Government Consultation into ‘Gender Questioning Children’ in schools and colleges

One week to go – Please respond today

The Government Consultation into its proposed non-statutory guidance for schools and colleges for Gender Questioning Children closes on Tuesday, 12th March. Although many of the changes are welcome, there remain significant areas of concern, and it is vital that parents, and those in any way involved with education, make their voices heard.  

In recent years we have seen what has been described in the press as an ‘explosion’ in the number of children questioning their gender identity. In 2022, for example, 8,000 children were on the NHS waiting list for gender reassignment treatment, marking a 67% increase in less than two years. Small wonder there has been rising panic amongst health providers and politicians, not to mention parents
Since then, with the shocking revelations of improperly assessed referrals, we have seen the now infamous Gender and Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the Tavistock Clinic closed.  However, the problem of schools normalising and even promoting the idea of gender choice has not gone away and, as result, large numbers of children are still coming forward, requesting treatment.  Indeed, the unprecedented rise has been so extreme that it has been labelled ‘social contagion’. 
Many of the recommendations in the new guidance are excellent.  For example, the requirement that schools record and adhere to a child’s biological sex, and that parental views should be at the centre of all decisions made affecting a child’s welfare. However, while the guidance states that teachers must not initiate or suggest to a child that they socially transition, children themselves will retain a right to request transition, and, where that happens, schools are not required to inform parents ‘in exceptional circumstances where this risks significant harm to the child’.  Which may sound sensible, but what constitutes ‘significant harm’ is never defined, so that there remains a real risk of parents being side-lined or ignored.  At the same time, where a child is allowed to transition socially, it may well confuse and negatively impact other children in the school, who might be similarly influenced to question their biological sex.  

In the interests of child protection, VfJUK is calling for all reassignment treatment under the age of 18 – including the prescription of puberty blockers – to be banned; for it to be required that schools maintain conformity with a child’s biological sex; and for parents to have the final say in all matters relating to the health and wellbeing of their child.

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