Christian parents and two members of General Synod have handed in a petition to the Archbishop of Canterbury demanding an end to the Church of England’s (CofE) policy that says children as young as five should be affirmed if they want to identify as transgender.
Nigel Rowe 49, and his wife Sally, 47, had called on the CofE to urgently scrap its ‘Valuing All God’s Children’ (VAGC) guidance which provides its 4,800 primary schools with policies on how to respond to alleged ‘homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.’
VAGC was used by the Church of England primary school in the Isle of Wight, to justify telling the Rowes and their six-year-old son that they would be ‘transphobic’ if they refused to ‘believe’ in transgender affirming policies.
The guidance has also been repeatedly used by authorities and groups, such as discredited transgender lobby group Mermaids, to justify silencing and sacking Christians who believe transgender ideology is harmful and a clear departure from Christian beliefs on human sexuality, especially in regards to vulnerable gender confused children.
After taking legal action against the Department for Education over how they and their children were treated, the Rowes this year won a legal settlement and commitment from the government to revise transgender guidelines in UK primary schools.
Backed by 15,000 signatures, this week the Rowes handed in the CitizenGo petition to Justin Welby’s HQ at Lambeth Palace, London.
The petition makes it clear that transgender affirming guidelines have no place in Church of England schools.
Despite the Church of England trying to suggest that VAGC does not say children as young as five should be affirmed if they want to identify as transgender, on page 20 of the guidance it states:
“In creating a school environment that promotes dignity for all and a call to live fulfilled lives as uniquely gifted individuals, pupils will be equipped to accept difference of all varieties and be supported to accept their own gender identity or sexual orientation and that of others. In order to do this it will be essential to provide curriculum opportunities where difference is explored, same-sex relationships, same-sex parenting and transgender issues may be mentioned as a fact in some people’s lives.”
This statement is on a page specifically addressing issues for CofE primary schools, and therefore the treatment of pupils as young as five-years-old.
The paragraph states that children as young as five “should be supported to accept their own gender identity.” It also states that transgender issues “may be mentioned as a fact in some people’s lives.” The next paragraph goes on to make this even clearer by saying “Children should be at liberty to explore the possibilities of who they might be without judgement or derision.” This section cannot be read as anything other than advocating for affirming children as young as five if they wish to identify as the opposite gender.
The VAGC guidance also states (on page 14):
“Schools must not discriminate (either directly or indirectly) against gender variant pupils, pupils who are perceived to be gender variant or pupils with trans parents. In the context of a school, indirect discrimination could include an inflexible uniform policy that creates a particular difficulty for trans pupils.”
The petition hand-in coincided with the House of Bishops gathering from Monday 12 December to discuss its Living in Love and Faith project. The discussions are believed to involve finalising proposals and decisions ahead of the CofE’s General Synod in February 2023 where it is believed a decision could be made to bless same-sex relationships in its churches.
‘We have a God-given responsibility to protect children’
Handing in the petition, Nigel and Sally Rowe, said: “The Church of England must urgently recognise the significant concerns that so many parents have about the dangers of transgender ideology in our schools.
“Jesus strongly warned us to protect and teach the whole truth to children: “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18: 6).
“We all therefore have a responsibility under God to protect our children, especially church leaders.”
‘A trojan horse for radical gender ideology’
Rebecca Hunt, member of General Synod and on the Diocesan Board of Education for Portsmouth Diocese, said: “Unfortunately, the Valuing All God’s Children document is a trojan horse for the promotion of radical gender identity ideology in schools. It is being used to justify suggesting to primary school children that they may be “born in the wrong body” and the use of material that is pure indoctrination.
“This is causing distress amongst parents who know it is harmful to their children. It is also being used up and down the country to bully faithful Christians into silence when they seek to question gender identity ideology or feel they cannot in all conscience condone its promotion in the schools where they work.”
‘Cofe guidance is hindering children’
Benjamin John, Member of General Synod and Mission & Public Affairs Council of the Church of England, said: “Jesus says “let the little children come to me and do not hinder them” (Matthew 19:14). Valuing All God’s Children does the opposite by exposing young children to a harmful and destructive ideology.
“We have a wonderful message for our young children today that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, that God has made each one of us male or female, and that we are called to either sex within marriage to someone of the opposite sex, or chastity outside of it. Children need to hear that we do not need to believe the lies in the culture or in ourselves that we need to change our bodies or should engage in anything we feel we desire. To be who we truly are is to know Jesus.
“We want our children to grow up and see the goodness and beauty of God’s pattern for the world. This petition shows that there are many who are concerned about the guidance and the effect it is having on our children. It is shocking that this guidance has been accepted and promoted for so long within the Church of England and it must be dropped immediately.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre which backed the Rowes’ legal case, commented: “No matter how much the Church of England would like to spin it, its Valuing All God’s Children guidance says that children as young as five should be affirmed if they want to identify as the opposite gender.
“This guidance covers over 4,800 CofE primary schools and tens of thousands of pupils. We believe this guidance is deeply damaging and must be scrapped.”
Find out more about The Rowes