The government has published its draft schools guidance for gender-questioning children which is now open for public consultation until 12 March 2024.
The draft guidance is a big step forward in the protection of children from the non-scientific gender identity ideology now embedded in many schools.
We are grateful to Gillian Keegan and Kemi Badenoch and their departments for all their careful work to produce guidance that prioritises the safeguarding of children over the demands of activists.
The draft guidance reasserts a school’s duty to collect data on the basis of sex and the specific legal and safeguarding duties related to this, including the provision of separate sex facilities such as toilets, changing-rooms and accommodation for the privacy and comfort of both sexes and the safety of girls. It reminds schools of their duty to ensure that sports are both safe and fair for girls.
It advises that schools should not socially transition children and that teachers and children cannot be compelled to use the opposite-sex pronouns for a classmate. It protects the right of parents to be fully involved in any decisions made in relation to their child’s welfare while in school. Importantly it gives teachers reasons to be cautious in their approach, based on the factors that may be influencing a child to adopt a transgender identity.
We are pleased to see that the guidance uses clear language and definitions of terms, including that ‘gender identity’ is a contested belief. We would like to see an end to this belief being promoted as fact in schools and we hope to see this addressed in the forthcoming report on RSHE guidance for schools.
The draft guidance is informed by the report from Dr Hilary Cass and is strengthened by the inclusion of five important principles that schools must follow. We welcome this clarity for teachers in a complex area that has become so politically controversial.
We applaud the government for taking the time to produce the evidence-based guidance that will support sensible Head teachers to prioritise the safeguarding and welfare of all children in their care.
There are aspects that we think need to be strengthened to be practically workable in schools, and details that need to be tightened up by government; a lack of clarity still leaves too much up to individual schools to make decisions they are not qualified to make. Although schools can be in no doubt about the overall approach they are expected to take, there are loopholes it would be too easy for zealous teachers to exploit.
We will be responding to the consultation fully in the new year, detailing the specific points we think need clarification, change or more information. But for now we just want to acknowledge that in tone, language and overall approach, the draft guidance shows that this government has listened and worked hard to get it right. It is a huge step forward in a long battle to protect children from an ideology that has caused so much harm; it is bold in taking back ground that was too easily given away to activists. There is much to cheer.
Now it is time for parents, grandparents and teachers to get behind this and respond to the consultation with your views. We also urge social workers, foster carers, therapists, youth workers, doctors and all professionals who work with children to submit your views from your own perspective. We need to join the dots on how this ideology has permeated all areas of care for children and young people today.