Teachers go on strike at Catholic school following cancellation of gay author's talk on books featuring LGBT+ characters

Simon James Green, a gay author, was set to discuss his queer fiction at the John Fisher School in Purley, Croydon

Published Last updated

Teachers have gone on strike at a Catholic boy's school after a World Book Day talk by a gay author was cancelled.

Simon James Green, a gay author, was set to discuss his queer fiction at the John Fisher School in Purley, Croydon.

The award-winning author has written 12 books for children and young adults that contain LGBT+ characters such as Heartbreak Boys, Noah Can't Even and Gay Club!

Staff shortages have closed the school on occasions in recent times, and strikes have exacerbated the issue.

On Thursday, Mr Green tweeted his support for the teachers who have chosen to strike.

"@NEUnion members from John Fisher school are striking over my banned school visit and their sacked governors," Mr Green said.

The school has been suffering with staffing issues.
The school has been suffering with staffing issues.

"They’re standing up for LGBT students everywhere who need to see the reality of their lives in books. Please show them how much support they have".

The school was set to host the author on March 3, but staff were told to cancel the visit by Diocesan Schools Commissioner, Simon Hughes.

In a statement on March 3, Dr Hughes said: "From time to time materials or events emerge for consideration that fall outside the scope of what is permissible in a Catholic school.

"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".

Intervention from the archdiocese saw the event cancelled, despite opposition from the school governors.

Two governors resigned as a result of the decision, with the rest being removed from their roles by the archdiocese, according to an Ofsted report that came out at the time.

After the incident, Ofsted carried out an inspection on March 16.

Ofsted inspector Sarah Murphy wrote to school headteacher Philip McCullagh on Monday, saying that: "Some leaders, staff and pupils have been left feeling angry, confused and frustrated' by the situation.

'Others are worried about the impression these events might give of the school's ethos".

The archdiocese says the report has "inaccuracies" and includes evidence "drawn solely from media reports".

In a statement, it said: "Respect for the God-given dignity of each human life sits at the heart of Catholic education and respect is a two-way street.

"Literature that insults the faith, which in the case of Mr Green’s book was a highly sexualised re-writing of the Lord’s Prayer, understandably causes offence to many Christians, and as such has no place in a Catholic school.

"It is important that the school can now move on from this, and the Diocesan Education Commission will continue to work with the Local Authority, Governing Body, unions, and senior leaders at The John Fisher, in the best interest of parents, pupils and all members of staff".