want God to think. If God sets the standard, then it involves being alone and self-created. If you are speaking of Bible stories, those were written by men out of their memories of various oral traditions.… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Murdoch,
“The night I discovered that I wasn’t resisting sex but refusing opportunities to love,”

a brilliant comment and a fantastic sentence, thank you!

Mark,
I’ve never found it particularly helpful to argue with Roman Catholics on the internet. Unlike people you meet in real life, very few dare have their own thoughts, most defer uncritically to the Magisterium as their faith requires. That also means that they will be required to change their minds if the Magisterium ever changes its own views of the matter.
The moment a Catholic pronounces about sex from on high you might as well save your breath.

Andrew F. Pierce
Guest

Interested Observer — “Your argument appears to be that while Christianity is in the ascendent, violent homophobia is OK …” What in my comment led you to this conclusion?

Andrew F. Pierce
Guest

MarkBrunson — I hope you don’t mind my commenting on your conversation with Robert … In my experience every ‘gift’ comes with a cost. The first burden is deciding whether or not to accept it and from there it becomes a matter of what other things we forgo to enjoy it. On the theological points you raise: when we can no longer accept the testimony of scripture we are left with nothing but individual opinion and that is no theology at all because no one can be wrong or right. Also, if God’s standard is ‘alone and self-created’ then he… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“The first burden is deciding whether or not to accept it and from there it becomes a matter of what other things we forgo to enjoy it.” Indeed. This particular gift comes from God and what we have to forgo to enjoy it is the approval of an ignorant church. That is a burden, it is true, and one we’re hoping to change. But the alternative would be to throw God’s gift of love and companionship back into his face. Now that would be truly unthinkable. Because God matters more than the church does. As for no longer accepting the… Read more »

Andrew F. Pierce
Guest

Cynthia — your point “I can’t imagine why anyone would think that they can speak for God against LGBT people when the evidence of God’s abundant blessing is so obvious.” is really hard to address because it is is so personal, but I think it does deserve comment … We are bombarded with conflicting messages from people who say they are speaking for God–both for and against LGBT people. Generally they couch their position as ‘being prayerfully led by the Spirit’. The ‘dissonance between what the Spirit says to one person and then to another makes it clear the Spirit… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Andrew, it really depends on your theology. Some are expressing gayness as “a cross to bear.” I challenge that theology. I essentially challenge it on the basis that a. God’s Creation is Good, b. that that goodness includes all of God’s children (LGBT, male/female, all races, etc.), c. that I recognize no human being as capable of excluding me, et al., from the love of God, d. that Jesus’ harshest words were for the establishment for using the Law to exclude people (And there’s the OT as well, Woe to those who make unjust laws and oppress the people, etc.),… Read more »

Andrew F. Pierce
Guest

Erika — “That’s by now quite a disrespectful view considering the very serious pro-gay theology there is.” I have had a look at the report. I don’t see how the view I expressed is disrespectful to anyone in light of it. Is it disrespectful merely to hold a differing view? Is it disrespectful to challenge someone about a view they hold–to ask them to justify it? I’m afraid you will need to be more specific about this if I am to consider my position. I think being challenged–if we’re willing to consider compelling arguments–helps us either affirm, adapt or recant… Read more »

Andrew F. Pierce
Guest

Cynthia, I appreciate your challenges and I agree with them to a point. I agree God saw his creation and pronounced it very good but I also see how that good thing allowed itself, even chose to be corrupted. For this reason I cannot even see myself as good except through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The goodness, conferred by grace through faith, does not make all my thoughts and actions good or pure but does at least grant me forgiveness (in which I rest fully even though I sin constantly ‘in thought and word and deed’) (I… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Andrew,
it is not disrespectful to have a different view.
But it is disrespectful to suggest that people who have a different view are ignoring scripture and just follow their personal opinion.
That is how I read your sentence “when we can no longer accept the testimony of scripture we are left with nothing but individual opinion”.

We do accept the testimony of scripture. We just interpret that testimony differently and come to a different conclusion.

That is legitimate and there is enough good theology to support alternative readings.

robert ian Williams
Guest
robert ian Williams

Only this month the Catholic Church canonised a Pope who wrote the most beautiful explanation of human sexuality. His theology of the body is well worth looking at and studying.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Is it disrespectful merely to hold a differing view?” Yes!!! Of course. For you it is a “view.” For us, it is our being. And discriminatory policies and actions are attacks on our very being and our well being. For conservative straights, it’s losing an argument, which is not the same thing as losing jobs, suffering depression, and being bullied (leading to horrific rates of LGBT teen suicide). When you look at the fruits of your “view,” versus the fruits of actually treating all people as God’s Children, it becomes much clearer. Teen suicide? Depression? Economic hardship from lost jobs?… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“The question is, is this my personal ‘theology’ or is this the Word of God (and is there a difference)?.” To this I point you to what Erika says. It is offensive to imply that the view of justice and acceptance is “personal theology” and not supported by Scripture. There is plenty of liberating Scripture, that’s why it’s called The Good News. There are plenty of excellent theological writings in support of the liberating view. And the liberating view supports my experience of God. It is indeed offensive. I get, Andrew, that your personal piety is completely wrapped up in… Read more »

Andrew F. Pierce
Guest

Erika, I appreciate your pressing me on this. To better explain myself let me put it this way. On this issue there are two polemical readings (or interpretations) of scripture. While it is possible both can be wrong it is not possible for both to be right. What is important is to ‘rightly divide that word’. I have a sincere interest in understanding it correctly. For example, are we are saved by grace, are we are saved by works or both. I don’t care which answer is right but I do care to live within the right answer. If I… Read more »

Andrew F. Pierce
Guest

Cynthia, not to personalize this, but how do you know how much by ‘being’ is invested in my ‘view’ or vice versa? There may be more at stake for those holding the conservative view than you might think. Many of the ‘conservative straights’ I know have a much broader concern that simply losing an argument. There is also the point that many, rightly or wrongly, sincerely believe it is a matter of life and death as opposed to a simple misunderstanding of right and wrong … I don’t understand your point on the ‘Roman expression’ … are you saying the… Read more »

Gary Paul Gilbert
Guest
Gary Paul Gilbert

The question is to what extent religious doctrine contributes to the bullying of kids in school. An institution which is, at best, ambivalent about same-sex couples and their famiies is part of the problem. Welby has already failed as a moral authority. Fortunately, Parliament refused to cave in to the C of E and the Roman Church when it passed the marriage equality bill. It is an overall good for all families to be treated equally.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“There is also the point that many, rightly or wrongly, sincerely believe it is a matter of life and death as opposed to a simple misunderstanding of right and wrong …” Yes, Andrew, it is a matter of life and death. LBGT people get killed for who they are. They get beaten and killed in places like the US, the UK, Uganda, etc. LGBT teen suicide is all too common. I know of only one death on the “conservative straight” side, the conservative French guy who committed suicide at Notre Dame. In the US states where there is legal equal… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Adrian, “My point is that if I reject an interpretation simply because it doesn’t fit the facts of my existence then scripture is replaced with my opinion.” Yes. I absolutely agree with the principle of this. What I don’t agree with is the traditional interpretation of the “facts”. And that’s where I have to press you again to consider that there is no set of clear facts on one side of the debate vs. purely personal opinion on the other. That is to miss the status of the theological argument. I would like again to refer you to my link.… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

On the other hand, if we blindly accept scripture and do not question either the writers or their motives, what are we actually worshipping? I’ve never bought the argument that, without the Bible, everything collapses. That makes the Bible God. It is like a report – this is how I experienced God. Does that make it a truth? Yes. Does that make it Truth? Not necessarily. I often wonder what modern Christians would’ve said of those who claimed the faith before a canon of Scripture was established: were they simply deluded, not real Christians, because all they had was stories… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

Erika, I agree the argument is pointless, which was the meaning of my final remarks that continued engagement was pointless. Indeed, having had so many years of contact with fellow Christians, I’ve come to believe the whole conversation, the entire subject, largely pointless and that the outcome is hopeless. Like the psalmist, I have come to the point that I say there are none who are good, no not one, and we are on the way out as a civilization and there is no hope for humanity. Even here, in Christianity, where we might transform ourselves then the world, we… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Well put, Erika.

Andrew F. Pierce
Guest

Erika, I did focus on the report … now I will check out the books mentioned in the blog. Thanks, Andy

Andrew F. Pierce
Guest

Cynthia, I understand completely types of abuse heaped on people who are somehow ‘different’ and agree that any abuse meted out by a Christian is inappropriate but we’ll have to get another opportunity to explore this I think.

On the “How exactly is a “conservative straight” even impacted, other than perhaps having to be polite to actual gay couples?” — this is a very good question we again will have to work out in another thread … Thanks for your thoughts.

Andrew F. Pierce
Guest

Mark, I’ve been working through “The Question of Canon: …” by Michael Kruger. He is taking a good look at the points you make here. One of the mysteries we have to work out is how God is personal without his being subjective. I am perplexed how the Holy Spirit can tell one person (as we’re on the topic on this thread) same-sex marriage is ok and another that it’s wrong. That, by the nature of God, has to be impossible … perhaps we can take it up on another thread. Andy