‘A chaplain who lost his job at a Church of England school has given evidence to a tribunal that “truth, Christian faith, freedom of faith and speech” were “ridden roughshod over” as the school disciplined him and eventually made him redundant.
Today, Rev. Dr Bernard Randall told East Midlands Employment Tribunal that Trent College, where he worked as a chaplain, that the school had shown “absolutely no regard for the concern [he] had for those upset or confused by the implementation of Educate and Celebrate” – a charity that provides training “to embed gender, gender identity and sexual orientation into the fabric” of their organisations.
Staff training from Educate and Celebrate
In the summer of 2018, Dr Randall became aware that Educate and Celebrate was due to lead a staff training session at the Church of England school. When he visited the charity’s website to understand what the session would involve, he saw that it “went beyond a neutral stance of inclusivity, into active promotion of ideas”. Alarmed by the group’s intention to “smash heteronormativity,” its promotion of identity politics and ‘misleading’ claims, Dr Randall considered writing to the Head, suggesting that the invitation be delayed until there was time to address his concerns.
However, Dr Randall decided instead to attend the Educate & Celebrate training when it took place in September. Although he had no objection to some of what was taught by Ms Elly Barnes, the charity’s founder, he “considered some areas impossible to reconcile with Christian principles, and therefore with the stated objects of the school”.
This included “the notion that ‘love is love’, without further definition” and “having the staff chanting about the need to ‘smash heteronormativity’”.
Dr Randall challenged Ms Barnes over “selective” use of statistics about intersex/Differences in Sexual Development. “I pointed out that, contrary to the list produced by E&C, gender identity is not a protected characteristic, to which Ms Barnes smiled and responded, ‘Well, it should be’”.
Implementing Educate and Celebrate
After the training session, Dr Randall spoke to his line manager and the Head to explain his concerns. They gave assurances that they had not known the full content of the session and were also concerned by the chanting. They said that they “would not simply implement the entire Educate and Celebrate programme as presented, but would make selective use of whatever fitted with the Trent ethos.”
Dr Randall was told that he would be part of a group looking at what aspects of Educate and Celebrate’s programme the school would use. However, in November, after mentioning the lack of meetings he was told he had “not been invited to discussions because [he] ‘might disagree with it.’” He later discovered that the school had since committed to pursuing the charity’s gold award by implementing their entire programme.
Dr Randall picked up on concerns among the school community about aspects of the programme. “Some objected to elements on religious grounds; others found the aggressively political approach concerning, feeling that beliefs were being forced on them; others were simply confused about what they could, or could not, believe.”
When one child asked if he could use a sermon to address the question “How come we are told we have to accept all this LGBT stuff in a Christian school”, he carefully wrote an explanatory, moderate sermon emphasising the importance of “respecting those with whom we disagree”.
He gave the sermon twice in chapel, once with minor alterations, and spoke to various members of staff and pupils. Dr Randall recalled, “They broadly said the message was interesting, enjoyable, and thought-provoking. None seemed to have been upset.”
He even spoke to a pupil who was public about his homosexuality, who also spoke positively. “At no stage did any member of staff or pupil give me any indication of wanting to express negative views, or ask to meet with me to discuss what I had said.”
Nevertheless, within a week, Dr Randall had been asked to attend a meeting with the school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead. He was given a glancing look at concerns which Dr Randall says “were from people who simply disagreed with Church teaching, or disagreed with it being taught.” He explained that there were factual errors in the complaints about what he had said, but this was brushed aside and Dr Randall was questioned about Church of England doctrine.
Asking what they considered was wrong with his presentation, Dr Randall said that two issues were raised: first, they incorrectly contended that gender identity was a protected characteristic; second, they claimed that psychology textbooks say there are three genders. But the real problem, according to the school was not what Dr Randall had said but how the sermon made people feel.
Dr Randall felt ambushed. While being accused of lacking empathy, he says he “was shown absolutely no empathy during the course of the meeting … There was absolutely no regard for the concern I had expressed for those upset or confused by the implementation of Educate and Celebrate”.
Dr Randall soon found himself suspended.’https://christianconcern.com/news/school-rode-roughshod-over-christian-chaplain-after-sermon-on-identity/