10 March 2022
A joint statement from the SoA and Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group in support of Simon Green and the LGBTQ+ author community.
The SoA and Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group oppose the cancellation of a school talk by Simon Green, an author of LGBTQ+ young adult fiction.
Simon had been due to give a talk at John Fisher School as part of their World Book Day celebrations, but the Education Commission of Southwark Archdiocese recommended the event be cancelled as it was ‘outside the scope of what is permissible in a Catholic school’. The event was cancelled despite the school wanting it to go ahead, and several governors who supported the event have been removed.
Schools have a responsibility to teach pupils about the society they live in and promote a culture of respect and equality. Government guidance states that schools ‘should be alive to issues such as everyday sexism, misogyny, homophobia and gender stereotypes and take positive action to build a culture where these are not tolerated, and any occurrences are identified and tackled’.
Schools who fail to include or actively bar LGBQT+ voices are failing in their provision of care. In this case, inviting Simon Green and then publicly cancelling his talk meant he was subjected to extreme and concerning homophobic abuse. Regardless of the Catholic Church’s views on homosexuality, they undoubtedly have LGBTQ+ pupils in their schools. Cancelling this visit on this basis not only harms the individual author, but also harms the wider community of authors, readers, pupils, families and society, and sends a terrible and alienating message to the young people who would most have benefited.
We are pleased to see the Catholic Education Service’s statement distancing themselves from the cancellation and reinforcing their commitment ‘to ensure that all Catholic schools can be welcoming and inclusive centres of learning’.
We stand in support of Simon Green and all authors from the LGBTQ+ community against discrimination. We also stand in support of members of the wider school community who have been affected by this – the young people, teachers, governors and all staff who are working so hard to inspire the love of reading and books and the opportunity to imaginatively share a wide array of experiences, viewpoints, backgrounds and characteristics.
World Book Day is a day dedicated to encouraging all young people to read for pleasure. We would ask that the Education Commission of Southwark Archdiocese apologise publicly and reinstate his invitation to John Fisher school and the Dartford school from which he was also excluded.
If you have had a similar experience, please contact our advisors at [email protected]. All our members receive free, unlimited, confidential advice. Citizens Advice and Stonewall also offer advice for anyone who has experienced discrimination.