Brighton Council defended its “choose your gender” school registration form last week in terms which revealed their complete misunderstanding of parents’ concerns and provided some insight into the confused thinking behind these policies. In this statement, for example, Councillor Emma Daniel, Head of Brighton Council Equalities Committee, completely misses the point:
“We will review this to see whether we can make it clearer that we consider discussions around gender identity to be an option for parents rather than an obligation.”
This is not what anyone was asking for: parents did not misinterpret the wording as an order to discuss gender identity with their children. Having made the assumption that this was the problem, Councillor Daniel goes on to explain:
“For most parents, the form is straightforward, you just tick Male or Female as you normally would. For a very small minority of parents who have children who are struggling with their gender identity, it’s really important they can access our schools safely, get their education like anyone else and feel fine about that.”
So the message to parents who complained is: the “gender identity” part of the form wasn’t for you, so you don’t have to worry about it. And why would you complain about something that doesn’t affect you, but will help others?
The unquestioning adoption of transgender and queer theory by a City Council, and its inclusion in a school registration form is in fact everyone’s business: the approach affects all children and parents. Parents do not want to worry that the teachers in their child’s school will feel obliged to go along with this theory and begin to judge all children, including their own, in terms of sex-role stereotypes. Parents have a right to expect that the adults who are looking after and supposedly teaching their children, are not indoctrinating them with gender identity politics.
Parents have an expectation, as they always have, that school will be a place where their children learn about facts, otherwise they would send their children to a faith school. They expect that teachers will be doing their best to counter the gender stereotypes that the toy industry pushes onto children, and give children the message that both girls and boys can be or do anything. They do not want teachers to reinforce the idea that playing with dolls is an indication that you must be a girl, or that liking football and having short hair is proof that you are a boy.
For the “very small minority” of parents whose daughter insists she is a boy, or whose son declares himself to be a girl, to plant the idea that this is anything other than normal childhood behaviour is irresponsible. These parents, who may be doing the best thing by not making a big deal of it, are suddenly invited to reinterpret their child’s normal magical thinking as “struggling with gender identity.” Inexperienced parents with a first child are particularly vulnerable to the influence of an “official” interpretation of behaviour, which the council presents here as fact.
To clarify that these parents should start to take their child seriously and agree with them that they are indeed the opposite sex, Councillor Daniel made this statement on Sky News:
“The main issue is that they are addressed by other people in the gender that they identify with and they’re then able to access their school learning in a safe and relaxed environment.”
Wrong. The advice, presented in the Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline published by the Dutch (who are far more experienced in this area than we are in the UK) recommends against the social transitioning of pre-pubertal children. This advice is followed by the NHS, so why are we already seeing children in the UK being socially transitioned in schools? On an issue of such importance for the health of our children, parents have a right to expect that those in authority would be in possession of the relevant facts – as, of course, many parents will just assume when looking at this registration form.
Beyond the personal concerns regarding local schools, there is of course anger about what the adoption of “gender identity” ideology means for children generally. Brighton Council is advocating that all adults in a child’s life work to set in stone for the child a sense of identity which is split off from the body, to condition the child into a mind-body disconnect which is an indicator for mental ill-health. Schools should be an environment where a child’s sense of self is given the space to develop, expand and change, and no school should be actively reinforcing hatred and rejection of the body as a foundation upon which to build a sense of self.
The role of a City Council should not be to push any political ideology onto parents and teachers and into the education system, particularly one that is so harmful for children, and parents are understandably angry that this is what Brighton Council have done.
If you would like to voice your concerns, the Equalities Committee can be contacted here: firstname.lastname@example.org and it would be useful to copy emails to the Schools Admissions Team who sent out the registration forms so that they are also aware of the issues: email@example.com.