A PARISH priest has resigned his governorship of a church primary school after an outcry over his comments that teaching pupils about gay and lesbian relationships amounted to “state-sponsored child abuse”.
The Rector of St Alban’s Wickersley, the Revd Peter Hughes, who is also the Area Dean of Rotherham and Priest-in-Charge of Ravenfield, Hooton Roberts and Braithwell, in south Yorkshire, made his comments in a three-page article in the Wickersley parish magazine last month. He described government plans for children to learn about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersexual relationships as part of compulsory lessons from September 2020 as a “form of child grooming”.
He continued: “This sexual indoctrination of young children prepares them for early sexual experimentation, normalises it, and, in doing so, opens the door to sexual predators.”
Mr Hughes was the designated governor for anti-bullying at St Alban’s C of E Primary School, Wickersley, which is part of the diocese of Sheffield Academies Trust. Immediately after his views became public, the school launched its own inquiry. The executive head, Alison Adair, said in a statement that, while Mr Hughes was “entitled to his views”, the school and the trust did not agree with them.
She went on: “We are fully behind the new Department for Education proposals around the new sex and relationships teaching curriculum; but, as with any changes to our children’s education, we will inform and work with parents before the full implementation in 2020.”
This week, she confirmed that Mr Hughes had stepped down. “In his resignation letter, he expressed deep regret for the unwelcome attention the school received and the distraction caused. The school accepted his resignation immediately, but also formally recorded our appreciation for the several years of unwavering support he had given the school in his time as governor.”
The director of education for the diocese of Sheffield, the Revd Huw Thomas, said that Mr Hughes’s opinions were “personal” and not shared by the diocese of Sheffield. “The language used is regrettable,” he said.
This week, Mr Hughes declined to talk to the Church Times.