The Church Of England has come up with a plan to tackle antigay bullying in schools, and Archbishop Of Canterbury Justin Welby has put all Anglican schools in England on notice about what will and won’t be tolerated.
In guidance to the schools, Welby is open about the fact that the gay talk is “a divisive issue,” but strongly maintains that the divisiveness of the issue should not give the schools license to “turn a convenient blind eye” when they see homophobic or antigay bullying behavior.
“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. 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.”
Welby’s guidance also notes that today’s youth are growing up in a world in which being gay is more normalized than ever, but seeks to respect opposing viewpoints on the basis of religion while firmly noting that explicit hatred or intolerance is unacceptable:
“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.”
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t accept homophobia as a “traditional faith perspective” but it’s always important to remember that real, lasting change happens step by step.
We commend Archbishop Welby for making such a bold move to help combat homophobia and antigay bullying in schools that are heavily focused on religion.