A Christian group behind dozens of British faith schools has denied being homophobic – after planning an event with an author who claims lessons about homophobic bullying “normalise sexual immorality”.
Christian Education Europe provides faith-based education via two dozen faith schools across England, as well as materials for homeschooling.
The religious schooling chain is facing questions this week over its ‘Unmasking Secular Religion’ event, which takes place in Reading on Saturday.
The event is set to feature a speaker attacking an anti-bullying scheme that educates children about homophobia.
According to the group’s website, author Brian Hadley will talk about “Society Indoctrinating The Innocent”.
The listing states: “What are they teaching the children? Brian reveals the hidden dangers of the government’s scheme to challenge homophobia in primary schools (CHIPS).”
CHIPS is an anti-bullying scheme that aims to tackle homophobic language and bullying in primary schools, and has become popular in state schools.
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In book ‘What Are They Teaching Our Children’, published by fringe anti-LGBT group Christian Concern, Hadley claims that CHIPS “contributes to the normalisation of sexual immorality and the desensitisation of children to it”.
He added that the anti-bullying scheme “inevitably forces the early sexualisation of very young children”.
Speaking to Schools Week, a spokesperson for CEE dismissed concerns about their ties to Hadley.
They said: “How does this show we’re homophobic?
“We certainly believe he’s got something worthwhile to say, and yes it’s about education, but it’s not directly about our schools. It’s his research.”
The spokesperson added: “All of our schools have anti-bullying policies. This speaker has done some research and is suggesting some dangers of the CHIPS scheme. We wouldn’t have someone who is pro-bullying.”
Christian Education Europe administers the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum, a Christian fundamentalist course of learning that grew up in Texas.
Concerns have been repeatedly flagged about the use of ACE in British schools in the past, with an investigation in 2014 raising concerns about ACE textbooks teaching that homosexuality is a choice, evolution is a lie, abortion is wrong, and AIDS can be avoided by following the Bible.
Last year, a number of ACE schools threatened legal action after having their status downgraded by education watchdog Ofsted, partly for failing to “promote respect” for LGBT people and British values.