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Brook’s response to the Government’s draft guidance for schools on gender questioning children.
The Government’s draft guidance on gender questioning children displays a troubling lack of consideration for the needs of trans young people, and does not provide teachers with the clarity required to make their schools safe and inclusive for all students.
Trans and gender questioning young people are a very small group within the school population, but one that often experience higher rates of bullying and poor mental health outcomes than their peers. Instead of supporting schools to safeguard them, this guidance puts young people at greater risk by asking teachers to breach confidentiality when students discuss any degree of social transitioning. There is a real risk this will create a dangerous culture of silence, with vulnerable young people too fearful to seek support from trusted adults within their school.
Schools have been asking for guidance on supporting trans and gender questioning young people for many years. Rather than providing teachers with the practical advice they need, the draft guidance inaccurately frames the inclusion of trans young people as a safeguarding problem for other students. It makes a number of assertions that are not supported by evidence, and schools and teachers will be concerned that the guidance is informed by anti-trans beliefs rather than the experiences of trans young people.
Schools should be safe and inclusive spaces, where all children and young people can flourish and develop their sense of self while being supported by trained, confident teachers and staff. For this to be a reality, schools need guidance that is young person-centred, evidence-based and draws on the expertise of teachers who are already successfully supporting and safeguarding trans students. The voices of young people and teachers are distinctly lacking from this draft guidance. We encourage everyone to respond to the consultation before 12 March to help shape a resource for schools that is both practical and respectful.
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