Should schools forget transgender policies?
Transgender and non-binary pupils have rights under equality laws.
Under the Equality Act, schools are recommended to help pupils with issues such as:
- wearing the uniform of the gender with which they identify,
- using gender-specific facilities, such as toilets or changing rooms,
- being addressed as whichever gender they identify as.
Trans equality in schools and colleges has been virtually non-existent up until recently although many places are now putting policies in place and have thought far more about a range of issues including gender neutral toilets, uniforms and language.
Clare Bartholomaeus and Damien W. Riggs, (2017) have summarised a range of approaches that would help in creating inclusive school cultures for transgender students, staff, and parents in ‘Whole-of-school approaches to creating inclusive schools for transgender people‘
Arguably, schools are jumping on ‘transgender’ because they want to be seen as an inclusive learning environment yet have little or no expertise in place. These are polictical statements as much as anything else.
However, Dr Joanna Williams thinks that introducing transgender policies in schools is a waste of time and taxpayers’ money, and breeds confusion about gender identity among children.
She thinks that these policies are counterproductive and do more harm than good because they encourage more children to question unnecessarily whether they are a boy or a girl.
She also thinks that teachers are not equipped to discuss the subject with children and that ‘training’ wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing because this might suggest there is a right way of teaching it.
Speaking at the Festival of Education at Wellington School last year, she said
We are increasingly reminded that schools are struggling financially. Yet the time, effort and money that goes into producing and monitoring Transgender Policies is out of all proportion to the tiny number of trans children currently in British schools.
More recently Dr Williams has said on Spiked that
Schools should not be compelled either by trans activists or government directives to rush headlong into changing provision or teaching about transgender issues….Turning schools into laboratories for testing out new ideas and practices around gender is damaging to children and to education more broadly.
Does your school have a Transgender policy? Who wrote it? Were staff, students and parents involved? Is it well understood?
Let me know your thoughts.