Christian parents call for change to Church of England school policy

Nigel and Sally Rowe(Photo: Christian Legal Centre)

Christian parents who challenged transgender ideology in their children's school have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury calling for a change to the Church of England's educational policy. 

Nigel and Sally Rowe withdrew their children from a Church of England school on the Isle of Wight in 2017 over its affirming policy towards transgender pupils. 

They allege that it was suggested by the school that they and their son, who was six at the time, would be "transphobic" if they did not comply with the policy. 

They also allege that the Church of England's school guidance, "Valuing All God's Children", was used against them by the school. 

They appealed to the government for help, but it refused to intervene, prompting the Rowes to take legal action. They  were given permission for a judicial review but the government settled with the couple in September 2022 before the case could go to court and agreed to review its guidance. 

The Rowes say they feel "vindicated" after the government published its long-awaited draft transgender guidance for schools in December.

The draft document said that schools are not obligated to allow children to 'socially transition' - a term used for changing names and pronouns. 

The Rowes have written to Archbishop Justin Welby asking that Valuing All God's Children be withdrawn in light of the government's draft guidance and "as a matter of urgency for the sake of protecting the children". 

They have also requested a meeting with Welby. 

"Regardless of what the government says, the Church of England should be upholding biblical teaching about the differences between men and women and the scientific fact that people cannot change their biological sex," they said.

"Sadly, the Church of England has failed to uphold these truths and continues to persist in upholding guidance that directly contradicts biblical truth and is harmful for children." 

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which has supported the couple for the last seven years said the Church of England had "an opportunity to end the social contagion of harm and confusion in its schools".

"The CofE's guidelines need to be rooted in biological reality and biblical truth, sadly they are not, and therefore not only lack integrity and credibility, but encourage and allow harm," she said. 

"A braver approach is now needed by the CofE to end the influence of transgender ideology in the classroom with clear guidance provided on how gender distressed children can be compassionately supported outside of the learning environment.

"In 2017 the Christian Legal Centre and the Rowes were the first to raise alarm bells over transgender ideology which was capturing schools and the CofE. They were treated shamefully for doing so and have never received an apology.

"Only now has the government and wider public woken up to the danger's extreme transgender ideology and sex education pose in UK schools. Now it is time for the CofE to do the same."

The Archbishop's office did not respond to a request for comment.