Why does Educate and Celebrate want to ‘smash heteronormativity’?

12 May 2021

Carys Moseley comments on the ideologies of the organisation Educate and Celebrate, which gave LGBT training at the school where Rev. Dr Bernard Randall was formerly school chaplain.

Why are teachers in a secondary school in Derbyshire all shouting ‘smash heteronormativity’ together? Where did this crazy idea come from? There is a history behind this that goes back a few years. The organisation responsible, Educate and Celebrate, is a charity dedicated to normalising LGBT ideology in schools. It has done this gradually in steps. There is evidence showing that Educate and Celebrate has focused particularly on schools in Prevent Priority Areas, so designated by the Home Office as having problems with Islamist extremism. Hackney Council Prevent Team include Educate and Celebrate in their resources on individual liberty as a British Value. This means that the whole question of what are ‘British Values’ is reopened by this controversy.

‘Smash heteronormativity’

Many people by now have seen a video of Elly Barnes, CEO of Educate and Celebrate, which has been on YouTube since 2017. There at 1.00 she says that “really the bottom line is just to completely smash heteronormativity.” What this means is that Educate and Celebrate teaches children and their teachers that being heterosexual should no longer been considered the norm. Personal choice and self-identification in matters of sexuality and gender identity reigns.

The justification Elly Barnes gives for this is that then “our kids can grow up and be who they are.” She says this is important because “we are all more productive and we are all so much happier when we can be ourselves.” What this means is that her workshops are aimed at crafting children to be adults compliant to LGBT ideology in the workplace.

Gender-neutral school uniforms

Back in 2016 Educate and Celebrate surfaced in the press as being behind gender-neutral school uniform policies. At the time, Christian Concern noted that Allen Crofts School in Birmingham was believed to be the first school to adopt such a policy. Boys were allowed to wear grey or black skirts or pinafors. Girls could wear grey or black trousers.

Allen Croft School was one of many schools designated Educate and Celebrate Best Practice Schools. The scheme was funded by the Department for Education. Since then the policy has spread and the true nature of the ideology behind it has increasingly come to light.

‘Born that way’ in the classroom

The governing document for Educate and Celebrate on the Charity Commission website lists its charitable objects. These include the following:

(a) the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation or religion;

(b) advancing education and raising awareness in equality and diversity;

(c) promoting activities to foster understanding between people from diverse backgrounds;

(d) conducting or commissioning research on equality and diversity issues and publishing the results to the public;

(e) cultivating a sentiment in favour of equality and diversity.

It isn’t obvious why race is mentioned, as Educate and Celebrate is not an anti-racism charity. The most likely reason is that as race is inborn and unchangeable, the charity wants gender and sexual orientation to be treated as such as well. Back in 2017, I wrote about how Elly Barnes had deliberately made this comparison in the press. What this is, is smuggling in ‘born that way’ theory on people’s inner sense of being male or female and sexual orientation into the classroom.

Denying sexual difference

The charitable objects refer to ‘gender’ but not sex as a protected characteristic. This is strange because sex and not ‘gender’ is the term used in the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998. ‘Gender’ only features within gender reassignment.

Presumably Educate and Celebrate does not care about discrimination on grounds of sex. Indeed ‘smash heteronormativity’ also aims to undermine the normality of treating everybody as members of their biological sexes. What Educate and Celebrate wants is to bring into schools the view that ‘male’ and ‘female’ are social and changeable through people’s self-image and behaviour. This is an idea taken from Queer Theory (LGBT philosophy).

On the trail of teacher training

Educate and Celebrate’s annual report for 2017 to the Charity Commission says that it provided teacher training at PGCE level in several universities. When we made Freedom of Information Requests to some universities for the materials, the universities told us they did not have them. Did Educate and Celebrate try to avoid leaving copies, knowing that they would be controversial and subject to FOI requests? Although subsequent annual reports do not list universities, the charity’s website says it still offers PGCE training.

Not only that but the charity also offers help setting up Pride groups in schools, and LGBT groups in primary schools. Its aim is not simply teacher training; its aim is to transform how children and teenagers understand themselves as human beings.

Educate and Celebrate activities as counter-extremism

The board of Educate and Celebrate is key to its ideology. The trustees are high-profile LGBT activists. The best-known among them is Peter Tatchell. This is very important, because Peter Tatchell has a dubious track-record in terms of lobbying for radical LGBT indoctrination in schools.

Between July 2018 to October 2019 Peter Tatchell was also on the board of the Commission for Countering Extremism. What on earth was the commission thinking here? The Commission’s charter states that it will ‘identify and challenge extremism in all its forms’. This coupled with support from the Department for Education helps explain why Educate and Celebrate is now bound up with the Prevent Duty in schools.

Educate and Celebrate in Prevent Priority Areas

According to an Ofsted report from 2016, Derby has been a Prevent Priority Area. A Freedom of Information response shows a list of such areas, showing that Derby was made a Prevent Priority Area back in 2011. The latest list of Prevent Priority Areas is not available as the Home Office refuses to release it. This means we cannot tell if Derbyshire is also included by now. However, the old list and another old list also released under Freedom of Information law in 2014 allow for some interesting cross-comparison. Educate and Celebrate has had Best Practice Schools since this time, as well as other school projects. Before 2015, there were 30 such areas designated by the Home Office. By now there are 50. Bar one or two that have ceased to be on the list, the vast majority of local authorities have stayed on it.

Comparing these sets of information, it looks as if Educate and Celebrate has aimed to work in known Prevent Priority Areas. Hackney Council Prevent Team include Educate and Celebrate in their resources on individual liberty as a British Value. This has been shared by the Educate Against Hate website, a major government resource on Prevent in schools. This is not an accident as Elly Barnes was a teacher in Hackney. Educate and Celebrate material is also shared in schools in Lewisham (also here) and Wandsworth. Resources are used in Birmingham, Bristol, Croydon, Derbyshire, Manchester and Oxfordshire. The latest annual report on the Charity Commission website shows Educate and Celebrate is now working in partnership with four London local authorities that are all Prevent Priority Areas: Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing and Brent.

Matching teachers with children’s alleged views

All this requires an explanation. There is a video available of Elly Barnes speaking at an event in Warwick University in 2016 entitled ‘Out in School: Gender, Sexuality and Fundamentalism’. Having made some personal remarks to warm up the audience, she introduced the Equality Act 2010 with all nine protected characteristics as her framework. Her talk is all about schools’ need for equality and diversity policies. She claimed children ‘are confident’ with the language of equality and diversity. Her aim was to get teachers to match this. She assumes that LGBT identities are naturally given in human nature, and that it is mere prejudice that stifles them. Nowhere is the influence of social media and mass media on children admitted.

Her method is not to get teachers to design new schemes of work. It is to transform existing schemes through mentioning LGBT issues regularly. Towards the end, she shows a photo of former students of hers. They all ‘came out’ when she was head of year and all transitioned. It is clear these are male-to-female transgender teenagers. She calls them ‘my babies’. This is not normal education, it is indoctrination into LGBT ideology. It is undermining parents, and ultimately it is undermining how God created us male and female.

Is acknowledging sex extremist?

All this seems to explain why teachers in a school in Derbyshire have been shouting ‘smash heteronormativity’. Those that disagree with this indoctrination are being branded as extremists. This revelation is important given that the Independent Review of Prevent is currently open for submissions. However by the time the issue becomes a dispute about Prevent, it is already too late.

The wording of the Counter-Extremism Strategy is very much part of the problem. Right at the outset it lists ‘gender’ but not sex as a protected characteristic (section 3). Here is the precise wording:

“Our belief in equality followed a history in which we have seen injustice, misery and damage caused by discrimination on the basis of religion, race, gender, disability or sexual orientation.”

This has helped allow ‘smashing heteronormativity’ to get into schools. Insisting that we all have a biological sex, and that this is the true root of ‘heteronormativity’, is not protected under the Counter-Extremism Strategy. Truthfulness about our very created nature is marginalised.

What are ‘the values that unite us’?

In response to the complaint about gender-based discrimination, the Counter-Extremism Strategy goes on to assert the government’s solution:

“These values are under attack from extremists operating at a pace and scale not before seen. We will meet this challenge with a new and more assertive approach to defeat extremists. We will challenge their ideology, and defend and promote the values that unite us, not just because we are proud of these values, but because they are the means by which we have made a diverse, multi-racial, multi-faith society succeed.”

Is it extremist to challenge Educate and Celebrate’s aim to ‘smash heteronormativity’? Clearly there are those in positions of authority who think so. What are ‘the values that unite us’, so-called ‘British Values’? The values of Educate and Celebrate? If the authorities think this, it is time to revise the Counter-Extremism Strategy.

  • Share

Related articles

All content has been loaded.

Take action

Join our email list to receive the latest updates for prayer and action.

Find out more about the legal support we're giving Christians.

Help us put the hope of Jesus at the heart of society.