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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

On bullying in Catholic schools

There are reports today that Stonewall has been invited into St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Wimbledon. The Telegraph and others added a human interest note to the story, saying that Stonewall had been invited in after a boy called another pupil's shoes "gay" but Pink News reports that the Headteacher has denied that such an incident happened. Pink News goes on to report the Head as saying that
Stonewall’s programme was tailored specifically for the Catholic school and did not mention same-sex relationships or equal marriage.
Naturally, I would not want to question the Headteacher's word on this, but it is surprising in view of Stonewall's published material which makes a particular point of saying that failure to talk about gay partnerships is part of the problem. (I know of at least one other Catholic school in the Diocese where posters saying "Some people are gay. Get over it." were posted on classroom notice-boards.)

In any case, Stonewall and its materials have no place in a Catholic school. Catholic moral teaching is quite clear on the sinfulness of calling other people nasty names. We do not have to invite a homosexual campaigning organisation into our schools to help us on that.

Catholic schools are generally well regarded for providing a good environment in which children tcan flourish academically. Where many fall down is in providing a good environment for children to flourish in their Catholic life. The vast majority of children have stopped going to Mass by the time they leave Catholic school, even if they had to have a form signed when they were admitted, testifying to weekly Mass attendance. That can, of course, be blamed on the parents, but such an excuse would not be accepted if they left school unable to read.

If Catholic schools are going to focus on bullying, one area would be the victimisation of children whose families have a conspicuous commitment to the faith. By all means let us banish "gay" as a term of abuse; as long as "holy boy" and other insults are also regarded as "bullying."
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