Statement on the UK government’s new guidance on sex and gender in schools

Maya Forstater of Sex Matters

This guidance, though imperfect, sets the global standard for uprooting trans ideology from schools. 

No other country that has allowed the trans lobby to dictate lessons and school policies has moved so decisively to reverse course. 

Other countries can learn from the UK experience: it’s far better to keep gender ideologues away from education entirely, but if the moment for that has already passed, it is not impossible to push back. All it takes is political will – and courage.

That this guidance has taken so long to publish clearly illustrates the extraordinary grip of the trans lobby over the education sector. Its malign influence has created a school-to-clinic pipeline, with unscientific ideas about biological sex and the promotion of trans identities in teaching materials leading to gender distress in children, and knock-on impacts on the number put on a dangerous medical pathway in gender clinics.

The most important takeaway is that the normalisation of so-called social transition – lying about children’s sex – is indefensible within a school environment. Every child has a sex, which is fixed at conception and never changes. Schools that lose sight of this fact risk acting outside the law.

We are grateful that the government has listened to experts and prioritised the wellbeing and safeguarding of children in this guidance, rather than pandering to ideological, anti-scientific dogma.

After years in which the trans lobby has dictated practice in too many schools, parents will be able to use this guidance to demand a return to sanity in the classroom.

Important positive steps in the guidance include insisting that schools tell parents if their child identifies as transgender, unless there are genuine safeguarding concerns; recognising that teachers and classmates cannot be forced to lie about trans-identified children’s sex; and above all that hard-and-fast rules regarding single-sex spaces and sports are essential for protecting all children’s privacy, dignity and safety, and for competitive fairness. 

However, the guidance still leaves too much to the discretion of individual schools and provides no framework for the complex, ill-defined decisions it envisages school leaders making for each individual child who declares a trans identity.

We hope that the consultation process over the coming months will strengthen the final version and make it more straightforward and easier for school leaders to follow.