The Law: In Loco Parentis
Parents entrust our kids to the School/Teachers to look after their safety and well-being, in our stead. Forcing our girls to share mixed sex spaces, and hiding information from parents is a grave dereliction of that duty.
Transgender Guidance in Schools.
More and more parents have begun to raise concerns about School guidance, supposedly, developed to accommodate Transgender pupils. Grass roots organisations, such as Safe Schools Alliance, have emerged to challenge these policies. In 2020, transgender guidance has been withdrawn in Kent, Cornwall, Shropshire, Barnsley, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. There are challenges underway in three further schools, of which I am aware. Thus far all the guidance has been withdrawn rather than face a legal challenge.
The Oxfordshire case is illustrative of a problematic attitude to the protected characteristic of sex. A 13 year old girl challenged Oxfordshire County Council via a Judicial Review. Her case aimed to gain recognition of the conflict between the protected characteristics of Sex & Gender Reassignment. The guidance from the Department of Education argues that the protected characteristic of Gender Reassignment covers pupils who identify as Transgender. Link to government guidance is here
Here is the relevant excerpt and look who is advising them! GIRES!
This is despite the fact under 18’s cannot apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate or, legally, obtain Sexual Reassignment Surgery, in the UK. The Transgender pupils are therefore anatomically indistinguishable from the rest of their natal sex.
Rather than face a judicial review the council withdrew the policy. They are clearly hoping to hide behind the skirts/trousers of the EHRC. Oxfordshire issued a statement which contained no apology, to the female pupil. Instead the Council ends with a statement about the safeguarding of its trans-identifying pupils. Nothing about a duty to safeguard, potentially vulnerable, natal girls.
In this post I want to specifically focus on the way parents are regarded in these transgender toolkits. Both the parents of children who manifest as Gender Dysphoric and the parents of other pupils. I estimate I have looked at about twenty of these guidance packs. Below are examples of what they have to say about parents.
Most of the guidance refers to the high rate of suicidal ideation, in our trans-identifying children. Yet the policies repeatedly state there is no, inherent, safeguarding risk. If our children reveal a state of gender confusion , to a member of staff, they are reminded that this is confidential information, not to be shared, even with the child’s parents. How can schools claim our children are at a high risk of suicide attempts and, simultaneously, state there are no safeguarding issues. How is it Ok to conceal this information from parents?
Suffolk council divides parents into the good and the bad ones. The good ones “work alongside their child”. Are the bad ones those who think the best outcome is a reconciliation to biological sex and not a lifelong dependence on BigPharma?
Barnsley expresses the hope that parents will be concerned for their child’s welfare but is clearly sceptical. At no point, in any of the policies, is there an understanding that parents, who express caution, are the ones acting in the best interests of our children. Every pack I have examined is suspiciously keen to emphasise actions the child can take independently of their parents.
More sinister is an open statement that a school, in this case a Catholic school, can put in place a transition plan that does not involve the parents! This is my old school and I have young relatives who attend there.
Here is another Catholic school which labels parent’s as prejudiced. It then goes on to make the claim that Parents/Guardians may not be the most appropriate people to guide their child through transitioning! Why is transitioning our children seen as an unmitigated good? A direct attack on parental duty of care and parental rights from the Catholic Church!. I am an atheist but it is quite astonishing to see the undermining of Parental responsibility emanating out of Catholic schools.
Leicestershire Council appear to see themselves as a Tavistock (Gender Identity Services) referral agent: Actually stating here that Teachers & School Nurses, even Youth Workers are able to make referrals!
Where are the parents in the Leicester guidance? Once again the confidentiality of the child is placed in the foreground. What this actually means is that the school has the right to keep secrets from the parents. Even whilst so many of these packs claim our children are at a significant risk of suicide attempts. Still it is not a safeguarding issue?
This next clip is even more disturbing. The Leicester policy sets out a scenario where one of the parents will be actively deceived about what is going on.
Of course we can all think of scenarios where parents are a risk to the safety and well-being of their child. Why are parents, who question the uptick of girls (and boys) with Gender Dysphoria, labelled as problematic. Having navigated this territory, for my male child, I was keen that he was afforded protection but not at the expense of the female pupils. Puberty can be a difficult time for teenage girls and they too deserve dignity, privacy and protection. Like the parent below I was able to navigate a careful path between the two protected groups. Unlike this parent, from the Cornwall guidance, I was not faced with a Social Justice Warrior undermining these careful arrangements.
The Cornwall policy was jointly drafted with a female police officer. I was surprised the statement on the left made it into the document. Apart from a disturbing focus on links to reporting #HateCrime it was not the worst Transgender policy I read. It is, however, a, regrettably, low bar. The document also brands parents as potentially prejudiced and again argues that the child may have a perfect legal right to exclude parents from any role in preserving their healthy bodies.
You can read about the Fraser Guidelines, and Gillick Competence, mentioned above here. Activists argue that transitioning children /teens against their parent’s wishes is in line with the rights of young people. You will start to see more references to these guidelines and Gillick competence. This is intentional and designed to draw a false equivalence to access to contraception. References will also be clothed in Human Rights speak and references to bodily autonomy.
A lot of these guidance packs go to some lengths to make sure schools know they can honour a pupil’s preferred name and pronoun. School systems can be amended to reflect this. There is no need for a legal name change. They also point out that, once a pupil reaches 16 they no longer need parental permission.
Shropshire also favours hiding this information from parents who are not “supportive”. I know, first hand, of parents who only discovered what was going on, with their own child, when a letter was sent home with a new name & pronouns. Do not tell parents can be a very dangerous message. Some parents have children with eating disorders, psychiatric co-morbidities, and other conditions which the school may be unaware about.
The pack which seems to be the template for most of the packs I have seen remains in operation. This is the All Sorts pack, from Brighton and Hove. A pupil’s right to confidentiality is elevated above parental obligations, or the rights of other pupils. Again, because they claim it is not a safeguarding issue it can be kept from their own parents and the parents of other children.
Where a parent raises a concern, about a male-bodied person in girls changing rooms, the pupil/parent’s are admonished for denying the “girlhood” of the other pupil. In this scenario, I as a parent of a trans-identifying male, agree with the female pupil and her parent’s concerns. I would not want my son to be exposed to the hostility, that would likely ensue, from such a stance. At the same time, if the guidance is followed, I would be totally unaware my child had formally claimed trans-status at the school. Who does this protect? Not my son. Not the girls in his school.
Another common feature of the Transgender Guidance is the near ubiquity of signposting to Mermaids Charity. This charity is a keen advocate for keeping secrets from parents. Here is an article on their website. It was modified so children could quickly exit the site and avoid their parents discovering they are seeking counsel on Gender Identity Issues.
The BBC has now amended their guidance to remove signposting to Mermaids and other trans lobby groups. I wonder how long it will take for all School guidance packs to do the same?
My Next blog will explore this document? Based on a project funded by the Government Equalities Office,
Here is what they have to say about parents. This is a lie. The Equality Act does not mandate pronouns.