*** DEBUG END ***

Christian couple withdraw their two children from C of E school over its ‘fluid’ gender policy

15 September 2017

Christian Concern

Challenging a school’s transgender policy: parents Nigel and Sally Rowe

Challenging a school’s transgender policy: parents Nigel and Sally Rowe

THE diocese of Portsmouth has defended the transgender policy of Church of England schools after a Christian couple on the Isle of Wight removed their two sons from a C of E primary school because it had allowed boys to wear dresses.

Nigel and Sally Rowe withdrew their six-year-old son last week at the start of the new school year to be home-schooled, pending a legal review of the decision to allow its pupils to dress gender fluidly. “The suggestion that gender is fluid conflicts sharply with our Christian beliefs as a family,” Mr Rowe said.

“At six years of age, children are exploring all sorts of new ideas and feelings. They do not have the emotional stability or maturity to make any life-changing decision, even if there was one to be made. This time we really felt that we had to challenge the school.”

The parents had previously removed their other, eldest son, who is now eight, two years ago, after another pupil began to identify as a girl, and was treated as a girl by the school from that time.

Mrs Rowe explained: “There was no consultation with other parents. Our son, like others, was struggling with starting school life, and with the school’s suggestion that young children can change gender. So, we felt that we could no longer allow him to attend the school.”

The school, which cannot be named to protect the children involved, replied stating that a refusal to acknowledge transgender or gender-fluid pupils constituted “transphobic behaviour” and was not in the best interests of the child.

It continued: “Additionally, when a parent or carer raises a concern about the feelings of their child when spending time in the company of a transgender-identified pupil, support work is aimed at answering the question: ‘How can we make your child feel better?’ rather than compromising the rights of the transgender child.”

Mr Rowe said that he had been “shocked by the suggestion, especially from a church school, that just because we question the notion that a six-year-old boy can really become a girl, we are ‘transphobic’. I cannot contemplate my son being disciplined and stigmatised as a bully simply because he believes that a six-year-old born as a boy, is actually a boy.”

The director of education for the diocese of Portsmouth, Jeff Williams, responded this week: “Church of England schools are inclusive environments where pupils learn to respect diversity of all kinds. Like any other state school, our schools comply with the legal requirements of the Equalities Act 2010.

“Among other things, this requires schools to accept the wishes of children and their families with regard to gender identity. It would be unlawful for any of our schools to do otherwise.”

The couple are being represented by the Christian Legal Centre.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events


Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available


Intercultural Church for a Multicultural World

28 May 2024

A Church Times/Church House Publishing webinar

Tickets are FREE


Church Times/Modern Church:

A Political Faith?

Monday 3 June 2024

This panel will explore where Christians have come to in terms of political power and ask, where should we go next?

Online tickets available


Church Times/Modern Church:

Participating in Democracy

Monday 10 June 2024

This panel will explore the power of voting, and power beyond voting.

Online tickets available


Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)