CHURCH OF ENGLAND schools must adopt a "zero-tolerance approach"
to homophobic bullying, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on
Launching new guidance - Valuing All God's Children:
Guidance for Church of England schools on challenging homophobic
bullying - the Archbishop acknowledged the "complexity of
combating homophobic bullying while still teaching the traditional
Anglican view of marriage".
Writing in the i newspaper, he suggested that schools
become "a space where different views can be shared and honoured.
The point is that there is room for everyone in the tent, but there
is no room for behaviours which cause harm to others."
The guidance was launched at Trinity, a Church of England
secondary school in Lewisham, south London. It calls on schools to
tackle "the derogatory use of the word 'gay'" and states that
pupils who come out must be given "appropriate care and unequivocal
During his visit, the Archbishop discussed bullying with
prefects at the school, who explained how it was tackled by pupils
A 15-year-old pupil, Ruby Tarrant, described being bullied
"horribly" after coming out in Year Eight.
"It was really hard for me to tell anyone, because it was such a
sensitive issue," she said. She later described being pushed down
stairs and told to change in the showers rather than with the other
She said, however, that "the school has come a long way, and has
changed." After confiding in a teacher, she was given a mentor "who
really helped me a lot with my confidence". Assemblies and
workshops have since been held to tackle homophobic bullying.
"One of the most important things is to talk openly," she
The Archbishop wanted to know how pupils handled the fact that
people disagreed on issues such as sexuality.
"When I came out, a lot of people said 'You will go to hell,'
and things like that," Miss Tarrant said. "Of course you should be
able to express your belief, but you have to make sure you are not
offending anyone." She then spoke about one of her friends, who had
helped her to set up the Hate Homophobia in Schools Campaign."He
believes that homosexuality is wrong, but he disagrees more with
homophobia because it is not about the person being gay but about
the fact that a person, regardless of sexuality, is being
After a round-table discussion, the Archbishop was asked whether
the Church had contributed to homophobia through its teaching on
relationships. "No sense of something being right or wrong
justifies another wrong," he said. "So there is never a point at
which - because you say a particular form of behaviour . . . is
wrong - that that justifies you saying that it is OK to bully
When asked why homophobic bullying was important to him, he
replied: "seeing it happen, and being appalled by that". He said
that he had seen it at his own school.
The plan to produce the guidance was formulated last year. In
July, the Archbishop told the General Synod:
"The majority of the population . . . sometimes look at us, and
see what they don't like. With nearly a million children educated
in our schools, we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment
to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying, but we must also take
action" (News, 5 July).
In October, a survey completed by 48 church schools suggested
that about 30 per cent did not have guidance on tackling homophobic
bullying. A 2012 report by Stonewall suggested that, while half of
lesbian, gay, and bisexual pupils reported that their schools said
that homophobic bullying was wrong, this fell to 37 per cent in
The new guidance was compiled by Katy Staples, schools adviser
in the diocese of Bristol, with the help of other diocesan
advisers. On Monday, the head of education at Stonewall, Luke Tryl,
said: "This is a hugely welcome step forward by the Church. . . We
look forward to working with church schools to help them implement
the new guidance."
The general secretary of the National Association of Head
Teachers, Russell Hobby, said: "Many in church schools will welcome
this unambiguous guidance that will show all children are valued
The chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement,
the Revd Sharon Ferguson, said: "The document talks about the
acceptance of difference but it's very difficult to feel accepted
when those around you believe you fall short of the ideal."
PINK NEWS was this week celebrating being
the first gay publication to secure an interview with an Archbishop
of Canterbury, writes Madeleine Davies.
Asked for a message for the LGBT community, Archbishop
Welby said: "As you know, I have said, and got a fair amount of
flak for it within parts of the Church, we have to accept, and
quite rightly, that the same-sex marriage Act is law, and that it's
right and proper, it's the law of the land, and that's
He told Ben Cohen, the publisher of pinknews.co.uk, that
homophobic language "shocks me and appals me and deeply depresses
me. . . The Church has to learn from its past and to turn away from
often using [homophobic] language in ways of expressing itself,
which in the past have clearly put itself in that frame. I don't
think we can deny that; history is too clear."
When asked whether he understood how gay clergy might
feel about the Church's opposition to their marrying, he said: "I
do understand. It's a really difficult and troubling
On Wednesday, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg,
praised the Archbishop for tackling homophobia. "I have great
respect for his honesty," Mr Clegg told Pink News. "Justin
Welby is right to denounce homophobia, be it here in the UK, or in
other parts of the world."
He added: "Love is equal in the eyes of British law, but
that right was hard won. We have to fight even harder for universal
human rights, including LGBT freedoms, globally."
GUIDANCE FROM THE EDUCATION DIVISION
THE new guidance from the Archbishops' Council Education
Division is comprehensive: 70 pages, which include sample
anti-bullying policies and ten specific recommendations for primary
and secondary schools.
The stated aim is "to protect pupils in Church of England
schools from having their self-worth diminished and their ability
to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their
perceived/actual sexual orientation".
It reads: "At the heart of Christian distinctiveness in schools
is an upholding of the worth of each person: all are Imago
Dei - made in the image of God - and are loved
unconditionally by God." It notes "tragic instances" of young
people's taking their own lives because of homophobic bullying.
The guidance notes that, for many young people, homosexuality
"is a non-issue, just a matter of fact".
There is a detailed exploration of the "complexity of combatting
homophobic bullying whilst explaining traditional Anglican
teachings about the sanctity of marriage and same-sex
The guidance refers three times to the "official Church of
England teaching about the human sexual act . . . an act of total
commitment which belongs properly within a permanent married
relationship and that homosexual acts fall short of this
It acknowledges: "Within the Anglican Communion there exists a
wide spectrum of beliefs about this," and that it will be "a
sensitive topic" in a school community.
It also says that it is "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
The Ten Recommendations
1. Schools should ensure that their Christian ethos statement
emphasises an inclusivity that welcomes all, and reveres and
respects all members of the diverse community as individuals who
are known and loved by God.
2. All school staff should be trained to recognise and
understand how to challenge all types of bullying, including
homophobic language and behaviour. They should also be trained to
offer pastoral support in the context of the issues surrounding
sexual identity and homophobic bullying.
3. Schools should ensure that 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.
4. In Collective Worship, themes and values that play a part in
challenging bullying in all forms should be explored.
5. Opportunities should be offered for pupils to explore why
some people seek to bully and that bullying can take the formof
homophobic bullying. Strategies of how to protect yourselfand
others from bullying should be taught, and pupils should be
confident that if they report bullying it will be taken
6. Systems for monitoring and analysing incidents of bullying
should include homophobic bullying as a category and the school
should regularly review the effectiveness of its curriculum,
strategies and ethos in this regard.
7. Governors should take responsibility for monitoring and
evaluating the effectiveness of anti-bullying strategies and ensure
that regular reports about bullying and wellbeing are part of the
cycle of governors' meetings. On all governing bodies there will be
a nominated lead governor on safety and behaviour which will
8. Within the secondary phase sexual orientation is included as
an aspect of Sex and Relationships Education, ensuring that the
official Church of England view is taught clearly alongside other
viewpoints held by Anglicans, other Christians, and different faith
perspectives and world-views.
9. Anti-bullying procedures and outcomes should be included as a
performance indicator of a Church school that is distinctive and
effective and included in the SIAMS framework for inspection.
10. Diocesan Boards of Education and Diocesan Multi-Academy
Trusts should monitor incidents of bullying in their schools and
develop systems to monitor schools' strategies for inclusion and
bullying, supporting effective implementation.
Read the guidance in full