Teacher John Rickards has written this account for us of how transgender ideology has infiltrated the girls’ school where he teaches, to the extent that the consequences are severe for any pupil who questions it. Recent government guidance on political impartiality in schools states:
Existing statutory requirements on political impartiality cover all schools, regardless of type or funding arrangement. This includes independent schools.
These legal duties mean schools:
must prohibit the promotion of partisan political views
should take steps to ensure the balanced presentation of opposing views on political issues when they are brought to the attention of pupils
So-called ‘gender critical’ views (the belief that sex is real and immutable) are protected under the Equality Act 2010 following the Maya Forstater case.
We know how these views are being silenced in the adult world through high profile legal cases and the bullying and defamation of celebrities such as J K Rowling. The following distressing account shows how this is also happening in schools.
The Stranglehold of Transgender Ideology in our Schools
Every so often an individual situation or event occurs that sheds light on the amplitude of the ideological strands that run through the arteries and veins of our society. Transgender ideology is the latest dogma it seems one is not allowed to question in public discourse today.
One such event occurred a few weeks ago at the girls secondary school where I teach. This happened after an ‘educational’ visit to a 6th form PSHE session of a member of the House of Lords. We will call her ‘Baroness A’. She is a well known LGBTQ speaker and activist with views on transgender issues not dissimilar to those of Mermaids and Stonewall (or to what its position has been in recent years). It’s worth noting that the school is a registered ‘Stonewall Diversity Champion’ and has in the past invited Mermaids in to address most of the school.
There was a time when the school invited in Christian and other religious speakers to address moral and ethical issues and to provide food for thought and contemplation. It was usually the practice to follow these up with Q & A sessions during which the students could share their own feelings and opinions on the issues, and even disagree if they wanted to. Nobody for instance is expected these days to accept without question the basic tenets of the Christian or other faiths. I myself come from a Christian background, where we were indeed expected to hold certain rigid views on Christian doctrine. It was the similarity of the current transgender ideology to the fundamentalism that I became enmeshed in, in the past, that first alerted me to the danger of what has been going on in our schools over the last few years.
It was during an after school activity on the day of the Baroness’s visit that the small group of 6th formers involved in the activity arrived very late and in an animated state. There had been, I learned, some major spat in the 6th form centre which they just ‘had’ to stay behind to witness. It involved a significant group of girls verbally ‘laying into’ one particular 18 yr old who had had the audacity to question the position of Baroness A during the Q & A. I later learned that the girl had pointed out that there was another person in the House of Lords, ‘Baroness B’ who held different views to ‘Baroness A’ and she wanted to know if they had debates or arguments about their differing positions.
Baroness B is also quite well known and is unflinching and forthright in her views — for instance; that it is ridiculous that she is expected to refer to herself as ‘cisgendered’ — that it’s equally ridiculous that women are sometimes referred to as ‘uterus havers’, ‘people with a vaginas’ or ‘chest feeders’. She also strongly criticises the current attack on the idea that biological sex exists at all. She has expressed these views in the Lords.
The closing gambit of our young rebel was to tell Baroness A (after making it fairly clear that her views were more in line with those of Baroness B) that she ‘respectfully disagreed’ with her. It was probably somewhat naive of her not to realise that this is indeed ‘an ideology’ and one with which you’re simply not allowed to disagree, however respectfully. To question its basic tenets is simply heresy and heretics in one way or another need to be exposed, attacked and gotten rid of. Even if they are such notable and seemingly untouchable figures as J K Rowling.
It was the whispered and frequent use of the terms transphobe and transphobic during that after school activity that alerted me to the depressing fact that these girls were going along with the narrative that our heretic was, as far as they were concerned, indeed a heretic – and that she was thoroughly deserving of the roasting that she had just received before caving in and running off in a panicked and hyperventilating state. I wasn’t aware of who they were referring to at the time and didn’t ask. I wasn’t imagining the slight five footer that she turned out to be.
I didn’t know her well, but I do know that she has a close friend who she respectfully refers to as ‘they/them’ as her friend identifies as non binary. Also that, like an increasing number of teenage girls these days, she has had problems with anxiety, and that she has missed a significant amount of school time in the past due to anorexia nervosa. And also that in the process of trying to discover ‘who she is’ and ‘what it’s all about’ she is unusually free thinking and questioning.
By the next day the narrative had spread down from the 6th form and was being discussed by some of the girls from the lower years. I was told by one of my year 11’s during an individual lesson that one of the 6th formers had been saying horrible transphobic things and that she had been quoting a ‘known transphobe’. It is quite likely that few if any of the 6th form had ever heard of Baroness B but that a quick reference to their mobile devices would have told them all they needed to know. If anyone questions transgender ideology or any of its growing number of new terms they are by default a transphobe (evil) and Baroness B certainly fits this category. So whatever the motives of our young dissident she had certainly done her homework and managed to ruffle the feathers of Baroness A. She was, among other things ‘guilty by association’.
It is quite chilling to witness first hand how this ideology (and by ideology I mean ‘collectivised false or inauthentic selfhood’) operates and grows. It should be obvious that the underlying message ‘Take the knee to us or else be crucified’ has nothing whatsoever to do with care and compassion. Narcissistic rage is the antithesis of righteous anger in that it is vengeful and vindictive, and (in its purest form) always seeks to annihilate and never forgives. What happened in the 6th form centre, known these days as a ‘woke pile on’ is an example of where narcissistic rage masquerades as righteous anger in the form of ‘gleeful outrage’. Here, otherwise perfectly nice and agreeable individuals collude and congregate to show that they are on the moral high ground and ‘on the right side of history’. Also any waverers will be getting the clearest message of what will happen to ‘them’ if they don’t conform.
There are now infamous examples of this process at work on various youtube videos. Professors Nicholas Christakis and Brett Weinstein on the campus’s of Yale and Evergreen State uni’s respectively, took it upon themselves to stare the demon in the face as it were and try to reason with groups of enraged and highly narcissistic ‘social justice warrior’ students. Both of these tenured professors found it expedient to leave their positions shortly afterwards.
When I enquired a couple of weeks back as to how our young student was doing these days (having not seen her around the place since the incident and also having a strong sense that I was committing some kind of crime by asking the question), I was asked firstly ‘why I wanted to know’. I was informed that she was; ‘no longer on the system’ – that ‘the matter had been dealt with’ and that ‘we’re not talking about it’. This to be fair may be simply because sensitive matters these days are always handled on a ‘need to know’ basis. As I wasn’t involved with her in any formal capacity I simply ‘didn’t need to know’. On the other hand, anyone with an insight into the way that ‘mystification’ operates in institutional bureaucracies with their ‘communicating through the proper channels’ and ‘not opening unnecessary cans of worms’ etc, will be able to intuit a whiff of pathology in such language and positioning. I wasn’t happy with ‘we’re not talking about it’ and have discussed it with several 6th and 5th form pupils (on an individual basis.) All admitted that they couldn’t really see what was wrong in what the girl had said on that day.
I do make it my business to warn my pupils of the dangers of group think, whatever form it may take, and regardless of my official role in the school. Also I intended to find out whether or not any lessons have been learned from this incident and what measures, if any, were taken to ensure that free speech and free expression of ideas are encouraged among our young charges. I remember around four years ago when the two 6th form leaders of the school’s Stonewall Group, shortly after a visit from Mermaids, took it upon themselves, independently of the staff, to organise a ‘day of silence’ among the pupils in support of LGBTQ. Virtually all took part. Some seemed quite relieved when I excused them of their duty to be silent during their individual lessons. I said that I thought it would be more productive if at the start of the lesson I gave them a couple of minutes to express what they were doing and why. None of them really could. One said she was doing it because everyone was and another that she felt she would be making a statement if she didn’t join in. When I asked in the staff canteen at lunch what everyone thought about it all, I was met with stony silence and furtive side to side glances; it was as if I’d asked ‘Hands up all those who voted for Brexit?’ One teacher whispered to me later “you can think what you like but be careful of the pronouns you use.”
Taking these things into account I would guess that ‘not much’ was done after the incident and that nothing much was learned. The student herself told me that the head of 6th form had initially given her a good deal of support but that after sustained pressure from the group had changed her position. She summoned all of the 6th form into the centre and gave a speech, delivered from a prepared script. During this address she apologised to the students for failing to maintain a ‘safe space’ and for being seen to spend so much time giving support to her (the student) who had been isolated to the
library (for her own safety). However, the girl had got wind of it, escaped, and snuck in at the back. One of the upper 6th form group tutors spotted her, backed her against the lockers and stood in front of her to hide her from view. This was after saying to her “You probably won’t want to hear this”. This suggests that all the tutors had already heard the script and that it was either written or approved by senior management. Another student told me that they were also told that any form of ‘hate speech’ in the school was unacceptable. Nothing was mentioned of ‘free speech’.
I don’t here need to go into why and how such nebulous and slippery terms as ‘safe space’ and ‘hate speech’ are often employed and weaponised by this ideology. It should be enough to say that no attempt was made on this occasion to define or contextualise them. On confronting the 6th form head after this meeting the accused student was told “how can the testimony of a whole group of other students be wrong? I have to support them too”. Some of the students had told her that she had said triggering unacceptable things on a number of occasions in the recent past. She was also told “You weren’t supposed to be here” (i.e. she should have been in the library). Both the student and the 6th form head were in a very emotional and fragile state during the encounter and in fact during this whole short period of a few days. It was after a few weeks that the student decided that she needed to leave the school.
It was on contacting her recently through her mother that she said to me: “It’s so heart-rending to hear from someone who can be, as an outsider, aware of the injustice and plain absurdity of the situation. I spent so long convincing myself that I was in the wrong because I don’t even want to countenance the hatred people must feel towards me if that wasn’t the case – or how they can sit so smugly with themselves when my whole life was turned upside down.”
Her mother said: “We were always sad to think that after all these years in the school, she left and nobody even batted an eyelid. We’re still picking up the pieces.”
Sadly this sort of affair will be repeated again and again if we fail to see what this ideology is and the way that it operates. It’s not that any individual is particularly to blame. The head of 6th form was almost broken in two by it and was in a sense a victim herself. Its demand for polarisation left her in what must have felt like an untenable position. If she had understood it in the first place she could possibly have stood strong, though it takes a very strong, sure minded and secure individual to do this. And most likely one who is in a secure financial position and who is prepared to risk losing their job and career. Transgender ideology is indeed that powerful and most teachers are instinctively aware of this fact.
Having said all that it’s still no excuse to try to brush these things under the carpet and hope they don’t resurface again. They surely will and we have a collective responsibility to wake up and take authority over the situation. Groups like Mermaids like to advise us on our ‘duty of care’ when dealing with the issue of transgender in our schools. This has an intimidating effect on senior management. Isn’t it more the case that by kow towing to ideology and by inviting in activists and propagandists as opposed to genuine educators we are ‘failing’ in our duty of care? If there had been no ideologue activist speaker that day our young student would most likely still be at school preparing for her A levels.
It is both heartening and interesting that some of those fired up students on that day have in hindsight somewhat changed their position. I spoke to one of the girls today who was at the centre of the ‘outraged’ group and who had taken on the role as chief spokesperson. She admitted that they’d gone too far and that she regretted it. She also, without any prompting, added that she thought that there is a lot of ideology around the issue and that they should be properly debating these things. Good on her. Lets bring it on. However this would be too late to help the girl who was most wounded by this situation. The damage here is done.