Trans students will be forced into wrong school toilets under new Tory guidelines

Prime minister Rishi Sunak

New school guidelines, due to be releases later this year, are expected to prevent trans children from using the toilets or changing facilities which align with their preferred gender.

The government guidelines are expected to cite exemptions in the 2010 Equality Act that allow schools to provide “same-sex services” if they’re “objectively justifiable”.

In order to exclude a trans person from single-sex spaces, there must be “an objective justification” and it must be “proportionate” and “legitimate”.

It is thought that the guidelines will also extend existing law that states separate bathrooms must be provided for children aged eight and older.

It is expected that the instructions will call for trans children to be provided with alternative facilities. 

Current law permits unisex bathrooms if they can be “secured from the inside” and are self-contained, such as disabled toilets. 

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According to a report in The Times, the new regulations will also see schools warned that allowing children to change their names and pronouns could have a psychological impact, despite studies showing that using the correct pronouns for trans and non-binary youth reduces the risk of suicide. 

A 2020 study by suicide-prevention organisation The Trevor Project found that trans and non-binary youth who reported having their pronouns respected by all or most of the people in their lives, attempted suicide at half the rate of those whose pronouns were not respected.

Under the upcoming guidance from the Department for Education, trans students could be banned from single-sex schools and teachers will be forced to “out” trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming pupils to their parents.

The guidance, which will cover state and independent schools, follows legal experts warning that any attempt to exclude trans people from single-sex spaces would be in direct contravention of the Equality Act

Following the leak of details from the upcoming rules, a teaching union has called for guidelines on trans children in schools to be “compassionate”.

‘It is crucial that there is full consultation’

Julie McCulloch, the director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said guidance on how to best support trans pupils has been requested for years. 

But she stressed that the guidance must be “underpinned by a commitment to fairness, respect and safety” of the students. 

“Schools having both single-sex and separate gender-neutral toilets would seem a sensible way forward,” she said.

“It is crucial that there is full consultation with school and college leaders and teachers in advance of publication to guarantee all parts of the guidance are deliverable. This includes giving schools the time and resources necessary to implement any changes required.”

‘School should be a safe haven’

Amy Ashenden, the interim chief executive of Just Like Us, the LGBTQ+ young people’s charity, told PinkNews she hears “heart-breaking” stories from young trans people around these issues, including one who “avoided drinking water and going to the toilet during the school day because of their fear around being able to access the correct bathrooms.”

Ashenden added: “I would ask anyone involving themselves in these conversations to imagine what it would be like to go through a work day without being able to use the toilet and how that would affect them.

“School should be a safe haven for these young people, and for all LGBT+ young people, not a place where they have to face further barriers.”

Rishi Sunak backs preserving single-sex spaces campaign

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has openly backed a campaign, led by MPs Rosie Duffield and Miriam Cates, to “preserve single-sex spaces”.

Speaking to The Express on Monday (24 April), Sunak said that “biological sex really matters”, before pledging his support for Duffield and Cates’ call “to protect women’s rights and ensure the dignity of women and girls by preserving single-sex spaces such as women’s refuges and rape crisis centres”.

Downing Street refused to clarify if Sunak’s comments meant he supported a ban on transgender people using facilities such as women’s refuges and rape crisis centres, The Times reported. 

Rosie Duffield and Miriam Cates
Rosie Duffield and Miriam Cates have joined forces. (YouTube/ Parliament TV / PinkNews)

Labour MP Duffield and Tory MP Cates, who both have a history of promoting anti-LGBTQ+ views, are rallying together in a bid to ensure “women’s rights are protected at all costs”, which includes demanding “single-sex only” spaces. 

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