Teachers are threatening to strike after a prominent author of LGBTQ+ fiction had his visit to their Catholic school cancelled by the diocese.
Simon James Green, the writer behind hugely popular books such as Sleepover Takeover and Heartbreak Boys, was due to visit the John Fisher School in Purley, Croydon on 7 March.
However, The I newspaper exclusively reported that his talk was cancelled last minute when the local diocese intervened to stop it going ahead.
The school’s senior leadership reportedly voted on the issue and wanted Green to talk to students, which a number of governors supported before being removed by the aforementioned diocese.
The visit was supposed to coincide with World Book Day, though on 3 March the Education Commission of Southwark Archdiocese released a statement petitioning for it to be cancelled.
“From time to time materials or events emerge for consideration that fall outside the scope of what is permissible in a Catholic school, because they do not comply with all aspects of the tests cited above – for example the protected characteristic ‘religion’ (Part 2 of the Equalities Act 2010) and all that that encompasses in our context,” part of the statement read.
“In such circumstances, we have no alternative but to affirm our unequivocal and well-known theological and moral precepts and to act in accordance with them. The book-signing event scheduled for 7 March 2022 at The John Fisher School, Purley is one such event and we have recommended that the school’s leaders cancel it.”
Green had a second talk scheduled for 9 March at St John’s Primary School in Gravesend cancelled as it falls within the diocese.
“No one is denying the existence of those who have differing views and beliefs to ourselves, the event is about promoting the literature of a lifestyle choice that is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ, and therefore has no place in a Catholic school,” Father James Clark, John Fisher’s chaplain, wrote in an email to parents who were angered by the decision.
The cancellation of Green’s visit has reportedly sparked fury at the school and some staff members are now threatening a strike, The I reported.
“It’s a horrible thing to know that people out there hate what you write about and who you are so much that they feel this strongly about it,” Green told the newspaper.
“It does make me angry, but to be honest with you what I am most worried about is the message it sends to LGBT kids at that school and in general – that somehow they are wrong and inappropriate and everything they are is kind of sinful and problematic. I think that is a terrible thing.”
Green has shared a Twitter thread about his experience, including information on what people can do to help.
A spokesperson for the John Fisher School told GAY TIMES: “We are trying to concentrate on the education of our students, so no one is available to comment.
“Please allow the school the time and space to get on with its important work.
“We are sorry that we are unable to be of more help.”
GAY TIMES has contacted the Archdiocese of Southwark for additional comment.
I’ve had a really upsetting few days. This week, I’ve been BANNED from talking about my YA books at a Catholic school. Full story here, but I urge you to read this thread too. I need your help, and more importantly, some LGBT kids do too…https://t.co/I5aK905TYn
— Simon James Green (@simonjamesgreen) March 9, 2022