The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has today launched new guidance on tackling homophobic bullying to be distributed in all Church of England schools.
The move comes after tensions surrounding the Church’s refusal to back same-sex marriage, which was legalised in March.
Speaking at Trinity Lewisham school in South London this morning, the Archbishop (pictured) said the publication of the guidance was the fulfilment of a pledge he made last July “to support our schools in eradicating homophobic stereotyping and bullying”.
He said: “Church schools begin from the belief that every child is loved by God. This guidance aims to help schools express God's love by ensuring that they offer a safe and welcoming place for all God's children.”
The guidance itself, which gives 10 key recommendations for both primary and secondary schools, and sample policies, adds: “Children and young people in Church of England schools should be able to grow freely and to be comfortable and confident within their own skins without fear or prejudice.”
In an article in the i newspaper, the Archbishop, who opposed the gay marriage bill in the House of Lords last year, admits that it was challenging for church schools to tackle homophobia.
“Another challenge for church schools – which must be faced head on – is the complexity of combating homophobic bullying while still teaching the traditional Anglican view of marriage, especially in the light of the revolutionary change to its legal definition for the accommodation of same-sex couples," he writes.
The Archbishop adds: “When young people are bullied for their perceived or actual sexuality, it is an assault on their self-worth that can leave deep wounds which take many years to heal, if they heal at all.”
The guidance, entitled Valuing All God's Children, was about “challenging schools to strive towards a deeply accepting environment for all their pupils”.