Sex Matters and Transgender Trend have updated guidance for schools on how to support children with gender dysphoria and their peers, in line with the Equality Act 2010. 

This guide is about schools’ responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 towards all boys and girls in relation to the protected characteristics of sex and gender reassignment. It includes a model policy that schools can adopt.

The Equality Act 2010 covers England, Scotland and Wales so many of the principles apply across those countries. Future editions will be produced for other nations in the UK. This guide is aligned with the relevant legislative framework for England:

• the safeguarding framework Keeping Children Safe in Education (2019) and Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018)
• the Education Act 2002 and the Education Act 1996.

We also draw on the statutory and non-statutory guidance for schools produced by the Department for Education and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

This April 2022 revision also draws on recent reports and case law:

• the interim report of the Cass Review
• recent legal cases on freedom of belief (Miller v College of Policing and Forstater v CGD)
• a legal opinion from Dan Squires QC (commissioned by the Good Law Project)
• the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s new guidance on single-sex services
• a survey of teachers undertaken by YouGov for Sex Matters.

The guidance recognises that pupils who are experiencing gender issues, or who identify as transgender, should not be treated less favourably than their peers, but schools should remember that such children have not actually changed sex. 

It should be made clear to all in the school community that everyone is welcome and included – but it is not “transphobic” to recognise that everyone has a sex. This is crucial for equality, safeguarding and sex and relationships education.

“Boys and Girls and the Equality Act” was produced by Sex Matters and Transgender Trend with input from lawyers and teachers. It seeks to provide practical workable advice for how schools can protect everybody’s needs and rights.

It has been produced following concern about the lack of government guidance for schools. The  Equality and Human Rights Commission began developing guidance for schools in 2017 but has halted work on the project. Local authorities in several areas have produced guidance and then withdrawn it after legal challenge.

This guide is for:

  • Teachers, school leadership teams and governors in both state and private schools at primary and secondary levels setting rules and policies
  • Parents and young people seeking to understand their rights
  • Local education authorities producing their own guidance

It may also be useful for other institutions that work with children and young people, such as youth associations and sports clubs. It is also offered as an input to guidance that may be developed by the government or national public bodies

Download the guidance for England here:

Download the guidance for Wales here:

Sex Matters Co-founder, Maya Forstater, says: 

“In general schools should not treat boys and girls differently. But where they do for objectively justified reasons, such as for safety, fairness and bodily privacy then the rules do not need to be renegotiated for individual children. Schools can sensitively accommodate all. Schools need to have clear rules and expectations for all children. They shouldn’t be pushed by fears and uncertainty about the Equality Act to undermine safeguarding.”

Transgender Trend Founder Stephanie Davies-Arai says:

“Calls for “inclusion” or against “bigotry” should not be used to pressure children to accept sharing changing rooms with members of the opposite sex. It should be remembered that each cohort of girls will include girls with religious beliefs, girls who have been victims of sexual abuse and girls who are simply uncomfortable sharing toilets or getting changed with male pupils – and that as children get older it will become less and less appropriate to share such spaces.”

The guide emphasises the need for schools to have clear, workable rules that take into account the needs and rights of all pupils in line with the school’s Public Sector Equality Duty obligations.

Balancing the needs of trans-identified children with all pupils in sport, changing rooms, toilets and residential accomodation should not be left to individual schools to decide. Teachers and parents need clear legal guidance. This guidance provides much needed clarity and an easy to follow model policy.

About Sex Matters:

Sex Matters is a UK based not-for-profit organisation. It campaigns, advocates and produces resources to promote clarity about sex in public policy, law and culture. It has a singular mission: to re-establish that sex matters in rules, laws, policies, language and culture.

Sex Matters was founded by solicitor Rebecca Bull, barrister Naomi Cunningham, policy researcher Maya Forstater, and development biologist Dr Emma Hilton.