A Catholic Church in the United Kingdom has banned an award-winning gay author from visiting and speaking at two schools near London. The Archdiocese of Southwark cancelled the talks by young adult fiction writer Simon James Green at the two schools.

Green was scheduled to speak at The John Fisher School in Purley, South London on March 7 and at St John’s Primary School in Gravesend, Kent on March 9. Online news website Inews reported that Dr Simon Hughes, director of education at the Archdiocese of Southwark, also removed a number of members of the governing board, who had supported the school’s decision to invite the author. 

This followed a campaign by a Catholic website claiming that boys were being “misled into accepting, as normal and good, sexual behaviour which is condemned by Christ’s Church”.

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Described as “one of the UK’s leading writers of LGBTQ+ teen fiction”, Green is known for his LGBTQI Young Adult novels including Noah Can’t Even, Heartbreak Boys and You’re the One That I Want.

‘You Cannot Be Made Gay By Reading Book With Gay Characters’

Green described the news as “upsetting” in a Twitter thread. “This was an event where I talk about being an awkward teenager, the power of comedy, my career, and about an 8 min section of the importance of LGBT representation. The school really wanted this to happen, but the (Archdiocese of Southwark) had other ideas. They wanted the visit stopped,” said Green. 

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The author said that the talk at the primary school had nothing to do with being LGBT. 

“You can’t be made gay by reading about gay characters in books. If you’re LGBT, you’re LGBT. I want LGBT kids to find comfort and understanding in my books, and non-LGBT kids to understand other lives, empathise, see we’re really not so different,” said Green. 

Parents Start Online Petition

The Department of Education said it was looking into the incident. “Schools should teach students that everybody has the right to be treated with dignity and respect, with particular regard to their duties under the Equality Act,” said the department in a statement. 

A group of parents whose children study at the school have started an online petition demanding Dr Huges’ resignation and reinstatement of the members of the governing board who were removed by the Archdiocese. “We are extremely concerned about the mental and emotional impact that this is all having on the LGBTQ+ community within the John Fisher School, including the pupils, staff and their families,” the petition said.

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

 

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