The Times has reported that the Attorney General has advised the government that banning social transition in schools would be unlawful. Victoria Prentis advised that the government would need to pass new legislation to institute a full ban.
Social transition means children can “choose another pronoun or name and wear the uniform of the opposite sex.”
The evidence suggests that affirming a child in a transgender identity makes a child’s gender distress more likely to be permanent, as well as leading to damaging medical and surgical interventions.
Christian parents’ legal action led to government commitment
Last year, Christian parents Nigel and Sally Rowe won a commitment from the government to reform transgender policies in primary schools following a five-year legal battle, supported by the Christian Legal Centre.
The Rowes took legal action against the Department for Education (DfE) after they and their six-year-old son were labelled ‘transphobic’ by a Church of England primary school for refusing to ‘believe’ in transgender affirming policies for primary school pupils.
The Rowes won permission at the High Court for a judicial review of the government’s transgender affirming policies.
The Rowes presented expert evidence to the DfE which revealed how trans affirming policies can lead to ‘catastrophic outcomes’ for gender-confused children.
Rather than facing a full judicial review hearing, the DfE settled the case and awarded the Rowes £22,000 in costs. The government also committed to reform: ‘guidance for schools on transgender issues is being developed by the Department in conjunction with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, with a view to undertaking a public consultation on draft guidance in Autumn 2022, to which the Claimants will have the opportunity to respond.’
This promised guidance has now been delayed again following the recent legal advice from the Attorney General.
Advice contradicts former Attorney General
The advice from the current Attorney General contradicts a speech made by then Attorney General Suella Braverman last year.
She said: ‘The problem is that many schools and teachers believe – incorrectly – that they are under an absolute legal obligation to treat children who are gender questioning according to their preference, in all ways and all respects, from preferred pronouns to use of facilities and competing in sports. All this is sometimes taking place without informing their parents or taking into account the impact on other children. Anyone who questions such an approach is accused of transphobia. In my view, this approach is not supported by the law.’
She added: “No child should be made to fear punishment or disadvantage for refusing to adopt a preferred pronoun for a gender questioning child.” And crucially that in this context, “the right to freedom of belief, thought, conscience and speech must be protected.”
Ms Braverman pointed out that schools are wrong to treat children as ‘transgender’, since anyone under the age of 18 cannot obtain a gender recognition certificate. She stated:
“… under 18s are unable to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate and schools will generally be dealing with children whose sex for the purposes of the Equality Act is that registered at birth.”
Children can’t change sex
Responding to the news of the latest delay to the guidance, Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern said:
“It is disappointing that the guidance for schools is delayed again. Last year, faced with the threat of judicial review, the DfE settled the case of Christian Parents Nigel and Sally Rowe, awarding them £22,000 in costs, and promising to bring out guidance for schools on transgender issues in Autumn 2022.
“We have been promised this for almost a year now. The government is being slow because it fears backlash from the trans lobby for simply stating fact – that boy are boys and girls are girls. If they had the courage to speak plain truth on this issue I believe parents across the nation would breathe a sigh of relief.
“This is a major safeguarding issue which is becoming a major safeguarding scandal.
“The case of Nigel and Sally Rowe highlighted that school children as young a six-years-old were being allowed to socially transition in primary schools, and this has been going on for at least nine years. It is not difficult for the government to put a stop to this. The expert evidence submitted to the DfE by Nigel and Sally Rowe showed clearly that allowing young children to socially transition is harmful.
“No new laws are needed to tell schools to call boys ‘boys’ and girls ‘girls’. Children can’t change sex. They can’t change legal sex, and they can’t change biological sex. Why is it so hard for the government to tell schools this simple fact?
“Schools enabling young children to socially transition is a major safeguarding issue. It is harmful for the children and all the pupils in the class. There is no excuse for the government continuing to allow this harmful unscientific practice.
“If the government had the courage to speak plain common sense to schools in order to protect children I believe parents across the nation would breathe a sigh of relief.”