55 of the UK’s top educationalists, trade unionists, academics, humanists, and charity and religious leaders have signed an open letter the Government, urging it not to water down school standards on tolerance towards LGBT people due to pressure from religious lobbyists.
Will you join them in calling for the Government to stand firm against anti-LGBT hate in schools?
Religious hardliners want freedom to peddle hatred about LGBT people in lessons, rather than promote the fundamental values of tolerance and mutual understanding that our society depends on. This could be harmful to LGBT pupils at these schools, and risks allowing anti-LGBT bullying to spread.
We think the Government should be standing up bullies, not giving into them, and that all schools should be made to uphold the law. That’s why we’re asking you to add your name to this letter and strengthen our call for a more rational, tolerant approach in the face of bigotry and intolerance.
‘As members or leaders of religion and belief groups, educationalists, campaigners and school leaders, we are concerned by reports that the Department for Education is planning to dilute the advice it publishes on the Independent School Standards to no longer stipulate that all independent schools must teach respect for LGBT people.
This poses a significant safeguarding risk to LGBT young people, who are still subject to significant levels of homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic bullying. Research shows that 45 percent of LGBT pupils are subject to bullying because of their identity, and the majority hear discriminatory language in school. Challenging LGBT discrimination in school lessons and in everyday school life is fundamental to fostering equality at school and in wider society. This teaching should take place at both primary and secondary level, to stem the development of anti-LGBT prejudice and to support LGBT people in the school community.
It’s also important to recognise that being LGBT and having a religion are not mutually exclusive. LGBT people are members of all communities, across religions and non-religious worldviews. While it is possible for schools to consider issues from a range of religion or belief perspectives, fundamentally all schools, including those with a religious character, must provide lessons that inform young people of their rights, and promote a culture of inclusion and acceptance of diversity.
That’s why we urge the Secretary of State to ensure that, irrespective of the type of school they attend, all children are supported and allowed to thrive through education that actively promotes respect and encourages LGBT acceptance.’
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive, Humanists UK
Lynnette Smith, Chair, Sex Education Forum
The Revd Stephen Terry, Chair, Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education
Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary, The National Education Union
Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary, The National Education Union
Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, National Aids Trust
Ian Green, Chief Executive Officer, Terrence Higgins Trust
Neil Roskilly, Chief Executive Officer, The Independent Schools Association
The Reverend Jane Fraser, Manager of the relations and sex education charity, Bodysense
Professor Becky Francis, Director, UCL Institute of Education
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism
Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive, Liberal Judaism
The Rt Rev David Gillett, Former Anglican Bishop of Bolton
Reverend Heston Groenewald, Vicar, All Hallows Church, Leeds
Rabbi Margaret Jacobi, Birmingham Synagogue
The Very Revd Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans
Revd Richard Jones, Associate Minister, Hereford Diocese
The Revd Canon Peter Leonard, Chair of OneBodyOneFaith and Acting Dean and Canon Chancellor of Portsmouth Cathedral
Revd Iain McDonald, United Reformed Church
The Very Revd Bertrand Olivier, Church of England
Reverend Professor Michael J Reiss, UCL Institute of Education and Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Education Committee 2014/15 Personal, Social and Health Education Inquiry
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, Maidenhead Synagogue
Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah
Revd Tim Stead, Church of England
Revd Robert Thompson, Church of England
Revd Tony Whatmough, Team Rector, Headingly Team Ministry
Revd Claire Wilson, Church of England
Revd Simon Wilson, Church of England
Derek McAuley, Chief Officer, General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
Paul Bishop, Assistant Head Teacher and Director of Sixth Form, Saint Cecilia’s Church of England School
Luke Dowding, Co-Director, Affirm
Jayne Ozanne, Director, Ozanne Foundation
Hidayah, LGBTQI+ Muslims
Ruth Hilton, Chair, JAT
Rabia Mirza, Director of Media, Engagement and Lobbying, British Muslims for Secular Democracy
Fiyaz Mughal, Director, Faith Matters
Brian Pearce, former Buddhist Chaplain to prisons in Wales
Martin Pendergast, Centre for the Study of Christianity & Sexuality
Dawn Savidge, Co-Director, Affirm
Martin Stears-Handscomb, Co-Chair, Accepting Evangelicals
Simon Barrow, Director, Ekklesia
Melissa Benn, writer and campaigner
Dr Nuala Burgess, Chair, Comprehensive Future
Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive, OneBodyOneFaith
Shaun Dellenty, Founder, Inclusion For All
Natasha Devon MBE, mental health campaigner
Martin Doré, Chair, Socialist Educational Association
Dr Eleanor Formby, Reader in Sociology and Youth Studies, Sheffield Hallam University
Professor Jonathan Glazzard, Carnegie School of Education, Leeds Beckett University
John Bolt, General Secretary, Socialist Educational Association
Mark Jennett, sexuality and gender equality in schools specialist
Naomi Long MLA, Leader, Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
Loic Menzies, Chief Executive of the education think tank, LKMco
Alison Ryan, Steering Committee Member, Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education
Please, add to our joint call for tolerance and kindness in education and oppose the influence of anti-LGBT fringe groups by adding your name to our letter today.