Christian parents have urged the Church of England to change the guidance for its 4,700 primary schools that allows students as young as 5 to self-identify as the opposite sex.
In an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, last Friday, Nigel Rowe and his wife, Sally, raised concerns regarding the implementation of Church guidance that allows school children to identify as their preferred gender identity.
“Basic Christian teaching is that we are all created male or female and that the differences between the sexes are beautiful, designed and complementary, and should be respected in society,” the Christian parents wrote.
“We were also concerned for the harmful effects on the children who were allowed to socially transition, as well as the effects on all the other children in the school.”
At issue was a guidance titled “Valuing All God’s Children” originally issued in May 2014, but later updated by the CofE in the summer of 2019, which states: “Trans young people may require specific support in order to feel comfortable at school, for example, schools may need to make changes to toilet facilities or a trans young person might require support to change their name or the pronoun by which they are referred to by staff and classmates.”
The Rowes said in the letter that the CofE’s approach and the guidance are not supported by the law. “We, therefore, ask you to withdraw the Valuing All God’s Children guidance as a matter of urgency for the sake of protecting the children,” they wrote.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which represented the Rowes in past litigation, echoed the parents’ concerns in a statement released last week, by saying that the guidance “must now be scrapped.”
Years ago, the Rowes raised concerns about indoctrination after two 6-year-old boys in their sons’ classes at the Isle of Wight school were allowed to identify as girls.
In 2017, CofE officials told the Rowes that the school did not require any evaluation when a student requests to be affirmed as a member of the opposite sex.
The family was then given an ultimatum to accept the policy or take their sons out of the school. When the Rowes’ complaint to the Department of Education was rejected, they took legal action in 2021 against the department.
Last month, the Rowes were awarded over $23,900 in legal costs and a commitment from the British government to reform trans-affirming policies in schools.
“This notorious guidance actually says that children as young as 5 years old should be affirmed by Church of England schools if they wish to identify as the opposite sex,” the couple wrote in the open letter.
In their letter, the couple cited a speech made by the then Attorney General Suella Braverman in August, addressing the guidance.
“The problem is that many schools and teachers believe – incorrectly – that they are under an absolute legal obligation to treat children who are gender questioning according to their preference, in all ways and all respects, from preferred pronouns to use of facilities and competing in sports,” said Braverman, as quoted by the Rowes.
“All this is sometimes taking place without informing their parents or taking into account the impact on other children. Anyone who questions such an approach is accused of transphobia. In my view, this approach is not supported by the law.”
Braverman went on to say in that speech that she believed no student “should be made to fear punishment or disadvantage for questioning what they are being taught, or refusing to adopt a preferred pronoun for a gender questioning child, or complaining about a gender questioning child using their toilets or changing rooms, or refusing to take part in activities promoted by Stonewall or other such organizations.”
“The right to freedom of belief, thought, conscience and speech must be protected,” she said.
Reporting from The Christian Post.