The Department for Education recently tweeted their support for an organisation called Just Like Us.
Examination of this group’s resources reveals that they are not compatible with the DfE’s own latest RSE guidance on resources from external providers. Read our factsheet below on the teaching materials of Just Like Us, compiled by Shelley Charlesworth.
Just Like Us factsheet
Just Like Us (JLU) is an LGBT+ charity for young people – their main campaigning method is training LGBT volunteers to go into schools to talk to children about LGBT+ equality and to help run LGBT+ groups and ally groups.
Ambassadors programme: here they work with employers to train volunteers aged 18-25 who organise campaigns and workplace talks in schools and workplaces.
Pride Groups: these train educators and school staff to set up groups for LGBT+ pupils and to set up ally groups.
School Diversity Week: an annual event taking place during Pride month. They claim that in 2020 “schools and colleges representing 1.9 million young people signed up to take part in School Diversity Week, demonstrating to their pupils that being LGBT+ is something to be celebrated.”
“It’s free and you’ll receive a toolkit packed with resources for across the curriculum and for all Key Stages.”
They are supported by, among others, Facebook, the National Lottery, and three cosmetic companies.
CEO Dominic Arnall is a charity sector professional who, prior to JLU, according to their website, worked as Head of Projects and Programmes at Stonewall, leading their education team. A lot of JLU’s methods and materials are similar to Stonewall’s.
They also commission research. The latest report ‘Growing Up LGBT’ is based on questionnaires from respondents recruited in part from JLU’s own database. It cannot be relied on as it used self-identification of sex and gender to gather data. Their recommendations are that schools use JLU resources to tackle the problems that their own research has identified.
“Supporting trans pupils in school”: a JLU policy guide for teachers and schools
This document is not freely available on their website making it hard for parents to find out what they stand for. We believe that no policies should be hidden or hard to access. We found the following problems with the policy.
Example 1: terminology and definitions
Just Like Us says that “Gender identity, gender expression and biological sex all exist on a spectrum.” This is inaccurate. Sex is binary and recorded at birth. Gender identity is unevidenced as it refers to a feeling that is wholly subjective. They promote mind/body disassociation, saying gender identity “is about how someone feels (mind set, perceptions, sense of self) not about how their body is built and functions.”
The definition of gender expression, the outward manifestation of gender identity, relies on stereotypes. JLU says it refers to “the way in which someone expresses their gender identity to the rest of the world. For example, the clothes they wear, the length of their hair, whether they wear makeup or not, their behaviours and interests.” Using hair length, makeup or interests as markers of sex is regressive. A girl is a girl and always will be if she likes short hair and cars.
JLU claims that “transgender girls/women will express their gender in a ‘feminine’ way, while transgender boys/men express their gender in a ‘masculine’ way.” Feminine and masculine in our society are expressions of social norms and fashion. Schools should challenge not endorse language like this.
Example 2: Section on ‘transitioning’
This is a lengthy section in the policy and is full of inaccurate information. Schools, teachers and parents should be aware of this and remember that teachers do not have the medical or therapeutic training needed to assess children expressing distress about gender.
JLU tells teachers that transition means a young person’s ‘gender is perceived correctly by others.’
Social transitioning is described as changing name, pronouns, dress, hair length and the wearing of makeup.
Medical transitions are said to relieve gender dysphoria “which if left untreated can cause depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.” There is no reference to that fact that if left untreated most teenagers will grow up to be reconciled to their bodies and are likely to be gay or lesbian. Puberty blockers are described as safe, fully reversible and a “pause button.” This is wrong.
Just Like Us should not be giving incorrect information to teachers on a complex medical condition. Parents and teachers should be aware that the use of puberty blockers is experimental, poorly evidenced according to NICE and the subject of an independent review for the NHS.
Example 2: Advice on toilets and changing rooms
JLU advices schools to let children use the facilities of their self-identified gender. This is contrary to the law which states that children over the age of 8 must have single-sex facilities. If a child identifies as trans the EHRC advises that the school find other suitable accommodation for that child.
Example 3: Sex education lessons
JLU says “A transgender pupil should never be prevented from joining the group which corresponds with their gender identity” This is bad advice. In some areas boys and girls may feel uncomfortable talking about intimate matters with members of the opposite sex. A trans-identified pupil remains their birth sex.
Example 4: Safeguarding and parental rights
JLU says “Please note that coming out as transgender is not a Safeguarding issue.” We disagree. Many trans-identifying children have underlying mental health problems. Around 30% are on the autistic spectrum, many have eating disorders, anxiety or depression. They may have been subject to sexual abuse or homophobic bullying.
JLU advises teachers that parents need not be told if their child expresses a desire to transition and tells them that there is no need to inform parents of preferred name changes, new pronouns and use of cross-sex facilities. We disagree. Schools should not agree to keep secrets, such as wearing a binder, from parents, in line with normal standards of safeguarding.
These are just some examples of taken from the large body of lesson plans and resources that JLU gives freely to primary schools who sign up to School Diversity Week.
Example 5: JLU teaches gender identity ideology
JLU school assembly material for KS1, children aged 5-7, includes a power point which states “we like all kinds of people, whether you feel like a boy or a girl.” This is gender identity theory, introducing very young children to the idea that being a boy or girl is a feeling, not a biological reality.
Example 6: JLU uses politicised language
Maths problem for KS1 children aged 5-7
“Harley (a non-binary and gender-non-conforming person using they/them pronouns) has volunteered to give bottles of water to runners of a Marathon. They have 15 bottles of water but there are a total of 25 runners in the marathon. How many more bottles of water does Harley need to buy? Explain that Harley does not like to be referred to as he/she or him/her so when we describe Harley we use they/them. If any children ask why then you could explain ‘Harley doesn’t feel like a boy or a girl, so by using they/them pronouns they don’t have to feel they are either.’”
Once the children have done the subtraction they have to discuss the problem with a partner, presumably using they/them/their to refer to Harley.
Example 7: JLU encourages children to think it’s not important to know the sex of their friends
Reading for KS1 children aged 5-7
“Are you a boy or are you a girl” by Sarah Savage and Fox Fisher
JLU summary “Tiny doesn’t tell other children whether they are a boy or a girl. They like to play dress-up, as both a fairy and a knight. When they start a new school, some other children struggle to understand.”
Our view is that every child has the right to know the sex of other children. This should never be kept secret. Girls have the right to their boundaries and that includes knowing the sex of other pupils. This is a safeguarding issue. Children of 5-7 can struggle to understand pronouns. The use of they/them is politicised and confusing.
Example 8: JLU normalises pre-pubescent children identifying as opposite sex
Reading for KS2 children aged 7-11
“George” by Alex Gino
JLU summary “When people look at George, they think they see a boy, but she knows she’s a girl.”
Our view is that this book is entirely unsuitable for this age group. It tells the story of a trans-identified boy who is referred to throughout as ‘she’. George’s conviction that he is a girl is never questioned although he is subject to real homophobic bullying for not being sufficiently masculine. Readers are invited to sympathise with George rather than question homophobia in a story which is all about George’s longing to be seen as and validated as a girl.
This is a small sample of the material on offer to KS3-KS5 children.
Example 9: Teaching about transgender
The JLU power point for KS4 children, ages from 14-16, “Understanding the T in LGBT”, teaches inaccurate facts about biological sex and encourages the idea that it is possible to change sex. This cohort of children is the fastest growing group presenting to gender clinics with a trans identity. Around 70% are girls who have never expressed a cross-sex identity before.
The power points include “Believe it or not, biological sex also exists on a spectrum. Whether you are a male or female is not dependent on just one thing, like if you have a penis or vagina. It is dependent on a number of factors, like your sex organs, the chromosomes in your cells and the hormones in your body. Most of these things can be changed”
“Someone’s gender identity can change, their gender expression can change, their biological sex can be changed, and their sexuality can change.”
Children are signposted to the websites of Mermaids and GIRES for support. These groups promote the same affirmative message about trans, making the un-evidenced claim that everyone has a ‘gender identity’, and are in favour of ‘social transitioning’ for children.
Example 10: Twinkl resources
JLU has partnered with Twinkl for some of its lesson plans. Twinkl is an educational resource publishing company, providing material for all subjects from Early Years to sixth form. Its RSE resources teach ‘gender identity’, describe sex as ‘assigned’ at birth and teach children to use politicised language such as ‘cisgender.’ They confuse the terms sex and gender.
‘Genderqueer’ is defined as “A person whose gender identity and/or expression are neither male nor female, or are between, beyond or some combination of genders, may identify as genderqueer. This identity is often related to the social construction of gender, gender stereotypes and the gender binary system.”
JLU resources are similar to other LGBT providers and should be treated with caution. They teach ‘gender identity’ as a fact, rather than a belief. Social transitioning at school is normalised and children are being introduced to the language of LGBT activism throughout their curriculum resources.
Other viewpoints are not included.
We believe they breach the most recent guidelines from the Department for Education on the use of external providers which says:
“We are aware that topics involving gender and biological sex can be complex and sensitive matters to navigate. You should not reinforce harmful stereotypes, for instance by suggesting that children might be a different gender based on their personality and interests or the clothes they prefer to wear. Resources used in teaching about this topic must always be age-appropriate and evidence based. Materials which suggest that non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity should not be used and you should not work with external agencies or organisations that produce such material. While teachers should not suggest to a child that their non-compliance with gender stereotypes means that either their personality or their body is wrong and in need of changing, teachers should always seek to treat individual students with sympathy and support.”
“Schools should not under any circumstances work with external agencies that take or promote extreme positions or use materials produced by such agencies.”