On June 5th, one month in advance, we booked and paid for a ticket to the Stonewall Children and Young People education conference today in London (July 5th) openly in the name of Stephanie Davies-Arai representing Transgender Trend. We received email confirmation of our booking and the conference fee was taken out of our account on the same day. Yesterday at nearly 4pm we received this email from Stonewall.
The Stonewall conference fee of £168 has not yet been refunded to our account.
Stonewall has chosen to base the withdrawal of our place at this conference on some defamatory, false and unsubstantiated accusations against us: we are ‘anti trans,’ we believe that trans people don’t exist and we are against ‘LGBT inclusive education.’ Stonewall has either not read any of our material, in which case they would be aware that these allegations are false, or they have read our material and simply seek to defame us.
Stonewall is the most powerful and influential LGBT organisation in the UK with an income of £8.7 million in 2018 including a £233,673 grant from the Department for Education. Stonewall has an Education Champions programme, a Children and Young People’s Services Champions programme and Stonewall School Champions award scheme. They have produced schools guidance for both primary and secondary schools. We have great concerns about the transgender content of Stonewall’s schools guidance, our analysis can be viewed here.
We have also produced schools guidance, for which our founder was shortlisted for the John Maddox Prize in 2018 and which was recently voted most compliant with EHRC Technical Guidance for Schools in a TES review. We have had an overwhelmingly positive response from teachers to our pack and a second print run is underway. Despite no government funding, corporate sponsorship or endorsement from government departments or teaching unions, we have become a competitor to Stonewall in the field of Education.
Unfortunately this is not the first time Stonewall has tried to silence our voice through the use of defamatory unsubstantiated allegations. This began as soon as we published our schools pack in February 2018. The response from Stonewall Scotland on Twitter was swift:
Stonewall released a statement including the following:
We wrote a letter of complaint to Hannah Kibirige and Ruth Hunt, then CEO of Stonewall, including the following request:
“The Stonewall statement misrepresented our aims, was deeply defamatory and was clearly intended to damage our reputation. We ask that it be taken down from the website or that this statement is published as a Right of Reply.”
We received no answer.
We were then alerted to evidence that Stonewall had contacted local authorities to warn them against using our schools pack.
School Leaders in Warwickshire had also received a warning from Stonewall:
Important note to schools….
Please be aware – you may receive another toolkit from an external organisation (Transgender Trend’s) launched on 12th February, however we have been asked by Stonewall to advise schools that this does not reflect good practice and is actively misleading around schools’ duties/role in supporting trans children and young people.
The Stonewall allegation appeared again in June 2019 in a post by Herts for Learning Ltd, in association with Hertfordshire County Council, on the Hertfordshire Grid for Learning website page:
Please beware of a ‘schools resource pack’ produced by Transgender Trend that pretends to be advising schools legitimately on trans inclusion issues. This is not the case. Masquerading as professional, ‘evidence-based’ advice for schools on how to ‘support trans and gender nonconforming young people’, the pack in fact provides the reverse. It is a deeply damaging document, packed with factually inaccurate content.
On the Herts for Learning page there was a longer warning:
LGBTQ+ Warning – Transgender Trend – June 2019
Please beware of a ‘schools resource pack’ produced by Transgender Trend that pretends to be advising schools legitimately on trans inclusion issues. This is not the case.
An extensive quote from the Stonewall statement was followed by the statement: “HfL completely support Stonewall’s view and strongly advise all schools to avoid using their materials or guidance” followed by a link and advice to use the Allsorts schools guidance.
Because Stonewall is considered the most powerful and respected LGBT campaign group, their words carry authority. Their unsubstantiated allegation about the Transgender Trend schools pack has therefore been used as evidence enough that Transgender Trend is ‘anti-trans.’ For example, in a petition demanding an apology from BACP newsletter ‘Therapy Today’ for publishing a letter from our founder, a link to Stonewall’s statement was used as ‘proof’ of the following statement:
“Transgender Trend are not a therapeutic organisation, they are a group set up by parents who refuse to accept their children’s gender identity which campaigns against supporting gender diverse young people.”
Therapy Today issued an apology.
Stonewall’s statement pops up a lot in media articles which misrepresent our work (such as this one) and we have seen it quoted verbatim on propaganda materials against Transgender Trend.
Stonewall’s behaviour towards us is permission-giving. As the official representative of the LGBT community, they are not only influential in their message but in their tactics. A sustained harassment campaign against us by activists has the authority of Stonewall behind it. Here’s just a small representative selection of responses on Twitter since the schools pack was published.
We are the only organisation producing schools guidance which is concerned about the potential risk to gay and lesbian children and young people in the new ideas of ‘gender identity’ being taught in schools; which supports lesbians to define their own sexual boundaries; and which upholds the Equality Act definition of homosexuality as ‘same sex’ orientation rather than Stonewall’s new ‘same gender’ definition which in effect erases gay and lesbian sexuality. We feel that Stonewall is letting down the gay and lesbian communities with their change of focus towards trans rights.
We call on Stonewall to support lesbians in defending their rights and to look at the research and evidence behind the transitioning of children and the potential risks to gender non-conforming, gay and lesbian youth.
We believe that open, respectful debate is vital and alternative viewpoints must be heard. Attempting to silence those who call for research and evidence-based practice is not a tactic which will help children and young people. We invite Stonewall to openly debate with us. We are not afraid of disagreement and challenge. Is Stonewall?
The conference fee was refunded to our account.
We will continue to update this post with any more examples we find of Stonewall’s attempts to discredit us and examples of their statement used by others to discredit us.
We heard from a teacher that the Sex Education Forum advise against using our materials because this may lead to a school being in breach of the Equality Act. When the teacher contacted them to find out more she was informed that Stonewall had told them this. The SEF have not actually checked our materials themselves.
The Tate Gallery has published a booklet based on the project ‘I want to show you a body’ by artist Linda Stupart in association with Gendered Intelligence. This includes a link to the Stonewall statement as ‘proof’ that Transgender Trend is “a UK hate group masquerading as experts.”
A Schools and Gender Diversity event at Edinburgh University was postponed due to complaints about the speakers, including Stephanie Davies-Arai. The Stonewall statement was quoted by the Staff Pride Network Committee:
However from what we understand of the work conducted by Transgender Trend (the organisation that one of the proposed speakers is the founder of), they produced guidance for schools in England and Wales which has been resolutely denounced by Stonewall, stating, “It is a deeply damaging document, packed with factually inaccurate content.”
EqualiTeach cited critisism from Stonewall as part of their justification for defamation of Transgender Trend in their new schools resource published in May 2020:
But there is good news. This resource was funded by the Government Equalities office. When news of the resource broke on Twitter, both Liz Truss and the GEO swiftly issued tweets distancing themselves from it:
The GEO logo was also removed from Stonewall’s primary curriculum guide which was funded under the same scheme and this resource is no longer available on the Stonewall website, but accessible to members only.
More good news is that Warwickshire and Hertfordshire are two of the authorities who have withdrawn their transgender schools guidance after a judicial review application from a teenage girl regarding the Oxfordshire transgender toolkit was granted by a judge.
We are pleased to note that the link to the Hertfordshire Grid for Learning statement on Transgender Trend now leads to a Page not Found and the Warwickshire Head teacher’s newsletter link also now points to a different page.
The CPS Hate Crime guidance, written with Stonewall, has now also been withdrawn after another judicial review was sought. As Stonewall loses its authority and credibility we are confident that their defamation of Transgender Trend will simply cease to be taken seriously.
We believe that argued and evidenced critisism is valid – and in fact essential when the subject is policies and approach affecting children and young people. We have therefore analysed all Stonewall’s schools resources published since 2015 and we are happy for anyone to analyse our resources with the same rigour and attention to detail.