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News: UK

Mon 12 May, 2014
By Robert Ingham

Church of England schools should not turn a "convenient blind eye" to prejudice

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Homophobia must not be tolerated in Church of England schools, says guidance launched by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

The Bible or religious texts should not be used to justify homophobic behaviour, says the advice sent to all Church of England schools.

But homosexuality is recognised as a "divisive issue" in the church.

The guidance says that Church of England schools should not turn a "convenient blind eye" to prejudice.

"Schools should ensure their behaviour policies include clear expectations that homophobic behaviour and language will not be tolerated and that there can be no justification for this negative behaviour based on the Christian faith or the Bible," says the advice.

It warns that schools of all kinds can be "among the most homophobic social spaces".
'Terrible impact'

The guidance and accompanying report, Valuing All God's Children: Guidance for Church of England Schools on Challenging Homophobic Bullying, were published on Monday at a school in south London.

The documents set out policies for how Church of England schools, which teach a million pupils, can discourage and prevent a culture of homophobic bullying.

"Less than a year ago I set out my concerns about the terrible impact of homophobic bullying on the lives of young people and I made a public commitment to support our schools in eradicating homophobic stereotyping and bullying," said Archbishop Welby.

"Church schools begin from the belief that every child is loved by God. This guidance aims to help schools express God's love by ensuring that they offer a safe and welcoming place for all God's children."

The guidance makes recommendations for schools to follow, including that staff are trained to deal with such bullying.

And it says that pupils might have friends or family who are gay - or will have seen gay celebrities on television.

"For many children and young people living in today's UK, this is a non-issue, just a matter of fact," says the school guidance.

"To deny this reality is to choose to be blinkered."

But it also recognises that there are different views on sexuality - and that these should be respected.

"It is also equally important to communicate clearly to pupils and families that holding traditional faith perspectives on sexuality is not counter to the school's aims and ethos, but that expressing hatred, negativity and hostility to another is unacceptable."

Source: BBC

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