Pride and Catholic schools

(Photo: Unsplash)

We are living through an intense culture war. The aim of one side is to overwhelm our Christian civilisation, upon which so much of our human flourishing depends. The determination of the other is to defend it. The chosen battlefield by the progressives has become sex, and in particular the sexualization of our children.

The strategy behind this slow, careful strategy to corrupt our children is usually to appeal to our pity and compassion for people supposedly marginalized by their erotic preferences.

This worked very well for a while. But as all observers of ideological movements from the Left will know, the process begins with a plea for inclusion, and then turns rapidly into an exercise of power, enforcing compulsion.

Which is where we are now with LGBTQ+ 'rights'. Those who don't subscribe to them currently face a serious range of sanctions from social excommunication to unemployment and de-banking. Who is being bullied now?

One of the few organisations and philosophies to resist this is the Catholic Church. So it's no surprise that whenever a Catholic diocese or school has the effrontery to choose to teach and preserve its own values in a way that is consistent with the faith, the stormtroopers of DEI (Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion) - or as it would be better to refer to it, DIE - take to the streets to intimidate them back into line.

And this is exactly what has just happened in Nottingham.

Bishop Patrick McKinney recently broke ranks with more quiescent episcopal colleagues, and directed his board of education to offer clear guidance that Catholic schools were under no compulsion to inflict the celebration of 'Pride month' on their children. The guidance even discouraged the self-identification of children suffering from gender dysphoria. It disallows children who want to change their gender from insisting on their preferred pronouns in almost every instance, insists they wear uniforms consistent with their biology, and refuses them access to the other sex's changing rooms, showers and toilets.

As you might expect, the National Educational Union immediately ordered a picket and a demonstration outside the diocesan offices.

Hoping that no one would notice the complete reversal of power relations, they offered a loud public lament - a kind of velvet glove designed to hide the iron fist.

David Pike, their regional officer, claimed, "This guidance has banned Pride, massively restricted the role of LGBT student groups and reduced the support teachers can give to the most vulnerable. I went to a very religious school as a child and was bullied for being gay - my teachers did nothing about it."

Any bullying is to be called out and lamented, but Mr Pike's personal history, sad as it is, doesn't help us in our need to formulate a policy for helping children negotiate the complexities of sexuality during adolescence.

The people who are most vulnerable today are in fact parents who resist the sexualisation of their children at the hands of a state promoting a propaganda that sets out to expose children even before adolescence, and inflict an unquestioning obedience to a worldview of relativism and hedonism.

Anyone following social media will know that 'coming out' as gay no longer courts victimhood but has become a badge of social honour. Anyone claiming the status of 'trans' today attracts immediate affirming attention.

Councillor Cheryl Bernard, Nottingham City Council's cabinet member for children, young people and education, warned she would write a letter to the diocese to demand a change. It's worth considering her arguments, such as they are.

"Nottingham is trying to be a child-friendly city that listens to what children want and makes sure that LGBT+ children are recognised, as well as being included as equals," she said.

But it is not 'child-friendly' to withdraw the ethical teaching of familial faith and the culture our civilisation has been built on. It's not child-friendly to leave children in a vacuum of moral principles that promotes sex as a recreation without consequences. It's not child-friendly to turn to the abortion of conceived children in the womb. It is in fact harmful to children.

In what other areas of life do we simply 'listen to what children want' and do it without question? Adults, parents and teachers have to play a role in protecting children from themselves, where their appetites, judgement and experience present a danger to their own wellbeing. The abandonment of guidance, guidelines, moral teaching and boundaries constitutes a form of reprehensible abandonment of adult responsibility.

And of course, the stance is wholly hypocritical. If a Christian child preferred to maintain Christian morality and Christian ethics, the Left-wing teaching profession would abandon this pretense of neutrality in favour of 'what children want' and suddenly become aggressively absolutist in pursuit of their demands for conformity to their ethical preferences.

The plea to treat LGBTQ+ children as equals is another example of pleading victimhood where it doesn't exist. Apart from anything else, Catholic teaching could not be clearer that all human beings are made in the image of God and all categorisations of preference are to be wholly resisted.

Ms Bernard protested, "This a regressive step that has been done without any consultation at all."

Postponing the question of what constitutes progress and decadence and who decides it, this shows profound disrespect for Catholic culture and identity. No one is forced to choose a Catholic education for their children. The Church does not have to 'consult' atheist teachers about its values. But it represents a sense of shock that a Catholic bishop decided to defend Christian ethics and the children entrusted to the care of the Catholic educational vision.

Ms Bernard continued, "The pope himself is less hardline than what the bishop has said in this guidance. This leaves children with nobody to talk to if they can't talk to their parents, as teachers are worried they might be sacked if they say anything. Children's mental health and wellbeing is at an all-time low after the Covid pandemic and this is not going to help LGBT+ children at all."

Leaving aside for a moment the ambiguity and difficulties that Pope Francis' public (in Catholic ecclesiology 'fallible') pronouncements have caused, and what constitutes 'hardline' rather than faithful, the threat that children have no one to talk to "if they can't talk to their parents" and that "teachers are worried they might get sacked if they say anything" is wholly misleading.

Not celebrating 'Pride', whose marches are celebrations of unrestrained adult rampant sexuality, is unlikely to cause a sudden and devastating repression with no one to talk to. Instead it will provide children with a little more space than they might otherwise have had, freer of the propaganda of hedonism and aggressively suggestive sexual anarchy. If they chose to expose themselves to Pride, they would do so because their parents support it and that would be their business. But it is not the business of the state or of left-leaning unions to overturn Catholic ethics, virtue and vision to enforce their own decadence.

At the heart of this conflict lies two wholly different assessments of how our culture manages and relates to sex. The progressives relegate it to recreation and assume that practising sexual intimacy has no consequences for either children or adults. Catholics, in particular with their ethical stance on contraception, see sexual intimacy as flourishing best within the permanent context of marriage between a man and a woman, with having children together featuring centrally.

One preference leads to decadence, and the other leads to stable, flourishing family unions. Each of us should be free to choose which we prefer for ourselves, our schools and our children, without being bullied.