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The Church of England Is Attempting to Counter Bullying By Allowing Children to Explore Gender Identity

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

On Monday, the Church of England announced an initiative called “Valuing All God’s Children,” that states children should be allowed to experiment with their gender identity. The measure has been adopted as a way to combat bullying in the Church’s thousands of schools.

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The New York Times reports that teachers are being encouraged to allow students in school to “explore the possibilities of who they might be without judgment or derision.” The guidelines were supported by the Most Rev. Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury.

“For example, a child may choose the tutu, princess’s tiara and heels and/or the fireman’s helmet, tool belt and superhero cloak without expectation or comment,” it said. “Childhood has a sacred place for creative self-imagining.”

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Welby was appointed to his position in 2012; in 2014, the Church extended guidelines to schools in an attempt to combat homophobia, but these new edicts have grown to encompass children experimenting with or expressing their gender identity.

“All bullying, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying causes profound damage, leading to higher levels of mental health disorders, self-harm, depression and suicide,” Archbishop Welby wrote. “This guidance helps schools to offer the Christian message of love, joy and celebration of our humanity without exception or exclusion.”

However, in 2016, the International Anglican Communion suspended the U.S. Episcopal Church for performing same-sex marriages. Anglican archbishops from England wrote in a statement that the Episcopal Church had made “a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our provinces on the doctrine of marriage.” Priests in the Church of England are still forbidden from performing same-sex ceremonies.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin

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DISCUSSION

IkerCatsillas1
IkerCatsillas

One major, unstated reason why the Church’s position on these issues is so important: unlike in some other countries (such as the US), religiously organized “faith schools” in the UK receive state funding, on a massive scale. And the CoE is by far the largest provider of private education in the country. Per Wikipedia:

In 2011, about one third of the 20,000 state funded schools in England were faith schools, approximately 7,000 in total, of which 68% were Church of England schools and 30% were Roman Catholic. There were 42 Jewish, 12 Muslim, 3 Sikh and 1 Hindu faith schools.

So this isn’t just a religious policy. It’s a pedagogical one that affects how public money is spent in publicly-funded classrooms.