Tory schools minister ‘wouldn’t be happy’ if daughters boarded with trans girl

Will Quince's parliamentary portrait

Conservative schools ministers Will Quince has announced he “wouldn’t be overly happy” for a trans child to share a school boarding house with his daughters.

Quince was giving evidence to the Education Select Committee when Tory MP Caroline Johnson, saying she had been contacted by a constituent whose daughter went to school with a trans girl, asked what guidance the Department for Education would give to schools about the increasing number of openly trans pupils.

Johnson said that “schools need to strike a balance of ensuring that [trans] children can be cared for properly and that their needs are properly met”, while also meeting the needs of the wider school population.

She continued: “I’ve been contacted as a member of this committee in the last week by parents who are concerned about the presence of an 18-year-old trans woman in the boarding house of their teenage daughters”, asking Quince how schools should manage this “in a sensitive way that provides for the privacy and dignity and wellbeing of all the students”.

Quince responded by saying the issue of trans inclusion in schools is a “bit of a minefield”, and that the Government Equalities Office was working with the Department of Education on producing guidance.

Last month, it was revealed that guidance for schools on supporting trans pupils was suddenly dropped by the UK’s equalities watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (HRC), after intervention from the government.

“I distinctly remember my colleague saying that Number 10 made line by line changes to the guidance, because they didn’t want it to be too progressive, or too supportive of trans children,” one EHRC lawyer told Vice World News.

Responding to Johnson, Quince said there “are two competing priorities” when it comes to trans pupils.

“The first is the 2010 Equalities Act and the importance that all children and young people must be treated equally and where there are protected characteristics, that they’re recognised,” he said. “But at the same time any school also has legal obligations, a duty to safeguard and protect and promote the welfare of all children.”

Quince then announced: “On the face of what you just said, as a parent – and in particular a parent of two young girls – I probably wouldn’t be overly happy with the situation you describe.”

“You can give all the guidance in the world that sets out the legal position, but we need schools to first use their common sense and to follow the law as it stands at the moment,” he then said. “I would suggest that the duty to protect and to safeguard should probably override anything else.”

As a spokesperson for trans charity Gendered Intelligence said: “There is no evidence to suggest that the inclusion of transgender pupils is in any way a safeguarding issue. There is, however, evidence that clearly demonstrates the significant risk of bullying, abuse, and poor mental health faced by transgender young people.

“By suggesting that he would be uncomfortable with the inclusion of transgender young people, the minister helps perpetuate these issues. We are talking about a vulnerable group of young people who just want to be able to learn in peace.”

Recent research by LGBT+ young people’s charity Just Like Us found that 55 per cent of teachers in England have at least one pupil who has come out as trans, and 78 per cent say they would like more resources about how best to support them.

According to Stonewall, 64 per cent of young trans people are bullied at school for being trans, and one in nine have received death threats at school.