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Catholic primary school asks gay rights group to train staff to handle bullying

By on Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Stonewall's material is being used in classrooms across the country Photo: PA

Stonewall's material is being used in classrooms across the country Photo: PA

A Catholic primary school has invited the gay rights group Stonewall to give staff lessons to prevent “homophobic bullying”.

Sarah Crouch, the head teacher at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Wimbledon, south London, invited Stonewall, the gay rights pressure group, into the school to teach staff how to educate children in sexual equality.

The training day went ahead with the consent of all but one of the governors.

Miss Crouch said she called the campaign group into St Mary’s simply to train staff “on how to tackle homophobic language and bullying”.

She said: “As a school, and as Catholics, we are opposed to prejudice of any kind and felt it was important to tackle the issue of homophobic language and bullying.

“The training was very successful and we feel confident that if any incidents of this kind of language occurs our staff have the means to address it appropriately.”

But a source close to the school claimed the training day was arranged after one pupil called another boy’s shoes “gay”. Miss Crouch denied this was the case.

The source also said the training day had the blessing of the Archdiocese of Southwark. The archdiocese was not available for comment.

The decision to allow Stonewall into a Catholic primary has shocked some family campaigners.

Antonia Tully, national co-ordinator of the Safe at School campaign, said the presence of gay activists in primary schools would alarm parents. She said: “Many parents will be very concerned that a gay rights organisation is considered to be an appropriate source of advice on how to deal with children using inappropriate language in the playground.

“If a primary school takes on Stonewall’s agenda young children will be exposed to issues which they are too young to understand properly,” she added.

One Catholic close to the school, who did not wish to be named, said: “I don’t think that teaching ‘mummy and mummy’ is equal to mummy and daddy is right in a Catholic primary school because Catholic Church teaching doesn’t agree with that.”

But Wes Streeting, Head of Education at Stonewall, said that about half a dozen Catholic primary schools had been given the accolade of “Stonewall School Champion”, including St Mary’s. He added: “Thousands of primary schools have received Stonewall’s primary school resources through local authorities, including Catholic primary schools.”

The resources used to guide Stonewall’s work with some Catholic primary schools include a “best practice” guide which advises teachers on how to promote equality in the classroom.

The guide provides case studies of different primary schools, describing how some put up Stonewall posters with the slogan “Different Families, Same Love” with cartoons of same-sex parents.

In another case study a primary school compared books from the 1960s and 1970s that portrayed conventional families with a modern children’s picture book called Prince and Prince.

  • $20596475

    I so agree. What an earth is wrong with receiving information from people who understand their subject?

    If Stonewall was invited to promote themselves within a school I might be able to understand the fuss.

    If this isn’t a homophobic reaction then it does a very good imitation of it. So good I cannot tell any difference.

  • $27740841

    If non ‘traddie’ parents are home-schooling their children, then I apologise for implying that they don’t exist. It’s just that I haven’t met any, or heard of any.
    On the other hand, perhaps you have.

  • Frank

    Given the society in which we live I would suggest the idea that secondary schoolchildren know nothing about sex is a little exaggerated. Creating a loving and supportive learning environment and providing the teachings of the church is the catholic view. It seems very sensible to me and a cursory glance at social and health statistics supports that view. The sexualisation strategy has had decades to work and it has failed miserably.

  • Julian Lord

    If Stonewall was invited to promote themselves within a school

    Clearly, they have been.

  • Caroline Farrow

    Come to Brighton where we have a major squeeze on primary school places and a lottery system in place for secondary school. If you aren’t a practicing Catholic, the chances of getting into a decent secondary is minimal and the local Catholic primaries are heavily over-subscribed. One even has age of baptism as a criteria.

    As a result there is a thriving secular home ed movement in the area as I’ve just discovered. I wouldn’t object if it were traddies but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    We’re seriously considering home ed for our youngest children for a variety of reasons, I don’t think I fall into the traddie category…

  • $24570317

    The (especially younger) children are probably mainly repeating things they hear in places which include the home. Some more extreme Catholic parents might even have tried to convince their children that gay people are an “abomination”. The children need the schools to explain matters to them, where others have failed so abysmally.

  • $24570317

    Unfortunately there are many shady and unpleasant intermediaries standing between God and the deplorable views of some in the Church.

  • $24570317

    Loving parents usually (probably invariably) make many important mistakes when raising children.

    Long may the young rebel – but there is no need to wish them luck or to encourage them in this, because they always will.
    Honour thy father and thy mother does not preclude the duties to think for yourself and to have ideas of your own. These are features of a person.

  • $24570317

    “… they shall surely be put to death. ”

    You probably will not agree with this bit.
    I don’t agree with it either – or with some of the other bits.

  • $24570317

    “…and inviting practicing homosexuals into a primary school is grooming children to accept abuse as normal.”

    This remark is truly outrageous, even by the standard of many postings on this thread.
    Also ISTM at least to be bordering on the criminal.

  • $24570317

    “…teaches against Catholicism…”

    Neither the school nor the archdiocese share this opinion of yours.

  • $24570317

    “the idea that secondary schoolchildren know nothing about sex is a little exaggerated.”

    I didn’t say that.

    It seems that the aim of Catholic schools is sometimes to pretend that certain aspects of sex and sexuality are beyond the pale.

    Many Catholic children derive their knowledge from non-Catholic friends and acquaintances, and the media and books.
    But not all do, and those that don’t can suffer great disadvantage.

  • $24570317

    “after having promoted the wholesale murder of our most vulnerable in the womb”

    That is hardly worthy of tabloid journalism at its worst.
    The views I have expressed on this topic aim to reduce abortion numbers, and in no way “promotes” it.

  • $24570317

    “SHAME on anyone describing Catholics as “wicked”.”

    I did not describe any Catholics as wicked.
    You really must try to get out of your tabloid journalist mentality.

    I described some VIEWS as wicked. I’m sure many of the peddlers of these views are unaware of what they are saying, or are too ignorant to understand the issues.

  • $24570317

    Have I?
    I am not aware of developing any particular narrative for any particular purpose.

  • Charles Martel


  • Julian Lord

    I’m sure many of the peddlers of these views are unaware of what they are saying, or are too ignorant to understand the issues

    Unless you’re talking about the views of “catholics” like yourself, it’s hard to accept this attempt to wriggle out of being responsible for your statements.

    Or what — shall we start writing down rubbish like “the sheer wickedness of the views of many bus drivers”, or “the sheer wickedness of the views of many Mancunians”, or “the sheer wickedness of the views of many golfers” as if it were supposed to be relevant, without being attacks upon bus drivers, Mancunians, or golfers ?

    It is not possible to associate the notion of “wickedness” with Catholics without suggesting that these Catholics are “wicked”.

  • Lazarus

    God makes mistakes….????

    I think you’ve lost the thread of the argument. It’s clearly possible to defy God and to act wrongly. There will be consequences of such mistakes. You should simply concede this point and move on.

    What you should be arguing is that you think the Catholic Church and the loony orthodox such as myself have misinterpreted God’s will. Obviously I’d disagree with you, but at least this argument would be coherent.

    Assuming this is what you’ll argue, then you can see that neither blind obedience or blind disobedience will succeed: you have to cultivate the virtue of wisdom. Part of that in Catholicism is recognizing the sources of authoritative teaching in the Church (as indeed generally it is recognizing sources of good counsel). It may be a natural part of growing up (although I think you -and indeed I!- are well past this age) to kick against such authority, but it is something you need to get over in order to achieve wisdom and maturity. As far as I can see, you’re still in some rebellious phase, but ‘sticking it to the man’ really isn’t much of a theological principle to base your life on.

  • scary goat

    Lazarus was drawing a comparison between parents and God. Either your comment is totally irrelevant being solely about human parents, or are you suggesting that God makes mistakes. That sounds a bit like JB’s heresy for the day.

  • Lazarus

    To quote a well known authority, ‘That’s revealing.’