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It’s wrong to lie to children

The Department of Education should learn this simple lesson

Artillery Row

In July it was announced that the government’s long-awaited draft transgender schools guidance will be delayed again because, according to legal advisers, a blanket ban on social transition “would be unlawful because the Equalities Act [sic] states that gender reassignment is a ‘protected characteristic’, regardless of age”.

Are government legal advisers really saying that the protected characteristic of gender reassignment mandates the activist “gender affirmative” approach towards children? As Kemi Badenoch has said, the protected characteristics are a shield, not a sword. They do not give extra rights or entitlements; they only protect people belonging to certain groups from discrimination, based on their membership of that group.

The social transition of children is a key activist aim. It is an ideological approach that supports and compels a belief in “gender identity”, or at least the pretence of a belief, by forcing every other child (and teacher) in the school to pretend that a boy is a girl or a girl is a boy. It is a deception that turns reality on its head and undermines trust in the teacher-child relationship. It is nothing short of a social experiment on a generation of children. Is this what U.K. law really dictates?

To understand how we have reached this point of believing that not lying to children is unlawful, look at the history of official transgender schools guidance and the extent to which the government has been captured by transgender political ideology.

It has been a shameful saga of inaction by a government in thrall to Stonewall and the myriad “LGBTQ+” support organisations that it has spawned. No other major political party would have done any better (and quite possibly would have been worse), but that is no excuse: the take-over of schools by gender identity ideology happened on the Tories’ watch.

The DfE had funded Stonewall to the tune of £600,000 over five years

Transgender schools guidance was originally due to be published in March 2018 by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), then a member of the Stonewall Diversity Champions scheme. As a stakeholder I saw the final published draft version in September 2019, after several delays. The draft was essentially Stonewall schools guidance by another name, despite my evidence and expressed concerns over the years. I had a legal team ready to challenge the guidance in a judicial review on its publication, but it was then scrapped in 2021, officially “due to lack of definitive case law” but allegedly blocked by Boris Johnson’s government. The job was handed over to the Department for Education (DfE), itself a Stonewall Diversity Champion at the time.

That year it was revealed that the DfE had funded Stonewall to the tune of £600,000 over the previous five years, much of it through the Government Equalities Office (GEO) on anti-bullying campaigns. This was the route through which gender identity ideology began to take a hold in schools, enabled by government funding.

The DfE also brought it in through its own guidance for schools. In the non-statutory Equality Act advice for schools, published in 2013 and updated in 2018, the DfE included only two resources under the section “Bullying”: the Gender Research and Education Society (GIRES) and Stonewall, including a link to Stonewall’s “best practice toolkits and resources”.

It was the statutory DfE Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) guidance published in 2019 that really opened the floodgates with the introduction of “LGBT” into the curriculum. “LGBT” is not a protected characteristic. It is a political term that functions to hide gender identity ideology behind a cover of gay rights. The RSE guidance included a blatant Stonewall demand: that “LGBT content” should be “fully integrated into [schools’] programmes of study for this area of the curriculum”. Teaching the facts about biology whilst integrating gender identity ideology is a bit like instructing schools to teach children the world is round whilst embedding flat-earthism throughout the curriculum.

The RSE guidance also advised that for secondary schools, “pupils should be taught the facts and the law about sex, sexuality, sexual health and gender identity in an age-appropriate and inclusive way.” The guidance also states:

Pupils should be made aware of the relevant legal provisions when relevant topics are being taught, including sexuality and gender identity.

This is pure activist obfuscation, using activist language. The terms “sexuality” and “gender identity” do not appear in the Equality Act. The relevant protected characteristics are “sexual orientation” and “gender reassignment”. Here the political agenda behind the term “LGBT” is laid bare: the conflation of two distinct categories and, in the ensuing confusion, the erasure of sex and sexual orientation and their replacement with gender identity.

Suggested resources in Annexe B of the DfE guidance included a link to Stonewall schools resources. To learn about “LGBT inclusion”, schools were invited by the DfE to click through to Stonewall resources for both primary and secondary schools. Schools began to teach the concept of gender identity as fact, install “gender neutral” toilets as routine and socially transition children behind their parents’ backs.

Parents who complained to their Stonewall Diversity Champion schools were told that Stonewall was recommended by the Department for Education. When I asked a DfE official about this, I was told that linking to Stonewall in DfE guidance did not constitute an endorsement. It was up to individual schools to check external resources.

Given the green light by government, Stonewall and other activist organisations quietly extended the acronym to “LGBTQ+” (ad infinitum) and began to promote “LGBTQ+ inclusive” sex education resources in schools. The Stonewall definition of “sexuality” and the meaning of “TQ+” has become clear through the sudden spread of schools resources promoting kink, fetish, BDSM and other adult sexual practices with apparently no ceiling.

The concept of gender identity had become embedded in schools

The RSE supplementary (but non-statutory) guidance on implementing the RSE curriculum, added in 2020, did row back a bit on teaching gender identity. By this time, public concern about child gender transition was growing. There was increasing media coverage of the sky-rocketing number of referrals to the Tavistock child gender clinic and the upcoming Keira Bell judicial review against the Tavistock, publicity that exploded worldwide after Keira’s win was announced in December 2020. This was followed by the Cass interim report and the announced closure of the Tavistock clinic for children and adolescents.

The addition to the statutory RSE guidance included a passage about not reinforcing stereotypes “by suggesting that children might be a different gender based on their personality and interests or the clothes they prefer to wear” and that “materials which suggest that non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity should not be used”, but by then the damage had been done. The concept of gender identity had become embedded in schools across the U.K.

The most egregious example of the failure to protect children occurred in 2022 when the DfE actually allowed Stonewall, according to outgoing CEO Nancy Kelley, to insert a whole new section into the government’s safeguarding bible for schools, Keeping Children Safe in Education. This is the section in full:

Children who are lesbian, gay, bi, or trans (LGBT)

203. The fact that a child or a young person may be LGBT is not in itself an inherent risk factor for harm. However, children who are LGBT can be targeted by other children. In some cases, a child who is perceived by other children to be LGBT (whether they are or not) can be just as vulnerable as children who identify as LGBT.

204. Risks can be compounded where children who are LGBT lack a trusted adult with whom they can be open. It is therefore vital that staff endeavour to reduce the additional barriers faced and provide a safe space for them to speak out or share their concerns with members of staff.

205. LGBT inclusion is part of the statutory Relationships Education, Relationship and Sex Education and Health Education curriculum and there is a range of support available to help schools counter homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and abuse.

Here we can see three major themes of transgender activism:

  • There is no inherent safeguarding risk (places trans-identified children outside the normal safeguarding framework)
  • The only problem is bullying by other children (the “minority stress” explanation for all mental health issues)
  • Teachers must provide “safe” space to speak out (lays the basis for “affirmation” and secrecy from parents)

The DfE had the opportunity to remove this section and amend its advice in line with the safeguarding concerns highlighted by the Cass interim report when the guidance was updated for 2023, but it has failed to do so.

The DfE also missed the opportunity to tackle political indoctrination through gender identity teaching in schools, in February 2022, when it published the guidance Political Impartiality in Schools. This guidance outlines the prohibition on promoting partisan political views to pupils, including sensitive and controversial subjects, but it failed to include gender identity beliefs or the political transgender movement in the examples used.

The government has been complicit in allowing gender identity ideology into schools, and it has missed every opportunity since to rectify its mistake. From the soaring numbers of children referred to gender clinics to the erosion of girls’ rights and protections and the undermining of safeguarding, the results have been disastrous.

By introducing children to the idea that they may have been “born in the wrong body” and socially transitioning children, schools have played a large part in the creation of the “transgender child”, actively feeding the pipeline to the gender clinic.

To be clear, no law in the land can override the safeguarding of children. When the government has been steeped in an interpretation of the law based on an extremist ideology, as purveyed by Stonewall, any move back towards reality can seem like an extremist position in itself, however. This seems to be the place the government finds itself in now. It’s back to school time for the Department for Education: reality exists. Girls are not boys, and boys are not girls, and it’s wrong to lie to children. Every child knows that.

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