Just Like Us, the LGBTQIA+ young people’s charity, has issued a warning against the proposed school guidance from the UK government.
“We recommend schools do not implement this draft, non-statutory guidance,” Just Like Us said.
On 19 December, the government released a new draft for children questioning their gender, ‘non-statutory guidance for schools and colleges in England’, after initially promising this in 2018.
Teachers have been advised to inform parents if their child wishes to change their gender identity at school.
Information will be withheld if the pupil is considered to be at “significant” risk of harm, though this will only be in “exceptionally rare” circumstances.
The aim of the guidance is “to provide clarity for schools and colleges, and reassurance for parents” and will not be compulsory for schools to follow.
These include taking “a cautious approach” and there being “no general duty to allow a child to ‘social transition’.”
The LGBTQIA+ charity for young people described the draft guidance as “deeply disappointing,” and highlighted how “it furthers the pain and misunderstanding that trans young people have experienced in recent years.”
Just Like Us also said that the bill could potentially “alienate trans and gender diverse children from education.” In addition, the charity has questioned potential barriers in the application of the proposed bill: “The draft is unclear, impractical and many questions have been raised over its legal standing.
“Trans and gender diverse children are not a danger to others – they are children who deserve to be respected, valued and have the right to learn in a safe school environment, just like their peers.”
In response, Just Like Us “will be submitting a comprehensive, evidence-based response to the consultation” phase that is expected to last 12 weeks. They “will set out in detail how it fails to support LGBT+ young people.”
Just Like Us is the latest LGBTQIA+ rights group and campaigner to condemn the guidance for being “cruel” and having the potential to “endanger” trans children.
Jo Maugham of the Good Law Project, a UK-based organisation that uses the law as a tool to do good, added: “The new trans schools guidance is cruel and puts the ‘anti-woke’ ideology of Ministers before the welfare of young people. Many studies have shown that affirming delivers better outcomes. I am distressed that best outcomes for children have ceased to be what matters most.”
The new trans schools guidance is cruel and puts the 'anti-woke' ideology of Ministers before the welfare of young people. Many studies have shown that affirming delivers better outcomes. I am distressed that best outcomes for children have ceased to be what matters most.
— Jo Maugham (@JolyonMaugham) December 19, 2023
Mermaids UK have released an official statement that reads: “All young people deserve an accepting and supportive school environment to learn and be their authentic selves.
The UK Government’s draft trans guidance for schools in England seeks to prevent that. Its approach is unworkable, out of touch and absurd.
“Rather than listening to trans young people and reflecting best practice of inclusive educators across the UK, the Government has created more confusion for schools and is putting young people at risk.”
They added: “It is difficult to understand how aspects of this draft guidance, including automatically excluding trans pupils from facilities, sport bans or allowing students to be misgendered are compatible with existing equalities law.
“The overwhelming majority of teachers and parents believe trans pupils should be safe at school and will disregard these discriminatory guidelines, which will be non-compulsory.”
Stonewall have added to the critique of the draft guidance in an official response. “The UK Government’s draft trans guidance for schools does not put the best interests of children first, and as such is simply not fit for purpose.
“Not only is it legally unworkable and contrary to existing equality law and the government’s own guidance on safeguarding – it is actively dangerous. If implemented it would inevitably lead to real harm being caused to trans children and young people across England.”
They continued: “While non-statutory, it has the potential to have a chilling effect akin to Section 28, leaving children and young people who are trans or questioning their gender exposed to bullying and harassment.”
Galop flagged in a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter) that the “guidance states that it would be very rare for a child to be at risk of significant harm in the event of the school informing their parent or carer that they are questioning their gender.
“Galop’s evidence suggests this is incorrect and as such we believe this advice will lead to dangerous situations for some trans and non-binary young people.”
Galop's statement on the non-statutory draft guidance for schools and colleges on gender questioning children pic.twitter.com/IwVoC2NUHS
— Galop (@GalopUK) December 19, 2023
Read Just Like Us’s full statement here.