McKellen criticises faith schools for religious teaching
Actor Sir Ian McKellen has criticised faith schools, reports the Guardian here.
“It [religion] is the one area where people are not frightened to be openly homophobic,” he said.
He is quite right, and of course right that some faith schools are teaching that homosexuality is a sin. Some promote that view exclusively. Others will present it as one of a range of views.
In the print version of this article, it said
“The Church of England said its schools explored the issue of homosexuality, rather than promoted one view of it.”
Ibrahim Hewitt of the Association of Muslim Schools said “A faith school reflects its faith in what is taught, but I would expect other views to be discussed as well.”
Oh, that’s alright then – as long as other views are discussed.
Well no it’s not all right.
The truth is that homophobia (I’d prefer to call it “homosexism”, as it isn’t a phobia) like racism and sexism, involves demonstrably false beliefs, and foul and damaging ones at that. Around the world, homosexuals are still being victimized on religious grounds. In some places, they are executed.
This isn’t a dispute over some unresolvable moral conundrum. The homophobes lost the argument spectacularly a long time ago. It is no more acceptable that schools teach homophobic views even as possibilities pupils might like to “explore” than it is that they should present, say, racist views in that way.
Homophobia needs to be kicked out of every classroom. The fact that a school is a faith school is no excuse whatsoever.
This might be a key issue on which to lobby, in fact. If religions are forced to defend the teaching of homophobic views in their classrooms, they’ll lose an enormous amount of public support, and may prefer to back down.
Of course, some will say that religious beliefs are “special” and so deserve respect – respect that must be communicated in the classroom. But sexist and racist views don’t typically command respect just because they’re religiously motivated (and they have both been religiously motivated, of course). Neither should homophobic views.