Schools tackle abuse

The Church of England - - Front Page -

EV­ERY CHURCH of Eng­land school has re­ceived guid­ance on tack­ling ho­mo­pho­bia.

‘Valu­ing All God’s Chil­dren: Guid­ance for Church of Eng­land Schools on Chal­leng­ing Ho­mo­pho­bic Bul­ly­ing’ was pub­lished on Mon­day and launched by the Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury dur­ing a visit to a Church sec­ondary school in Lewisham. The Arch­bishop also wrote about the guide­lines in i, a pop­u­lar ver­sion of The In­de­pen­dent news­pa­per.

Speak­ing in Lewisham, the Arch­bishop an­nounced that the pub­li­ca­tion of the guid­ance ful­filled a prom­ise he made last July when ad­dress­ing the Gen­eral Synod.

“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,” the Arch­bishop said.

“Since then an enor­mous amount of work has gone into pro­duc­ing this guid­ance so that com­mit­ment can be turned into ac­tion. I am ex­tremely grate­ful to all those who have worked so hard to pro­duce it and I par­tic­u­larly want to thank the schools and young people who have con­trib­uted.”

The guid­ance pro­vides 10 key rec­om­men­da­tions that should be adopted by schools in com­bat­ing ho­mo­pho­bic bul­ly­ing as well as sam­ple poli­cies for pri­mary and sec­ondary schools.

It was pro­duced by the Ed­u­ca­tion Di­vi­sion of the Arch­bish­ops’ Coun­cil in con­sul­ta­tion

with a num­ber of schools with good ex­ist­ing prac­tice.

The guid­ance says that its aim is to pre­vent pupils from hav­ing their self-worth di­min­ished and their abil­ity to achieve im­peded by be­ing bul­lied be­cause of their per­ceived or ac­tual sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

“Church schools are places where bound­aries should be strong, where any harm­ful words or ac­tions are known to be un­ac­cept­able, and where there are clear strate­gies for recog­nis­ing bul­ly­ing and deal­ing with it in a frame­work of for­give­ness and restora­tive jus­tice,” the doc­u­ment states in para­graph 19.

“Chil­dren and young people in C of E schools should be able to grow freely and to be com­fort­able and con­fi­dent within their own skins with­out fear or prej­u­dice.”

The guide­lines are clear that the Bi­ble should never be used to jus­tify ho­mo­pho­bia.

They rec­om­mend that all in­ci­dents of ho­mo­pho­bic bul­ly­ing should be recorded and dis­cussed. Teach­ers should be given train­ing in how to deal with such in­ci­dents.

In his news­pa­per ar­ti­cle the Arch­bishop was care­ful to say that the Church will not change the way it teaches pupils about sex­u­al­ity and re­la­tion­ships and he recog­nised it would be a chal­lenge to do this while still work­ing to stop ho­mo­pho­bic bul­ly­ing.

He wrote: “An­other chal­lenge for Church schools - which must be faced head on – is the com­plex­ity of com­bat­ing ho­mo­pho­bic bul­ly­ing while still teach­ing the tra­di­tional Angli­can view of mar­riage es­pe­cially in the light of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary change to its le­gal def­i­ni­tion for the ac­com­mo­da­tion of same-sex cou­ples.”

The Arch­bishop quoted with ap­proval Pro­fes­sor Trevor Cool­ing’s metaphor of a ‘Be­douin tent of meet­ing’ as a model for schools. This model is used in the guid­ance to en­cour­age schools to be­come spa­ces where dif­fer­ent views can be shared and hon­oured. “The point is there is room for ev­ery­one in the tent, but there is no room for be­hav­iour which causes harm to oth­ers,” the Arch­bishop wrote.

“When pupils are en­abled to ‘re­spect­fully dis­agree’, and to han­dle deeply held dif­fer­ences of be­lief and opin­ion within the frame­work for the school’s Chris­tian val­ues, they will be helped to de­velop es­sen­tial qual­i­ties for liv­ing in our di­vided and con­tentious world, with all its moral and spir­i­tual di­ver­sity,” the Arch­bishop claimed.

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