Thursday, February 29, 2024

Stonewall funded Church of England guidance that said primary schoolchildren can be transgender

Church of England guidance telling primary schools that children as young as five can be transgender was funded by Stonewall, it has emerged.

The controversial LGBT charity gave the Church a grant to fund two editions of the Valuing All God’s Children report, including the 2019 version that remains in use nationwide.

It comes after Christian parents urged the Archbishop of Canterbury to axe the guidance, which says primary school-aged children can change their gender identity and advises schools on how to create “inclusive” environments for trans pupils.

The Rt Rev Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, told the General Synod, the Church’s legislative body, last year that Stonewall was not involved in writing the report.

Gender-critical campaigners have called for the guidance to be scrapped, and said the revelation that it had been funded by Stonewall should be a “wake-up call” for the Church.

Last month, The Telegraph revealed that a Church of England primary school had allowed a four-year-old boy to join as a girl and then hid the child’s sex from other pupils, who were later described by parents as traumatised.

Valuing All God’s Children tells the 4,630 Church of England schools across the country that primary schoolers should be “at liberty to explore the possibilities of who they might be without judgment or derision”.

‘Significant grant’

The Rt Rev Jonathan Frost, the Bishop of Portsmouth, has now admitted in a written response to a question submitted to Synod that Stonewall funded the report’s second and current third editions, published in 2017 and 2019, respectively.

Gender-critical campaigners have criticised Stonewall for the training it offers organisations, which encourages them to tell employees to always state their pronouns and use gender-neutral language.

The Bishop of Portsmouth said the funding, the value of which neither the Church nor Stonewall has disclosed, was given by Stonewall after the Department of Education gave the charity a “significant grant” for “work in this area”.

“They recognised the quality of our work in Valuing All God’s Children, so were keen that we should be enabled to develop it to include the prevention of transphobic bullying through an updated version,” he said.

“Stonewall were not involved in the writing of our document but simply passed on a grant to enable us to do so, and to help with the distribution costs.”

Two Stonewall executives are thanked in the 2017 and 2019 editions: Dominic Arnall, who was head of projects from 2015 and 2018; and Sidonie Bertrand-Shelton, head of education programmes from 2016 to 2022.

Valuing All God’s Children is currently being updated after the Department for Education (DfE) published a consultation in December on new guidance for schools on how to respond to gender-questioning pupils.

‘Transgender ideology’

That DfE guidance does not use the word transgender, says children cannot change their legal sex and advises schools to only use sex-based pronouns.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern and a former lay member of Synod, said that the Church’s current guidance “pushes transgender ideology”.

“It is time for it to be scrapped and for the Church of England to shape its guidance on the Bible,” she added.

“It needs to ensure that the next version is completely free from the influence of Stonewall and its allies.”

Helen Joyce, director of advocacy at Sex Matters, said: “This is further evidence of Stonewall’s influence behind the scenes, and how it has embedded policies that run counter to equalities law and safeguarding, and harm girls and gay teenagers in particular.

“The Church of England probably entered into this arrangement in good faith. But it should come as a wake-up call for the Church – and all other school leaders – to put safeguarding first and refuse to take money from or work with any organisation that does not.”

Christian parents last month wrote to Justin Welby asking him to scrap Valuing All God’s Children.

‘Political agendas in schools’

Among its signatories were Nigel and Sally Rowe, who claimed in 2017 that a Church of England primary school had said their six-year-old son would be deemed transphobic if he did not recognise another boy as a girl.

Miriam Cates, the Tory MP for Penistone and Stockbridge, said: “Activist groups should not be enabled by any education providers to push their political agendas in schools.

“Taking money in return for allowing Stonewall to essentially dictate the Church of England’s policy is a complete failure by those in authority.

“This guidance should be withdrawn as a matter of urgency and replaced with new rules that put the safeguarding of children first.”

The Church of England and Stonewall were approached for comment.