Children should be able to cross-dress and try out different clothes – from capes to crowns – no matter their sex, the Church of England has said. Anti-bullying advice provided by the Church says children must be able to be “who they might be.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the message, which was disseminated to schools, should reach every child. He wants schools to spread the Christian message “without exception or exclusion.”
“We must avoid, at all costs, diminishing the dignity of any individual to a stereotype or a problem, “ said Welby. He also called for tolerance and respect for one another, saying a person’s sexual orientation should never be grounds for bullying.
The Church leader said “significant progress” had been made since 2014, when advice was issued on homophobic bullying. ‘Valuing All God’s Children’ encouraged parents to let their little ones play with “the many cloaks of identity” and “sometimes quite literally with the dressing-up box.”
LGBT charity Stonewall said the guidance would help. The report did note the wide spectrum of opinion over same-sex relationships and trans communities within Christianity.
However, the Church called for an end to bullying on the basis of being different.
“The aim of this guidance is to prevent pupils in Church of England schools and academies from having their self-worth diminished or their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity,” it stated.
Almost two-thirds of children have witnessed people being bullied for being “different,” according to figures from the Anti-Bullying Alliance. The guidance is the first from the Church to touch upon transphobic and biphobic bullying.
The report said all children should be able to dress up “without expectation or comment” and that schools should allow “creative exploration”. The Church educates one million pupils in nearly 5,000 schools.