The Rainbow Flag Award

rainbow flag

The Rainbow Flag Award scheme is an alternative version of the Stonewall School Champions scheme. Their teaching is a prime example of the overtly political material referenced in the recently published Ofsted article about the Equality Act ‘Research commentary: teaching about sex, sexual orientation and gender reassignment’:

“The Act was contentious from the outset for certain groups, particularly in relation to characteristics relating to sex, sexual orientation and gender reassignment. The increasing political sensitivities in these areas have made it harder for schools to handle equalities well. For example, school staff can occasionally confuse the legal, the moral and the political, and so (often inadvertently) bring overtly political materials into their curriculum and teaching without acknowledging it as such, despite the statutory requirement of political neutrality.”

Research commentary: teaching about sex, sexual orientation and gender reassignment

In this report, Shelley Charlesworth examines the ideological and political teaching of the Rainbow Flag package.

The Rainbow Flag franchise

The Rainbow Flag Award scheme is an LGBT scheme for schools sold as a package of policies, lesson plans, RSE resources and anti-bullying measures. It operates as a franchise, with the package being delivered locally by different LGBT partner organisations across England.

The scheme began life as 3-year pilot in 2017, led by the Manchester based charity, The Proud Trust, in collaboration with three other regionally-based charities, the Kite Trust in Cambridge, Brighton-based Allsorts, and humankind, in the North East.

It was financed from a £4.4 million fund, a joint venture by the Department for Education and Government Equalities Office [1] which was set up to tackle bullying in schools.

The Proud Trust’s annual returns show that they received £359,266 from the DfE/GEO over the three years of the pilot, which they then redirected in varying amounts to the other partners in the scheme.

Schools taking part in the pilots were offered ‘free’ training and resources. humankind (then operating as DISC) promoted the scheme as meeting the “needs of LGBT young people, given the wealth of evidence showing that LGBT young people are still disproportionately affected by mental health issues and teen suicide.” The Kite Trust saw it as an “opportunity to increase our presence in local schools.” [2] 46 Cambridge schools took part with 23 of them being given the full award.

It is now up and running as a paid for service with its own website [3] and describes itself as a “national quality assurance framework for primary schools, secondary schools, SEND schools and colleges.”  For £495.00 a year each school will get two places on “starter LGBT+ inclusion training” plus access to free classroom resources, “ongoing support” and flags and flyers. Some resources, like the RSE materials, have to be paid for additionally. The school’s work will be reviewed “with detailed feedback.” Then once the RFA is awarded, it is valid for two further years. After that the school will have to renew.

Other LGBT organisations have joined the four initial providers to deliver the scheme to most areas of England. Yorkshire MESMAC [4], the Intercom Trust [5] in Devon and Cornwall, Support U [6] in the Thames Valley and LGBT+ Service Nottinghamshire [7] in the Midlands are some of the bigger regional franchise holders.

Head teachers should question the claim that the Rainbow Flag Award (RFA) is a “national quality assurance framework” before paying £495.00 plus extras. No outside body oversees the RFA, it is not endorsed by any reputable educational body such as a teaching degree provider; in effect, it marks its own homework. The DfE and the GEO under previous leaderships may have provided the start-up cash but they no longer offer the scheme any visible support. Since the pilot scheme new government guidance on outside agencies operating in schools has been published. Head teachers should also know that much of the RFA content is now in breach of the 2020 guidance on the planning of the relationships, sex and health curriculum.

Inclusive policies

The RFA website lists Allsorts as their provider of toolkits, booklets and guides.  Allsorts is based in Brighton where it has close links with the local council who co-wrote the 2014 Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit. [8] The website currently links to this booklet. The toolkit has influenced the content of similar toolkits written by other councils in England and Wales, becoming de facto policy for schools on trans inclusion, governing everything from pronouns and language, sports and toilets, the law, to social and medical transitioning.

But more recently, parents’ and women’s groups’ concerns over the content have led to many of these toolkits being withdrawn from use. Oxfordshire withdrew their guidance when faced with a Judicial Review [9] brought by a 13-year-old schoolgirl who said it discriminated against her as a girl. One of her arguments was that the guidance said boys identifying as girls should be allowed to use the girls’ changing and toilet facilities. Comparable toolkits were also withdrawn from use by Warwickshire, Kent and Shropshire County Councils.

The Allsorts Toolkit

Allsorts are revising their toolkit and a new version it expected soon. Brighton and Hove City Council, co-authors of the 2014 Toolkit, held a consultation on the new version earlier in 2021. While the results have not been published, it is clear from the draft that it will not differ greatly to the withdrawn version. It still refers to “gender identity” as fact, uses activist LGBT language such as sex being “assigned at birth,” confuses sex and gender and misrepresents the Equality Act in relation to single-sex spaces. It also signposts schools to outside agencies such as Gendered Intelligence that are known to only affirm a child’s cross-sex identity with a diagnosis of ‘trans.’

It suggests that teachers help children develop “scripts to questions they may be asked about their transition. This may include phrases such as ‘It’s none of your business…’ ‘I have always been a boy / girl’.”

The draft claims that coming out as ‘trans’ is not in itself a safeguarding issue. This is wrong. Teachers are not trained to be able to give a ‘trans’ diagnosis and should always involve the parents of a child who expresses a cross-sex identity. This is particularly important for parents with children who have mental health problems or ASD. And other parents have a right to know if their child is sharing an intimate space with someone of the opposite sex, for instance if their teenage daughter is sharing overnight accommodation with a trans-identified boy.

Schools are being asked to sign up to the RFA now, before the new version of the Allsorts toolkit is published. Brighton and Hove City Council say the toolkit has been finalised [10] but will not be available for schools and the public to read until September 2021. Head teachers should be wary of signing up to a scheme without reading the content in this important policy area. The toolkit will determine how schools develop their trans inclusion policy and past evidence shows that Allsorts has been found factually and legally wrong.

Teaching materials: sex education

Despite the RFA claiming that the scheme will help schools comply with the Department for Education’s requirements for RSE teaching in secondary schools and Relationships Education in primary schools, we believe they breach the latest guidance from the DfE on using outside agencies:

“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.

You should work together with parents on any decisions regarding your school’s treatment of their child, in line with the school’s safeguarding policy and the statutory guidance on working together to safeguard children.” [11]

The Rainbow Flag Award scheme uses materials from The Proud Trust.

Alien Nation is a 2017 Proud Trust book for KS2 children, that is those aged 7-11.  It’s the story of two planets, planet boy, whose rules are: be masculine, like blue and wear trousers and planet girl: be feminine, like pink and wear dresses. The cartoon inhabitants of the story are sent to the planets as babies. Those who are happy with their pink or blue planet can stay where they are. They are called ‘cis’. If they aren’t happy they can cross over a bridge, illustrated in the colours of the trans flag, to the other planet and they are called ‘trans.’

This is a clear breach of the DfE guidance which says harmful stereotypes based on clothes or interests should not be reinforced and that non-compliance with these stereotypes should not indicate that a child’s body is wrong.

The resource for KS3/4 children is The Proud Trust’s own booklet, Sexuality aGender v2.  Despite being marketed as a sex education resource it contains no basic information about things like contraception, sexually transmitted infections, or the emotional side of having a sexual relationship. It uses the Genderbread person diagram which teaches the unevidenced view that everyone has a ‘gender identity.’

The language is dehumanising, treating the body to a series of named parts. [12] So, sexual activity becomes a way to fit one body part to another, mouth to penis or fingers to anus for example. Children will be told to “make no assumptions, especially about which types of people have which types of body parts.”

This leads to such contortions as “Unplanned pregnancies can occur if penis-in-vagina sex happens where the penis ejaculates sperm, and the person with the vagina also has a womb.” It’s significant that in this genitally obsessed text the word ‘breast’ never appears.

The four lesson plans in the booklet end with the dice game in which children sit in a circle and roll two inflatable dice. The six-sided dice has a word on each side, Vulva (including vagina), Penis, Anus, Mouth, Hands/Fingers and Object. The two dice are rolled and the class then discusses which sexual activity is possible using the two words that face upwards. All combinations are possible including anus/object, penis/mouth and according to the text they are all “worthy of a conversation.”

The illustrations to the text are ugly and disembodied. Teachers are told to ask children if they might see such images in “(a) textbooks (b) pornography (c) a doctor’s surgery?” Included are what appear to be examples of very rare Different Sexual Development (DSD) conditions and the results of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Schools and parents are not able to assess Sexuality aGender v2 without paying £75.00 as it is one of the hidden extras of the RFA scheme. This effective paywall hides content that breaches the DfE guidelines about being age-appropriate and evidence based.

Teaching materials: lesson plans

With regard to using external teaching resources the DfE guidance says it must be “evidence-based and contains robust facts and statistics” and be “age-appropriate” and from a “credible source.”

The examples that follow, picked at random from a list that covers the whole curriculum from KS1-4, show clear breaches of this guidance. They contain many factual inaccuracies, promote the idea that it is possible to actually change sex, and use gender stereotypes about personalities, hairstyles and clothes to suggest that a person might be ‘trans.’

Colours and Counting KS1 Maths

This lesson is based on the colours and numbers of stripes on various LGBT flags. The maths content is trivial as the real purpose is introduce children aged 5-7 to ideas about being trans. Their definition of trans is “When people are born, a doctor or midwife labels them ‘boy’ or ‘girl.’ Trans people realise, at some point in their life, that the label they were given when they were born doesn’t fit with how they think and feel about themselves.”

Alongside a picture of US transwoman Laverne Cox, children are told “When she was born she was labelled ‘boy’ …. She is a woman and expresses herself, and wears clothes, as she feels comfortable.”

This definition will be confusing for this age group who developmentally have only just grasped that sex does not change according to clothes or hairstyles. It reinforces stereotypes with the photo of Laverne Cox wearing a dress and with long hair.

Science: Human development KS2

The section on puberty in this lesson asks children to put cards with facts about pubertal changes into boxes which are labelled “Bodies assigned male at birth” or “Bodies assigned female at birth.” The teacher is told to ask “Why do you think we use ‘Bodies assigned male at birth’ instead of ‘boy?’” Children will be told that this is because innate gender identity is more important than biological sex. They will not understand that this is the language of a political ideology. It clearly breaches the DfE guidance to only teach “robust facts.”

Science: Puberty, parts and people KS3

This lesson discusses human reproduction without ever mentioning the fact that only women give birth. Anatomical reproductive organs are correctly labelled but children are asked “Do all men have the male reproductive system?” and Do all women have the female reproductive system?”

A further question is “Why do you think we don’t say a mum and a dad or a woman and a man are needed to create a baby?”

Again, this is using the central idea of gender identity theory, the belief that it is possible to be born in the wrong body. The question only makes sense if children are told that a man who fathers a child but identifies as a woman literally is a woman.

Science: Reproductive Hormones KS4

The false and confusing science of Key Stages 2 and 3 is replicated and developed in this lesson for children who are preparing for GCSEs. The power points say that the content is relevant to science courses of AQA, OCR and Edexcel exam boards.

Central to this lesson about hormones and their functions in human reproduction is the true story of Freddy McConnell, a biological female who identifies as a man. Freddy gave birth and has written and made a film about the process.

Children are told Freddy needed “FSH to mature his eggs and LH to release his eggs” and “… members of the public may have stared/commented as seeing a pregnant man is unusual.”

This provokes the question for the class to answer, “How could we change the language we use surrounding puberty and sex hormones to be more inclusive of others?”

Pupils are asked to justify their answer to this closed question. “You are an endocrinologist. You have been awarded £1 million to provide free hormone therapy to people needing IVF, those seeking relief from the symptoms of menopause, and those transitioning. How will you split the funding?”

Nowhere is it stated that only women can give birth. They are reduced to a series of hormone levels and reproductive organs. Nor is it taught that hormone treatment carries far greater health risks for those transitioning than for those receiving IVF or for women with menopause problems.


New research commissioned by Ofsted [13] found that the overwhelming majority of schools wanted more specific guidance about teaching sexual orientation and gender reassignment. One head teacher told Ofsted they were “… very nervous of other providers. Would love someone to filter this for us instead of finding out the hard way. Someone comes in with completely inappropriate tone. I like the idea of having a national standard… These people crop up and get funding from wherever… “

The Rainbow Flag Award illustrates perfectly the problem facing teachers. Most do not have the time to examine the scheme in any detail, especially as some of their resources have to be bought first. Or as in the case of the trans inclusion policy it is not available because it is being rewritten. It is delivered by eleven different providers [14] across England and is not answerable to any oversight body such as Ofsted.

The RFA is not the only scheme on offer. Stonewall, Educate & Celebrate, Equaliteach and the LGBTQ+ Centre for Inclusion in Education all have their own comparable schemes which they have to sell to schools to keep in business. Schools should know that they all teach gender identity as fact and not belief.

Ofsted and the DfE have made some important steps in the right direction, outlining how schools should make decisions on outside agencies and the problems schools face in doing this. They now need to go further and spell out more clearly what is good, factual and truthful and what is ideology posing as education. Parents and teachers will thank them for doing so.


[2]  annual report 2016-2017

[3] Rainbow Flag Award





[8] This Impact Assessment of the Toolkit finds it neglects the rights of other children, discriminates against girls, and misrepresents the Equality Act 2010.

[9] *Oxfordshire guidance withdrawn for review* – Safe Schools Alliance UK


[11] Plan your relationships, sex and health curriculum – GOV.UK (

[12] For a more detailed analysis of the booklet and The Proud Trust see

[13] Research commentary: teaching about sex, sexual orientation and gender reassignment – GOV.UK (

[14] Providers are: The Proud Trust, humankind, Yorkshire Mesmac, Cornerhouse & the Warren, URPotential, LGBT+ Service Nottinghamshire, Leicester LGBT Centre, The Kite Trust, Support U, Allsorts, The Intercom Trust.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. CleverFool

    No offense, but Christ am I ever glad I’m not British, and that neither do I plan to rise children in a nation that has such things in it’s schools. I do, however, stand in solidarity with those of you who fight to remove such insanity.

    1. Luke

      I am very glad for you, I’m glad that your children are free and will never be influenced to become something they are not. But please have sympathy for us who do live here and whose who fear sending their children to school because of what could happen

  2. Robert

    I feel that LGBT organisations should not be supplying any information to schools as the primary reference for teachers and schoolchildren to use. Such information should be scrutinised and managed by the education authorities and given to schools as a structured information package.
    Schoolchildren would not be taught educational subjects without proven, approved subject reference, so why should matters of health and identity be left to voluntary organisations that maybe dont have the best interest of the child at heart?

  3. Luke

    Do you know if any of these organisations carry out Disclosure and Barring Service ( DBS ) checks on their employees? – It’s important to know if even basic safeguarding measures are being followed.
    It shouldn’t happen, but it is imaginable, that the DfE could give money to organisations that do not carry out DBS checks.

  4. E

    Teaching gender ideology as fact certainly should concern all. There is literally zero evidence that “everyone has a gender identity.” 1 person claiming they don’t undoes the whole house of cards. I don’t have gender identity, but I know and accept my biological sex. There is no alternative to reality. Activist organizations should not be providing biased materials used to indoctrinate impressionable children.

  5. My Ladyboy Date

    Again, this is one of those cases where necessary communication is hindered by carelessness in didactics.
    Educating our children about transsexuality and homosexuality is very important, as it is only through information that prejudice is overcome and the quality of life of LGBTQIA+ people is improved.
    Nevertheless, I see that in fact the gender stereotyping factor plays a very confusing role in this whole educational curriculum.
    But I also know that it is possible to propose an awareness that is scientifically coherent and neutral towards the gender role stereotypes in our society. It is a matter of adjustment.

    Jessa C.

  6. T

    I have seen our local secondary school have attached a banner outside their main entrance proudly declaring they have been awarded this award. I wanted to understand more about what they have had to do to achieve it and I’m shocked at how many primary schools are shouting about being awarded this on their websites. Since when does sexuality have a place in the teaching of 4-11 year olds?!

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