Catholic schools teach tolerance and inclusiveness but are expected to make clear the distinction between civil unions and a Catholic understanding of marriage, the Church’s Education Service made clear this week.
A report in The Sunday Times suggested that the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, wants all schools – including faith ones – to teach gay rights. The Department for Education later said it was wrong to say that schools would be forced to teach gay rights against their will but pointed out that inspectors are ensuring that pupils are not taught that gay people are somehow inferior.
The Government wants all schools with a religious ethos to promote British values including tolerance for other faiths and lifestyles. Former education secretary Michael Gove brought in guidelines for schools to teach such values after the “Trojan Horse” controversy in Birmingham where Muslim fundamentalists sought to infiltrate schools.
When same-sex civil marriage was introduced, the Church – citing the 1996 Education Act – said it was concerned that the Education Secretary might compel schools to teach about marriage contrary to its teaching.
In a statement the Catholic Education Service (CES) said: “We are proud that Catholic schools promote values that are both Catholic and British: respect for the individual, democracy, individual liberty, tolerance and inclusiveness.”
It added, however: “We expect Catholic schools to teach factually about civil marriage alongside the promotion of the Catholic understanding of marriage. This must always be done in an age-appropriate way and with respect for the dignity of each individual.”