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Children in England may be able to socially transition whilst at school

23 November 2023
Secondary school pupils

New schools’ guidance to be issued later this year will allow transgender children to socially transition whilst at school in England.

It’s likely that children will be able to change their pronouns, preferred names or uniforms under the new guidance, but a “presumption against” children transitioning should be adopted.

It was thought some Ministers were seeking to ban social transitioning within schools entirely.

This has now been ruled out as further legislation would be required to avoid conflicts with existing equality and discrimination laws.

The general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton said the reports of a “presumption” against social transitioning could be detrimental for school staff.

He said, “We are extremely concerned that following this advice may leave schools and colleges open to legal challenge under the Equality Act. We would urge the government to ensure that the guidance does not create more problems than it solves.”

A spokesperson said, “Given the complexity of the issue, we’re taking the time to make sure the guidance we provide is clear. That work is ongoing.”

“Any degree of social transition could have significant consequences for a child, so it is vital the right safeguards are in place. The government has been consistently clear about the importance of biological sex, and the guidance will reflect that.”

Reports reveal the latest draft includes requirements that parents be informed if their children tell school staff they want to change their gender identity.

A survey conducted earlier this year found that 75% of secondary school teachers in England said they had taught pupils who had come out as transgender or non-binary.

The guidance was promised to be published by the end of the summer term this year but has seen delays as the cabinet disagrees on a number of points.

Geoff Barton says they have been asking for guidance for the “past five years” and says they have raised the matter on “a weekly basis”.

“In the meantime,” he says, “schools and colleges have to navigate this highly contentious area on their own and without any guidance they can point to when they are challenged on the decisions they make.”

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