Steve Beegoo, Head of Education, comments on the organisation Educate and Celebrate, its resources and the influence its material is having on children, even in the face of clear government guidance and public concern.
This week has seen the hard-to-believe story of Bernard Randall come out, who lost his role as a chaplain after raising concerns about his school’s use of Educate and Celebrate resources.
Was he right to be concerned and if so, why?
‘Extreme caution when working with external agencies’
The government states clearly in its guidance to schools that:
“It is important when using external agencies to take particular care that the agency and any materials used are appropriate and in line with your school’s legal duties regarding political impartiality.”
“You should exercise extreme caution when working with external agencies and proceed only if you have full confidence in the agency, its approach and the resources it uses.”
Educate and Celebrate is predominantly the brainchild of Dr Elly Barnes, with its origins in the training arm of ‘Schools Out’. Dr Barnes and Schools Out were close to the far-left Socialist Workers Party (SWP); this foundational connection is clear as Educate & Celebrate’s chair of trustees was Anna Gluckstein of the SWP. Elly Barnes herself has shared platforms with the SWP, and as recently as 2015 was submitting to the SWP paper, Socialist Worker. And yet many schools, including Trent College and the Elms have uncritically allowed their ideologies to fundamentally change the teaching and culture of their institutions.
Why has the government been so clear in its guidance, as recently as September 2020? It is because so many schools, like Trent College and the Elms, have deeply disturbed parents and children through their sudden jettisoning of scientific understanding of sex and gender, and normalising of dangerous stereotyping. The government and many parents have been so disturbed by the age inappropriate and incredibly confusing terminology which Educate and Celebrate have promoted through their training.
The government has given clear guidance that schools:
“Should assess all resources carefully to ensure they are age appropriate… and are in line with your school’s legal duties in relation to impartiality… When deciding if a resource is suitable, you should consider if it… is evidence-based and contains robust facts and statistics.”
This means that anything taught to children must be evidence-based and therefore not based in controversial ideology.
The resources provided by Educate and Celebrate, including the ‘Gender Unicorn’, are promoting an ideology about personal identity. This belief system is unscientific – it is not evidence-based – and is in direct opposition to the major religious faiths’ perspectives on identity. Should a school determine to use these resources, the school could be illegally promoting an education to children that is not in conformity with the religious beliefs of the parents, and that would be in contravention of their Article 2 Protocol 1 rights.
The resources produced by Educate and Celebrate, have a focus based on achieving a specific goal.
Dr Elly Barnes is on record as saying that through Educate and Celebrate, “we’re trying to smash heteronormativity …”. There is no hiding that the organisation is running a politically and ideologically motivated campaign in schools to promote the unproven, unscientific theories of gender identity.
If you attend Educate & Celebrate training, both staff and children are taught about ‘gender identity’. This is a belief that has no proof and can only be justified by using gender stereotypes. Furthermore, their training sessions have been promoting legal falsehoods. ‘Gender’ nor ‘gender identity’ are protected characteristics in the 2010 Equality Act, and yet this is consistently stated in their resources to pressurise schools and even children to behave in ‘kinder’ ways or face the lawmakers. They regularly substitute gender for sex, and gender identity for gender reassignment, as well as advocating for the removal of the terms ‘boys’ or girls’.
For children aged 7 and up, their book ‘Can I tell you about gender diversity?’ tells the story of 12-year-old, Kit. The deliberate misinformation and dangerous ideology promoted in this book is stunning. While misrepresenting the law and giving medically incorrect information about puberty blockers, Kit explains homosexuality, bisexuality, cisgender, and gender expression to her audience of young children. For example,
“Hormone blockers are a type of treatment that stops you from going through the puberty you were assigned at birth. It’s reversible and it can stop you experiencing anything horrible while you try to work out what you want to do next”
This treatment is not reversible, and as the Kiera Bell case highlights, children will be taking advisors and treatment providers to court where they have been groomed from an early age into chemically and potentially socially transitioning, at a stage when the vast majority of children will overcome any gender dysphoria as they mature.
The fruit of this grooming is seen at the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), which saw a 3,000% increase over the last decade in referrals for gender dysphoria. Confusion is being sown, affirmed and directed into a social and medical experiment on children, who have been groomed, along with their parents, by the teachings and methods of organisations such as Educate and Celebrate.
The nature of the backers and patrons of an organisation can often highlight the political and ideological direction of an organisation. One patron of Educate & Celebrate is Peter Tatchell. His published letter in 1997 claiming that children aged 9-13 can gain ‘great joy’ in having sex with adults and saying:
“it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful.” (Emphasis added)
Mr Tatchell may now have distanced himself from these views but still campaigns to lower the age of consent. Is it right that he should be a patron of this kind of organisation? Should parents be expected to feel comfortable about such an organisation setting the direction for the school’s teaching on these subjects?
Their advice for young people also raises significant safeguarding concerns. The Transgender Trend guide for parents, which helpfully critique many such organisations, highlights:
“Primary school children in Year 5/6 are told that LGBT teenagers are more likely to self-harm and attempt suicide. It is very dangerous to tell children that people with a particular characteristic are more likely to self-harm or to kill themselves. Samaritan’s guidance on reporting self-harm in the media cautions that ‘Self-harming behaviour should never be presented as a solution to problems. Nor should coverage of self-harm give the impression that many young people are doing it, or suggest that it is a normal reaction to emotional distress.’ In addition, the Samaritan’s guidance on reporting youth suicides warns ‘Avoid speculation around the causes of a young person’s suicide. For example, when a suicide is reported and bullying is cited as the cause, this could affect other young people experiencing bullying who may be feeling hopeless about their own situation. Making direct links about causes oversimplifies suicide.’”
Teaching on identity
Educate and Celebrate is politically partisan, and their resources raise significant safeguarding issues. Ideologues are uncritically allowing them to influence schools, and the teaching of young children. Ignorant parents, teachers and governing boards are being sold lies that the self-approved approach of such organisations will promote the flourishing of children in their identity. Christians and those of many other faiths, believe that identity should not be predominantly formed from the immature, impressionable and variable internal feelings found in children and teenagers. Our true identity can be found in knowing we are created by God in His image, understanding we are fallen in character, and so in need of his grace and redemption. We are made for an eternal life and were created to discover, throughout our lives, an identity which we can start to enjoy in relationship with Him, now.