Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Children at Catholic school urged to sign anti-gay marriage petition

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In an exclusive story, the Pink News website has revealed that pupils at St Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls, a Catholic state school for 11 to 18 year-olds in South London, have been urged by the headmistress to sign the Coalition for Marriage petition against the legalisation of gay marriage. This followed a request from the Catholic Education Service, which sent a letter to all Catholic secondary schools asking them to draw attention to the petition and the Catholic leadership's opposition to the reforms.

Pink News quotes Katherine, a sixth-form student at St Philomena's, who told the website about an assembly in which the headmistress promoted the petition:
“In our assembly for the whole Sixth Form you could feel people bristling as she explained parts of the letter and encouraged us to sign the petition.

“She said things about gay marriage and civil partnerships being unnatural. It was just a really out-dated, misjudged and heavily biased presentation.

“A few of us in my year are buying Gay Pride badges to pin on our uniform and thought about staging a Stonewall coup by posting the ‘Some people are gay – get over it’ posters around school.”

“Most importantly though, there are several people in my year who aren’t heterosexual – myself included – and I for one was appalled and actually disgusted by what they were encouraging.

“After all, that’s discrimination they were urging impressionable people to engage in, which is unacceptable.”
Read the full story, by Stephen Gray, over on Pink News.

Also, do take a moment to check out the revamped website of the Coalition for Equal Marriage, which New Humanist is supporting. The petition calling for equal marriage rights is now approaching 48,000 signatures.

Update: The British Humanist Association have responded to the story, pointing out that the Catholic Education Service may have broken the law by asking schools to promote the petition:
"Pink News’s article highlights that the CES’s actions likely broke the Equality Act 2010, which prohibits discrimination against pupils based on their sexual orientation. The BHA believe the CES’s actions likely break sections 406-7 of the Education Act 1996, which forbids ‘the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school’, and requires balanced treatment of political issues."
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