A petition urging the Church of England to scrap its controversial transgender guidance for primary schools was given to the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on Monday.
The petition, which has garnered more than 15,000 signatures, asked the Church of England to reconsider “Valuing All God’s Children” (VAGC), its guidance that maintains children as young as 5 years old should be affirmed in the opposite sex if they identify with it, according to the London-based Christian Legal Centre (CLC) that began the petition in October.
CLC has helped multiple people in the U.K. obtain legal representation against the Church of England regarding alleged discrimination on the basis of their beliefs about sexuality and gender.
A spokesperson for the Church of England told Fox News Digital that VAGC “is intended as a document to prevent bullying so that all children are afforded their dignity.”
“This along with all our policies and guidance documents are regularly reviewed in light of updated legislation and government guidance,” the spokesperson continued, adding that the petition cited an earlier version of the guidance that was “outdated.”
In a statement provided to Fox News Digital, CLC cited page 20 of the most recent guidance from 2019, which says in part: “In creating a school environment that promotes dignity for all and a call to live fulfilled lives as uniquely gifted individuals, pupils will be equipped to accept difference of all varieties and be supported to accept their own gender identity or sexual orientation and that of others.”
“In order to do this it will be essential to provide curriculum opportunities where difference is explored, same-sex relationships, same-sex parenting and transgender issues may be mentioned as a fact in some people’s lives,” the guidance continues.
“Children should be at liberty to explore the possibilities of who they might be without [judgment] or derision,” the guidance also stipulates, adding that “children should be afforded freedom from the expectation of permanence.”
VAGC, which the petition described as “deeply damaging and wrong,” applies to tens of thousands of pupils in more than 4,800 U.K. primary schools associated with the Church of England.
The petition was submitted to Welby by Isle of Wight parents Nigel and Sally Rowe, who were awarded £22,000 in legal costs in September when they sued after an unidentified Church of England primary school accused their 6-year-old son of being “transphobic” if he would not believe his male classmate is a girl.
The Rowes’ legal victory prompted the U.K. Department of Education to commit to reform its gender guidance for students. A spokesperson for the Church of England told Fox News Digital that “we will engage with that consultation and revise VAGC in the light of that process.”
“The Church of England must urgently [recognize] the significant concerns that so many parents have about the dangers of transgender ideology in our schools,” the Rowes said in a statement provided to Fox News Digital.
The Rowes went on to reference Matthew 18:6, in which Jesus warns against causing little children “to stumble.”
“We all therefore have a responsibility under God to protect our children, especially church leaders,” the Rowes added.
Benjamin John, who serves as a lay member of the Church of England’s General Synod, echoed the Rowes, issuing a statement obtained by Fox News Digital that said in part: “Children need to hear that we do not need to believe the lies in the culture or in ourselves that we need to change our bodies or should engage in anything we feel we desire.”
The petition comes as the Church of England prepares for its General Synod in February, when clerics are expected to vote on the issue of same-sex marriage, which six bishops publicly affirmed in November.
Top clerics in the Church of England were recently silent in response to a sermon from the pulpit of Trinity College, Cambridge, during which a junior research fellow preached during Evensong about the “trans body” of Jesus Christ and likened the wound in his side to a vagina.