Education Secretary Gillian Keegan says schools should tell parents about transgender child

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Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has said she disagrees with the policy of some schools to withhold knowledge from parents about their child's desire to change genders.

She was asked about her views in an interview with Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts.

The questions were given by Mumsnet users, including one secondary school teacher who said she had been told by the school's leadership to "affirm immediately" and use new names and pronouns if a pupil expresses a wish to identify as a different gender, but keep this information "secret" from the parents.

Asked whether she agreed with this policy, Ms Keegan said, "No I don't agree with that. I think transparency is really important. I think the parents' role is really important. Parents first and foremost are the main advocates for their children. They're the people who are closest to their children." 

The Department for Education is in the process of drawing up new transgender guidance for schools amid increasing concern about affirmative approaches and the rights of parents and teachers, some of whom have lost their jobs for refusing to use preferred pronouns. 

Ms Keegan said the guidance will be published before the summer term and then be subject to "quite a long consultation" to gather as many views on it as possible because "it is a sensitive area". 

Asked if the guidance will suggest that parents should be informed if their child is transgender, Ms Keegan said, " I think so, yes. It seems obvious doesn't it? The common sense sort of nature. It just seems so obvious, but yes parents definitely should be informed."

A report published by the Policy Exchange in March revealed that many parents are being kept in the dark about their child's transgenderism. 

The think tank used the Freedom of Information Act to ask schools about their transgender policy. Out of the 154 schools that replied, only 39 said they would inform parents about a pupil's request to identify as a different gender. 

A March poll by Civitas of 1,200 teenagers in England aged 16 to 18 found that 10 per cent want to change their gender or have already done so. Over half (54%) said they knew someone who wanted to change genders or had already done so.

Two thirds of teenagers (67%) said they had been taught that sex is "assigned at birth", while a third (32%) had been told that women can have a penis. One in five had been taught that a man can get pregnant.