Wednesday’s revelation by PinkNews.co.uk that the Catholic Education Service has asked more than 359 state funded Catholic secondary schools to promote anti-gay petitions to children as young as 11 has clearly demonstrated that there is the need for a root and branch review of the way that state funded schools tackle homosexuality and transgender identities.
The incident in London was not, unfortunately, an isolated one. In January, it emerged that JFS, a state funded Jewish comprehensive school in North London taught sixth formers about ‘gay cure’ group JONAH while not telling them about positive Jewish responses to homosexuality.
This prompted PinkNews.co.uk founder Benjamin Cohen to record an It Gets Better video about reparative therapy within the Jewish community.
PinkNews.co.uk respects the rights of people of faith and none. We recognise that there are many liberal Christian, Jewish and other movements that actively embrace LGBT people. But there are far too many faith groups that take a decidedly un-Christian approach in their actions.
The issue of faith schools is a difficult one. They are popular with many parents for their moral ethos and regularly high level of academic attainment among students. But almost no parent deciding to send their child to a school like this will have any idea of their son or daughter’s sexuality or whether they may be transgender.
It appears outrageous that in the 21st century, in a country where LGBT people enjoy among the greatest legal protections against discrimination in the world, that these would not be honoured in the teaching at some of our schools.
Religious schools appear to believe that they have exemptions which allow them to teach (or rather preach) traditional, negative responses to sexuality without an obligation to demonstrate the positive approaches that many faith groups now have towards LGBT issues. We struggle to see how this approach can be compatible with either the spirit or the letter of the Education and Equality Acts.
Imagine the following scenario, and consider whether Catholics would be happy with its conclusions.
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