The Government recently issued long-awaited draft guidance concerning children who self-identify as transgender, setting out what schools should (and should not) be allowed to do. It includes a presumption against social transitioning in schools and states parents have a right to know. It also covers the provision of single-sex facilities, such as toilets and changing rooms. Over a number of years, some parents have raised concerns about the fact that their child had been able to present (and be treated as though they were) the opposite sex at school, without any parental or clinical involvement.
Many of these concerns were about the institutional capture of schools and other institutions by trans activists attempting to impose their own law – which, in many instances, contravenes the actual law.
But while the Equalities Minister has said “Stonewall does not decide the law in this country”, large corporations, small organisations and state agencies appear to have leaned heavily on the guidance offered by certain LGBT charities and lobbying groups. Many employers have understood it to mean that gender identity legally trumps biological sex, and is thus protected over and above it.
As we see in the report in this newspaper today, trans extremists remain influential within pockets of society. A number of coeducational schools have told students identifying as the opposite sex that they can choose which boarding house they can reside in. In plain English, this suggests a boy can decide to “be” a girl, and insist on sleeping among female students. As well as shower and participate in sports and other sex-segregated activities.
Of course, it’s no coincidence that trans extremists wield such influence and power (albeit waning with each legal victory). Consider Stonewall’s “Champions Programme”, where points are awarded to institutions signed up to be trained by the charity in LGBTQ+ issues. For example, as reported at the weekend, more than 300 schools have been advised by Stonewall to stop calling students “boys” and “girls”. Apparently this is “gendered” language that has no place in the classroom.
As a feminist, I am hugely in favour of challenging sex stereotypes that lead to girls and boys being treated differently. But as a campaigner to end male violence towards women and girls I am also in favour of single-sex spaces, which offer girls and women some protection against sexual assault and harassment.
Stonewall believes that girls and boys can opt out of one sex and into another, or decide to be neither and refer to themselves as non-binary. The 300 schools signed up to its School & College Champions programme have been told by Stonewall that girls and boys should be able to pick their team and flout rules put in place to keep the sexes separate, where appropriate.
Stonewall is a wealthy charity, having pulled in almost £3 million between 2022 and 2023 from schools, local authorities and others that have joined that programme. It also received £1.2 million in grants, including £101,613 from the Scottish Government and £100,000 from the Welsh Government.
Why would any teacher think it acceptable to allow boys to share sleeping accommodation with girls? Why are we not treating the pervasive mantra of “Equality, Diversity and Inclusion” with great caution, given the expertise of both child protection professionals and those campaigning to end rape and sexual assault is being undermined?
Recent figures show that over half of all reports of child sexual assault are committed by other children – an increase of a third since 2013. The majority of perpetrators in these cases are boys, and their victims, girls. There are many reasons believed to be behind the increase, including easier access to violent pornography – but I wonder if the move away from single-sex spaces is also a factor? Either way, schools must be a safe haven for girls, as well as boys. Thankfully, the Government seems to be adopting a sensible approach. Thankfully, organisations like Stonewall do not determine the law of this land.