Letter to Church Times about concept of gender identity in C of E schools

Letter from Sarah Rutherford on behalf of LGB Christians published in the Church Times on Friday 2nd February 2024

Sir, LGB Christians is a newly formed network of lesbian, gay, and bisexual Christians and their friends. We would like to add our voice to the concerns raised by many parents and others over the media report of a four-year-old’s being allowed to join a C of E primary school as a girl while the other parents and children were not informed of the child’s male biological sex (The Times, 27 January). There are very serious safeguarding issues to be considered.

We think the Church of England Education Office and the General Synod must take substantial responsibility for this débâcle. It has, since 2017, actively participated in the promotion of the idea that all children have a gender identity and may be born in the wrong body via its teaching resource Valuing All God’s Children (VAGC) for schools.

Despite the C of E’s insistence that this is just a guidance on homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic bullying, the resource introduces the contested concept of gender identity uncritically and contains a glossary that is, word for word, the same as the glossary on the LGBT charity Stonewall’s website. We would, rather, have expected the C of E to conduct broader and more objective research on this topic.

The 2019 VAGC guidance states that “schools can make the adjustments to meet the needs of a trans pupil without being accused of discriminating against non-trans pupils.” This neglects the fact that sex is another protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty requires schools to balance the needs of all protected characteristics. The legalities aside, last month, the Government updated its guidance that warns against the social transitioning of children and says that treating children as a different gender is not a neutral act and may have psychological consequences (following on from the findings of the Cass Interim report, March 2022).

While we are pleased to see in another media report that the Church will be updating VAGC after this new government guidance, we hope that this will be done urgently. The previous guidance of 2017 was found to have legal errors – erroneously equating gender reassignment with gender identity as a characteristic of the Equality Act – and was, therefore, republished in 2019. It has now been five long years during which many schools will have adopted and put in practice the beliefs and subsequent policies of VAGC with potentially damaging consequences for the children involved.

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For more background see our previous post by Sarah Rutherford, Gender Identity Ideology captures the CofE: the shameful brainwashing of children.

View the letter on the Church Times Website.