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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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