Kemi Badenoch denies government will ban kids from socially transitioning at school

Kemi Badenoch

Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch has shut down the claim that the Conservative government is drafting laws that would ban trans children from being their authentic selves at school, calling it a “silly season story”.

On Saturday (22 July), The Telegraph published claims at No 10 is “drawing up laws to ban children from changing their gender identity in school”.

The article, which is now no longer accessible on The Telegraph’s website, alleges that prime minister Rishi Sunak has “sided” with MPs like Miriam Cates, who have called for a complete ban on trans pupils from being able to express their gender identity at school.

The claims come while Sunak’s government is in the process of drawing up guidance around trans pupils, which is expected to cover both state and independent schools. The new guidance is expected to see schools forced to ‘out’ trans students to their parents against their will, with exceptions for children believed to be at risk of “significant harm” at home.

Teachers, teaching unions, MPs and LGBTQ+ organisations have condemned the proposals for putting young trans people at risk of familial rejection or abuse, and making school an unsafe environment for trans children to be themselves. Labour MP Kate Osborne warned that the guidance would have “unintended consequences” for cis pupils as well.

Teaching staff have highlighted that even if there are no existing safeguarding concerns around a child’s home, there is no guarantee that ‘outing’ them to parents without their consent won’t result in harm.

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However, there have been reports that the government intends to go further, and introduce a “blanket ban” on social transition at school. The Times reported on Tuesday (18 July), that the government wants to make the ban a reality, but has been warned by the attorney general that this would be unlawful under the Equality Act.

Anti-trans Tory MP Cates has already stated publicly that “it’s a good thing for children not to change gender at school”.

However, Badenoch took to Twitter to refute The Telegraph’s story, saying the claims in it don’t come from anyone in her department or in Downing Street who is working on equalities policy.

“This is a legally incoherent, silly season story,” Badenoch wrote. “It hasn’t come from anyone in my dept or No10 working on Equalities policy. I know there’s much interest in this area but pls wait for facts.

“If it isn’t coming directly from me, it’s probably not accurate!”

The Telegraph’s story cites a “Whitehall source”, who allegedly told the publication that the government is considering amending Section 7 of the Equality Act “by stating that it only applies to people with a gender recognition certificate”, because Sunak is “understood to have sided with Red Wall Tory MPs, including Miriam Cates and Nick Fletcher, who have called for a ban on social transitioning in schools”.

(The Telegraph/Screenshot by PinkNews)
(The Telegraph/Screenshot by PinkNews)

The government’s guidance, which has already been delayed several times, was expected to be published by the end of the summer term. It is unclear when the new guidelines will now be delivered.

Kemi Badenoch’s LGBTQ+ track record as equalities minister

Kemi Badenoch has been criticised for her approach to LGBTQ+ issues as equalities minister. In January, she announced the appointment of anti-trans, ex-GB News host and JK Rowling fan Mercy Muroki to advise on gender policy. 

Under Badenoch, a promised ban on so-called conversion therapy practices that is inclusive of trans people has not materialised. Badenoch has previously refused to say when it might materialise.

Bandenoch met with anti-LGBTQ+ Republican governor Ron DeSantis on his April visit to London, and the 2024 presidential hopeful said Badenoch “complimented what we are doing in Florida” and is “committed” to doing the same in Britain. 

Florida governor DeSantis has overseen the passing of some of the most repressive anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the US, including the reviled ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. This year, a human rights organisation took the “unprecedented step” of warning LGBTQ+ travellers against visiting the sunshine state.

PinkNews has contacted Kemi Badenoch for comment.

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