New school trans guidance a welcome and significant step forward

19 December 2023

The government has released new draft guidance on how schools should deal with children who want to transition gender.

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre, responded:

“We are glad to see significant steps forwards in the government’s draft guidance addressing transgender ideology in schools.“We believe that the government has listened to many of the problems we have been raising through legal cases and with the department over the last ten years. Had this guidance been followed, many more children would have been protected and several Christians we are supporting would not have lost their jobs. Today, they are vindicated.“Without the bravery of many Christians like Nigel and Sally Rowe, whose judicial review directly led to this guidance, we would still be seeing the ideology of groups like Mermaids run rampant in schools”.“The recognition that schools do not need to accept a child’s transition and protections for freedom of speech and conscience are most welcome.“However, the government must go further to equip schools to resist damaging social transitions and to protect free speech by giving this guidance the force of statute. “Joshua Sutcliffe lost his job for saying ‘well done girls’ to a group in his classroom, one of whom identified as male whilst being biologically female. We are pleased to see the guidance state that ‘it should not prevent teachers from referring to children collectively as ‘girls’ or ‘boys’, even in the presence of a child that has been allowed to change their pronouns.’ Joshua Sutcliffe was banned from teaching by the Teaching Regulation Agency earlier this year in a decision made on behalf of the Secretary of State. He needs to be fully reinstated and an apology needs to be made to him.”

The first parents to expose trans ideology in UK schools

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Nigel and Sally Rowe were the first parents to expose the rise of trans ideology in UK schools as far back as 2017.They took legal action after being told by a Church of England primary school on the Isle of Wight that they and their six-year-old son would be ‘transphobic’ bullies if they did not comply with a policy of transgender affirmation at the school.The Rowes presented international expert evidence to the Department for Education (DfE) which revealed how trans affirming policies lead to ‘catastrophic outcomes’ for gender-confused children.The Rowes, backed by the evidence, said that formal psychological diagnosis should only be made before any social transitioning should take place. They said the issues faced by gender-distressed children should be dealt with in a professional setting rather than affirmed and integrated in school classrooms.After the government failed to intervene in their case or review the expert evidence, the Rowes pursued a judicial review.Before the case was heard, however, the government settled the case last September and committed to reviewing the guidance.

Legal cases

The Christian Legal Centre has been at the forefront of high-profile legal challenges involving teachers and parents and the influence of transgender ideology in education.  In October 2022, ‘Hannah’ was sacked by a school where she had worked without any issues for seven years. Pursuing the correct channels, Hannah had raised serious safeguarding concerns regarding an 8-year-old who was being advised through gender transitioning by Stonewall and Mermaids with support from the local authority.Hannah said she could not affirm the child through the transition as she believed by doing so, she would be harming them. For pursuing legal action against the school and local authority, Hannah was sacked and reported to the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA). She is now taking the school to an employment tribunal next year.In a first case of its kind, maths teacher, Joshua Sutcliffe, was banned from the profession indefinitely by TRA in May for ‘misgendering’ in the classroom.  In 2017, Mr Sutcliffe was forced out of an Oxfordshire school for saying ‘well done, girls’ to a group of girls that included a child who self-identified as a boy. He was then pursued by the TRA and banned for not showing the pupil ‘dignity and respect’ by using their preferred pronouns.The Christian Legal Centre has also supported the high-profile case of Kristie Higgs – school pastoral assistant who lost her job for sharing concerns on Facebook about transgender ideology and gender indoctrination in Relationships and Sex Education (RSE).In 2019, Christian Concern, helped Rev. John Parker expose extreme transgender lobby group, Mermaids, in the media. During a staff inset day at a Church of England primary school, representatives of Mermaids were revealed telling staff it would be illegal to deny anyone the use of the toilets or changing rooms for the gender they identify as, and warned using the wrong pronoun for a transgender child would be a ‘hate crime’.Since this story, the activities of Mermaids in UK schools have been repeatedly rocked by scandal with revelations that they send ‘chest binders’ to children without parental knowledge. A member of their board has also resigned after being linked to endorsing paedophilia.

Expert evidence

During these cases, the Christian Legal Centre, presented expert evidence to the government, schools and local authorities demonstrating how trans affirmation policies are harmful.Mr Graham Rogers, a consultant psychologist with 30 years’ experience in the field of psychology, reported on the dangers transgender affirming policies have on young children.Reporting on previous guidelines for transgender issues in school which were produced by activists and held up as best practice by the government, Mr Rogers described them as ‘equalities legislation,’ and said “research and the needs of young people were ignored. The policy showed little or no appreciation for the safety and welfare of children and adolescent or their developmental needs. The approach of the guidance was ‘as if’ the children were fully mature adults.”The report also stated that the guidance contained “no warnings of the effects of transgender medication, many of which were understood at the time the document was produced and additional ones that are now accepted, even by the NHS.”He added that the previous guidance “shows no understanding of the effects of puberty or the process of adolescent development, or its role in this change’, and that it ‘appears to miss the role of child and adolescent development, the normal variations in gender and sexual development or the concept of ‘safeguarding.’”Psychiatric expert, Dr Paul Rodney McHugh, Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US, reported on the long-term physical consequences that can occur because of an overly affirming approach to transgenderism, such as is set out in the Cornwall Guidelines.Dr McHugh concluded his report stating that:Policies which affirm a child in their gender confusion without requiring psychological evidence are highly damaging to the children involved.”He added that:Leading experts in the area of psychiatry and paediatrics argue that abundant scientific evidence exists showing that transgender-affirming policies do none of the children they are meant to serve any real or lasting good; that it harms the vast majority of them; and that it leads to catastrophic outcomes for many such afflicted children.“There is no other area in medicine where we unconditionally allow children to choose their own diagnosis.”Dr McHugh in his expert witness statement in the case of Nigel and Sally Rowe also presented studies which show that gender confusion can persist as a result of family and peer dynamics including parental and school reinforcement of cross gender behaviour; not as a result of actual gender dysphoria.

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