A VICAR who caused outrage by describing classes on LGBT relationships as "state-sponsored child abuse" has resigned from his role as a school governor.
Rev Peter Hughes, who is Rector of St Alban’s Church, Wickersley, had said that lessons on same-sex relationships and transgender issues could "open the door to sexual predators".
His comments in the June edition of the Wickersley St Alban’s parish magazine, where he described the lessons as “anti-Christian and harmful”, split opinion amongst Advertiser readers and attracted condemnation from, among others, Rotherham Borough Council leader Cllr Chris Read and the National Secular Society.
Following the comments, Rev Hughes stepped down as an ex officio governor at Wickersley St Alban’s Primary School.
Headteacher Alison Adair said Rev Hughes took the decision on June 14, after the school launched an investigation into his comments.
“Rev Hughes, in his resignation letter, expressed deep regret for the unwelcome attention the school received and the distraction caused,” said Ms Adair.
“The school accepted his resignation immediately but also formally recorded our appreciation for the several years of unwavering support he had given the school in his time of governor.”
Council leader and Wickersley ward member Cllr Read had condemned the claims as “homophobic” and “nonsense”, while the Diocese of Sheffield distanced itself from his position and launched its own investigation.
Department for Education guidance about relationship lessons, which will be compulsary from next year, says content on LGBT relationships should be integral but “sensitive, age-appropriate and delivered with reference to the law”.
Mr Hughes had said in his column: “This sexual indocrination of of young children prepares them for early sexual experimentation, normalises it and, in so doing, opens the door for sexual predators.
“Via the Trojan horse of teaching tolerance and opposing bullying, the extent of which they greatly exaggerate, the LGBTI activists are imposing a sexual philosophy which at its heart is both anti-Christian and harmful.”
He called on parents to “take back control” and “follow the example” of Muslims who had recently protested against Relationships and Sex Education (RSE).
The National Secular Society, which campaigns for the separation of religion and state, had described Mr Hughes’ views as “entirely inappropriate from a school governor.”
The Diocese of Sheffield, meanwhile, had distanced itself from Rev Hughes’ comments and described the language used as “regrettable”.
Its Director of Education, Rev Huw Thomas, said previously: “As a diocese we welcome the government’s new RSE Guidance and support its aims to promote a healthy and respectful approach to relationships.
“This includes respect for the differing views in faith communities.
“It also recognises the right for parents to exercise discretion in withdrawing their children from sex education.
“Personally, I feel the new guidance is the clearest we have ever had and I wish it had been available when I was teaching.
“You stand a better chance of talking through differing viewpoints with children and young people that are educated in the subject.
“The good quality RSE, outlined in the government’s guidance, enables our young people to be wise and to protect their own choices.”