The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was handed a petition on Monday urging the Church of England to scrap its controversial transgender guidance for primary schools.
The petition, which has garnered more than 15,000 signatures, called on the Church of England to reconsider “Valuing All God’s Children” (VAGC), its guideline which argues that 5-year-olds should be affirmed as the opposite sex if they identify with it, according to the London-based Christian Legal Center (CLC), which started the petition in October.
CLC has helped several people in the UK obtain legal representation against the Church of England regarding alleged discrimination based on their beliefs about sexuality and gender.
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A Church of England spokesman told Fox News Digital that the VAGC “is intended as a document to prevent bullying so that all children are afforded their dignity”.
“This along with all of our policies and guidance documents are regularly reviewed in the light of updated legislation and government guidance,” the spokesperson continued, adding that the petition cited an earlier version of the guidance that was “outdated”.
In a statement provided to Fox News Digital, CLC cited page 20 of its most recent 2019 guidance, which states, in part: “In creating a school environment that promotes dignity for all and a calling to live fulfilled lives as gifted individuals in uniquely, pupils will be equipped to accept difference of all varieties and will be supported to accept their own gender identity or sexual orientation and that of others”.
“To do this it will be essential to provide curricular opportunities where difference is explored, same-sex relationships, same-sex parenting and transgender issues may be mentioned as a fact in some people’s lives,” the guide continues.
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“Children should be free to explore the possibilities of who they might be without [judgment] or derision,” the guide also states, adding that “children should be granted freedom from the expectation of permanence.”
VAGC, which the petition described as “deeply damaging and wrong”, applies to tens of thousands of pupils in over 4,800 UK primary schools associated with the Church of England.
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The petition was brought to Welby by Isle of Wight parents Nigel and Sally Rowe, who were awarded £22,000 in legal costs in September when they sued after an unidentified Church of England primary school accused their 6-year-old son of being “transphobic.” if he doesn’t believe that his male classmate is a girl.
Rowes’ legal victory prompted the UK’s Department of Education to pledge to reform its gender guidance for students. A Church of England spokesman told Fox News Digital that “we will engage in that consultation and review the VAGC in light of that process.”
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“The Church of England urgently needs to [recognize] the significant concerns so many parents have about the dangers of transgender ideology in our schools,” Rowes said in a statement provided to Fox News Digital.
The Rowes continued by referring to Matthew 18:6, in which Jesus warns against “stumbling” little children.
“We all therefore have a responsibility under God to protect our children, especially church leaders,” Rowes added.
Benjamin John, who serves as a lay member of the General Synod of the Church of England, echoed Rowes, issuing a statement obtained by Fox News Digital that said in part: “Children need to hear we don’t need to believe lies in the culture or in ourselves that we need to change our bodies or engage in anything we feel we want.”
The petition comes as the Church of England prepares for the General Synod in February, when clerics are expected to vote on the issue of same-sex marriage, which six bishops publicly affirmed in November.
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The Church of England’s top clerics recently fell silent in response to a sermon from the pulpit at Trinity College, Cambridge, in which a young researcher preached during Evensong about the ‘trans body’ of Jesus Christ and likened the wound alongside a vagina.