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.
Schools are far more than mere exam factories. Across the UK, teachers in 32,000 schools and colleges care for children on over half the days in any given year. Or we did until the lockdown in March 2020. Since then, children have missed the best part of two full terms. And while they were out of our sight, some were at risk. Six year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, for example, may have been rescued from the terrible abuse he suffered had his teachers been able to see him every day.
One in five teachers is uncomfortable discussing LGBT+ issues with pupils. As a teacher from the LGBT community, my ears pricked up yesterday when youth charity Just Like Us published the results of a poll of 6,179 primary and secondary school teachers.
Stonewall’s worrying school guidance
Stonewall’s ‘Diversity Champions’ programme appears to have been haemorrhaging members since an investigation by the university of Essex found that the organisation had been preaching ‘Stonewall Law’ rather than the actual law.
But it is not only corporations, councils and government departments who have been persuaded to part with good money to receive questionable advice. Stonewall’s similarly named ‘Schools and Colleges Champion Programme’ seems to have sucked places of education into the charity’s web as well. As a teacher I know how tight school budgets have become in recent years, but it seems that several schools have still found money to hand over to Stonewall.