UK

Church and Stonewall to target homophobic bullying

Posed photo showing bullying at school
Image caption More than 55% of of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils have been bullied, Stonewall says

The Church of England and gay rights group Stonewall are to work together to tackle homophobic bullying in Church schools, it has been announced.

Stonewall said that, while it had not always agreed with the Church, they were "both on the same side here".

The news was revealed on day one of a three-day meeting of the ruling general synod at Church House, Westminster.

In July, the Archbishop of Canterbury said he would "specifically target" homophobic bullying in Church schools.

The Bishop of Oxford, the Right Reverend John Pritchard, revealed the collaboration on Monday afternoon, in answer to a question from members of the synod.

Stonewall said the Church had initiated discussions earlier in the autumn.

"We've had some interesting initial discussions to try to replicate what some C of E schools are doing, across all Church schools," Stonewall senior education officer Luke Tryl said.

He said the charity had not always agreed with the Church on "legislative issues" - the Church has opposed both the introduction of civil partnerships and same-sex marriage.

'Under pressure'

Stonewall believes the Church initiated the contact.

"We're aware that the Archbishop may be under pressure from other quarters in the Church not to do this," Mr Tryl added.

Image caption The Archbishop of Canterbury has said the Church must be "very clear about homophobia"

Addressing the synod's meeting at the University of York in July, the archbishop said: "The majority of the population rightly detests homophobic behaviour or anything that looks like it and sometimes they look at us and see what they don't like.

"With nearly a million children educated in our schools, we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying, but we must also take action.

"We are therefore developing a programme for use in our schools, taking the best advice we can find anywhere, that specifically targets such bullying."

While the archbishop still supports the Church's formal opposition to active homosexuality, he acknowledged in March that some gay relationships were "just stunning, the quality of the relationship".

He said that, while he did not doubt the Church's policy on same-sex relationships, he was "challenged as to how we respond to it".

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