Published On: 18 March 2024Tags: , , ,

Last week the Race Equality Foundation responded to the Department for Education’s consultation on the non-statutory guidance for schools and colleges on gender questioning children.

The Foundation believes that education should be free from discrimination and supportive of mental health and wellbeing for all, including LGBT+ young people. We are concerned about this current guidance, because it fails to ensure safe environments for transgender and gender diverse young people, who already face high levels of bullying and discrimination in educational settings. This guidance contradicts the principles of a holistic education approach and perpetuates harmful stereotypes, denying gender expression and transgender identities. 

We believe that this draft guidance for schools is fundamentally flawed. This proposed guidance neglects input from trans and non-binary individuals and contradicts existing equalities legislation such as the Equality Act 2010. It dismisses the experiences of trans people, framing inclusion as a threat to others. This approach could worsen mental health outcomes for trans and non-binary individuals, who already face elevated risks. Instead of supporting best practices and prioritising the well-being of young people, this guidance may increase distress and confusion for both students and educators. We advocate for an inclusive society where all children can thrive without fear of harm. 

Fundamental flaws in the draft guidance:

  1. Fails to mention gender reassignment as a protected characteristic. This renders the guidance legally dangerous.
  2. Uses anti-trans terminology like “gender ideology.” This indicates an ideological bias behind the document.  
  3. Ignores child protection principles like “best interest of the child.”
  4. Vilifies trans students as inherently dangerous without justification, ignoring statutory guidance.
  5. Focuses on exclusion and isolation rather than support.

We believe that the guidance should be completely scrapped. Instead the government could look to use existing materials like Scotland’s “Supporting Transgender Pupils” and Brighton’s “Trans Inclusion Toolkit” as a model for guidance. Taken together with input from students and educators, useful legally compliant guidance could be in place sooner.