CHILDREN should be able to try out ‘the many cloaks of identity’ without being labelled or bullied, the Church of England has said.

In new advice issued to its schools in East Lancashire, the church said youngsters should be free to ‘explore the possibilities of who they might be’.

Nursery and primary school in particular is a time of ‘creative exploration’, it said, and youngsters should be able to pick the tutu, tiara and heels, as well as, or, the helmet, tool belt and superhero cloak ‘without expectation or comment’.

Guidance for Church of England schools on homophobic bullying was first published three years ago, and has now being updated to cover transphobic and biphobic bullying.

No child should be bullied because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity, it warns.

Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying causes ‘profound damage’, makes children feel unsafe and put their education at risk, and schools must take action to tackle it, the guidance said.

It said schools which ‘promote dignity for all’ enable pupils to ‘accept difference of all varieties and be supported to accept their own gender identity or sexual orientation and that of others’.

In a foreword to the advice, the Archbishop of Canterbury , said: “All bullying, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying causes profound damage, leading to higher levels of mental health disorders,self-harm, depression and suicide.

“Central to Christian theology is the truth that every single one of us is made in the image of God. Every one of us is loved unconditionally by God.

“We must avoid, at all costs, diminishing the dignity of any individual to a stereotype or a problem.”

The Most Rev Justin Welby said: “This guidance helps schools to offer the Christian message of love, joy and the celebration of our humanity without exception or exclusion.”

The guidance acknowledges that there is a wide range of views among Christians and people of all beliefs about same-sex marriage, sexual orientation and gender identity.

But it also said: “The aim of this guidance is to prevent pupils in Church of England schools and academies from having their self-worth diminished or their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.”