Back to school next week – have we got our “Equality Statements” ready?

Aug 26, 2014 by

by Andrew Symes

For some years now, all schools have had to demonstrate their commitment to the “diversity and equality” agenda. This includes the public display of a “Single Equality Statement” which explains how the school will eliminate discrimination and bullying of any kind, particularly according to sexual orientation.

A Vicar of a Benefice in the south of England and Chair of the Governors of the local C of E school, tells me of the struggle he had earlier this year in convincing the other governors that while they need to produce the Equality statement, as a church school they must also demonstrate commitment to Church teaching on marriage, which was reinforced by the Bishops in February and which is written into law in terms of exemptions with regard to the new Marriage Act. He writes:

“As the law on Marriage has changed, I just thought I should point out that in my view a Church School now needs to make clear it that it has to stick to the established church’s teaching which is now the opposite of state law….and actually has exemption (therefore right) to be a church school and speak/act differently. Putting this in [to the Statement] will hopefully not just give protection if there were a complaint (e.g., if I did an assembly on marriage and only mentioned a man and woman) but also to encourage teachers/children/governors to speak freely of the church teaching without a gradual silencing effect to just go along with the new view.”

It would be interesting to know how many other vicars have, like my friend, had the courage to stand up to the other governors and insist on maintaining the right to teach Church doctrine in Church schools? And how many C of E schools are producing “Equality Statements” which have no reference to the Christian understanding of marriage?

No doubt it is partly to assist schools in this new politically correct minefield that the C of E document “Valuing All God’s Children” (VAGC) was produced at great expense and published in May this year. The document purports to uphold the Anglican teaching of heterosexual marriage, while making clear its total opposition to “homophobic” bullying. In doing so, as has been well documented, it was heavily influenced by Stonewall. Just to remind ourselves, here is a summary of the problems with VAGC:

1. An overemphasis on teaching children not to tease or shun others on the grounds of perceived sexual orientation runs the risk of ignoring more serious and widespread bullying based on other more common traits.

2. The idea that children can be “gay”, ie have an innate an unchangeable orientation like a racial characteristic, has never been proven but simply asserted (and in fact is no longer supported by the Royal College of Psychiatrists). It is not supported by Scripture or traditional Christian teaching, yet appears to be uncritically accepted in these guidelines.

3. Church schools are already more than capable of teaching children about civility, and being able to recognize difference without antagonism. This new programme lays the foundation for teaching about sex and marriage to be taken away from the church and the family, and given to lobby groups such as Stonewall.

4. There is a danger that as children are exposed to teachings of an explicit sexual nature at inappropriately young ages, it harms their normal development and can lead to serious problems later in life.

5. The goal of Stonewall and its allies in the liberal wing of the church is not simply to eliminate bullying in schools over issues of sexual orientation and domestic arrangements of parents. It is to change the teaching of the church regarding gender, sex, relationships and marriage, and to eliminate any view which disapproves of homosexual practice.

6. The attempt to defend traditional marriage while at the same time positively affirming homosexual relationships and gay lifestyle choices is proving increasingly difficult to sustain. Much more likely is that the church will fall into line with the culture on sexual ethics.

A very detailed, point by point rebuttal of the assumptions and recommendations in VAGC will soon be posted on the AM website.** It was produced in time for the July Synod, but of course was not discussed because of the priority time given to the subject of Women Bishops.

Parents, teachers and students are now preparing to go back to school, and the C of E Education Department is entering a new era with changes in the Executive and the Chairmanship. So it’s a good time to highlight again the fissure that is developing between Christian and secular philosophies of education (also shown in the “Muslim Trojan horse” scandal and the rushed consultation which followed it), and ask: will clergy, Bishops and parents on Education Boards and in local Church schools stand up against the secularizing and sexualizing of children? The thinking behind the “Equality Statements” and recent government announcements would have us believe that we have a choice between two philosophies: the ethics of secularism with its PC-loaded concepts of ‘equality and diversity’ and ‘tolerance’, and the ethics of violent extremism. The Church is being pressured to submit to and synthesise with the former and is doing so in many areas. Instead, now is the time for the Church to take the opportunity to reassert Christian ethics, for centuries the foundation of its educational policies and ‘British values’, as distinct, sensible and life-giving. Please pray for courage and informed input from our leaders, and pray for the safety of our children.

See also this article:

**’Valuing All God’s Children’ may now be read here


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