UK primary school jumps to defence of ‘well-regarded’ trans teacher following parents’ complaints

A silhouette of a person in front of a trans pride flag.

A primary school in Southampton has issued a letter in defence of a “well-regarded” transgender supply teacher after complaints from parents. 

Bitterne Church of England Primary School and Southampton City Council both jumped to the defence of the teacher, after parents questioned why they explained their gender identity to students. 

Rachel Bennet, the mother of a seven-year-old pupil in the teacher’s class, told the Southern Daily Echo: “I think it’s a bit much for year-two children and can be very confusing for them.

“It seems to have caught everyone off guard, particularly when my daughter was in an English lesson and the teacher is talking about their gender and wearing woman’s clothing.” 

According to Bennet, the teacher told the class: “If you’re wondering why I’m so gorgeous, it’s because I’ve put makeup on and had a shave.”

In response, headteacher Jen Johnson sent a letter to parents and carers addressing the concerns. 

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“I want to make it very clear that [while] we were not aware that the supply teacher would be sharing this information related to their gender identity ahead of teaching lessons, we are a tolerant and respectful school,” she wrote.

“Moving forward, and having spoken to the supply agency, we have reaffirmed the school’s expectations for what we expect supply teachers to deliver.”

A spokesperson for the city council said its schools use supply teacher agencies “who apply rigorous checks to deliver high-quality staff and safeguard students”, adding: “The supply teacher in question is well-regarded and the quality of the teaching was of a high standard.

“The supply teacher introduced themselves then responded to a small number of questions about their gender quickly and without detail, before moving on swiftly to deliver the lesson in a professional manner.”

The school has a policy of inclusion and has written to parents, the letter has been positively received, and many parents have offered supportive feedback, the spokesperson added. 

LGBTQ+ content in schools remains a topic of contention. At the end of last year, education company Pop’n’Olly, which offers LGBTQ+ and equality resources to children, parents and teachers, came under fire for allegedly teaching “transgender education” to four-year-old children. PinkNews found that was not the case.