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Can christian schools continue to teach only about traditional marriage


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An approach to the big general issue whether faith schools should be allowed to teach based on their fundamental beliefs and discriminate amongst teachers and students because of their faith.

Published in: News & Politics
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Can christian schools continue to teach only about traditional marriage

  1. 1. Can Christian schools continue to teach only about traditional marriage? 21st International Interdisciplinary Seminar Freedom and Equality: a Christian approach 04/01/2019 Nikolai Püllen
  2. 2. Should religious school be allowed to base hiring/teaching on their core values? Treatment of homosexual/transgender students/teachers Employing staff based on their beliefs/(outside work) actions Teaching about fundamental issues as imposed by the state or based on the religious background? Ensure quality teaching while mediating religious values
  3. 3. Core Issue Retain identity, religious values and multiculturalism Prevent discrimination, protect students/teachers
  4. 4. The Vegan Cooking School Artwork by Juliane Schmidt
  5. 5. Why is it not that simple? Where to draw the line? Whom to ask for judgement? Regulations/Law School choice & Geographical factors „Hot topic“: adverse decisions by faith schools often receive national coverage
  6. 6. Sample Questions Arising Is it mandatory for a Muslim student to attend mass/prayers in school? In how far is it acceptable to mediate religious values and include it in the curriculum? Are special fiest days celebrated or left out at all? Can you bring your same sex partner to a school dance?
  7. 7. Sample Cases
  8. 8. Sample Cases
  9. 9. Opinions in the UK "Faith should not be blind. I worry that many young people are being educated in faith-based schools, with little appreciation of their wider responsibilities and obligations to British society. This growth in faith schools needs to be carefully but sensitively monitored by government to ensure that pupils receive an understanding of not only their own faith but of other faiths and the wider tenets of British society“ David Bell (UK Head of Office for Education Standards), 2005
  10. 10. Opinions in the UK "Unless there are crucial changes in the way many faith schools run we fear divisions in society will be exacerbated. In our increasingly multi-faith and secular society it is hard to see why our taxes should be used to fund schools which discriminate against the majority of children and potential staff because they are not of the same faith” Dr. Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, 2008
  11. 11. Opinions in the UK “58% of voters believe faith schools should not be funded by the state or should be abolished.” The Observer. Retrieved 15 June 2014. Fueled by “Trojan Horse” allegations (Islamic Schools)
  12. 12. Opinions in the UK “I am pleased to see that this report [More than an Educated Guess: Assessing the evidence] recognises two very important facts. The first is that faith schools contribute successfully to community cohesion; they are culturally diverse and there is no evidence that there is any social division on racial or ethnic grounds. The second important fact acknowledged in the […] report is that faith schools do not intentionally filter or skew admissions in a way which is designed to manipulate the system. […] Children are being denied the chance to go to some of Britain’s best schools because antireligious campaigners have turned attempts to expand faith schools into an ideological battle-ground." John Pritchard, Chair of the Church of England's Education Board, Bishop of Oxford, 2013
  13. 13. Actual Concerns about Faith Schools Promotion of equality vs. the right of religious freedom The welfare of children The basic rights of parents and minorities The right to freedom of association
  14. 14. New laws might not help to improve situation • Religious schools to be put under anti-discrimination laws (e.g. everybody treated equally despite their sex. orientation) • Competes with international rights law for free religious practice (including weakened multiculturalism as a result) • High Complexity: will laws also determine teaching programme about gender (affects clothing), marriage etc.? How to react on criticism of student/employee? Could faith schools, which decide to be independent be removed from gov funding?
  15. 15. Actual Situation/Response • Many laws already present to cover issue (safe school environments, vilification laws) • Controversial: UK Law in 2010: 50 % Cap (50 % of all positions have to be assigned faith-free) In 2018, Theresa May wanted to “replace the unfair and ineffective inclusivity rules that prevent the establishment of new Roman Catholic schools.” – failed. • Social Media as “New Law Enforcer” • Clear statement of e.g. archbishop Coleridge: “[Catholic officials] have not sought concessions to discriminate against students or teachers based on their sexuality, gender identity or relationship status”
  16. 16. Laws enforcing teaching at school considered detrimental • Proposals made to ban religious teaching • Regular OfStEd Inspections should ensure „safe teaching“ • Proposals made after warnings by prime minister about minortiy Islamic schools
  17. 17. Origin of Concerns about Students MIGHT TRADITIONAL TEACHING HARM LGBT STUDENTS? Vulnerable age – Formative years Study1: LGB prone to self hurting/drug abuse Distorted teaching programme Sexual orientation in conflict as basis for discrimation 1Keeping Them Connected (Norden, 2005) Common Value: Care & Welfare
  18. 18. Study „Unsafe Sex Education“ claims teaching by faith schools harmful for students • Study of National Secular Society (NSS), 2018, UK • 77 % of faith schools teach SRE according to their religious values • Heterosexuality displayed as ideal, homosexuality marginalized • School policies clearly stating teaching about traditional marriage only, but also offer guidance for LGBT • No promotion of homosexuality, but open discussions • Islamic/Jewish schools found to express more radical teaching Find study at: Work has to be done! Study results subject to personal interpretation
  19. 19. Study „Not so straight“ reveals caring environment for LGBT in catholic schools • Study by Fr. Peter Norden, 2006, Australia • National research project, consultation of 340 Catholic secondary schools, 304184 students (only graduates adressed), 23147 teaching staff • Highlights importance of including same sex attraction teaching • Finds that LGBT students receive a caring and supportive environment at school, though challenges exist and must be addressed Find study at: Main challenges identified: 1) Pastoral care 2) Staff training 3) School curriculum 4) Inclusive school culture
  20. 20. Case Studies
  21. 21. Transparency and Communication as solutions • Important: schools have to make it transparent for anyone, what is taught and which values are mediated • Unjust discrimination is to be avoided; active communication with students supported • Opposers must focus on single cases and proof allegations • Teaching programme can be be based on religious values, but has to cover all “commonly taught knowledge” No generalization! No extremism! Secularism as easy way out by the state should be avoided!
  22. 22. Responses to Same-Sex Marriage Interview with archbishop Denis Hart (Melbourne, Australia) about sacking staff with same- sex marriage
  23. 23. Links • abolished-9538788.html • • • that-marriage-is-between-a-man-and-a-woman.html • • faith.pdf • •