Andrew Moffat, who wrote the controversial No Outsiders scheme for primary schools, has doubled down on the teaching of gender identity to the under 11s. He has become more overtly political in his approach. He is using books that tell children that it’s possible to change sex despite the sea change in evidence and knowledge following the Cass Review. He actively promotes the social transition of primary school children despite caution advised by NHS England. His materials for assemblies are partisan, and biased towards sensationalist news. In terms of reach he has become one of the biggest peddlers of the ‘wrong body’ narrative in our schools. Shelley Charlesworth looks at how he manages to get around Department for Education guidance in order to teach his ‘child-friendly’ version of queer theory.
The queer theory origins
Just over four years ago angry parents protested about the content of LBGT lessons outside Parkfield School in Birmingham, prompting Transgender Trend to take a close look at the ideas and approach of the teacher at the heart of the controversy, Andrew Moffat. Our blog No Outsiders: Queering the Primary Classroom can be read here.
We found that Andrew Moffat was one of the teacher participants in a 2006-8 University of Sunderland research project, also called No Outsiders, whose purpose was to challenge ‘heteronormativity’ in primary schools, among both children and staff. From this he went on to develop his own successful No Outsiders project which is both a programme of learning for primary schools and a charity of the same name.
He rarely mentions the genesis of No Outsiders now, but the foundational ideas of the ESRC funded project, steeped in queer theory, underpin the content of his No Outsiders scheme for schools. Andrew Moffat, as we will show, like the original academic researchers, has little time for theories of child development. In a 2009 book of essays derived from the project they wrote:
“The primary school is often thought of as a place of safety and innocence; a place where childhood is nurtured and sheltered, and where attempts to address what are seen as ‘adult’ issues may be seen as intrusions into or threats to this safety zone.”
The adult issues that the University of Sunderland wanted to discuss within the primary classroom, staffroom and playground were those of sex, gender and sexuality. Their disparagement of ‘innocence’ and ‘safety’ went hand-in-hand with a disdain for any understanding of child development, both cognitive and physical.
Queer theorists are doomed to be forever disappointed by actual children, who prefer in the main to play in groups of their own sex and know the difference between girls and boys. This is the ‘heteronormative’ reality that queer theorists seek to break. They see it as a learned imposition, a restrictive system of belief and not what it is, the result of millennia of evolution and the binary system of sexual reproduction common to all mammals.
The Equality Act cover
Andrew Moffat must have known that most parents have no time for gender identity ideology and do want schools to be places where their children are ‘nurtured and sheltered’ while being educated. So, as he developed his teaching programme he shed the ideological language, replacing it with that of inclusion and diversity, necessitated, he said, by the legal requirements of the 2010 Equality Act.
This pivot to the Equality Act resulted in a set of lesson plans most of which have only tangential relevance to the nine protected characteristics of the Act. Take for instance a book for 8-9 yr-olds titled Dogs Don’t Do Ballet. Moffat claims it is about knowing when to be assertive. The book is narrated by a small girl who does ballet. She says “My dog doesn’t think he’s a dog, my dog thinks he is a ballerina. My dog looks longingly at my tutu and ballet shoes” All the adults in the story tell her unkindly that dogs don’t do ballet. The dog reacts by refusing to eat, and falling into a depression. But by the end the dog has managed to get onto a stage during a ballet performance, wearing the little girl’s tutu and dances, leading to applause and the triumphant claim that dogs do do ballet.
One reading of the book might be that stereotypes are bad, or that you can be anything you want to be. However, a ‘queer’ reading is more honest and accurate; it’s about being transgender. But Andrew Moffat says it’s a tale of how to be assertive. This makes no sense at all (the dog is hardly assertive, just persistent) and the story has no obvious link to the Equality Act.
Growing on the back of opposition
Since the 2019 protests, Andrew Moffat’s career has taken off, and the No Outsiders programme is endorsed by his employer. In fact, he credits the protests for his success.
He told Pink News recently that during the demonstrations he thought about ending the programme, but is glad he didn’t as it’s now bigger than ever.
“I have one day in class and four days a week doing training on No Outsiders. I’m booked up till November. That wouldn’t have happened without the protests.”
He’s employed by the Excelsior Multi Academy Trust where he is the Personal Development Lead. Excelsior is the MAT that runs Parkfield Community School, the focus of the protests. The MAT website links to Moffat’s own No Outsiders charity.
Excelsior must be happy with his activities. In July 2023 he tweeted “Thanks to @ExcelsiorMAT this year I had unlimited training days across the U.K. I’ve taught a no outsiders lesson to 19,700 brilliant pupils in 77 different schools and trained 5,000 staff.”
Excelsior is enabling Moffat, his brand and his charity, to spread gender ideology to all these children and teachers. No Outsiders has recently announced it’s developing materials for secondary schools.
In his Pink News interview Moffat drops the pretence that the No Outsiders scheme is primarily about the Equality Act. He told them the demand for his programme was “indicative of what’s happening with LGBTQ+ education on the ground. Most parents and teachers want their children to learn about these issues.”
However, marketing No Outsiders as the subtitle of the latest edition “Preparing Children for Life in Modern Britain” has proved useful. It has freed Moffat to introduce LGBT+ topics without them being designated PSHE or RSE. In fact, in the first edition of his booklet, Andrew Moffat wrote:
“Parents are not able to remove their children from these lessons as they are not part of Sex and Relationship Education.”
More recently, speaking on a You Tube video he said:
“you teach it as part of literacy, as part of PHSE…you’ve go to follow it up with assemblies…the assemblies are a way of backing up this and making it real…”
The Pink News interview shows that Andrew Moffat has become more overtly political, in both content and choice of materials, and the assemblies are an important part of that.
The 250 free plans, roughly one a week, all follow the same pattern. They start with a picture, followed by an explanation, and then children are asked to engage with the questions put by Moffat. The explanation of the image is frequently started by the claim that it has ‘gone viral’ which no doubt is meant to impress young children with its relevance and importance.
However, while some assembly plans are about important events, for primary school children they are likely to be disturbing or frightening. These include the Orlando attacks on a gay bar, terrorist attacks such as the Nice murders in 2016, the 2017 Westminster Bridge terror attack, the Manchester Arena bombing at the Ariana Grande concert, the Las Vegas mass shooting in 2017, the 2019 Mosque murders in New Zealand, and in the same year the suicide bombings of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka by Islamist terrorists.
This move to talking to children about terrible atrocities began in the US where school shootings are a reality. This isn’t the case in the UK but the tendency to think children must share adult horrors is now more commonplace. Stephanie Davies-Arai said on her parenting blog: “So let’s not assume that our kids experience horrific news stories on the same level as we adults do. They may express fear or upset in strong and intense ways, but underneath they just don’t have the complexity of understanding and awareness that it takes to really know the reality of how awful something is: that takes a bit of growing up first.”
It’s arguable that talking to children about events that are beyond a child’s developmental capability, as if they are adults, such as terrorist acts, is a form of emotional abuse as defined in the Department for Education’s statutory guidance for schools Keeping Children Safe In Education.
This queer theory infused inability of Moffat to see children as developmental beings is most clearly illustrated by the assemblies which promote the idea of the ‘trans kid.’ As early as 2016 Moffat’s No Outsiders offered an assembly plan about 12-year-old American girl, Ari Bowman, who was identifying as a boy and who wanted to use the boys’ toilets. The image for the assembly was of a tomboyish looking Ari, with short hair. Children were asked:
“When Ari was born, people told him he was a girl because of the way his body looked on the outside. How did Ari feel on the inside? What did Ari do as he grew up?”
“How do you think Ari felt at school when he was told to be a girl?”
“If Ari came to our school, would we tell him he had to be a girl?”
Moffat continues to promote gender ideology in assemblies. Most recently the shocking murder of 16-year-old Brianna Ghey in early 2023 provided another ‘teachable’ moment. The assembly plan starts with pictures of one of the night-time vigils for Brianna.
Children are told that Brianna was transgender and that two 15-year-olds have been charged with the murder. Being transgender is explained via gender identity theory. British values of mutual respect and the rule of law are also invoked to give credence to the claim that ‘transgender’ is a legal concept. It’s doubtful that any primary age child could argue back against this lie.
The assembly continues with this:
“This week there have been vigils in remembrance of Brianna in many cities across the UK involving thousands of people. Did all these people know Brianna? Why are they coming together to remember her?”
Despite the case being sub judice, Moffat risks contempt of court by framing the murder as a hate crime. The teachers’ notes for questions to put to children include: “Police are saying Brianna’s murder was not a hate crime” but adds “We may never know if this incident was a hate crime or not; does that matter?”
It’s hard to comprehend why content like this is thought appropriate for 7-11yr-olds, covering as it does the murder of a child by children, with instructions to view it through one lens only, that of the victim being ‘trans’ and an inaccurate interpretation of the law.
Other topics that Moffat chooses, drag queens, Pride events, gay coming out stories, same-sex attracted animals, adult males who identify as trans, Rainbow road crossings, are all framed in the same way. ‘It’s the law’ he tells children and gullible teachers. He seems to believe the Equality Act is something it is not. He treats it as a social justice manifesto, and one which mainly sees LGBT in footlights, and not as the Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch put it. She wrote it is “a shield, not a sword. It is about preventing discrimination, not social engineering.”
Promoting ‘trans’ in the classroom
Andrew Moffat does not just teach gender ideology but actively intervenes in the social transition of children. His charity was given a £10,000 donation to make a film about his work and the newly released video, Teaching Transgender Awareness Using No Outsiders: Sam’s Story, is the result. It focuses entirely on the ‘wrong body’ narrative. Teachers talk naively about pre-pubertal children who ‘identify’ as the opposite sex and describe how they encourage and enable this belief.
The video begins with a discussion between a young adult, Sam, and a former teacher about Sam’s transition from girl to boy and contains glowing testimonials for No Outsiders.
Next is a section showing a teacher reading Introducing Teddy, one of the most ideological picture books promoting transgenderism for children, to a year 6 class. The children’s responses show they have already absorbed the main beliefs of gender identity theory. One child says:
“transgender means like to change gender so if you’re a boy and change into a girl you’ll be a transgender woman.”
The Pastoral Support Team leader, Nicola Furey, from the Laurance Haines Primary school in Watford, appears next. She provides the link between the book and gender activism, thanking Andrew Moffat for his personal intervention.
“So I was aware of the No Outsiders work but we had a parent come forward with their child who was wanting to change gender and that was new for our school, something we hadn’t come across before, and we thought we need advice and support so I reached out to you Andrew, and you literally came straight back to me and you literally held our hands through that process, so we could support mum and we could support the child and the class to ensure we were getting it right … so through your advice you introduced us to a book called Introducing Teddy, you introduced us to the planning, there was a meeting with a teacher, mum and the child were happy with what we were doing and that lesson was delivered in the class and already that child had gone and told all their friends anyway that they were the opposite gender so it was like icing on the cake sort of that just gave it validation…”
The evidence is clear. Mr Moffat has been advising a primary school on how to socially transition a child. He has no professional expertise in treating children with gender-related distress.
Two new overtly LGBT+ books have been added to the No Outsiders list for KS2 children, that is the 7-11-yr-olds. You Need To Chill!, is by trans author and activist Juno Dawson.
Dawson has campaigned for a ban on conversion therapy for gender identity which would see open-ended exploratory therapy for children recast as conversion therapy. You Need To Chill! reads like a fantasy world in which both a ban and gender self ID are already in place. It’s a picture book narrated by a small primary age girl who answers all questions about what has happened to her older brother Bill by closing down the inquiries with “You need to chill!”
The big reveal is of course that Bill is now sister Lily. Bill/Lily like all the child characters is pre-pubescent. It’s a story that spreads the lie to children that it’s possible, easy even, to change sex. Only unkind or hysterical people would claim otherwise, and nobody must ask questions. Moffat’s lesson notes tell teachers to ask “Is Lily transgender? What is transgender?” He invokes the law too, claiming the Equality Act protects those who are “transgender.”
The success criteria for the lesson which children should be able to parrot at the end is “I know we are all different/I know what judgement is/I can choose to be non-judgemental and accepting of others.”
My Brother George is written by trans activist parents Kelly and Zoey Allen and is true in that it is based on their family and uses their children’s real names, George and Molly. Zoey, the father, transitioned when their children were eight and nine.
Fictional George, and possibly real George, has long hair and likes wearing hairclips and “cosy cute cardigans.” He gets misgendered and called a girl. At one point George says in true LGBT activist speak ‘I think you should get to know someone before finding out their gender.’
Moffat suggests these questions for the class. “Is George transgender? Is George non-binary? Is it our job to define George and his identity, George has told us he is a boy, so what is George?”
Here the message to any feminine little boy is clear. Your interests may indicate you are not a boy at all, but ‘non-binary’ or ‘transgender.’ Once again it sends the dangerous message to children ‘Don’t question. People are who they say they are.’ It needs repeating: this is targeted at 7-11yr-old children.
Undermining DfE advice
Moffat is an active member of the National Union of Head Teachers. This year’s conference debated and passed just two motions on curriculum content, both relating to gender identity. The first was to make LGBT+ content mandatory, not just in PSHE, but in the primary curriculum generally.
The second, proposed by Andrew Moffat, was more explicit, “plan your relationships, sex and health curriculum guidance, to create a more inclusive approach, particularly for those pupils exploring their gender identity” adding “It is not the role of any adult to question or define a child’s gender identity.”
Moffat proposed this motion because he is opposed to this 2020 guidance from the Department for Education. This states:
“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.”
This guidance has been very helpful for parents challenging third party PSHE/RSE providers who teach children they have a gender identity. Some have used it to object to Moffat’s programme which appears to irritate Moffat. He told PA News “I have had in double figures schools sending me emails from parents saying ‘have you seen this paragraph? I’d like to withdraw my child from teaching on gender identity’.
The NAHT now officially supports teaching gender identity as fact to all children from Early Years up. Moffat’s belief in the ‘trans child’ could not be more explicit. Or more irresponsible.
Ignoring the Cass Review
There have been major changes in public understanding of gender distress in children since 2019 when Andrew Moffat’s No Outsiders scheme began to expand. The Keira Bell case at the High Court in 2020 highlighted the ideological capture of the Tavistock GIDS. The lack of evidence for puberty blockers and the lack of data about their effectiveness shocked the judges and further prescriptions for these experimental drug treatments effectively ceased.
The Cass Review, set up by the NHS to look in gender healthcare for children, published their Interim Report in 2022. It underlined the poor evidence base for drug treatment for puberty blockers, and proposed an entirely new service model. The report raised concerns about the unprecedented rise in girls attending GIDS, the overrepresentation of autistic children, of same-sex attracted children, and those in care. GIDS itself was found to be inadequate by the CQC and is set to be closed. Dr Cass wrote memorably that social transition is not a neutral act and has psychological consequences.
NHS England, in their latest Interim Service Specification for child and adolescent gender services, devote nearly three pages to the complexities of the question of social transition, particularly of prepubecent children. They state:
“In cases where a pre-pubertal child has effected, or is effecting, a social transition (or expresses a wish to effect a social transition) the clinical approach has to be mindful of the risks of an inappropriate gender transition and the difficulties that the child may experience in returning to the original gender role upon entering puberty if the gender incongruence does not persist into adolescence.”
In light of the Cass Review and updated clinical guidelines from NHS England, together with the increasing number of parents objecting to inappropriate PSHE lessons, the Department for Education must be clear. No school should teach gender identity theory as fact. No teacher is professionally qualified to socially transition a child and other children should not be made to collude in a psychological intervention they cannot possibly understand.
But they have an uphill task in dealing with activist teachers and third party providers like Andrew Moffat. Earlier this month he boasted of one week’s work: “3 schools, one conference, 28 classes and 700 children taught a lesson, 250 staff trained.” That’s a lot of bad law and gender politicisation to unpick.