Safe at School raises concerns about “highly problematic” document on homophobic bullying
16 May 2017
SPUC’s Safe at School Campaign, which supports parents in protecting their children from inappropriate SRE (sex & relationships education) in schools, is warning parents about a highly problematic document released by the Catholic Education Service (CES), which seems to enforce the acceptance and promotion of homosexual and transgender behaviour in Catholic schools under the guise of anti-bullying prevention.
The CES has issued a document to all Catholic schools entitled ‘Made in God’s Image: Challenging Homophobic and Biphobic Bullying in Catholic Schools’. Teachers are being persuaded to implement a programme of lessons to influence children’s thinking and beliefs on the issue.
Many commentators have expressed concerns that the document contains dangerous misrepresentations of Scripture and Catholic teaching to equate moral opposition to homosexual and transgender behaviour with racism and other forms of prejudice. Despite quoting Church authorities who warn against ‘labelling’ people according to their attractions, the document itself promotes such harmful labelling, at a time of life when children’s feelings may well resolve, especially if not acted out and seen as defining their identity.
“One of the biggest problems with the guidance,” says Dr Tom Rogers of Safe at School, “is that it undermines the moral authority of parents. The document gives several examples of interactions between children and parents where children are encouraged to see the parents as being “homophobic”.
“Parents are the primary educators of the children. It is the right of parents enshrined in International Law to bring up their children and have them educated according to their own beliefs and values.
“Many parents who have chosen to send their child to a Catholic school will see this is an attempt to promote a lifestyle choice that they do not condone, and do not think is best for their children. It is their right to approach moral and sexual issues in a way that they feel is appropriate for their children. The CES does not have the right to turn children against the moral guidance of their parents, especially when they are trying to raise them according to Catholic values on human sexuality.”
“Of course, bullying of all kinds is abhorrent, and schools should take steps to counter it. But why are eight lessons needed for one particular type of bullying, at the risk of encouraging children to ‘self-label’? Are there going to be an equal number for bullying on grounds of race, weight, or poverty? Unfortunately, it seems that the real suffering of victims of bullying is being exploited to promote the homosexual and transgender lifestyle to children, who are probably not old enough to deal with such adult concepts.”
It has now been widely noted by commentators that much of the document has been lifted verbatim from similar documents published by the homosexual pressure group Stonewall, raising worrying questions about the provenance of the document. It has the logos of the CES, St Mary's University, and the Aquinas Centre for Theological Literacy on it, but it is unclear who wrote it, and if these organisations actually endorsed it.
“Furthermore,” Dr Rogers commented, “the document is said to have been prompted by a survey conducted by the CES on ‘homophobic bullying’ to which only 12% of Catholic schools responded. The document is therefore based on completely unrepresentative data. Catholic schools would have been rightly reluctant to respond as the survey itself was ideologically loaded and intimidating, with questions posed in a way that would make it very difficult for a faithful Catholic to respond, without compromising Christian truths on issues of sexuality.
“It is ironic that a document purported to be concerned with anti-bullying engages in a highly pernicious form of bullying against faithful Christian/Catholic children and their parents by labelling them ‘homophobes’ and ‘bigots’” Dr Rogers concluded. “We expect the Bishops of England and Wales to take decisive action to have this highly problematic document swiftly withdrawn, as well as to ensure that the Catholic Education Service serves children and parents, as well as the Church, in a way that is true to its name and purpose.”
Notes to editors:
Dr Tom Rogers can be contacted on: