Gay Author's Book Signing Event at School Banned by Catholic Church

The Catholic church in the UK has banned an acclaimed author of children’s books and books for young adults, Simon James Green. In a letter dated March 3, 2022, Simon Hughes, Director of Education and Diocesan Schools Commissioner, announced the cancellation of the book signing event.

According to Hughes, Catholic schools are “required to welcome, safeguard and care for all pupils.” The school is “required to deliver a program of relationships and sex education that is compliant with the Equalities Act 2010 and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church,” Hughes said.

In an interview with The Guardian, Green said he “didn’t think this sort of thing could happen in the UK today.” Green was reminded by Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which was later repealed in 2003.

“I didn’t think a school today would go down that route,” Geen added.

Section 28 was a law introduced during Margaret Thatcher’s administration. The law criminalized the promotion of homosexuality. It eventually led to the rapidly successful civil rights movements in the UK.

Green was set to visit John Fisher Boys’ school in Purley, south London, on March 7. An additional visit to St John’s Primary in Gravesend was also canceled. The Catholic Diocese of Southwark manages both schools.

School administrators and governors decided to proceed with the event despite the diocese’s announcement. In response, Father James Clark, school chaplain, emailed parents saying the “scandal in the local area has brought our international reputation into doubt.”

Clark also threatened the school administrators and governor, saying their actions will have “serious consequences in the weeks ahead.”

The diocese’s decision to cancel Green’s events was shocking. A parent told The Guardian that cancelation “sends a terrible message to the children.” “Who would want to come and teach here or send their children here after this,” the parent added.

The National Education Union (NEU) and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) released a joint statement condemning the diocese’s decision to cancel the events and retaliate against school governors.

A spokesperson for the NEU called the incident “a matter of grave concern.”

The Department of Education is investigating the diocese’s role in the incident. The department reminded schools that children should know “that everybody has the right to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Catholic Education Service (CES) dismissed the Diocese of Southwark’s decision. CES has been working with schools, dioceses, and charities; to produce “inclusivity guidance and resources for schools that have won acclaim from LGBT organizations.”

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