Cornwall: Catholic school fails to distance itself from anti-gay row
Senior teaching staff at a newly-opened Catholic school in Cornwall claim homophobic views expressed by the grandfather of a former student do not reflect those of the institution.
St Michael’s Catholic free school in Truro is the UK’s first government-funded Catholic free secondary.
In a recent public meeting, the West Britonreports Wallace Simmons as saying the school would not teach gay “nonsense”.
Mr Simmons made the remarks in front of school governor Joyce Sanderson and Father Chris Findlay, a priest at a church associated with the school in the small Cornish village of Camborne.
Mr Simmons went on to say: “The whole population is taught that homosexuality is fine and children should accept they can have two mums or dads but they should not be taught that nonsense. It is not right.
“Schools are not teaching basic family values and that mum and dad are the heads of the family and that’s how it should be.
“There are so many problems in schools today where basic family values are not taught and it is ok for Jack to marry Jack and not Jill.
“The morals of this country should not be dragged down.”
In an attempt to quell anger from Mr Simmons’ outburst, and to reduce fears that the school is prepared to turn a blind eye to homophobia, it issued a statement, saying:
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“[Mr Simmons] is not a parent. He is not a governor. He is not a member of staff. He has nothing to do with the setting up of St Michaels Catholic Secondary School. He cannot and does not speak for this school.
“School policy is clear. Everyone, regardless of gender, race or orientation will be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Any sign of discrimination, including homophobia, will be dealt with robustly.
“We stand by the dignity of the human person and, because of our beliefs, seek the very best for every child placed in our care whatever their family circumstance.”
Last week, the school was criticised by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) as an “ideological gimmick”.
However, St Michaels is still facing criticism, because governor Joyce Sanderson also said in relation to Mr Simmons’ remarks that: “Gays would be welcome to this school, but we would not encourage it”.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) believes this statement to be unlawful and is likely to be in breach of the Equality Act.