Right-wing report telling schools to out trans children could ‘put them in danger’, author says

A classroom in the UK

Pro-trans activists have condemned a pledge by prime minister Rishi Sunak to look into guidance, published by a right-wing group, which recommended forcibly outing trans children in school to their parents.

On Thursday (30 March) Policy Exchange released a report, cynically titled “Asleep at the Wheel,” which claims schools are compromising “fundamental safeguarding principles” for children who identify as transgender by not sharing details with their parents.

Policy Exchange is a right-wing lobby group which describes itself as “Britain’s leading think tank and a preferred venue for top politicians and leaders in the United Kingdom.”

In 2022 it opened its Biology Matters project, led in part by “gender-critical” MPs Rosie Duffield and Joanna Cherry.

The new report states four in ten secondary schools operate “policies of gender self-identification”.

Its opening sentence – a foreword by Duffield – says that “children deserve to be children”.

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“We must end this reckless experiment now,” the MP said.

The report makes recommendations for dealing with what it calls “gender distressed children”, including schools having to “automatically” inform parents “when a child discloses feelings of gender distress at school, unless there is a compelling reason for them not to be informed”.

The government’s own schools guidance says that where “there is a safeguarding concern… the child’s wishes and feelings [should be] taken into account” It also states that being LGBTQ+ “is not in itself an inherent risk factor for harm”, and that children who are LGBTQQ+ should be provided with a “safe space… to speak out or share their concerns”.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends that the government prevent schools from facilitating a child’s social transition and all-but entirely refutes gender-affirming care entirely.

“The external political pressures on schools to adopt affirmative practice is driving them into making medical decisions they have no authority to make,” report author Lottie Moore wrote.

No evidence was offered, but in the UK, the only medical intervention available to under-16s is puberty blockers. The NHS says this is physically reversible, and in practice they are only prescribed with parental consent after lengthy medical scrutiny.

Rishi Sunak says parents should ‘know what’s going on’

Following publication of the report, which made the front pages of the Telegraph, the Times and the Daily Mail, prime minister Rishi Sunak pledged to publish new guidance this summer for schools on trans students, saying that he is “very concerned”.

Sky News quotes Sunak as saying parents need to “know what’s going on”.

“For me, the safety and wellbeing of our children is of paramount importance. And I’ve also been clear that parents must be able to know what is being taught to their kids in school especially on these sensitive areas,” he added.

Activists have criticised the idea that parents are owed every detail of their child’s identity, as well as the recommendations made by the report.

Stonewall issued a statement saying that a young person being LGBTQ+ is “not inherently a safeguarding risk”, and says they may be at risk of being targeted by others at school.

“Having a trusted adult at school who they know they can talk to plays an important part in reducing that risk of harm,” it added.

“If LGBTQ+ children are to have the same opportunity to thrive as any other child, it is essential that they have the space to speak out and share their concerns, and that school staff have the tools they need to support them with confidence.”

Author of A Trans Man Walks into a Gay Bar Harry Nicholas told PinkNews that informing parents of a student’s gender dysphoria could have potentially traumatic setbacks.

Nicholas explained that he was outed to his parents while still a student after informing the school about his feelings.

The experience was especially traumatic for Nicholas because, as he explained, he was completely new to the idea of being transgender and so was unsure how to express his feelings.

He wasn’t even ready to define how he felt to himself at the time, let alone his parents.

“Essentially, we never spoke about it again for two years until I came out via letter,” Nicholas said.

“My mum was mostly worried about what being trans meant and what kind of life I would have. But now she’s so supportive.

“Now we have a fantastic relationship, I just wish those conversations had been made on my terms at a time when I was ready and not before I actually had the words and the language to speak about things.”

But not all are so lucky, Nicholas aded. For some, being forcefully outed can mean being wholly rejected or kicked out of a family home.

“Not everyone has these welcoming homes. You could put people in real danger if their families are not accepting.

“Someone had just gotten in touch with me yesterday because they had been kicked out by their parents for being trans.

“It sucks, it’s rubbish, I’m so sorry it’s happened, but there is support. Our community is here for you.”