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Catholic Head Denies Pupil's 'Gay Shoes' Jibe Sparked Homophobic Training

14/08/2014 16:49 | Updated 22 May 2015

Catholic head denies pupil's 'gay shoes' jibe sparked homophobic training

A Catholic primary school has denied it arranged homophobic bullying training for its staff after a pupil called another boy's shoes 'gay'.

The jibe was allegedly made in the infants' playground of St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Wimbledon, southwest London, according to a school source.

It was reported by a supervisor at the school to Sarah Crouch, the head teacher. She then invited Stonewall, the gay rights group, to teach staff how to educate children in sexual equality.

However, Miss Crouch denied the training was as a result of the 'gay shoes' incident.

The training day went ahead last September with the consent of all but one of the governors and with the approval of the authorities of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark.

The school is now one of only half a dozen Catholic primary schools in the country to be listed as a Stonewall 'Primary School Champion' of gay equality.

Miss Crouch said she called the campaign group into St Mary's simply to train staff 'on how to tackle homophobic language and bullying'.

She told the Catholic Herald: "As a school, and as Catholics, we are opposed to prejudice of any kind and felt it was important to tackle the issue of homophobic language and bullying.

"The training was very successful and we feel confident that if any incidents of this kind of language occurs our staff have the means to address it appropriately."

The decision to allow Stonewall into a Catholic primary has shocked some family campaigners.

Antonia Tully, national co-ordinator of the Safe at School campaign, told the Catholic Herald that the presence of gay activists in primary schools would alarm parents.

She said: "Many parents will be very concerned that a gay rights organisation is considered to be an appropriate source of advice on how to deal with children using inappropriate language in the playground.

"If a primary school takes on Stonewall's agenda young children will be exposed to issues which they are too young to understand properly.'

One Catholic close to the school, who did not wish to be named, said: "I don't think that teaching 'mummy and mummy' is equal to mummy and daddy is right in a Catholic primary school because Catholic Church teaching doesn't agree with that."

But Wes Streeting, Head of Education at Stonewall, said: "Thousands of primary schools have received Stonewall's primary school resources through local authorities, including Catholic primary schools."

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