Fifteen-thousand people have joined calls for the Church of England to scrap its ‘Valuing All God's Children’ guidance from its 4,700 schools.
Led by Christian Parents Nigel and Sally Rowe and supported by the Christian Legal Centre, the petition argues the guidance encourages gender transition in children as young as five.
“We believe that it's harmful to children to say to them that we will accept your own gender identity, because we know that Scripture tells us that we are created male and female, and it is not actually biologically possible for somebody who was born male, to become female.
“So, to be promoting these ideas, to primary age children, we believe it to be harmful,” Rebecca Bensted, from the Christian Legal Centre, told Premier Christian News.
The petition follows an open letter from the Rowe’s calling on the Archbishop of Canterbury to scrap the policy, after their six-year-old boy was branded “transphobic” for refusing to adhere to the guidance.
The Christian couple had just been awarded £22,000 in legal costs after they won a lawsuit against the Department of Education on the same case.
Since, the Church of England has come up in defence of its guidance arguing the document doesn’t encourage child gender transition.
Rev Nigel Genders, the Church of England’s chief education officer, said the campaigner’s interpretation of the guidance is “simply false.”
"Valuing All God's Children does not say that children as young as five should be affirmed if they want to identify as the opposite gender. It doesn't use the language of affirmation at all, anywhere.
"This is a misrepresentation of a resource which is designed to help schools ensure all children are treated with the dignity they deserve," he wrote.
But for Rebecca Bensted, the guidance needs to be re-written: “I understand that he thinks we're interpreting that in a certain way. But I, I cannot see how that can be interpreted
in any other way than if a child says my gender identity is something different to the sex in which I was born, that they're not saying that that should be supported.
“Furthermore that’s what the wording says and if they think that's a wrong interpretation, then they must understand that it is an interpretation that is being made up and down the country, by teachers and head teachers, and they therefore they ought to reconsider, because they are not interpreting it in the way that everybody else is doing,” she added.
The Valuing All God's Children was first issued in 2014 following reports of a rise of anti-LGBT bullying. It was then rewritten in 2017 and revised in 2019.