Government settles with Christian parents who challenged trans-affirming policies in schools

Nigel and Sally Rowe said they were left with no choice but to seek a judicial review after the Department for Education refused to intervene in their case.(Photo: Christian Legal Centre)

The government has settled with Christian parents who brought legal action against the Department for Education's transgender-affirming policies for schools. 

Nigel and Sally Rowe say they feel "vindicated" after the Department for Education (DfE) awarded them £22,000 in costs and promised to reform official guidance for schools on transgender issues, ending a five-year legal battle.

"Guidance for schools on transgender issues is being developed by the Department in conjunction with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, with a view to undertaking a public consultation on draft guidance in Autumn 2022, to which the Claimants will have the opportunity to respond," the government said.

The case goes back to 2017 when the Rowes questioned the policy of their sons' Church of England primary school that allowed transgender pupils to attend as their chosen gender.

The school did not require "any formal medical/psychological assessment and reporting when a pupil seeks to be treated as transgendered", according to the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which has supported the Rowes in their case.

The CLC said the family were told by the school that it would be "transphobic" not to "acknowledge a transgendered person's true gender e.g. by failing to use their adopted name or using gender inappropriate pronouns".

The Rowes were also apparently informed that the school was working "at every stage" with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust to support transitioning pupils. The Trust's gender clinic for young people was shut down earlier this year after the Cass Review raised concerns about the treatment being offered to patients.

After withdrawing their children from the school over concerns that its policy was harmful, the Rowes wrote to the DfE calling on the education secretary to intervene in their case. 

The government rejected the couple's complaint, claiming that the school's policy "does not constitute education".

Pursuing legal action, the Rowes won permission at the High Court earlier this year for a judicial review into the government's transgender educational policies.

The government has now settled instead of facing a full judicial review hearing at the High Court. 

The couple say they have been fully vindicated in light of the the Cass Review and increasing numbers of de-transitioners sounding the alarm about affirming approaches to transgenderism. 

"We are delighted with the outcome and pray that it will contribute to real change in primary schools," the Rowes said in a joint statement.

"The new guidance must ensure that no more children come to harm. Transgender affirming policies must end in schools and issues with gender confused children compassionately and professionally managed outside of the classroom.

"Many have tried to make light of this issue by suggesting it is just about boys dressing up. This case has always been about a dangerous ideology that is now firmly embedded in schools, local authorities, and Church of England leadership, and which is causing serious long-term harm to thousands of children.

"Clear evidence of the harm transgender affirming policies has on children was presented to the government and they ignored it. Only by pursuing a judicial review has the government been forced to see sense and commit to protecting vulnerable children from LGBT activism in primary schools." 

The couple went on to say that they were "shocked by the hostility" shown to them in the last five years and that their views were never about hating anyone but about wanting "to tell the truth through love and compassion for children being impacted".

"We want children to be allowed to be children. We don't want harmful ideas to be imposed on them; children should be in an environment where they are safe," they continued.

"A child of primary school age doesn't have the mental ability to work out what it is to be transgender.

"Promoting transgender ideology to children is harmful: it's lying to children. Children are impressionable – and they look for affirmation. But when you're affirming them to be the opposite gender, you're lying to them. As Christians, we need to make a stand for truth – that is the loving thing to do.

"We've seen the regret of people who have gone down the transgender route; we've seen the rising statistics of children being pushed down that road – and the more you affirm a child as transgender, the further down that pathway they go. This is a health crisis. It's about pushing an agenda in schools, and now the numbers are off the scale, it's devastating.

"We have been moved by compassion to act and make a stand on this and believe we have now been vindicated.

"We call on more parents to scrutinise what is happening in their children's schools on these crucial issues."

CLC chief executive Andrea Williams praised the Rowes for their stand.

"At the time, for their courage and determination to expose the truth, they were ostracised by their local community and faced personal abuse for daring to question policies which they believed were harmful. They were ahead of the curve and could see the harm that was coming," she said. 

"The government and wider public are only now beginning to see the evidence that backs the arguments and concerns the Rowes' made from the beginning on transgender ideology.

"It has taken people of great courage who love Jesus and his teaching, like Nigel and Sally, to say that transgender affirmation isn't right.

"We will continue to hold local authorities, schools and the government to account if these commitments and promises are not adequately met."