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Angela Tilby: Pride Month is different this year

07 June 2024

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IT’S June, and so it’s Pride month, with its origin in the Stonewall riots of in New York in 1969, which demanded homosexual equality. That battle has been won, and now we expect Pride processions and fun days out, cross-dressing, and general bawdiness, all in the name of inclusivity and diversity, with flags waving proudly on public buildings, including some churches.

But, wait, are you up to speed on your flags? The Rainbow flag was replaced in 2018 by the Progress Pride flag, and now there are a host of Pride flags on offer to ensure every kind of inclusivity. The Pride flag has become, as Kathleen Stock suggested last weekend in The Sunday Times, a sign of a new secular religion.

This year, however, the context of Pride month has been changed by Dr Hilary Cass’s review of gender-identity services offered by the NHS for the under-18s (News, 31 May). Dr Cass’s review says that there has been little research into the outcomes of such clinical practices as prescribing puberty-blockers for children with gender dysphoria, or on the consequences of the surgery options made available to young people.

The Cass review has, perhaps inevitably, raised questions about other aspects of the charity Stonewall’s guidance, including the practice in some schools of teaching children that they may have been misassigned their true gender at birth.

It may be too early to claim that the tide has turned on “trans ideology”, but there is certainly more than a whiff of scepticism in the air. Beyond Cass, there are now increasing concerns about the dangers to women from trans women in women’s spaces, and the acceptance of trans women as competitors in women’s sports. Some go so far as to say that trans ideology, far from supporting true equality and diversity, can turn out to be both misogynistic and homophobic.

The Conservative Party has pledged to amend the Equality Act to ensure that “sex” is defined as “biological sex”, while Labour sees no need for change. Both are playing to opposite lobbies, of course, and so missing the chance for a deeper and more serious debate.

Churches need to consider where they stand on this issue, and not allow legitimate concerns about gender ideology to be hijacked by the Right or dismissed by the Left. Most would hope that the Church is welcoming to gay and trans people. But the Church should also take note of the fact that there are increasing numbers who feel uneasy with aspects of the Pride movement, especially when it plays into an ideology of male domination, or when it appears to support practices that harm the young.

Personally, I would prefer it if the Church found a voice to speak in a rather different register, with less emphasis on “my identity”, and more on modesty, humility, and chastity. Just now and then, perhaps in July.

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