A Christian couple are to challenge a church primary school’s handling of a six-year-old boy’s request to be treated as a ‘girl’.
Nigel and Sally Rowe, who live on the Isle of Wight, raised concerns with the Church of England school when a six-year-old boy in their son’s class started to come to school sometimes dressed as a girl.
They say that their son, also six years old, came home from school upset and saying that he was “confused” by the situation.
Nigel and Sally met with the headteacher and class teacher, and followed up with a letter setting out some of the questions that they had.
But the school’s formal response was “cold”, they say, and didn’t address their concerns.
In the letter, the school suggested that an “inability to believe a transgender person is actually a ‘real’ female or male” and “the refusal acknowledge a transgendered person’s true gender e.g. by failing to use their adopted name or using gender inappropriate pronouns,” was “transphobic behaviour”.
Nigel and Sally are shocked at the suggestion that their child could be disciplined if he wouldn’t recognise the boy as a ‘girl’.
Given the confusion and anxiety experienced by their son, the couple decided to remove him from the school as the new academic year began last week. They informed the school citing its stance on “child gender ethics”.
Having actively supported the school over the past four years and helped to lead assemblies, Nigel and Sally describe the step as “deeply painful and very reluctantly taken.”
But they cannot contemplate returning their child to the school unless there is satisfactory resolution of the situation.
‘Challenging the guidelines’
They now plan to launch legal action because they say that the school’s approach, and the legitimacy of guidance relied upon by the school, needs to be properly scrutinised in the courts.
Nigel and Sally say that they are taking action to challenge the “aggressive new gender ideology that is being rolled out across the education system to the detriment of children’s best interests,” and to safeguard the wellbeing of their own children.
The family is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre.
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 explains:
“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.
“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.”
Nigel and Sally met with the school’s headteacher and class teacher, 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.”
“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 could be ‘transphobic’.
“I cannot contemplate my six-year-old son being disciplined and stigmatised as a bully simply because he believes that another 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 beliefs, 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:
“God has created humanity in his image, male and female. These are not arbitrary categories. It is not compassionate to encourage children to think that they can change genders. The loving thing to do is to help children embrace who they are as God made them, and especially to help those who experience confusion or anxiety about their identity.
“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.
“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.
“The school should have consulted with all parents and taken their views into account, not just the views of one particular child’s parents.
“Schools are being let down by poor guidance, leaving them wide open to legal challenge.”
‘Wellbeing of children’
Nigel goes 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.”
Nigel and Sally say 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.
Find out more about The Rowes