Press Release

Church of England refuses to intervene or question teaching of extreme gender identity lessons in its primary schools

20 July 2023         Issued by: Christian Concern

The Chief Education Officer of the Church of England (CofE), Nigel Genders, has refused to intervene or even question the teaching of extreme sex education and gender identity lessons in its primary schools.

In May 2023, a CofE primary school in Norfolk refused to address safeguarding concerns or amend its extreme and graphic relationships and sex education lessons for children as young as seven, following parent complaints.

Lessons and materials introduced, without effective parental consultation, to the school in Dereham, Norfolk, teach that children as young as seven can be born a boy but feel like a girl, which indicates that they can be born in the wrong body, which goes against government guidance.

Teaching uses terms such as ‘pangender’ and ‘cisgender’ and allow pupils to take part in pretend same-sex weddings.

The teaching is delivered under the banner of the government’s Relationships Health and Sex Education (RHSE) programme.

Schools are obligated to deliver an RHSE curriculum, but it is at the discretion of each school and headmaster as to how far they go with the teaching, especially teaching on human sexuality and gender.
In March the government described its own guidance, which was shaped by Stonewall in 2019, as ‘inappropriate’ and launched an urgent review.

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, is said to be personally alarmed by the guidance, yet Ofsted has recently since said that it is ‘powerless’ to sanction schools teaching children as young as 12 about ‘gender unicorns’ and anal sex.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, one parent with two young children at the school, who wishes to remain anonymous, escalated a complaint about the RHSE provision to an ‘independent’ review hearing. All safeguarding concerns, however, were ignored and the school proceeded to introduce the teaching.

The parent also escalated concerns to the Church of England calling on them to intervene and asked why it was allowing such teaching in its schools.

‘Contested issues’

Responding to the parent, Rev. Nigel Genders, who has recently fully endorsed the teaching of Critical Race Theory, refused to engage or take responsibility, saying:

“I see that you have taken your concerns to the school, which is entirely the right and appropriate thing to do. The RSHE policy and decisions about the resources used to deliver it are the responsibility of the school in consultation with parents, having due regard to any advice from the Diocesan Board of Education.

“The Church of England Education Office has set out some general principles and guidance to help schools form their policy and practice in this area, particularly in a way that is mindful of the faith perspectives of many of our parents. You can see this guidance here:

“Given that schools are seeking to do the very best for children as they grow in maturity and mindful of the high profile focus on this area in the media and elsewhere, it will be very helpful to have new guidance from the government on how these contested issues are handled within educational settings. We expect this guidance very soon. We also look forward to the review of how RSHE is being taught and the materials schools are using, as well as some clarity on the rather subjective question of age-appropriateness as it applies to teaching aspects of sex education.

“In the meantime, please do continue to be in discussion with your daughter’s schools about your concerns.”

‘Passing the buck’

In response, the parent, who has been forced to move his children to a new school, said: “Mr Genders is well aware that CofE primary schools in Norfolk and elsewhere are teaching Relationships, Sex and Health Education produced by Educator Solutions, the trading arm of Norfolk County Council, that contains aspects which are wholly age inappropriate, sexually explicit, ideologically influenced, and unsupported by scientific basis.

“Teaching 7-8 year old children that they can choose their gender (boy, girl, or not sure), and that they are only born “like” a boy or “like” a girl, but that it is how they feel inside that counts, is a highly contested and dangerous concept that is not grounded in established science. The Prime Minister has acknowledged this, instructing the DfE to safeguard children from such ideology. 

“Teaching radical gender ideology as fact, and without competing views, is entirely partisan, and is therefore at complete odds with the DfE’s 2022 impartiality guidance, and likely the Education Act 1996. Despite this potential illegality, and my pleas for help, Mr Genders does not seem willing to act now to prevent primary children under his watch in CofE schools being subject to the beginnings of ideological indoctrination, and explicit sexualising content.

“Furthermore, passing the buck of responsibility entirely to the Headteachers, and waiting on updated guidance from the DfE is totally inadequate. Action is needed now to protect children! Are CofE schools that push this dangerous content CofE in name only.” 

Andrea Williams chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

“The CofE has a uniquely influential position in the lives of children in this country through its network of schools. We know children do best when they understand and are taught that they are made in the image of God and many parents want to send their children to CofE schools because of their Christian foundations that is rooted in biblical morality. How is it that the CofE education authorities and leadership shy away from contending for that truth and prefer to look to the state for guidance rather than the bible itself?

“This is another example of the Church of England refusing to support and defend Christians who raise concerns about extreme secular teaching on gender identity in CofE schools.

“For years, parents and teachers who have raised safeguarding concerns over the promotion of gender identity to primary school children have been ignored, disbelieved, and marginalised. No questioning is allowed.  

“Thousands of children are being indoctrinated with extreme gender ideology without the knowledge of their parents. The government needs to allow parents to withdraw children from relationships and sex education until the gender and political ideology has been rooted out of these lessons.


The parent’s concerns began when the school rolled out its plans for RHSE without any detail or effective or democratic consultation.

Neither the RHSE policy nor the RSHE teaching materials were put on the school’s website. Parents had to attend the school to see a copy of either.

When approaching the RHSE coordinator at the school, the parent noticed that she immediately became ‘sheepish’ when asked about the materials in the programme. The coordinator began probing him about what he wanted to know.

The parent found in the 300 pages of material that the teaching presented no opposing viewpoints to gender identity ideology.

The teaching material included that children would be introduced to a wide spectrum of gender identity belief vocabulary and themes. This included requirements to learn about contested terms such as ‘heteronormativity’ ‘cisgender’ and ‘pangender’, while terms such as ‘heterosexual’ and ‘straight’ were omitted.

‘Pangender’ is a term for people who feel that they cannot be labelled as female or male in gender and ‘cisgender’ is a person whose sex was assigned male at birth and identifies as a boy or a man, or someone whose sex was assigned female at birth and identifies as a girl or a woman.

Children would therefore be taught that “some people are born like a boy (with a penis), but feel like a girl inside or born like a girl (with a vulva) but feel like a boy inside.”

They would be asked “to think about what gender they are”, and the options provided are – “boy”, “girl”, and “not sure”.

Children in year 4 are asked to “volunteer to come to the front of the class and pretend to get married”, and told that “they can be the same or different gender to each other.”

There were also graphic diagrams of sexual intercourse and mentions of foreplay.

Believing these themes to be too complex, and in some cases sexualised, the parent said that in good conscience he could not allow their children to attend the lessons.

Many parents at the school appear to be in the dark on what is in the proposed teaching while other parents who shared concerns are afraid to speak out and take a stand.

After getting legal advice and doing his own research, the parent discovered that the teaching content and the approach of the school appeared to breach government guidance, the Education Act 1996 and the Human Rights Act 1998, and raised potential safeguarding issues.

The hearing

From the outset, the parent said he wanted to collaborate and work with the school. However, he said that his olive branches were repeatedly rejected, and his questions and concerns brushed aside.

Raising a complaint with the school, the head teacher responded that: “I have had confirmation our teaching resources are in line with government policy”, yet he could not provide any evidence to substantiate this.

The head teacher also said in response to politicians, such as Suella Braverman, who had raised concern about how UK schools are teaching gender identity that: “politicians are entitled to their views (as we all are) but it does not supersede statutory policy”.

Flabbergasted by the response and the blunt rejection of his concerns, the parent followed the complaints procedure and asked for an independent investigation to benchmark the materials against other providers.

Instead, the head teacher spoke to the author of the materials at Educator Solutions, a trading arm of Norfolk County Council who produce RHSE for the region, who said there was no problem with the materials and that they were compliant. No evidence to substantiate this was provided.

The complaint was then escalated to the school’s governing body who agreed to hold a hearing, but said they were not going to consider the moral or philosophical nature of the teaching materials as part of the complaint.

The parent said that it was clear at the hearing that the panel had made a pre-determined decision and were unable to clarify when challenged how the teaching materials were compliant with statutory guidance. They refused to answer 95% of his questions during the hearing and the Headteacher was not present.

The parent also asked governors and the Deputy Headteacher if they were planning on having a Drag Queen story time session at the school, and they refused to give an answer.

Members leading the panel contradicted themselves by stating before and at the start of the hearing that they were not going to make any judgment on the teaching materials. However, during the hearing and in a subsequent decision letter, they made a judgment that the materials were compliant.

Evidence presented included September 2020 guidance from the Department for Education for schools which warned about the sensitivities and complexities about teaching about gender reassignment. It states that:

“Resources used in teaching about this topic must always be age-appropriate and evidence based. Materials which suggest that non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity should not be used and you should not work with external agencies or organisations that produce such material. While teachers should not suggest to a child that their non-compliance with gender stereotypes means that either their personality or their body is wrong and in need of changing.”

As the parent read out quotes from Miriam Cates’ NSCU report, a member of the panel exclaimed, which was not recorded in the minutes: “Do we really have to listen to this? I don’t believe a word you are saying”, and said “this is causing me distress”.

The parent felt coerced into ending his evidence at this point.

At the end of the parent’s evidence, without any deliberation, the chair of the panel said: ‘We are not going to pause the roll out of these materials’. They said that Norfolk County Council had produced the materials in partnership with Educator Solutions which must mean they are compliant.

Left with no alternative, the parent is considering his options and has written to Ofsted and the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, calling for an intervention and investigation into the RHSE provision at the school.

To date, the Department for Education has not assigned a case officer to investigate the concerns that were originally raised in April.

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