Welby’s transgender crusade will encourage bullying, not stop it

The anti-bullying defence for introducing the guidelines does not make sense: Jules Gomes

The Church of England’s transgender guidelines, ostensibly to prevent bullying, remind me of the drunk who loses the keys to his house and is searching for them under a lamp post. A policeman asks what he’s doing. ‘I’m looking for my keys,’ he says. ‘I lost them over there.’ The bobby looks puzzled. ‘Then why are you looking for them here?’ ‘Because the light is so much better here,’ says the drunk.

The C of E version of the story has two drunks afflicted by cognitive dissonance. Arch of Cant ‘Wobbly’ Welby and his Chief Education Officer Nigel Genders (believe me, that is his real name!) are frenziedly explaining how little boys can combat the classroom bully if given permission to cast off their school uniforms and parade around dressed like drag queens. Not even Homer Simpson would come up with such a barmy solution to bullying. But as Euripides reminds us, ‘Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad’. As the bell tolls for the C of E, Welby & Co are well into their third trimester of advanced insanity.

The anti-bullying defence for introducing the guidelines does not make sense. Time-tested practice has a simple solution for keeping bullies in check, summed up in two words: punish bullies. But the 52-page document fancifully titled ‘Valuing All God’s Children: Guidance for Church of England schools on challenging homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying’ (which includes flowcharts!) does not mention ‘punishment’ once.

It cites the Education and Inspections Act 2006, which gives staff members the ‘power to discipline pupils . . . on the school premises or elsewhere at a time when the pupil is under the lawful control or charge of school staff.’ The entire C of E document is coy when it comes to addressing the question of stopping the bully. Only once does it mention school counselling to help affected pupils. But it endorses a brigade of radical pro-LGBT campaigning bodies such as Stonewall and recommends children’s books such as And Tango Makes Three – the story of two male penguins, Roy and Silo, who bring up a family.

Indian mainstream schools place great emphasis on school uniforms. Exception is made for Sikh boys who wear the turban. This, of course, makes them a target for good-humoured ribbing. But Sikhs are tough and in extreme circumstances a punch on the nose of the bully obviates the need for 52-page circumlocutions. I remember the day my Sikh classmate in our primary school in Mumbai dressed as a girl on his birthday for fun (birthdays were the only occasion you could abandon uniform). The class erupted like a madhouse. Every boy wanted to pull Jagjit Singh’s pigtails, lift his frock and put a hand up his knickers!

Isn’t it obvious? The point of school uniform is uniformity. Anyone dressing differently sets themselves up as a target for bullying. The sillier the garb, the more will classmates poke fun at you. Welby’s guidelines will actually promote bullying rather than clamp down on it. This is why a number of commentators have identified the guidelines as the C of E’s Transgender Trojan Horse. This is why Welby, Genders and liberal clerics are now mounting a theological and biblical defence of their policy.

Welby plucks half of a verse from John’s gospel and uses it completely out of context. ‘The Church of England is committed to an education that enables people to live life in all its fullness, and fulfils the words of Jesus in John 10:10: “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.” This guidance helps schools to offer the Christian message of love, joy and the celebration of our humanity without exception or exclusion,’ Welby writes.

A text out of context is pretext and can be used to justify anything. This is what is drilled into the skulls of all theological students in the first six months of seminary. Apparently, the drill bit snapped when tried on Welby. Without exception or exclusion, eh, Welby? The first part of the same verse reads: ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.’ The verse has nothing to do with Welby’s agenda of inclusion. Even someone who is biblically semi-literate will recognise that this verse is talking about abundant life for those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus, because in the same gospel ‘whoever does not believe is condemned already’. Jesus’s message is one of inclusion and exclusion.

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