LONDON—The Department of Education is currently working on non-statutory guidance regarding transgender students, which is expected to be released within a few weeks.
A recent report by Policy Exchange suggests that gender ideology is having an increasing influence on schools, leading to a compromise of fundamental safeguarding principles in their treatment of children with gender distress and their peers. The report highlights that many schools do not routinely inform parents when a child discloses gender distress, which leads to single-sex spaces being compromised. Additionally, gender identity beliefs are being taught within Relationships, Sex & Health Education (RSHE) as if they are facts, despite being contradictory to safeguarding principles that have been established in law for decades. Gender affirmative care is being practiced widely within the school system.
Schools are neglecting safeguarding by adopting affirmative practices when confronted with children who are questioning or are confused by their gender identity, the paper added.
Rishi Sunak has said that he is “very concerned” that schools are routinely allowing children to switch gender without telling parents.
“For me, the safety and well-being of our children is of paramount importance. And I’ve also been clear that parents must be able to know what is being taught to their kids in school, especially on these sensitive areas,” said Sunak during his visit to the UK Atomic Energy Authority in Oxfordshire. “We will make sure that we publish guidance for schools so that they know how to respond when children are asking about their gender,” the Prime Minster clarified.
Under the new guidance, schools will be required to inform parents if students who wish to change their gender, start using a new name or wearing different clothing. Additionally, the document is expected to clarify that children who identify differently from their biological sex cannot share changing or shower facilities with students of the opposite sex. Schools will be required to provide alternative facilities for socially transitioning or gender-questioning students, similar to the accommodations already made for students with complex needs.
The new guidance also specifies that a biological male who has socially transitioned cannot participate in girls’ contact and competitive school sports teams, such as rugby, and vice versa. However, the rules for non-contact sports will be more relaxed.
While UK children and adolescents can legally undergo certain aspects of medical transition, such as being prescribed puberty blockers, they cannot undergo gender reassignment surgery to alter their physical appearance and sexual characteristics until they turn 18.
The aim of this guidance is to provide clarity for all state and independent schools in England on how to protect and support students with gender dysphoria.
Downing Street said the new guidance is expected to be released in draft form before the end of May, subject to consultation.
Later in the year, there will be separate guidance on relationship, sex, and health education (RSHE) to clarify that teaching that conflates biological sex and gender could breach political impartiality rules.
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