The Archdiocese of Southwark cancelled a talk by LGBTQ+ fiction writer Simon James Green, after claiming the content of his talk was “outside the scope of what is permissible in a Catholic school”.
The book talk was due to take place at John Fisher School in Croydon, as organised by its staff. The Archdiocese of Southwark oversees the school and published a statement advising it not to go ahead four days before the event.
Regardless, school staff decided to go ahead with the event, which was due to take place 7 March as part of World Book Day celebrations.
However, the Archdiocese of Southwark overruled its decision and cancelled the talk last minute. According to the i, governors who supported the event were fired.
The i reported that the Archbishop of Southwark backed the decision.
Government investigating the issue
On Wednesday, the Department for Education said that it is looking into the diocese’s actions.
In its letter, a spokesperson from the Catholic church charity wrote: “From time to time materials or events emerge for consideration that fall outside the scope of what is permissible in a Catholic school, because they do not comply with all aspects of the tests.
“For example the protected characteristic ‘religion’ (Part 2 of the Equalities Act 2010) and all that that encompasses in our context. In such circumstances, we have no alternative but to affirm our unequivocal and well-known theological and moral precepts and to act in accordance with them.”
A spokesperson from the Charity Commission said: “We are aware of this matter and are assessing the information to inform what, if any, role there is for the Commission.”
On Twitter, the author said: “I’ve had a really upsetting few days. This week, I’ve been BANNED from talking about my YA books at a Catholic school.”
Green’s books feature gay characters. The author has been nominated for a Carnegie medal. He continued: “I need your help, and more importantly, some LGBT kids do too…”
Publishing companies and literacy charities have voiced their support for Green following the decision.
The BookTrust tweeted: “All children should be able to see themselves and others in books. That's why we're so sad to hear @simonjamesgreen's school visit was cancelled - it's a missed opportunity to inspire young people to get excited about books, feel accepted, understand difference & develop empathy.”
All children should be able to see themselves and others in books.— BookTrust (@Booktrust) March 11, 2022
That's why we're so sad to hear @simonjamesgreen's school visit was cancelled - it's a missed opportunity to inspire young people to get excited about books, feel accepted, understand difference & develop empathy.