Teacher and parent warn government must not ‘out’ trans pupils to unsupportive parents

UK schools told let trans pupils use correct bathrooms or face legal action

A former teacher, and a parent of a transgender child, have warned against the government’s proposed guidance that would force teachers to out transgender kids to members of their family.

The draft guidance has been delayed after the attorney general, Victoria Prentis, concluded that a blanket ban on social transitioning would breach the Equality Act and thus be unlawful.

The proposed guidelines advise 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 required. 

But a former teacher, with 20 years’ experience – including supporting trans pupils – has said the guidance is a “very dangerous path [because it is] prioritising parents’ feelings over children’s safety”.

According to the Independent, Alex Mees told news agency PA that some children don’t feel safe to let their family know they are questioning their gender identity for “religious reasons or just that they know their parents are very transphobic”.

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He added: “We should be trusting those children in that situation and we should be taking the lead from them.

‘Really dangerous position to be putting children in’

“I absolutely feel that if [the government] are essentially making it mandatory to inform parents, that does risk putting kids in danger and means a lot of kids then won’t open up at all.”

Mees said it’s a “really dangerous position to be putting children in, that they’re having to feel scared to be honest about who they are.”

He referred to a report published by right-wing “think tank” Policy Exchange earlier this year and said it had “misinterpreted” the situation.

The report, which was condemned by pro-trans activists, recommended forcibly outing trans pupils to their parents after it claimed schools would be compromising “fundamental safeguarding principles” for children who identify as transgender by not sharing such details. 

Heidi Mavir, whose son is transgender, reportedly told PA that children and young people’s identities are “being weaponised for political gain”.

‘This is about safeguarding children’

She said the only safeguarding risk is if “a child or young person was outed to a family who were not supportive… not all homes are safe for gender-non-conforming children”. 

Mavir added: “It’s about understanding that this isn’t keeping things from parents, this is about safeguarding children, it’s about safeguarding trans children.”

A change.org petition set up by Mavir calls for a “stop [to] the government’s hateful guidance” and has garnered more than 26,000 signatures. 

“We definitely need guidance in how to support gender-non-conforming children and young people,” following education unions venting frustration over the delay, she said.

Education secretary Gillian Keegan, who confirmed the guidance would not be published by the start of the summer holidays, is one of the many who are opposed to the guidance, which she deemed “unreasonable”.  

But she has said the government is taking the issue very seriously and that “decisions must not be taken lightly or in haste”.

Keegan has informed schools and colleges that they should “proceed with extreme caution” in the intervening period and “should always involve parents in decisions relating to their child, and should not agree to any changes that they are not absolutely confident are in the best interests of that child and their peers”.

She went on to say: “They should prioritise safeguarding by meeting existing legal duties to protect single-sex spaces and maintain safety and fairness in single-sex sport.”

According to the prime minister’s official spokesperson, the government wants to ensure the guidance “places the well-being and safety of children at its heart and [make] sure parents are always the ones [who] have the first say”.