Draft guidelines for teachers have borrowed the same ‘equality and diversity’ wording used to suspend a Christian nurse who offered to pray for a patient.
Caroline Petrie has now been invited back to work by the NHS trust that suspended her over allegations that in making the offer she failed to “promote equality and value diversity” – a requirement of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s code of practice.
However, the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) has now drafted its own guidance for teachers, which includes a similar clause.
The guidance has not yet been finalised, and the GTC is inviting public responses to its draft code in a consultation open until 27 February.
Christian groups are calling for clarification after cases like Mrs Petrie’s where such wording has been interpreted so as to prevent Christians from expressing their beliefs.
There are concerns that terms like ‘diversity’ and ‘equality’ are being misused by those seeking an excuse to push Christianity out ofpublic life.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said: “Christians would support most of the code, but many are alarmed by the new diversity rules.
“Under the code, Christian teachers will be required to ‘proactively combat discrimination’ and ‘value diversity’ based on religious belief and sexual orientation.
“The code rightly requires that teachers should respect their colleagues and those they teach. But respect for people as people is not the same as respecting or valuing every religious belief or sexual lifestyle.
“Forcing this on Christian teachers is to force them to go against their conscience.”