Like many others I view with deep concern the recent decision of Ed Balls, under the provisions of the Children’s, Schools and Families Bill, to allow schools with a religious character the freedom to teach faith-views where these are at variance with equality and diversity legislation. Whilst I recognise they now have that right and applaud his comment that they cannot suggest their views are the only ones, I sense there will be those who place greater emphasis on their own faith-view.
I am aware of the Archbishop’s recent comments to Synod that “The freedom of government to settle debated moral questions for the diverse communities of civil society is not something we should endorse too rapidly.” However, that does not stop my concern at the way children will be affected by teaching that homosexuality is at unacceptable to God who, at worst, rejects them. Whilst I do not believe this will be the case in Church of England Schools, it leaves others open to continue teaching that God condemns homosexuality.
As a Governor of two schools, one a Church of England Secondary School, who listens to the stories of many gay and lesbian people who have had to grow up in the ‘real world’, I am deeply aware of the way in which children are bullied because of their sexuality and the immense damage this causes. The ability of faith schools to teach an alternative to the full equality of gay and lesbian people before God can only give support to prejudice and bigotry.
If an unelected and unrepresentative body of men had successfully exerted pressure on our democratic Government to allow children to be taught that other human beings as less than equal there would, rightly, be an outcry. That our hierarchy has done so in the name of God I find deplorable.