For too long, some teachers and schools have been making it up as they go along when presented with the challenge of accommodating transgender-identified children. Either that or they have contracted out their thinking to Stonewall or other third-party providers. The promised guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) cannot come soon enough. The latest snippet that has emerged will reassure single-sex schools that they can indeed remain single-sex.
Which toilet should a trans pupil be allowed to use? Teachers like me have enough on our plates with the day job, but we must also face questions like this. Whatever our answer, we are bound to annoy someone. Yet for too long, ministers have shied away from offering a helping hand in this toxic debate. Unfortunately, it looks as though Liz Truss’s government is going to continue that unhelpful approach.
‘I think I might be transgender!’ How should schools react to such revelations? By the time they find out, the child may already be convinced that their identity lies on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. Probably with its own multi-coloured flag.
If Liz Truss made waves in the transgender debate when she said no to ‘self-ID’, then guidance emerging from the Department for Education (DfE) is likely to cause even bigger ructions. An explosive paragraph buried towards the end of the document shows why:
‘We are aware that topics involving gender and biological sex can be complex and sensitive matters to navigate. You should not reinforce harmful stereotypes, for instance by suggesting that children might be a different gender based on their personality and interests or the clothes they prefer to wear. Resources used in teaching about this topic must always be age-appropriate and evidence based. Materials which suggest that non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity should not be used and you should not work with external agencies or organisations that produce such material. While teachers should not suggest to a child that their non-compliance with gender stereotypes means that either their personality or their body is wrong and in need of changing, teachers should always seek to treat individual students with sympathy and support.‘Department for Education