Media Release: Church of England plays fast and loose with Cass Review

Yesterday the Church of England published its proposed anti-bullying guidance ‘Flourishing for All: Anti-bullying Guidance for Church of England Schools (2024)’

This was produced in response to the Cass Review Final Report and wider concerns that existing guidance posed safeguarding risks to children and young people in our schools.

We welcome any development helping school leaders to tackle bullying and the opportunity to respond to the contents of the latest guidance. We are deeply committed to tackling homophobic bullying and the provision of clear age-appropriate teaching on the reality of same-sex attraction.

However, we are gravely concerned about the proposed guidance.

It implies that in the interests of safeguarding, the expression of gender critical views will be restricted and the use of preferred pronouns compelled.

Especially alarming is the continuing assumption that schools will continue to facilitate gender questioning children to “social transition” and newly extend its safeguarding remit to transgender parents and teachers.  Above all, the document continues to conflate the incommensurable interests of lesbian and gay people with those who trans identify.

Canon Mark Q Bratton, a former member of General Synod comments: “While we appreciate the national church’s efforts to update its guidance, ostensibly to bring it into line with the evidence-based findings of the Cass Review, we fear that the latest guidance perpetuates the flaws of the earlier Valuing All God’s Children (VAGC) and adds a few more. For example, it preserves fiercely contested ideological concepts such as ‘sex assigned at birth’, ‘gender identity’ and ‘cisgender’ as well as adding new controversial categories such as ‘gender questioning children’ and ‘pronouns’.”

Julie Maxwell, a paediatrician and member of the General Synod meeting in York this weekend told LGB Christians “This guidance contains many concerning elements that seem to ignore key findings of the Cass Review and the DfE guidance on gender questioning children.”

Regrettably, LGB Christians believe that the latest draft guidance presents a greater safeguarding risk to children and young people in our schools than its earlier guidance did and should, like its predecessor, be radically amended or rescinded. We hope that others will share our concerns and that our feedback will be addressed in the consultation process.

“The Church of England needs to accept the Cass Review wholeheartedly. Instead it is missing the whole point of its main recommendations while doing its best to hope no one notices. This is a deeply dishonourable and untenable position” says Canon Bratton.

LGB Christians and our friends is a national network of lesbian, gay and bi Christians, defending the rights of same-sex attracted people in the face of confusion caused by ideas which replace the biological reality of the two sexes with self-defined gender identities.

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