Banning of Pride celebrations at Nottinghamshire Catholic schools branded 'regressive'

A Nottinghamshire Pride march takes place in the city centre
-Credit: (Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

The banning of Pride celebrations at Catholic schools across Nottinghamshire has been described as "disappointing" and "regressive". New guidance for secondary schools in the Diocese of Nottingham advises teachers not to celebrate Pride Month, which takes place every June.

Bishop Patrick McKinney, who oversees the diocese, said it was "not appropriate... as we cannot endorse its entire agenda". The organisers of Nottinghamshire Pride, who put on an annual march through the city centre, said: "It’s disappointing to hear this, and feels regressive and out of step with our progressive and inclusive city."

"Pride is a celebration of LGBT+ diversity with many schools and organisations getting involved. Given the recent comments made by the Pope, we would have hoped to have seen more positive action from the diocese in our area.

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"To all LGBT+ Catholics who ever feel excluded by their church, remember that you will always have a home with Notts Pride." In a new 40-page document published last month, titled 'Precious in My Sight', the guidance said there are similarities between the Catholic Church and the Pride movement.

"The Church teaches clearly that we are each made in the image and likeness of God, that we are precious and loved," it reads. However it added difficulties arise in Pride celebrating "a range of lifestyle choices and identities which are contrary to the teachings of the Church."

The document continued: "It is indeed the case that we would celebrate and recognise the dignity of each person, but we cannot celebrate lifestyles which are incompatible with Church teaching. To approve only one part of it could be seen as dishonest and could lead to confusion.

"We must instead seek to articulate those values and principles with which we can agree, and affirm Catholic teaching in a different, distinct and pastorally positive way." The diocese guidance, claimed to be a "compassionate and practical guide" to accompanying pupils who question their gender, also cracks down on self-identification.

The Trinity Catholic School in Aspley, Nottingham
The Trinity Catholic School in Aspley, Nottingham -Credit:Nottingham Post

It forbids children who want to change their gender from insisting on their preferred pronouns in almost every instance, denying them their preferred choice of uniform, changing rooms, showers and toilets. The guidance also prohibits the participation of biological males, particularly, in sports competitions for girls.

There are 18 schools in the diocese across Nottingham and the wider county, including towns such as Mansfield, West Bridgford and Arnold. It also covers schools in almost all of Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, and Rutland.

Pride Month, which began in 1970, celebrates the LGBTQ+ community, including those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. Whilst government guidance requires secondary schools to include content on LGBTQ+, there is no legal obligation for them to celebrate Pride.

Bishop Patrick said: “Every person, without exception, is precious in God’s sight and therefore ours. Accompanying students who question their gender is a complex but essential pastoral duty to which the schools of our diocese are very attentive.

"However, I am aware that headteachers, and those staff involved in this important pastoral care, at times feel unsupported and without sufficient guidance as to the teaching and response of the Catholic Church. It is my hope that this document will better support those engaged in this important pastoral task and that students will learn that they are deeply loved by the Lord."