The real problems with ‘Valuing all God’s children.’

Nov 20, 2017 by

by Martin Davie:

Why the headlines got it wrong.

A week ago today the Church of England published an updated version of its guidance on tackling bullying in church schools, Valuing All God’s Children. This report generated a media firestorm, which concentrated on the issue of what little boys should be allowed to wear in school. Thus the headline in the Daily Telegraph said ‘Let boys wear Tutus and high heels if they want to, Church of England says’ the Mail online went with ‘Let little boys wear tiaras’ and the Metro’s headline was ‘Boys should be able to wear tutus, tiaras and heels if they want, says Church of England.’

These headlines, and others like them, all distort one very small part of what the report has to say. What the report actually says in one paragraph on page 20 is the following:

‘In the early years context and throughout primary school, play should be a hallmark of creative exploration. Pupils need to be able to play with the many cloaks of identity (sometimes quite literally with the dressing up box). Children should be at liberty to explore the possibilities of who they might be without judgement or derision. For example, a child may choose the tutu, princess’s tiara and heels and/or the firefighter’s helmet, tool belt and superhero cloak without expectation or comment. Childhood has a sacred space for creative self-imagining.’

Contrary to the impression given by the headlines this paragraph does not say anything at all about what boys in particular should wear and it says nothing at all about what any child should be allowed to normally wear to school. All it says is that children should be allow to choose what they like from the dressing up box.

Presumably the headlines were motivated by the fact that no one would be interested in a story headed ‘Children should have free choice from the dressing up box’ but what they succeeded in doing was missing the point of the report as whole, which can be more accurately summed up as ‘Church of England gives guidance to schools on combatting ‘homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.’

By focusing on their own fantasy version of the report rather than what the report actually said, what the press coverage failed to spot was that there are three big problems with the report.

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