Conduct code threatens Christian schools in Great Britain

LONDON — A proposed new code of conduct for teachers in Great Britain will force Christian schools to actively promote Islam and gay rights, the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has warned. The group said the legally binding code would undermine the religious character of church schools by imposing a hostile secular morality.

One section of the proposed code requires teachers to "proactively challenge discrimination" and "promote equality and value diversity in all their professional relationships and interactions" before they can be registered, according to the London Daily Mail newspaper. Complaints can be lodged against teachers who fail to observe the new demands and teachers and schools can be punished if a complaint is upheld.

Christian schools have "an understandable fear that the call to 'proactively challenge discrimination' could be used to oppose faith schools per se, and the rights that they have in law, for example, to select leaders who are of the faith," said Oona Stannard, head of the Catholic Education Service. "It would be unacceptable to expect anyone to be required to promote something contrary to their own faith beliefs and, indeed, it would not be possible for a person of faith to promote another faith — this is a matter of conscience."

Great Britain's General Teaching Council would require teachers to sign the new code before they can practice. The code would be binding on all schools, including 2,300 institutions operated by the Catholic Church and 4,660 run by the Church of England, the Mail reported.

BP