The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is set to announce anti-homophobia measures to be implemented in Church of England schools.
The proposed guidelines, titled ‘Valuing All God’s Children’, are currently being announced at a school in Lewisham by Welby.
Speaking to the i newspaper, he said:”The aim of this guidance is to protect pupils in church schools from having their self-worth diminished, and their ability to achieve impeded, by being bullied because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation.”
Saying the issued needed to be tackled “head on”, he admitted that the issue of homophobia would be a difficult one for Christian schools, saying: “Sexuality is a highly sensitive and complex aspect of our humanity, of course, and church schools face particular challenges in this area.”
One major part of the challenge, the Archbishop wrote, was 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”.
“At every church school there will be a wide spectrum of beliefs, and this must be acknowledged and respected… The gospel instructs Christians to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. That is an instruction, not an optional extra.”
Archbishop Welby said the church could not just “wring our hands” over the issue, noting that almost a million children are educated in Church of England schools.
According to reports, the guidelines are to be a more broad anti-bullying environment, rather than specific material in the classroom. The Archbishop clarified that sex education lessons including information about same-sex relationships would not be included in the initiative.
“This is not about providing lesson plans or materials for PSHE or sex education. It’s about challenging schools to strive towards a deeply accepting environment for all their pupils.”
He went on to say that there would be “zero tolerance” of “the victimisation and diminishment of young people through homophobic language or behaviour”, saying such behvaiour was “anathema to Christian practice”.
Children, he continued should be taught to “respectfully disagree” with, and discuss same-sex relationships.
“My hope and prayer is for this new guidance to become a significant tool for helping church schools develop and sustain consistency between our Christian values and the daily experience of pupils in our care,” he said.