Press Release

Government refuses to say whether teachers can refer to pupils by their legal and biological gender

2 August 2023         Issued by: Christian Concern

The government has this week responded to a written question that asked whether it will “publish guidance to clarify whether teachers may refer to pupils by their legal and biological gender.”

Responding for the government, Baroness Barran, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education replied:

“The department recognises that gender is a complex and sensitive issue, and that some schools and colleges feel that they need more support in this area in order to help pupils, students and parents deal with concerns raised. That is why the department is working with the Minister for Women and Equalities to develop guidance to support schools and colleges in relation to gender questioning children.

“The department has committed to publishing a draft for consultation at the earliest opportunity.”

The government has therefore refused to state that it would support teachers who wish to refer to pupils by their legal and biological gender.

The parliamentary written question asked by Lord Pearson referred to the recent decision by the Teaching Regulation Authority (TRA) to impose a prohibition order on Joshua Sutcliffe for ‘misgendering’ a pupil, banning him from teaching in any capacity indefinitely.

In May this year, the TRA found Sutcliffe, a Christian maths teacher, guilty of ‘unprofessional conduct’ and ‘bringing the profession into disrepute’ for failing to use the preferred pronouns of a female student who identified as transgender.

The TRA is backed by the Department for Education and acts on behalf of Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan. Sutcliffe’s case is thought to be the first of its kind.

In response to an earlier question from Lord Pearson asking what assessment the government has made of the TRA’s decision to place a prohibition on Mr Sutcliffe, Baroness Barran responded by stating that decisions by the TRA are “taken independently”. She stated:

“Although that decision is taken on behalf of the Secretary of State, neither she or any other Ministers in the department can have any involvement in these independent investigations, related processes, and decisions.”

The government made no attempt to state that any assessment had been made of the TRA’s prohibition order on Mr Sutcliffe, even though this decision has penalised Sutcliffe for stating the truth about a pupil’s legal and biological gender and has far-reaching consequences.


Commenting on the government’s responses, Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern said:

“It is shocking that the government has refused to support teachers who wish to refer to pupils by their legal and biological gender. Legal and biological gender is not complicated. No teacher should face disciplinary sanctions for speaking the truth about who a pupil is in law and biology.

Contrary to what the government said, legal and biological gender is not complex. Boys are boys, and girls are girls. The government is wrong to claim this is complex. No previous society has found it complicated.

“It is disingenuous of the government to claim that the TRA is entirely independent when it acts on behalf of the Secretary of State. If the government cared at all about the prohibition order on Mr Sutcliffe it could ask the TRA to explain its decision. The government could easily make clear that no teacher should face a prohibition order for ‘misgendering’.

“Instead, it has made clear that it doesn’t care at all for teachers who are committed to speaking the truth about their pupils.

“We are still waiting for the government to bring out guidance for schools on how to handle pupils who wish to socially transition gender.

“This is not difficult. The fact is that school pupils cannot change their legal or biological gender. The government should make clear that pupils are not allowed to socially transition and teachers should refer to pupils by their legal and biological gender.

“Promoting transgender ideology to children is harmful: it’s lying to children. Children are impressionable – and they look for affirmation. But when you’re affirming them to be the opposite gender, you’re lying to them. This teachers should refuse to do and they should be supported by the government in doing so.”


Guidance for schools on transgenderism was first promised to Christian parents Nigel and Sally Rowe in September 2022 after they won £22,000 in legal costs and a commitment from the government to reform transgender policies in primary schools following a five-year legal battle. The Rowes had been granted permission to pursue a judicial review of the government’s decision not to intervene in their case.

At that time, the government promised the Rowes that it would bring out a consultation on draft guidance for schools on transgender issues in Autumn 2022. We are still waiting for the guidance.

Detailed and extensive expert witness reports provided in support of the Rowes made clear that it is harmful for children to allow trans affirming policies, and it can lead to “catastrophic outcomes.” This expert evidence persuaded Lord Justice Lane to allow the Rowes to bring a judicial review against the government.

  • Share