News | World News | Lesbian couple outraged after headmaster labels their daughter's admission a 'problem'

Lesbian couple outraged after headmaster labels their daughter's admission a 'problem'

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Lesbian couple claim headmaster of fee-paying Christian school said their 11-year-old daughter's admission would be a 'problem' because of their same-sex relationship

  • Rebecca Shields, 35, and Claire Morgan, 47, complained about discrimination 
  • Adrian Parsonage, head of The River School, in Worcester is facing criticism 
  • He is alleged to have told the pair that the school teaches a heterosexual ethos
  • The couple are yet to hear back from the school following their complaint
  • But Mr Parsonage denies the allegations and said admission is open to all
  • In a statement released today he blamed 'unfortunate misunderstandings'

By James Wood For Mailonline

Published: 09:00 EDT, 10 October 2018 | Updated: 10:10 EDT, 10 October 2018

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A lesbian couple are complaining to a Christian school about discrimination after the headmaster reportedly said their daughter's admission would be a 'problem' because of their same-sex relationship.   

Rebecca Shields, 35, and Claire Morgan, 47, say they were left 'dumbfounded' when the headteacher made the comments right in front of their 11-year-old daughter.  

The pair claim Adrian Parsonage, head of The River School, in Worcester, told them they taught children the ethos that 'relationships should be between a man and a woman'.

They said he went on to add he would need to speak to teachers 'about the problem' before deciding whether to give their daughter a place at the independent school.

Rebekah Shields (left) and Claire Morgan (right) say they were left shocked and upset after the alleged comments were made in front of their 11-year-old child during an admissions meeting at The River School in Worcester on Monday
Rebekah Shields (left) and Claire Morgan (right) say they were left shocked and upset after the alleged comments were made in front of their 11-year-old child during an admissions meeting at The River School in Worcester on Monday

Rebekah Shields (left) and Claire Morgan (right) say they were left shocked and upset after the alleged comments were made in front of their 11-year-old child during an admissions meeting at The River School in Worcester on Monday

Rebecca Shields, 35, and Claire Morgan, 47, had taken their 11-year-old daughter to an admissions meeting at The River School in Worcester on Monday. But they claim headmaster Adrian Parsonage had said their daughter's admission might have a 'problem' because of the same-sex relationship
Rebecca Shields, 35, and Claire Morgan, 47, had taken their 11-year-old daughter to an admissions meeting at The River School in Worcester on Monday. But they claim headmaster Adrian Parsonage had said their daughter's admission might have a 'problem' because of the same-sex relationship

Rebecca Shields, 35, and Claire Morgan, 47, had taken their 11-year-old daughter to an admissions meeting at The River School in Worcester on Monday. But they claim headmaster Adrian Parsonage had said their daughter's admission might have a 'problem' because of the same-sex relationship

But Mr Parsonage denies he made the claims at the meeting on Monday and has put the issue down to 'significant and most unfortunate misunderstandings'.

Ms Shields and Ms Morgan have since complained to the school about discrimination on the grounds of their sexual orientation but have not yet heard anything back.

The couple, who are engaged and live in Droitwich, Worcestershire, visited a number of potential schools and asked each one whether they had any other same-sex parents.

Ms Shields said: 'Mr Parsonage said the school did not.

'I was dumbfounded when he told us that he would speak to other teachers about 'the problem', to which we replied 'there is no problem'.

'He went on to say how the school expects parents and students to respect their ethos, and how they believe that 'relationships should be between a man and a woman.'

'He said they were his views and how the children are taught.

'This was all said in front of my child who has had to gain their own confidence at school with having two mums.

'I had to leave without saying any more due to the fact that I didn't wish to embarrass my child.

'I told Mr Parsonage the school wouldn't be for us.'

Ms Morgan added: 'We were both in shock, I worry for other children and parents.'

Adrian Parsonage (left), headteacher at The River School, in Worcester claims the women's concerns have come from 'significant and most unfortunate misunderstandings' during the admissions meeting
Adrian Parsonage (left), headteacher at The River School, in Worcester claims the women's concerns have come from 'significant and most unfortunate misunderstandings' during the admissions meeting

Adrian Parsonage (left), headteacher at The River School, in Worcester claims the women's concerns have come from 'significant and most unfortunate misunderstandings' during the admissions meeting

However Mr Parsonage has denied making the comment and said admission was open to all.

In a statement released by the school today, he said: 'I had a meeting with prospective parents on Monday morning where there would appear to have been some significant and most unfortunate misunderstandings that took place regarding our Christian principles, our admissions policy and the school's approach to the teaching on relationships.

'The school did not describe, has never described and will not describe a child with same-sex parents, or the admission of such a child into the school as a 'problem'.

'We accept children of different backgrounds, faiths and beliefs which is reflected in our school policies.

'We do not discriminate against families with differing values or beliefs but follow the normal admission process with all applications.

'For the avoidance of doubt: admission is open to families with same-sex parents.'

He went on to say that the school has a Christian foundation and is designated as a school of religious character.

He said: 'As such, it has a legal duty to teach in line with its Christian principles- like all faith schools.

'The River School teaches about ethical, social and moral issues from this standpoint while respecting the freedom of pupils to discuss and debate such matters.

'The school upholds and promotes British Values, Prevent and are very conscious of treating everyone with respect.

'The school has been in touch with Ms Shields and have offered her an opportunity to meet with the Chair of Trustees.' 

The River School, founded in 1985, caters for 123 boys and girls aged between two and 16 and was rated 'good' at its last Ofsted inspection in 2007.

The report stated the school does not select pupils according to their ability or religious affiliation and it sees the bible as the basis for its educational philosophy and practice. 

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