Under a recently announced Department of Education program to combat homophobic bullying in schools, Stonewall has received funding for a project specifically aimed at LGBT-inclusivity among religious communities and in faith schools. Of particular interest, is that Stonewall will be implementing the project “in partnership with” LGBT faith groups. Speaking to Pink News after the DoE announcement, Stonewall’s Dominic Arnall said
“This funding will enable us to work in partnership with faith groups and schools to deliver training appropriate to each of the major faiths to help teachers tackle anti LGBT abuse effectively.
“We’re working with expert faith partners on this project who will not only help us consult with schools but will also help deliver bespoke training and support.
“We’ll be equipping hundreds of teachers with the skills and tools that will enable them to create learning environments where every child can be accepted without exception.”
“Faith schools” specifically include Catholic schools – and Quest will be the “faith partner” working with Stonewall on this. Ruby Almeida and I met with Stonewall yesterday for an initial discussion. There’s a lot of detail yet to be worked out, but this much is clear at this stage:
The program will run over three years, with roughly the first year devoted to developing the training materials. Thereafter, the training will be delivered directly to schools, at three levels – to the senior School Leadership Teams, to teachers, and to students. Stonewall have given us the choice of working with them either on just the development of the material, or on just delivering the training – or both. Our response was that we would very much like to be involved in both elements.
Current Stonewall resources on tackling homophobic bullying in schools point out that it is a statutory requirement in terms of equality legislation, and also in terms of Ofsted standards, for schools to be a safe space for all. In other words, all schools (including Catholic schools) are specifically required to combat homophobic bullying of all kinds. For Catholic schools, what is not widely recognised is that this obligation is also clear from the church’s own authoritative teaching. Drawing attention to this and expanding on its significance, will be central to Quest’s contribution to developing the resource material.