August 30, 2019

Girls schools could admit trans boys under proposals being considered by equalities watchdog
Girls schools would have to admit transgender pupils under proposals being considered by the equalities watchdog. The confidential Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) draft guidance, leaked to The Telegraph, reveals that schools could be set to consider admissions of trans students to single-sex schools on a “case-by-case approach”. Schools were supposed to be issued with the first official national guidelines on transgender children in March 2018. The change to guidelines were set to tackle issues such as what pronouns teachers should use for trans pupils, as well as guidance on changing rooms, uniforms and bullying. However, following repeated delays, it has never been published. The EHRC claims to have sought views from teachers, education experts, women’s groups and trans groups and it is understood that this is the cause of the delay. It is unclear at what stage this guidance was drafted. However The Telegraph can now reveal details of the draft guidance  - entitled Trans pupils: guidance for schools in Scotland on the Equality Act 2010 - Confidential DRAFT - which has never before been made public. Gender-neutral terms | Checklist It says that: “A refusal to admit a trans pupil to a single-sex school which is the same as the trans pupil’s sex recorded at birth would be direct sex discrimination. Admitting such a pupil will not affect the school’s single-sex status.  “A pupil who has transitioned, or wants to, must be allowed to continue to attend the school; to remove them would amount to direct gender reassignment discrimination.” The document also says: “An admission policy of only admitting pupils in accordance with their sex recorded at birth would particularly disadvantage trans pupils, and would be indirectly discriminatory against trans pupils, unless it could be demonstrated to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.” The guidance also urges schools to install gender-neutral toilets, changing and shower rooms wherever possible, a contentious area among feminists who say female-only spaces should be protected. The document says if not, “trans boys and trans girls can use the single-sex facilities that align with their gender identity if they wish to do so.” On the controversial area of sex categories in sports, the leaked EHRC document encourages schools to “consider ways of enabling all pupils to participate in sports, including competitive events that align with their gender identity.” The leaked document has prompted controversy among the feminist academic and women’s rights campaigners, with critics claiming that it will have controversial implications for single-sex schools and “shows what a mess we create when we conflate sex and gender”. UK trends in children’s happiness with different aspects of life Meanwhile trans rights and childrens charities say it is paramount that transgender children can “ live their life freely” and that all schools take steps to create “inclusive environments” for vulnerable students. The EHRC, which acts as the nation’s human rights watchdog, said that the leaked guidance was only a draft and that finalised guidance to help schools understand their obligations under the Equalities Act 2010 would be shared with schools across England, Scotland and Wales “in due course”. Kiri Tunks, co-founder of Woman's Place UK, a women’s campaign group, said: “This guidance shows what a mess we create when we conflate sex and gender. The EHRC seems very confused about the difference and this advice will just muddy the waters further.  “The EHRC is right that publicly funded schools are obliged by the Public Sector Equality Duty to foster good relations between protected characteristics but they also have a responsibility to assess the impact of any changes they make which could affect other protected groups. We are losing confidence in the EHRC's ability to issue robust, practical advice on this question." Kathleen Stock, professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex, said that educational guidance should not be based on a “usually transitory feeling”.  She said: “We have to remember that literally the only criterion of telling who is a trans child and who isn’t is that they say so. It’s based on a feeling.  “Moreover it’s a feeling that we know most will grow out of. Assuming that there are good reasons to retain single sex provision in certain schools, it’s incomprehensible that these reasons should be overidden in favour of a usually transitory feeling.” However, Mermaids, the charity which supports transgender youth in the UK, said it was important that transgender children’s rights “to live their life freely” is respected and supported. A spokesman for the charity said: "We haven't played any part in forming the Scottish Guidance, so we're unable to comment on the contents of this document. We're sorry to see it's been leaked because organisations have been working on this guidance for several years and we would be disappointed to see any further delay to its publishing.  “As ever, we believe in every transgender child's right to live their life freely and with support and understanding." British Medical Association | Gender guidance According to the latest research by Stonewall, the LGBT charity, almost half of all LGBT pupils still face bullying at school, and more than two in five trans young people have tried to take their own life Their report, entitled School report 2017, surveyed more than 3,700 LGBT pupils in British schools and was carried out in conjunction with the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Family Research. A spokeswoman for the charity said: “Trans young people need supportive environments now more than ever, as we know from our research that nearly two-thirds of trans pupils (64 per cent) have experienced bullying. It’s vital all schools take active steps to create inclusive environments for trans pupils, or those who may be questioning their gender.” An EHRC spokeswoman said: “This document is a draft. We have been speaking to teachers and education experts, women’s groups and trans groups for their views. This will be an important document for schools to help them support all children and meet their legal duties under the equality act.”
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