Government plans to ‘out’ trans pupils to parents breaks rules of the Equality Act

Collage of Rishi Sunak, Kemi Badenoch, and a trans person holding an umbrella to shield themself

PM Rishi Sunak is expected to delay proposed guidance that would force teachers to out trans kids to their parents after it was determined that this would breach the Equality Act.

The draft guidance, which was expected to be published by the end of this week, advises teachers to inform parents, without the consent of the pupil, that their child is exploring their gender, leaving some youngsters at risk of abuse at home. 

It states that, while children should be allowed to socially transition – choose another pronoun or name, or wear uniform affirming their chosen gender – the consent of their parents is needed. 

After being asked her views about whether a blanket ban on social transitioning in schools was possible, the UK’s chief legal advisor concluded that such a ban would be unlawful. 

Attorney general Victoria Prentis, who is in favour of tougher guidance, said the government would need to pass new legislation if it wanted to go further, meaning it’s highly unlikely that the guidance will now be published by the end of the week. 

The Times quoted a Whitehall source saying that the guidance was hardened by No 10 and equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch, following pressure from fellow Tory MPs.

You may like to watch

Kemi Badenoch in red shirt
Kemi Badenoch is believed to be pushing for tougher guidelines. (Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

The source said that proposals to strengthen the guidance included a blanket ban on social transitioning which Prentis said would be unlawful because the 2010 Equalities Act states that gender reassignment is a “protected characteristic”, regardless of age.

Badenoch allegedly wanted to include a so-called “good faith” protection for teachers should they not want to address children by their chosen pronoun, with advice stating that nobody “should” be compelled to do so unless there was a “particular justification”.

In a bid to further toughen the guidance, Badenoch suggested that doctors must be consulted before allowing children to socially transition, as part of a “clinical gateway”.

Prentis said this would need to say they “should” be consulted, but the Department for Health said it wouldn’t be possible for the NHS to provide enough support to advise on the issue. 

Rishi Sunak raises concern about ‘long-term implications’

According to the publication, the prime minister is concerned about the “long-term implications” of allowing children to socially transition.

A government source said: “We have consistently said that this is about protecting children, empowering parents and supporting teachers and school leaders, by providing guidance for them to implement. 

“It’s a complex and sensitive area and it’s right we get it right. More information is needed about the long-term implications of allowing a child to act as though they are the opposite sex and the impact that may have on other children.”

Meanwhile, a Whitehall source told The Times: “The government wants to go further but the problem is that this is guidance. It is coming up against the Equalities Act, which is the law. If the government wants to go further, it has to change the law.”

Education secretary Gillian Keegan is one of the many who are opposed to the proposed guidance which she has deemed “unreasonable”. 

Keegan, who has emerged as one of the most socially liberal ministers in Sunak’s Cabinet, has spoken out in support of the trans community on a number of occasions.