British Catholic schools remove ‘mother,’ ‘father’ from admission forms

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By Simon Caldwell

MANCHESTER,
England (CNS) — The terms “mother” and “father” will be
banned from Catholic schools’ admissions forms in England and Wales following a
complaint the terms discriminated against gay and stepparents.

The
Office of the Schools Adjudicator, which settles disputes on behalf of the
government, upheld the objection of a parent who wished to enroll a child in
Holy Ghost Catholic Primary School in London.

The
parent had been asked to fill in a form which left spaces only for the names of
“mother/guardian” and “father/guardian” and argued that the
terms discriminated against “separated, step- and gay parents.”

Peter
Goringe, one of 12 adjudicators, said in a late October ruling that “in
the absence of any clarification of the term ‘parent,’ the use of the words ‘mother’
and ‘father’ might, as the objector suggests, be taken to imply that the school
is restricting its definition.”

The
Catholic Education Service, an agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England
and Wales, has advised more than 2,200 schools to revise their policies to
take account of the adjudicator’s decision.

A
spokesman for the CES told Catholic News Service in a Nov. 14 telephone
interview that the advice represented a clarification of the existing demands
of the School Admissions Code rather than a change of policy.

“We
expect all Catholic schools to comply with the School Admissions Code, and we
work closely with dioceses and the Office of the Schools Adjudicator to ensure
this happens,” the Catholic Education Service added in a statement sent by
email Nov. 14.

According
to reports in the British media, hundreds of Catholic schools have already
replaced “mother” and “father” with the titles “parent
1” and “parent 2.”

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