The UK Government’s draft trans guidance for schools does not put the best interests of children first, and as such is simply not fit for purpose.
Not only is it legally unworkable and contrary to existing equality law and the government's own guidance on safeguarding – it is actively dangerous. If implemented it would inevitably lead to real harm being caused to trans children and young people across England. While non-statutory, it has the potential to have a chilling effect akin to Section 28, leaving children and young people who are trans or questioning their gender exposed to bullying and harassment.
It is evident from reading through the detail of the draft guidance that it has been compiled from a very narrow ideological perspective. It presents trans children as a 'contested belief', and there has been no attempt to understand the needs or lived experiences of trans children, or to draw from best practice from inclusive educators across the country.
Instead, it flies in the face of the UN Convention Rights of the Child and the Equality Act 2010, suggesting that trans children are not worthy of respect or protection from harassment, and as such treats them as an inherent risk to other children and as a threat that is to be contained. Exclusion is its starting point, and it actively looks to find ways to legitimise bullying and social exclusion of trans children and young people.
We know from our long-standing work with teachers and schools that they are looking for clarity and practical guidance on how they can support trans children to thrive in their education. This confused draft guidance provides neither.
This is a serious and important area of policy work, and the final guidance needs to pool from a wider range of expertise and experience, and puts the safety and needs of children above all else.