Transgender ideology in schools is the mother of all safeguarding failures

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A new report by Policy Exchange shows that 69% of secondary schools are requiring other children to affirm a gender-distressed child's new identity. In other words, pupils are being forced to lie about the biological sex of their friends. They must call 'him' 'her'.

Policy Exchange sent Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to a random selection of over 300 maintained secondary schools and academies in England to assess how they were responding to the surge in pupils identifying as the opposite sex. Amongst other findings in the report are:

  • Seven in 10 schools are failing to inform families when pupils question or change their 'gender identity'
  • Four in 10 schools operate policies of 'gender self-identification'
  • At least 28% of secondary schools are not maintaining single sex toilets
  • 19% of secondary schools are not maintaining single-sex changing rooms
  • 72% of schools are teaching that people have a 'gender identity' that may be different from their biological sex
  • 25% of schools are teaching that some people or children 'may be born in the wrong body'.

This shocking state of affairs shows that 'transgender ideology' has virtually taken over the entire secondary school system. What the figures also show is that at least 70% of secondary schools now have pupils who are identifying as 'transgender'.

Nigel and Sally Rowe highlighted the problem

Back in 2016, Christian parents Nigel and Sally Rowe raised the profile of this issue when they challenged their son's Church of England primary school for allowing a six-year-old to come into school dressed 'sometimes as a boy' and 'sometimes as girl'. Other pupils were told that they must refer to the pupil with 'acquired gender pronouns' and their new gendered name.

Christian Concern helped them as they pursued legal action to clarify whether schools should be allowing pupils to 'socially transition'. They were pilloried in the media, with Philip Schofield on ITV's This Morning telling them that they "were the ones with the problem" and that "attitudes change, we're less medieval than we used to be."

Nevertheless, the Rowes persisted and won a settlement from the Department for Education (DfE) which included £22,000 in legal costs, and a commitment from the government to review their guidance on issues regarding the teaching of 'transgender ideology' in primary schools last year.

No child should be punished for refusing to affirm 'gender identities'

In a speech last year, then Attorney General, Suella Braverman MP said:

"No child should be made to fear punishment or disadvantage for questioning what they are being taught, or refusing to adopt a preferred pronoun for a gender questioning child, or complaining about a gender questioning child using their toilets or changing rooms, or refusing to take part in activities promoted by Stonewall or other such organisations. The right to freedom of belief, thought, conscience and speech must be protected."

Sadly, her advice is not being heeded by the vast majority of schools.

The CofE has not helped

Last year, 15,000 people signed a petition calling on the Church of England to scrap its pro-transgender guidance Valuing All God's Children. This guidance for Church of England schools affirms the existence of so-called 'trans pupils', and says that pupils should "be supported to accept their own gender identity or sexual orientation." Furthermore it states that "transgender issues may be mentioned as a fact in some people's lives."

This guidance has been used to justify allowing young children to identify as the opposite sex, start 'socially transitioning', and force other pupils to affirm another child in their 'chosen gender'.

Massive safeguarding failure

Society has lost its moral compass. How did we ever decide that it would be helpful for children to be taught that they might be born in the wrong body? How is it helpful for distressed children to encourage them down a path of 'changing gender' with all the associated medical intervention?

Clearly schools and teachers are terrified of being accused of being 'transphobic' and even reported to Prevent - the government's anti-terrorism scheme - as a safeguarding risk, a danger to children, or even as an 'extremist'.

What we have here is the mother of all safeguarding failures. The Policy Exchange report describes it as "a safeguarding blind spot when it comes to the issue of sex and gender." It goes on to say that:

"Safeguarding principles are being routinely disregarded in many secondary schools, which are neglecting their safeguarding responsibilities in favour of a set of contested beliefs in a way that risk jeopardising child wellbeing and safety."


"By uncritically accepting contested beliefs on gender identity, as well as adopting affirmative practice, which involves affirming a child's belief that they are the opposite gender to their sex, schools are failing to consider their safeguarding duties – not just to gender-distressed children – but to their peers as well."

Somehow 'transgender ideology' has come to trump safeguarding in schools. This is a serious moral failure and harmful for our children.

A vindication of parents' concerns

Miriam Cates MP, endorses the report with these words:

"For years, parents who have raised safeguarding concerns to both schools and the Department for Education have been ignored, disbelieved or labelled as 'bigots'. This report is a vindication of their concerns and a resounding call to action for Government and school leaders. Biological sex is immutable and the sex-based protections that are the hallmark of all civilised societies must apply to children in our schools."

This report vindicates Nigel and Sally Rowe, Joshua Sutcliffe, Bernard Randall and the many others that we have served at Christian Concern, who have raised concerns about allowing young children to identify as the opposite sex and 'socially transition'.

There is no real freedom to be found in 'transgender ideology'. It is only through understanding who God created us to be, living in God's created order in all of its beauty, which really sets us free to live out his purposes.

Christians have good news for society – which is why we need more Nigel and Sally Rowes, more Joshua Sutcliffes, more Bernard Randalls, who are willing to speak the truth that will free gender-confused children and teenagers and give them a real hope. That is why we must continue speaking the truth, pointing people in the way of true freedom rather than the fake freedom that transgenderism offers.

Andrea Williams is chief executive of Christian Concern.