If last month’s rallying cry of church conservatives were going to moderate the Church of England’s stand on sexual immorality, it showed no sign of it Monday when it released new guidance to the 4,700 schools under its direction.
The document, titled Valuing All God’s Children, which was originally produced in 2014 to “address the problem of homophobia,” has now been amended to “prevent pupils from having their self-worth diminished or their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.” The report also makes 12 recommendations to “offer an inclusive vision for education” and to eliminate LGBT bullying.
In the United Kingdom, church schools run by the Anglicans or the Methodists are required to meet government regulations relating to anti-bullying and creating a “welcoming environment” for LGBT students. The report will be reviewed annually to monitor its impact on COE schools.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wrote the following statement to accompany the report:
All bullying, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying causes profound damage, leading to higher levels of mental health disorders, self-harm, depression and suicide. Central to Christian theology is the truth that every single one of us is made in the image of God. Every one of us is loved unconditionally by God. This guidance helps schools to offer the Christian message of love, joy and celebration of our humanity without exception or exclusion.
The report notes that not all will agree on the issues of human sexuality and marriage, but that there needs to be a “faithful and loving commitment to remain in relationship with the other and honor the dignity of their humanity without ‘back turning,’ dismissing the other person, or claiming superiority.”