Catholic schools in the UK are replacing “mother and “father” on admission forms with “family” in order to be more inclusive to same-sex couples and step-families. The impetus for the change was a complaint made by a parent at the Holy Ghost Roman Catholic Primary School in London.
The change will be effective in the 2,230 schools in England and Wales affiliated with the Catholic Education Service.
One of the school adjudicators, Peter Goringe, said of the decision:
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 stated:
We expect all Catholic schools to comply with the school admissions code and we work closely with the dioceses and the Office of the Schools Adjudicator to ensure this happens.
The irony of the decision is that the previous forms were not exclusive; they already said “mother/guardian” and “father/guardian.”
Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, said of the change:
To ensure fairness, we should not be placing “mother” and “father” on a list of forbidden words. We should instead be accommodating these cherished foundation stones of our civilisation within the admissions system.
Broadening the categories is one thing, but eliminating them altogether is another. Mothers and fathers still exist. Why should “mother” and “father” be eliminated?
The move by Catholic schools in the UK, removing the language of ‘mother’ and ‘father’ from official documents, echoes the effect of the passing of the All Families Are Equal Act in Ontario, Canada, which removed all references to ‘mother’ and ‘father’ from the law.
Now that same-sex marriage will soon be legal in Australia, we can expect a push for similar things to occur here. We need to remain on guard against the elimination of mothers and fathers from our language too.