Schools in England are ‘crying out’ for transgender guidance, children’s commissioner warns

Back to school.

The children’s commissioner for England is pushing for ministers to publish transgender guidance for schools as a matter of urgency.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had promised to publish guidance this summer to help schools support their transgender students but said guidance has been severely delayed due to internal conflicts between ministers and departments.

As a result, schools have returned with no idea of how to correctly respond to transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming pupils who want to socially transition, and are now being tasked with forming their own policies.

This has led to deep frustration among headteachers, who are left to establish temporary guidelines for their schools, and students and their families, who could be subject to unfair treatment depending on how their school decides to proceed.

“I think headteachers, families, and children are calling for it, crying out for it,” Children’s Commissioner Rachel De Souza told PA Media. “They’re all talking to me about the need for this clarity, so I think we need to see it as soon as possible.”

“There are 23,000 schools [in England]. We can’t have everyone doing different things – it’s got to be fair for all children.

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Rishi Sunak pictured outdoors wearing a suit and tie at an event.
Rishi Sunak had promised to publish guidance this summer to help schools support their transgender students. (Getty Images)

“As children’s commissioner, that’s the perspective that I come from. So I absolutely need that guidance out to children, families, and schools as soon as possible, for clarity, for fairness, and for good safeguarding.”

When asked what she thought transgender guidance for schools should contain, De Souza said: “As a headteacher of many years, in schools for 32 years, I’ve worked with children and families with a number of cases around the trans issue, and what you try to do is your pastoral best and your care for any individual child.

“But I think now, where the situation is, we need absolute clear guidance.”

Earlier draft versions of school guidance were said to recommend that schools inform parents of their child’s wish to socially transition and seek their consent, The Guardian reports.

Guidance has been delayed by certain ministers lobbying to place heavy restrictions on children transitioning.

Downing Street has not yet named a date by which the guidance will be published.