Press Release

Parents remove six-year-old from church primary school over handling of ‘transgender’ request

11 September 2017         Issued by: Christian Legal Centre

A couple on the Isle of Wight have removed their child from a Church of England primary school pending legal review of the school’s handling of another pupil’s request to be recognised as ‘transgender’.

Nigel and Sally Rowe felt they were left with no option but to withdraw their child as the new school year began, after receiving what they describe as a “cold and shockingly inappropriate” response to concerns they had raised.

The couple, who have actively supported the school over the past four years and helped to lead assemblies, describe the step as “deeply painful and very reluctantly taken.”

They have informed the school of their decision (Tuesday 5 September), citing the stance adopted by the school on “child gender ethics”.

Mr and Mrs Rowe feel they cannot return their child to the school until there is a satisfactory resolution and believe their only hope of reaching it is to launch legal action, challenging the school’s behaviour and the legitimacy of national guidelines.

They say that they are taking action to safeguard the well being of their own children but also to challenge the “aggressive new gender ideology that is being rolled out across the education system to the detriment of children’s best interests.”

The family is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre.

short video featuring the Rowes talking about their experience is available here.

‘Occurred again’

Two years ago, a boy in the Rowe’s eldest child’s class decided that he wanted to become a ‘girl’.

From that point on, the child was treated by the school as a girl, causing concern to the Rowes and other parents.

Sally Rowe explained:

“There was no consultation with other parents. Our son, like others, was struggling with starting school life, and with the school’s suggestion that young children can change gender. So, we felt that we could no longer allow him to attend the school.”

The couple’s younger child continued at the school, only for a similar thing to happen.

Nigel Rowe explained:

“Incredibly, a similar situation occurred again when our youngest son was six years old. A child, also aged six, would come to school one day as a boy, and on another day as a girl.

“Unsurprisingly, we raised our concerns with the school when our son came from school saying he was confused as to why and how a boy was now sometimes a girl!

“The suggestion that gender is fluid, conflicts sharply with our Christian beliefs as a family.

“At six years of age children are exploring all sorts of new ideas and feelings. They do not have the emotional stability or maturity to make any life-changing decision, even if there was one to be made. This time we really felt that we had to challenge the school.”

‘Transphobic behaviour’

Mr and Mrs Rowe raised their concerns with the school, and met with the headteacher and class teacher.

They also set out their concerns in a formal letter, and contacted the Diocese of Portsmouth and the Church of England’s Chief Education Officer.

In a written response, the school, having taken advice from the Diocese of Portsmouth and citing County Council policy, defended its behaviour.

In a section about bullying, the school made clear that it considered “the refusal to acknowledge a transgendered person’s true gender e.g. by failing to use their adopted name or using gender inappropriate pronouns” to be “transphobic behaviour”.

The letter from the church school continued:

“Additionally, when a parent or carer raises a concern about the feelings of their child when spending time in the company of a transgender identified pupil, support work is aimed at answering the question: ‘How can we make your child feel better?’ rather than compromising the rights of the transgender child.”

‘Direct clash’

Mr Rowe commented:

“I am shocked by the suggestion, especially from a church school, that just because we question the notion that a six-year-old boy can really become a girl, we are ‘transphobic’.

“I cannot contemplate my son being disciplined and stigmatised as a bully simply because he believes that a six-year old born as a boy, is actually a boy.

“As Christians, we believe that all people are valued and loved by God. But we also believe in the goodness of God’s created pattern of male and female. We certainly don’t have an irrational fear of those who are suffering from Gender Identity Disorder. In fact, we want to see them get the proper help that they need.

“But the school’s behaviour has created a direct clash between our family’s rights and freedoms, and the imposition of this new ideology. We, and our children, are being bullied into accepting a new moral framework which strongly conflicts with what we really believe.”

‘Delusional, damaging and abusive’

Commenting on the case, Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the family, said:

“Transgender ideology is being aggressively imposed on unsuspecting schools, parents and children. School classrooms, which should be among the safest environments for children, are rapidly becoming dangerous battlefields in a war over gender identity.

“Vulnerable children are being used as pawns and will be harmed the most.

“The right response to gender identity confusion is not to fuel ambiguity and anxiety but to give children the tools they need to embrace their birth sex.

“We need to expose this agenda for what it is – delusional, destructive and abusive.

“Children aged six years of age are far too young, emotionally and physically to consider issues as complex as identity, gender and sexuality. Schools should create a safe environment for all pupils, not foster confusion and uncertainty about gender amongst young children.

“The school should have consulted with all parents and taken their views into account, not just the views of one particular child’s parents.

“A Church of England school, especially, should hold to the biblical teaching that God created us as men and women, and that marriage is between a man and a woman, for life.

“Schools are being let down by poor guidance, leaving them wide open to legal challenge.”

‘Wellbeing of children’

Mr Rowe went on to explain:

“In basic terms, we believe it is wrong to encourage very young and vulnerable children to embrace the false promise of ‘transgenderism’. As Christians, we believe that Gender Identity Disorder is something that needs to be addressed with love and compassion.

“But we cannot have a new ideology imposed on the primary school classroom. It is unfair both to the children in question, and other pupils and their families.

“In the end, it is immoral and cruel to encourage children at the age of six –  yes –  six years of age, to not recognise their birth sex. A child of that age is not able to fully understand these complex social issues. The safeguarding and welfare of many other children is threatened.

“Our great concern is what will happen to schools across the country if this type of ideology continues. Will we have schools where there are no longer boys and girls? That’s why we believe this new social construct must be challenged – for the safeguarding of our children and the future of society – but people are being frightened into staying silent.

“We can hardly believe that it has come to this, and it breaks our hearts to be in this position. But what kind of parents would we be if we weren’t prepared to protect the wellbeing of our own children?

“At the end of the day, we are parents of very young children – just like thousands of ordinary parents up and down the country.”

Mr and Mrs Rowe claim that the advice that the school is relying on is “politically-correct” but damaging to children.

They say that the school’s handling of the situation did not show proper regard for the possible long-term emotional and psychological effects for the two young children seeking to ‘change gender’, or for the confusion and concern caused to other people by the suggestion that boys are not always boys, and girls are not always girls.

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