All hands on deck

Take some time this week to do this (thanks to Hannah and Stoat)

Following Stonewall’s announcement that they are launching a new School and College Champion Awards programme next month, now is a good time to write (or re-write) to your MP, Councillors and Regional School Commissioner about the ethical and potential legal implications of Stonewall infiltrating education settings. Here is a template you can amend as necessary and send:

Dear xxx

I’m writing to raise my concerns with regards to Stonewall’s involvement with schools and colleges. These concerns can be summarised as follows:

1.     Stonewall’s school resources contravene the Department For Education’s guidance with regards to relationships, sex and health.

2.     Stonewall’s school resources misinterpret the Equality Act with regards to the protected characteristics of “gender reassignment” and “sex”.

Stonewall has recently announced a new award system for its school and college members, which will launch next month. Members of the School and College Champion scheme will be encouraged to complete an application, which will be graded as bronze, silver, or gold. 

Although the criteria for the different levels of these new awards is not available for the public to view, Stonewall has published “An Introduction to Supporting LGBT Children and Young People - a guide for schools, colleges and settings”, which provides an idea of the type of evidence schools will be required to submit.

It does not appear that this document has been updated since the Department For Education (D of E) changed its guidance on teaching the relationships, sex and health curriculum and, as such, there are many areas of Stonewall’s introductory schools document which contradicts this guidance and therefore should not be being used in education settings.

As a reminder, the D of E guidance states the following:

“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.”  

Despite this guidance, the following sections remain in Stonewall’s resource for schools, “An Introduction to Supporting LGBT Children and Young People:

“A trans child may say ‘I feel like a girl’ or ‘I don’t feel like a boy’ rather than using the word ‘trans’. They may come to school wearing clothes not typically associated with their assigned sex.”

“Often a child or young person’s words or actions are automatically attributed to their SEND (sic: special educational needs and disabilities) without considerations of other factors, such as their orientation or gender identity. This might include: preferences for clothing types or hair length being seen as a sensory need; fear of change at puberty; behaviours described as a new special interest, fascination, curiosity or phase.”

“When they are born, babies are labelled as a boy or a girl. When some people get older, they realise that the label they were given was wrong. They might say ‘I’m actually a girl’, ‘I’m actually a boy’ or ‘I’m not a boy or a girl’.”

Use these discussions as a starting point to explore the different ways we express our gender (for example through our clothes, hair, or the way we walk), what ‘gender identity’ means and that not everyone identifies as a boy or a girl.”

“Only discuss a child or young person’s identity with their parents or carers with the child or young person’s permission.”

“Regardless of their age, a person’s status as trans is private. Schools and colleges should not disclose information – such as details about a transition – that could reveal somebody’s trans status to others, including parents or carers, staff, and anyone outside the school, college or setting.”

Whilst the above should be reason enough to exclude Stonewall from education settings, there are many other aspects of the document which raise alarm bells. For example, they advise that not only should a “trans child” be able to choose which toilets and changing rooms they would like to use, but also which residential or boarding accommodation:

“It is important to ask a trans child or young person which facilities they would feel most comfortable using. Schools, colleges and settings should ensure that a trans child or young person is supported to use the toilets and changing rooms they feel most comfortable with, including the facilities matching their gender.”

“Ensure that trans children and young people are able to access residential or boarding accommodation they feel most comfortable in, which could be accommodation aligned with their gender identity, or gender-neutral or private space. Make sure that residential or boarding staff attend the same training on trans inclusion as classroom-based staff.”

This does not take into consideration the Single Sex Exemptions section of the Equality Act, nor is there any mention of the impact this will have on girls. This is despite numerous media articles already having reported the negative effects girls encounter when toilets are mixed-sex, particularly those going through puberty and starting their periods. Girls have expressed they feel uncomfortable, are less happy at school, and are even refusing to drink whilst at school to minimise the times they will need to use the facilities.

According to Stonewall, the only prerequisite for a child to be classed as “trans”, is for them to say they are. The above guidance leaves schools’ policies wide open to be taken advantage of, and it is girls who will pay the price.

Why is girls’ privacy, dignity and safety seen as less important than the validation of a trans-identified child?

Who will be held responsible when a girl is sexually assaulted by a boy who claims a trans identity to gain access to single sex spaces where girls are changing or sleeping?

To conclude, Stonewall is not only promoting harmful misinformation to young children by reinforcing gender stereotypes and the “born in the wrong body” narrative, but is misrepresenting the Equality Act and wrongly informing schools they are breaking the law if they do not allow “trans children” to choose which facilities they use. This very clearly removes the right to privacy for girls, and is teaching them to allow their boundaries to be violated without their consent. A different approach, which has been agreed in conjunction with lawyers, teachers, and child protection welfare professionals can be found on the Transgender Trend website. Unlike Stonewall’s resources, which promote an unscientific approach which has been demonstrated to increase persistence of gender dysphoria in children, Transgender Trend’s resources are based on science, evidence, and a “watchful waiting” approach.

For councillors and the commissioners: Stonewall should be stopped from working in schools. Please advise what steps you will take to remove Stonewall and its programmes from education settings, because its resources explicitly contradict the Department’s requirements, and its stance on transgender inclusion undermines the rights of girls. 

OR

For MPs: Stonewall should be stopped from working in schools. Please ask the Secretary of State what steps he will take to remove Stonewall and its programmes from education settings, because its resources explicitly contradict the Department’s requirements, and its stance on transgender inclusion undermines the rights of girls.

Yours sincerely / faithfully 

xxx

UPDATE: For those in Scotland please contact Forwomen.scot ( info@forwomen.scot) for further information on lobbying groups involved in your local areas and how to contact your MSP.

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