We welcome the emphasis from Nadhim Zahawi MP to the Education Select Committee that “Parents should be front and centre” when it comes to safeguarding.
Alarmingly, a recent YouGov poll revealed that only 5% of teachers would proactively inform parents of a child’s cross-sex identification, with almost a fifth stating that they would not do so as a matter of course. You can read more about this survey and view the data on the Sex Matters Website.
In light of the rising numbers of students identifying as trans and non-binary, and the emphasis in the recent interim Cass Review on schools, it is right for the DfE to be working on more detailed guidance for educational institutions.
BSG is pleased that the department is consulting with the EHRC on this guidance, however, schools need support that goes beyond a balancing of rights between the different protected characteristics in the Equality Act.
Every child who announces a trans identity must be supported within an appropriate safeguarding framework. Cass highlighted the multifactorial nature of gender incongruence as depicted:
Cass confirms that children presenting as trans are more likely to have additional vulnerabilities, including mental health issues requiring therapeutic intervention, as well as undiagnosed autism. Gender dysphoria can arise due to internalised homophobia, bullying or sexual trauma.
Schools also need to be alert to the risk of social contagion and ideological influence within the school environment itself. A cluster of trans-identified children within a school suggests the need for further investigation.
In short: a child’s gender identity announcement may mask other issues that need addressing. Schools must be equipped to act on this information appropriately and we hope the Department for Education will be covering this in their forthcoming guidance.
Finally, there are issues to be addressed in the curriculum, so we welcome MP Miriam Cates’ questions about the safeguarding implications of introducing gender ideology and the age-appropriateness of some of the material being covered in PSHE lessons.
Our parents agree with Mr Zahawi that when it comes to politics and ideas, our children should be taught “how to think, not what to think“. Where gender identity is discussed in schools, it should be presented as a belief-based system and not a matter of undisputed fact.
Children should be free to be gender non-conforming without any implication that they might be trans or that their body requires modification.