Despite pushback from the author and the leaders of the John Fisher School, gay author Simon James Green was still banned from visiting the school for a book signing. The decision was imposed on the author and school governors by the Archdiocese of Southwark and Archbishop John Wilson at the behest of the Catholic Church regardless of the school’s desire to still have the author come for the book signing.
The school’s leaders were mostly unanimous about their decision to go against the diocese with the exception of school chaplain Father James Clark, who said that the author’s children’s books “are not in line with Catholic Education and are contrary to the ethos of our school and to the teachings of the Church.” In addition to this reprehensible statement, a statement from the archdiocese states, “From time to time, materials or events emerge for consideration that fall outside the scope of what is permissible in a Catholic school,” which has done nothing to help soothe the situation.
This has left the general public shocked and appalled that the Catholic Church would go through such an act with the kind of intolerant language being used. Many have been reminded of the section 28 ban from the 1980s which banned “promoting homosexuality” in the UK.
In addition to the school’s governors protesting the issue, a number of teachers discussed the idea of striking but as of now, nothing has come of it. As for the governors who argued against the archdiocese’s ruling, it has been reported that they were removed from their positions at the school.
In addition to banning Green from John Fisher School, the archdiocese canceled another previously scheduled visit to a different state school as well. When interviewed Green displayed both his anger and sadness at the event, but more than that, his deep concern for the LGBTQ students who will be affected by this harsh behavior on the part of the Catholic Church.
He stated as well that his involvement at the second event would have been to discuss his children’s books, none of which contain any LGBTQ themes and topics, and work towards “celebrating underdogs” being the key focus of the books. His YA novels which were to be his focus for the John Fisher School book signing only contain “soft romance” according to the author, with nothing more than “occasional kissing” in them.
As the situation continues to be examined, we are left with the hope that it will be resolved for the better. As Green puts it himself, it is less of an issue for authors like him or those in charge, but it is a major concern for how this will affect the youth who are affected by the overstepping of the Archbishop and the Catholic Church.