Joanna Williams Joanna Williams

The truth about trans teaching in schools

What are children really being told about gender identity?

The LGBT advocacy group Stonewall has come in for criticism over recent months with many big name organisations – including the BBC and the cabinet office – withdrawing from its diversity champions programme. Yet rather than toning down its controversial claims and divisive rhetoric, the charity insists on doubling down. It now seems to have children firmly in its sights.

‘Research suggests that children as young as 2 recognise their trans identity,’ Stonewall recently declared. ‘Yet, many nurseries and schools teach a binary understanding of pre-assigned gender. LGBTQ-inclusive and affirming education is crucial for the wellbeing of all young people!’.

Following a huge backlash to that tweet, Stonewall clarified that it does not ‘actively work on nursery education’. Indeed, Stonewall goes so far as to claim that ‘young children should be able to play, explore and learn about who they are, and the world around them, without having adults’ ideas imposed upon them.’ If only. 

Today, from the tiniest village primary to large academy trusts, schools teach about sexuality, relationships and gender identity. They have written policies on gender identity or transgender pupils. Most are identikit statements, but the practices they engender should concern us all.

From early in childhood, children are encouraged to think about gender as something quite distinct from biology. Shropshire Council’s Family Information Service advises parents and teachers alike that: ‘While biological sex and gender identity are the same for most people, this is not the case for everyone.’

When gender is separated from biology, it cannot be assumed. The onus is on everyone to work out what their gender is and then declare it to a receptive world. Schools and local councils are on hand to guide children through this complicated process.

In Scotland, the ‘Gender Friendly Nurseries’ initiative trains staff to use gender neutral activities and toys. Course material informs nursery-workers that ‘the pressure children and young people experience to conform to binary gender definitions affects all children.’ Before they even start school, four year-olds in Brighton were once asked to choose whether they are a boy, a girl or something else.

This is a huge leap backwards for sexual equality

St Leonard’s RC primary school in Sunderland informs parents that ‘gender identity is often complex and there is a spectrum of gender which is wider than just boy/man or girl/woman.’ The Castleman Academy Trust, a small group of first and middle schools in Dorset notes: ‘The culture in the UK could be described as ‘binary’…Some will be aware that their gender feelings and expressions do not match the expectations of society, whilst others will not have ‘worked it out’.’ Meanwhile, Havering Safeguarding Board tells primary school teachers: ‘Remember that a pupil who identifies as a trans girl but was born a genetic male, is not a ‘boy dressed as a girl’, but is a girl who outwardly at this point resembles a boy.’

Talk of gender being on a ‘spectrum’ suggests there are degrees of masculinity and femininity, and that whether you are male or female depends upon where on the sliding-scale you situate yourself. This is scientifically nonsensical and highly contested.

Once, progressive teachers encouraged girls to aspire to become doctors and not just nurses; or they made it clear that boys could play with dolls. The same teachers are now likely to tell children that if they like dressing up then they might be a girl; or if they prefer getting dirty in the sand pit then they could be a boy. This is a huge leap backwards for sexual equality.

At Pikes Lane primary school, in Bolton, teachers are told to: ‘Avoid where possible gender segregated activities and where this cannot be avoided, allow the child to access the activity that corresponds to their gender identity.’ We are back to the days of woodwork for boys and cookery for girls, only now children must first choose which category they fall into.

Personal, Social, Health Education (PSHE) lessons are the key site for promoting gender ideology in schools. Glebe primary school in Hillingdon provides a list of key words that Year Four children will cover in their Health and Wellbeing Module. It includes: gender, gender identity, sexuality, (lesbian, gay, cisgender, transgender, sexual orientation, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, gender expression, biological sex, intersex, non-binary, gender fluid, pronouns, transition, gender dysphoria, questioning and queer). Remember: Year Four children are just eight years old. Why must an eight-year-old know the difference between bisexual and pansexual? Wouldn’t their time be better spent learning their times tables or becoming engrossed in a story?

But such classes, it seems, are endemic. Benhurst primary school in Havering expects Year Six children to ‘know about gender identities and have an awareness of transgender issues’. This includes understanding ‘the difference between being transgender and transvestite’. At age ten.

The promotion of gender ideology is not restricted to the PSHE curriculum but is built into the core values of many schools. Castleman Academy Trust states that, ‘wherever possible, individuals should be given opportunities to say how they identify or describe themselves. This is called ‘self-identified gender’.’ 

Children are rightly taught about people who are different from themselves. They also need to be tolerant and respectful of other people. Yet it seems unlikely that children are also being encouraged to question the emerging gender ideology orthodoxy.

What is being taught in schools is, inevitably, hard to work out. But what we do know is that some schools now seek outside help when it comes to supporting trans kids. St James’ primary school in Leyland promises to ‘engage with any local transgender groups’ in order to ‘ensure access to information is available for transgender pupils and their parents/guardians.’ Is this really what parents want? Teachers in Bolton seeking ‘resources and further support’ when it comes to trans guidance are pointed in the direction of Mermaids, a charity that supports transgender children. Is this really the best place to look?

At all stages of schooling, teaching about gender is presented as promoting tolerance, diversity and inclusion. But this masks the fact that a highly political agenda is being promoted to a captive audience. Children are being indoctrinated into a one-sided and controversial view of gender when they are too young to challenge what they are hearing and lack the capacity simply to walk away.

Children who go along with what they are taught and decide that they have indeed been born in the wrong body find themselves feted. They are celebrated as brave victims and noble revolutionaries. This is a high pedestal from which to fall if a child comes to change their perception of their gender identity.

Sometimes, too, parents can be left in the dark. Cornerstone Academy Trust, a small group of primary schools in Devon, is not alone in stating that ‘school staff should not disclose information that may reveal a child or young person’s transgender status or gender non-conforming presentation to others, including parents/carers and other members of the school community unless legally required to do so or because the child or parent/carer has given permission for them to do so.’

It’s terrible to think that parents will be kept abreast with how their son or daughter is getting on in their school report, but not always be told that they’re transgender.

Schools nowadays are even offering guidance on situations where trans pupils might bind their chests. Pikes Lane primary school advises: ‘If a pupil is binding their chest, they should be monitored carefully during particularly physical activities and in hot weather. There is a chance that the binding could cause discomfort or even impair breathing. Short breaks from activity could be offered discretely.’

Upper Wharfedale, a secondary school in North Yorkshire, goes even further in its advice about binding. ‘It might make certain PE lessons difficult for them to participate in and could sometimes lead to breathing difficulties, skeletal problems, and fainting,’ the school notes, but nonetheless it is ‘very important to their psychological and emotional wellbeing.’

This is a shocking statement: even though children may suffer physical harm from wearing a chest binder this, we are told, needs to be balanced against their mental health. This truly beggars belief.

Parents have rightly raised concerns about their children being indoctrinated into questioning their gender identity while at school. One mother is currently embroiled in a dispute with Haberdashers’ Hatcham College in south-east London after her request to view handouts and lesson plans relating to teaching about race and gender was rejected. Staff declared the materials to be ‘commercially sensitive’.

Elsewhere, at Hedon primary school in Hull, teachers are told what might happen if parents ‘express concern’. Under a heading ‘prejudice from parents’, the school’s gender identity policy says if parents speak out ‘over the schools’ actions in including trans young people, then this will not affect the schools’ actions regarding that young person – in a similar way in which a parent’s sexist or racist views would not influence school to change their equality policy.’

The same school speaks of the importance of ‘usualising’ transgender people by including their existence in other areas of the curriculum from geography to maths, even when gender identity is not the focus of the lesson. ‘The more trans young people are represented in the curriculum, and gender identity is covered in school, the more young people will feel that questioning their gender identity is not something negative or ‘different’’. the school notes.

Of course, we can single out individual schools for the way in which they deal with trans rights, but one thing is clear: the government is doing precious little to help parents concerned about what schools are telling kids. From Pride month to PSHE classes, from assemblies to geography lessons, the promotion of LGBTQ+ awareness in our schools is ubiquitous. 

Children have become a captive audience for this propaganda. In the process, the whole purpose of schooling is shifting. Education is being dropped in favour of activism and all children will suffer as a result. It is high time this attempt to indoctrinate a generation is recognised for the scandal it is.