‘Gender questioning children’: Just Like Us’ response to the government’s draft trans guidance for schools
We know thousands of teachers and parents who put young people first and will continue to respect, listen to and support trans, non-binary and gender diverse pupils. The Government’s recent draft guidance is deeply disappointing – it furthers the pain and the misunderstanding that trans young people have experienced in recent years.
We encourage school leaders and teachers to continue supporting all LGBT+ young people. This non-statutory guidance is a draft and should be viewed as such. Aside from alienating trans and gender diverse children from education, the draft guidance is unclear, impractical and many questions have been raised over its legal standing.
We recommend schools do not implement this draft, non-statutory guidance. We encourage teachers to stand for inclusion, not exclusion.
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.
We implore parents and school communities to continue supporting their trans and gender diverse young people. LGBT+ inclusive education benefits non-LGBT+ young people too – our independent research has shown that all pupils have better mental health in LGBT+ inclusive schools.
One trans young person we work with, Rain, says: “If teachers follow the draft guidance, it would be catastrophic for trans pupils already struggling at school, like I did. I worry that these considerations aren’t made with the advice and opinions of trans young people being listened to and taken into account, but rather from external pressure. My teachers were really good about my pronouns, which really helped with my confidence. I believe that trans young people should be allowed to be themselves at school, but what would be even better would be if they were actually supported to do this.”
Another trans young person we work with, Elliot Kwabena, adds: “Children should have the space to express themselves in the way that makes them feel most comfortable. These policies would exacerbate an environment of intolerance in schools at a time when transphobic bullying is rife at all key stages. When young people observe adults belittling and disrespecting someone because of who they are, they are far more inclined to follow suit.”
Just Like Us will be submitting a comprehensive, evidence-based response to the consultation that will set out in detail how it fails to support LGBT+ young people. We hope that, with clear evidence, the Government will produce a revised draft that genuinely meets its previously stated aim that: “all LGBT people should feel welcomed and safe at school, college and university so that they can reach their full potential”.