Published on February 22, 2014
Delivering anti-homophobia in Faith Schools ...inclusion, hospitality and authentic human development Jim McManus, CPsychol, Csci, AFBPsS, FFPH, FCIEH, FRSPH Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire Completing the Inclusion Matrix: delivering anti-homophobia and LGBT equality Conference - 21st March 2014
A word of thanks I owe a debt of thanks to those faith schools of several faiths who have worked with me on this... Cor ad cor loquitur “heart speaks unto heart” From the coat of arms of Blessed John Henry, Cardinal Newman
This workshop Is not... • About debating whether it’s right or wrong to be LGBT • About debating LGBT sexual behaviour and relationships • About providing theological or other resources for that debate • About seeking to persuade people to take any view on sex • About expecting you to leave your integrity behind, whatever you feel that is Is.... • About recognising homophobic bullying is a safeguarding issue both theologically and educationally • About finding an authentic theological and policy basis for addressing this within a faith context
The particularities of experience • Your facilitator comes to this as a theologian and psychologist who tries to be a Catholic Christian, and when I speak from my faith identity I do so not because I think it’s better, but because it’s what I know...”this is how it is with me...how is it with you?” • Even though I have studied every faith’s attitude to sexuality, I claim no expertise • I expect no-one to share my views on sexuality and theology or my (stumbling) Christianity • I do expect everyone to share a common concern for our Childrens’ dignity and development...because every faith expects that of us
Some propositions for this session • Homophobic bullying is disruptive of childrens’ development and can have lifelong health and psychological consequences • Every school has LGBT children and parents, they may just not be visible • Reducing homophobic bullying is part of a faith school’s call to witness to human flourishing • You can reduce homophobic bullying without dissenting from your faith’s public teaching on sexuality (at its bare minimum, bullying is a wrong against the person. Every faith would agree.) • We don’t have to get into the nuances of theological positions on same sex behaviour to recognise we must oppose homophobic bullying on faith grounds
Stonewall recommendations for faith schools..a good framework 1. Acknowledge the problem exists 2. Don’t make assumptions 3. Develop clear policies 4. Communicate unacceptability of bullying 5. Address staff training needs 6. Celebrate diversity 7. Promote community cohesion 8. Provide support 9. Know the law 10. Share best practice I would add an 11th...don’t feel you have to compromise your faith or integrity to be able to do these meaningfully
Children of same sex couples (Pope Francis speaking to religious superiors, 2013) • "I remember a case in which a sad little girl confessed to her teacher: 'my mother's girlfriend (fidanzata) doesn't love me'," he was quoted as saying. • The pontiff said educational leaders should ask themselves "how can we proclaim Christ to a generation that is changing?" . . . • “We must be careful not to administer a vaccine against faith to them.” Pope was speaking in Italian and used term fidanzata http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/what-did-pope-francis-say-about-the-children-of-homosexual-couples-8-things
If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" • "The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well," Pope Francis said in a wide-ranging 80minute long interview with Vatican journalists. • "It says they should not be marginalised because of this but that they must be integrated into society.“ • Papal interview on flight back from visit to Brazil, 2013 But he condemned what he described as lobbying by gay people. "The problem is not having this orientation," he said. "We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem." • “Integration into society” – what does that say for schools?
A real challenge for faith schools • • • • • Pedagogy Theology Anthropology Authenticity Vocation for faith schools You don’t have to dissent from your faith’s teaching on sexuality to be effective at eliminating homophobic bullying. The key is finding an authentic way of doing this. This is partly a theological problem. It needs a partly theological solution.
A way forward- theological anthropology • Theological Anthropology - the doctrine of the human person. Every faith has one • Sees human person in ontological perspective • Dignity, development, safety, flourishing all common themes • What does that say about the minimum things faith schools need to do for all children, including LGBT children
Starting Ground...empathy • What is the unique selling point of faith? • What do (most) faiths have in common? – Orientation towards the divine, love towards the human
World faiths hold in common.. • The dignity of the person • No major faith condemns same sex identity, views vary on sexual behaviour • A care for human flourishing • Even if your faith cannot accept same sex behaviour, the right of the child to be free from violence and reach their potential means you need to keep them safe
Importance of Faith across the lifecourse • Most people have some form of faith or spirituality – we are not an atheist nor agnostic world • But in public policy terms we do seem to be very conflicted about faith • Faith can be good for mental and physical health (Koenig et al, 2012, King et al, 2013) • Faith can also be a part of psychopathology and mental ill-health • For LGBT young people journey of faith can be similar to journey of identity acceptance
Similar outcomes desired in psychology of faith and LGBT development Faith Development (not just Fowler) • Several models but common challenge of moving children to thinking faith which impacts coherently on their lives and life choices in a positive way LGBT Identity development • E.g. Cass - The individual fully accepts their identity and synthesizes their former “heterosexual life” and their new identity. Seen in this light, Faith schools have something very positive to offer LGBT children and children of LGBT parents http://www.faithformationlearningexchange.net/uploads/5/2/4/6/5246709/fait h_development__faith_formation_-_keeley.pdf
A theological perspective • Safeguarding children is a theological imperative for faiths if they are to be true to their theological anthropology • Holding out the ideals of your faith to all (especially on human dignity) means you must challenge violence, it doesn’t mean you have to deny your beliefs on the role of sexuality
Diverse Christian approaches • Pilling Report (CofE)- welcomes same sex couples • Church of Scotland – similar • Quakers – similar • RC, Evangelical, – heterosexual marriage the norm • Bailey (1948) Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition
A Catholic Take • Archbishop of Dublin, 2014, homophobia wrong • • Catechism of the Catholic Church para 2358 (official teaching) “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.” • It is authentically Catholic to avoid unjust discrimination, including bullying. • Some theologians say social teaching (Dignity of the person) more important than moral teaching but must recognize this is not official teaching. • Some LGBT Catholics feel in conscience they can life full lives in relationship, others feel called to take the Church’s teaching literally . Catholic schools do not have to “take sides” or depart from official teaching to be able to commit to reducing bullying. http://www.sohomasses.com/ - a ministry of the Archdiocese of Westminster
A Catholic take 2.. • Anti-homophobia policies are part of creating the framework where formation for life can happen safely without violence, harm or injustice • The area of individual pastoral ministry deals with the lived reality of LGBT Catholics – Some Catholics live according to church teaching. Others in conscience dissent. General school policy is not the right place to reflect all that though you do have to be prepared for issues of difference and debate arising in the faith teaching curriculum • But you don’t have to get into that in anti-homophobia policies – you’re stopping an injustice, not guiding individual moral choice
Useful resources • Stonewall Guides • https://www.stonewall. org.uk/at_school/educa tion_for_all/quick_links /education_resources/5 761.asp 2007, Routledge (formerly haworth press) ISBN-13: 978-1560236061
Those Stonewall recommendations for faith schools again 1. Acknowledge the problem exists 2. Don’t make assumptions 3. Develop clear policies 4. Communicate unacceptability of bullying 5. Address staff training needs 6. Celebrate diversity 7. Promote community cohesion 8. Provide support 9. Know the law 10. Share best practice I would add an 11th...don’t feel you have to compromise your faith or integrity to be able to do these meaningfully
Further resources • Reading recommendations • http://www.catholicsocialteaching.org.uk/ • http://www.sohomasses.com/ - a ministry of the Archdiocese of Westminster • Stuart edser’s book being gay and christian http://beinggaybeingchristian.com/about-theauthor-2/ • Theology of safeguarding – http://www.jimmcmanus.info/Psychology-and-theChurch.html
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