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Outrage as Catholic Archdiocese bans LGBT author from speaking in state schools

Humanists UK has expressed its outrage after the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark reportedly banned a celebrated LGBT author from making educational visits to two state-funded Catholic schools. Simon James Green is the author of 11 children’s books, and his work has been nominated for numerous awards, including the Carnegie Medal and the Blue Peter Book Award.

Once it became aware of a planned World Book Day visit by Mr Green to a Catholic secondary school in Croydon, the Archdiocese intervened, overruling the school leadership who had been more than happy for the visit to take place, and sacking several of the governors who tried to object. In a statement, Dr Simon Hughes, Director of Education at the Archdiocese said:

‘From time to time materials or events emerge for consideration that fall outside the scope of what is permissible in a Catholic school… The book-signing event scheduled for 7 March 2022 at The John Fisher School, Purley is one such event and we have recommended that the school’s leaders cancel it.’

The school chaplain also opposed the decision of the school’s leadership. Father James Clark sent an email to parents to protest it, saying ‘the event is about promoting the literature of a lifestyle choice that is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ, and therefore has no place in a Catholic school.’

A further visit to a Catholic primary school in the Archdiocese was also cancelled as a result. Mr Green has said that his talk at that other school would have been ‘about books which contain no LGBT content whatsoever’. He retains the support of the schools involved, and some teachers were so appalled by the behaviour of the Diocese that they threatened to go on strike. The governing body requested they didn’t to prevent disruption to children’s learning.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Robert Cann said:

‘This is outrageous behaviour by the Archdiocese, discriminating against a well-regarded children’s author, whose work has been celebrated far and wide, simply because his work promotes LGBT acceptance. The result is that children, including LGBT children, are missing out on learning that LGBT people should be celebrated, and their relationships should be respected just like those of straight people.

‘Dioceses should not have the power to block lessons that promote inclusion under the Equality Act, and they should not be able to sack governors who support such lessons. We will be calling on the authorities to intervene to prevent this from ever happening again.’

Notes:

For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

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Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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