A Roman Catholic high school is at the centre of a row over a religious group’s distribution of supposedly homophobic literature.
The Scottish Secular Society (SSS) condemned the presence of a leaflet entitled The Church and Same-Sex Attraction at Falkirk’s St Mungo’s High School.
St Mungo’s has since removed the leaflet, which was distributed by an organisation called the Catholic Truth Society, but not before it caused a major storm on social media.
SSS secretary Charlie Lynch said: “While we are gladdened that prompt action has been taken by St. Mungo’s to remove this material and to try and establish how it came to be present, this is sadly only the latest episode in which unrealistic and outmoded theological ideas about sexualities have been proselytised within Catholic secondary schools in Scotland.”
The SSS stated the leaflets created an environment of intimidation, hostility, and humiliation for students, and are in clear violation of the Equality Act 2010, which imposes duties on schools that appear to be breached by the authoritative circulation of homophobic material within the school.
According to the SSS the Equality and Human Rights Commission clearly state that schools “designated with a religious character” are not exempt from discriminating based on sexual identity and orientation.
Mr Lynch said: “The leaflet included the claims that homosexuality is ‘a lifestyle’ which is ‘harmful’ and which should be counteracted by ‘chastity’. In addition, the leaflet condemns heterosexual sex before and or outside of marriage, as well as contraception.
“This is not only unrealistic, but thoroughly inappropriate material for use in secondary schools. If you convey your beliefs in a way that involves haranguing or berating a particular pupil or group of pupils then this would be unacceptable in any circumstances and would constitute unlawful discrimination.”
A Falkirk Council education spokesman said: “Our approach is far more focussed on supporting pupils in person and offering them help and guidance directly rather than through a leaflet.
“The leaflets themselves were not considered to be age appropriate and were removed. The head teacher also spoke to senior pupils at assembly to emphasise that teaching staff are always available to help where required.”