Despite the election, you should still respond to consultations

You can still make a difference by responding: here’s how.

What's happening to open government consultations

Here’s how

When the general election was called on 22nd May, bringing an end to the current government, there were several open consultations on important issues such as schools guidance, single-sex service provision and amending the NHS Constitution. 

It is still worth responding to these consultations. All those listed below, except one, are part of a process which should be picked up by the civil servants in the relevant departments. Civil servants will analyse and summarise them for whoever takes over as their minister, and whichever party (or parties) forms the next government.

The sole exception is the call for input on incorrect guidance on single-sex spaces, which came from the outgoing Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Kemi Badenoch. This closes on 26th June, and what happens after that depends on the incoming ministers and whether civil servants in the Government Equalities Office pick it up or let it drop. We believe it is still worth sending examples, so that there is a strong evidence base that shows the extent of the problems and the need for clarification. 

Knowing that these consultations have run, we and others can call for them to be analysed, for the results to be released, and for changes to be made. We can seek to ensure that they are not set aside or dropped altogether, no matter who runs the relevant department. 

Five open consultations you can respond to

1. Safeguarding children in schools and colleges – Department for Education

Deadline: Thursday 20th June

This seeks views from safeguarding and education professionals to update the statutory Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) safeguarding resource for schools and professionals. 

Some technical updates have already been made for September 2024, including removing a section on transgender identities which Stonewall claimed to have lobbied for some time ago. Consultation responses will help to shape an updated document for 2025.

Safeguarding children in schools and colleges

2. NHS Constitution: 10-year review – Department for Health and Social Care

Deadline: Tuesday 25th June 2024

The NHS Constitution (for England only) must be reviewed every 10 years and the public consulted. These changes are about strengthening single-sex rights and provisions. 

The consultation asks whether you agree or disagree on inserting a series of paragraphs to the constitution. These concern requests for intimate same-sex care and same-sex sleeping arrangements on hospital admission. 

NHS Constitution review

3. Incorrect guidance on single-sex spaces and gender self-identification – Equality Hub and Kemi Badenoch MP

Deadline: Wednesday 26th June 2024

The Minister for Women and Equalities is seeking examples of policy or guidance in which public bodies – or organisations that advise public and private organisations – wrongly suggest that people have a legal right to access single-sex spaces and services according to their self-identified gender. 

This call for input covers guidance that applies to England, Scotland or Wales, as well as guidance for all of the UK.

Evidence of bad guidance – and Sex Matters’ advice on how to respond

4. Review of data, statistics and research on sex and gender, led by Professor Alice Sullivan at UCL.

Deadline: extended to Monday 1st July 2024

This looks at current data collection on sex and gender in the UK, requesting examples of flawed data collection on sex or gender identity. It also asks about barriers to research. You can respond to one part or both. Submissions from individuals are welcome.

Data research

5. Review of the RSHE statutory guidance – Department for Education

Deadline: Thursday 11th July 2024

This is an online survey to which individuals and organisations can respond. The draft guidance on Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) says that gender identity should not be taught and that under-18s must not be treated as the opposite sex (the threshold of 18 is because that is when a gender-recognition certificate may be obtained). The proposed guidance follows an expert review conducted in 2023.

Review of RHSE guidance

What next for schools guidance?

Draft guidance on gender-questioning children in schools

What about the consultation that closed in March concerning the draft guidance for schools and colleges on gender-questioning children? The results have not yet been published. As with the consultations that are still open, the next government will be expected to decide what to do with the draft guidance in light of the responses received. Schools have been calling for clearer guidance, but there is no telling how much the current draft may change, either in response to the consultation or because of a change of government. Concerned campaign groups will need to maintain pressure to ensure good guidance is finalised and published.