Joint statement in response to the Transgender Trend Resource Pack for Schools
posted by JJ Johnstone
on 19th September 2018
In response to learning that the ‘Transgender Trend Resource Pack for Schools’ (“TTRP”) has been printed and distributed to schools around the country, Mermaids and Yorkshire Mesmac want to send a clear message to schools that they should not use this piece of literature to set school policy or procedure concerning dealing with their transgender and gender variant children.
The TTRP guides schools to act in a way that may lead to it violating the Equality Act 2010, which prohibits a child being treated less favourably on the basis of being transgender or gender non-conforming. Schools should be alive to the fact that following the TTRP could expose it to being liable for a claim of direct or indirect discrimination. Further, acting in line with TTRP exposes its transgender and gender variant children to a risk of harm, which is in direct contention with its legal duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of every pupil, whatever their gender identity.
The TTRP’s conclusions are based on transphobic ideas and outdated views; schools should be working to create a school system that is based on equality, respect and in acknowledgement that transgender and gender variant children exist. Schools should provide a schooling experience that will allow for their transgender and gender variant pupils the same opportunity to flourish just as much as any other child.
To do so, Mermaids and Yorkshire Mesmac would advise schools to take an affirmative model when dealing with transgender, non-binary and gender questioning children. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) also endorses an affirmative model in treating transgender and gender variant or questioning children. The WPATH guidelines and the affirmative approach have been endorsed worldwide by leading experts in the field of transgender research and treatment. If schools require training and information on how this would look and work , then we welcome any school to contact us to pursue this.
Ultimately, no attempt should be made to influence a gender identity. Every school’s priority should be about creating an environment that allows every child to explore and enjoy their gender identity where necessary without risk of prejudice and discrimination by peers and staff. Children have the right to privacy, expression and dignity; schools should ensure their policies in place acknowledge these internationally recognised human rights and ensure they are not violated.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is expected to release its guidance for schools in autumn 2018 and will be a source schools can rely on.
Yorkshire MESMAC offers training to schools. For more information, visit our page on Anti-Homophobic, Biphobic and Transphobic Bullying Project.