All hail the new sexual and gender ideology

(Photo: Unsplash)

Let us pause for a moment and raise a glass to Maureen, a Christian school governor in Brent, north London.

Maureen has held this role for nearly 30 years, and apparently conducted herself with distinction. In those three decades, she has helped to shape the school curriculum, been instrumental in formulating health and safety policies, assisted in the introduction of better disabled access and acted as a role model for African-Caribbean children.

And now let Maureen tell in her own words what has happened to her at a school governors' meeting in May: "I raised that the introduction of LGBT books and Pride Month into the school had not been mentioned before at any previous meetings. I said that parents had not been consulted and that there would be parents with children from religious backgrounds who would object and not want their children to have this form of sex education. I urged them to consider those families, and added that as a parent myself, I would not have wanted my sons to be reading LGBT books or to be involved in an LGBT Pride month."

According to The Times, Maureen was then "asked to resign. When she refused, the school suspended her and launched an independent investigation into the complaints. Nearly six months later she remains suspended."

Now it should be stated that the school – Alperton Community School – has not commented on the details of the case, except to say that it conforms to the National Governance Association Governors Code of Conduct and will consider an independent investigation where its has received complaints about governors.

Sometimes, we should bear in mind, there can be more to a story than meets the eye and this is an important caveat. But let us charitably assume that Maureen – who is aged 73 and from the Times photo looks thoughtful and rather kind – is telling the truth and that her account is broadly accurate.

If Maureen's story is correct, what shall we say? In the first place, we should observe that Maureen is legally right to ask the school to consider the views of families. Indeed as Will Jones has written here on Christian Today recently, the latest government guidance stresses that schools must consult with parents about the content of teaching and that it is "right" that schools should reflect on parents' views. Did Alperton do that? Maureen is suggesting it did not.

Moreover, Will Jones added: "It is important for parents and schools to be aware that there is nothing compulsory about teaching controversial LGBT lesson content. It is perfectly possible to comply with the law and teach RSE in ways which respect parents' views and concerns."

We don't know how much Alperton was aware of this.  Perhaps (in fairness) the latest guidance emphasises this more than earlier information from the Department for Education. Either way, that current document now appears very much to echo what Maureen was saying in May.

We might also question the extent to which due process is being followed. On 3rd July, Maureen, along with a church pastor, attended a meeting at the school where she says she was informed that there would be a "speedy conclusion" to the investigation against her. If it is true that since then – three and half months ago – she has heard nothing, then that is not good.

Maureen also asserts that she was accused of making "homophobic comments". Homophobia is unacceptable, but nothing in Maureen's own account at least seems to indicate a 'fear, hatred, discomfort with, or mistrust' of gay people; rather, her words indicate a desire for inclusion – albeit unfashionably for people such as parents with different ethical views from others.

The nub of the matter, sadly, may simply be that Maureen is a follower of Jesus. And saying that 'Jesus is Lord' means refusing to accept that Caesar – or his modern equivalent, the Secular State – can occupy the top spot when it comes to deciding how to live. We all have to choose what to worship and whose word will guide our lives.

And while secular society has effectively abolished any concept of 'taking the Lord's name in vain', or blasphemy against God, it has replaced it with a secular equivalent: speaking against the now sacred name of contemporary sexual and gender ideology. Nowadays too our sacred days are not Sundays, but calendar dates such as LGBT Pride Month. Just as some Christians were once rather legalistic about their Sabbath observance, so too some parts of contemporary society enforce a rigid adherence to these alternative festivals instead. One set of rules has been replaced by another.

So let us raise a glass to Maureen. But, better than that, let us raise our hands in prayer. Let us pray she has grace in her trials, love for those who oppose her, wisdom to speak kindly, and peace in her heart. And let us be aware that where she is today, many of us now reading this may well be in the not too distant future also.

David Baker is a former daily newspaper journalist now working as an Anglican minister in Sussex, England. Find him on Twitter @Baker_David_A