Following the Church of England’s recent publication of resources on gender and sexuality, the Student Christian Movement reaffirm our core values of seeking justice and celebrating diversity. In this context, this means ensuring that LGBTQ+ people are given the same value, opportunities, and protections as others within the Church. To be explicitly clear, this means zero-tolerance of any form of discrimination towards LGBTQ+ people, be that on a personal, social, or institutional level.
SCM has historically been a refuge for LGBTQ+ Christians and those exploring faith. Since the 1960s we have fought for our inclusion not only within the Church but in society as a whole. SCM’s continued fight for LGBTQ+ rights is not something new, nor is it a thing of the past. We continue to stand up for LGBTQ+ people as it forms an intrinsic part of who we are. We will not stop until all are equal in the eyes of the Church and society, as they are in the eyes of God.
We value and appreciate the extensive work which has gone into delivering these resources. The barriers and struggles that many LGBTQ+ people face from within the Church are well-known to our community, but it is encouraging to see these laid out so clearly for those who may not previously have been aware. We welcome the Church of England’s recognition of the absolute necessity of treating LGBTQ+ people with the same dignity, respect, and love that others are afforded.
Affirming the wholeness and humanity of LGBTQ+ people is a positive step in a very long journey towards full inclusion in the Church of England. Whilst we appreciate the progress made so far, we believe that there is still more to be done to ensure LGBTQ+ people are as equally valued in this institution as their straight and cisgender counterparts. Tragically, for some, it is important to say this publication is too little, too late. The rejection some face within their church communities can do and has done real damage, negatively impacting both mental and physical health. Equally, this discrimination has caused irreparable damage to some individuals’ faith in God and their relationship with the Church. For us, looking after the health and wellbeing of our LGBTQ+ siblings is one of the most fundamental expressions of loving our neighbour.
SCM already provides LGBTQ+ specific groups and events, and we have a dedicated LGBTQ+ staff lead. In light of this publication, we have appointed LGBTQ+ chaplains to provide pastoral care to our members as the discussion continues. We pride ourselves on our unwavering commitment to helping our LGBTQ+ members to thrive and grow in a safe and supportive environment. Additionally, SCM are gathering a group of members to interrogate the resources and will be offering more responses as we move through them.
Many feel that these discussions surrounding gender and sexuality focus too heavily on ‘issues’ and ‘disagreements’. LGBTQ+ lives are too often seen as problems to be solved, or issues to be debated. Even participating in these conversations can take a huge emotional toll on those involved, because many are called upon to defend their humanity: the fearful and wonderful way they are made. Whilst this report goes some way towards addressing this, it is essential that we now move beyond simply finding ways to disagree well. We hope that this is a starting point for real, meaningful change.
We believe the next steps for the Church of England should be action-led. Now that we have these discussions and experiences to guide us, it is time to step up and act. This may be a long journey as it will eventually involve change at a governing level, through General Synod. We must allow the lived experience of LGBTQ+ people to inform and shape the Church as we move towards greater inclusion. Above all, we pray that God will guide us in the coming days, months, and years as we journey through this important time together.