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School gay rights training ‘went against my beliefs’ says Derbyshire chaplain

today8 September 2022 4

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Training on gay rights at a school went against the Christian beliefs of its chaplain, he claims. Rev. Dr Bernard Randall, from Long Eaton, refused to join in with a chant to “smash” heteronormativity – the concept that heterosexuality is the preferred or normal mode of sexual orientation.

It was during an LGBT+ inclusion training session at private school Trent College, Long Eaton, an employment tribunal has been told. The request was made by leader of charity Educate and Celebrate, Elly Barnes, during an inset session.

The tribunal was triggered by Rev Randall who is bringing claims of harassment, discrimination, victimisation and unfair dismissal on the grounds of his Christian beliefs against the college after his employment ended. The 49-year-old is also seeking compensation over allegations of unfair dismissal and a recommendation under the Equality Act 2010, reports Nottinghamshire Live.

Rev Randall gave evidence and answered questions on Wednesday, September 7, from Paul Wilson, for the respondent. The tribunal heard from Rev Randall that he became aware from a published timetable that an upcoming September staff inset day was to include a session by the inclusivity charity, and to understand this he visited the charity’s website.

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In his written statement, which was sworn in at the employment tribunal in Nottingham, he had stated it was clear that the charity’s stated objective was to promote LGBT+ inclusion in schools. However, he said E&C went beyond “a natural stance of inclusivity into active promotion of ideas which he believed amounted to identity politics”.

He also stated that there was a reference to E&C’s intention of “smash heteronormativity”.

He said he found this particularly alarming. And he said the prospect of the charity being involved in the school was highly troubling, adding: “I had a contractual duty to be loyal to the stated aims and objectives of the school.”

And he feared that raising the Christian view on these topics might be met with some opposition, given that E&C had been involved. However, he said he had an obvious duty to do so. His statement, a document presented before the tribunal, also claimed much of E&C’s programme appeared to him to be “contrary to Christian teaching”.

In particular, his statement said: “Identity politics tends to promote division as people are divided into small groups based on their particular characteristics. Christianity promotes inclusion based on all people’s universally shared humanity as all are made in the image of God.

“Identity politics tends to promote the idea that certain groups are oppressed by others, which creates a presumption of conflict rather than harmony; for example the desire to ‘smash heteronormativity’.

“Identity politics has profound Marxist roots (seen in focus on oppressed classes, and the revolutionary overthrow of existing structures); it is, therefore, an atheist foundation.

“Some aspects of E&C’s programme appeared to be deliberately misleading and factually wrong. For example, the list of protected characteristics having gender and gender identity, instead of sex and gender reassignment.”

Rev Randall was ordained in the Church of England in 2006. Before becoming the full-time chaplain at Trent College in September 2015, he was chaplain at Christ College, Cambridge.

His statement added: “My church tradition could best be described as Liberal Catholic, or, more precisely, Tractarian High Church. I am committed to the Christian faith as expressed, embodied in the Church of England, but maintain a classically liberal approach to all questions on any topic. I am, therefore, committed to freedom of conscience for all people.”

The tribunal, listed for three weeks, continues.

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