written by Anonymous
I am a high school teacher in Scotland. Towards the end of 2017 I became increasingly concerned by the current transgender ideology and its negative impact particularly in the following areas:
- children and young people in schools
- women’s safety, equality and fairness
- data gathering on ‘sex’
My concerns remain.
Children and young people in schools
Following staff ‘training’ by LGBT Youth Scotland I and other members of school staff were alarmed at the speed at which gender identity ideology was promoted within our school community. The lives of some of our most vulnerable young people and their families were affected. I received emails on two occasions, requesting that parents are not informed when their daughters have chosen to self-identify as boys, one as young as 13 years. These emails were sent from the LGBT club teacher and not a guidance teacher, nor was there any diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Freedom of Information requests to sixteen Scottish councils at the time showed that this ideology was being introduced into schools by local authorities across Scotland, apparently without any consultation, evaluation or risk assessment.
Emails have continued announcing name changes, in one case the seventh name, and pronouns of a number of girls wanting to be boys. The acceptance of gender identity ideology in our schools has created ‘trans kids’, in our case all girls.
Staff are asked to ‘affirm’ the desires of the girls even knowing many of the girls have other mental health issues and are not receiving psychological help. Boys have expressed their discomfort and embarrassment to me personally at the possibility of a self-identifying girl using their changing areas or toilets, but feel silenced by the fear that their legitimate feelings of non-consent may be perceived as ‘transphobic’. In one case a boy was told by the PE teacher that it was ‘equalities’ and should not say any more.
The issue of toilets and the move to mixed sex provision is also not insignificant. Girls’ and boys’ wash areas are shared and open to view to staff. It should not have to be said that the needs of girls in managing their periods in a safe and boy/male free area should be considered. There is evidence already that girls are missing school as a result of this.
Further concerns were raised nationally by parents and teachers regarding the points listed below from the transgender document Supporting Transgender Young People Guidance for Schools in Scotland:
- Children ‘should be supported to explore and express their gender identity regardless of their age’ and ‘it is important not to deny their identity, or overly question their understanding of their gender identity’
- Teachers are advised not to ‘disclose information to parents or carers without the young person’s permission’•
- Transgender pupils should be allowed to choose which toilets / changing rooms they use. Children who feel uncomfortable about sharing facilities with someone of the opposite sex can wait until after the transgender child has finished or use alternative facilities such as an accessible toilet. Parents with concerns about their child sharing toilets and / or changing rooms with a pupil of the opposite sex should be reminded of the school’s ethos of inclusion, equality and respect
- Transgender pupils should be able to compete in the sports category they feel most comfortable with, male or female
- Parents should not be informed if their child is sharing rooms with pupils of the opposite sex on school trips
- If a parent is ‘struggling to come to terms with their child’s identity’ teachers are advised that it ‘may be useful to approach the local authority’
I would also note the following concerns:
- Parents have not been included in discussions regarding the transgender guidance, some have found out to their alarm through newspaper articles
- The consent of young people has been compromised since they are unable to question others entering their private spaces. Young people who feel uncomfortable with others of the opposite sex in their changing areas have been labelled transphobic and lectured on equality
- Safety issues are arising for girls losing sex protected private spaces
- Safety issues are arising for girls in contact sports• Gender stereo-typing is reinforced, not reduced
- Research has shown that the increase of rapid-onset gender dysphoria is now a major concern
- Young people of faith have been labelled transphobic for questioning the trans ideology
- Girls who bind their breasts, encouraged in the document,are at risk of causing tissue damage
A Children’s Rights Impact Assessment regarding this document was published on the 30th January 2018 showed a potential eleven violations of children’s rights in the document Supporting Transgender Young People: Guidance for Schools in Scotland. It is clear that councils across Scotland, have advocated ‘best practice’ that blatantly disregards the rights and protections that all children should be afforded.
Aidan O’Neill QC, a top human rights lawyer says the guidance is based on ‘a misunderstanding or misrepresentation’ of the laws particularly regarding ‘the role and rights of the parents to determine issues around the child’s welfare and upbringing’. He concluded, ‘the Scottish Government is acting contrary to human rights law in supporting and promoting this gudance’.
I have spoken extensively with the headmaster and depute heads and joined our council’s staff equalities group. I have been listened to fairly but the situation remains unchanged.
Women’s safety, dignity and fairness
The proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act raise concerns in the area of women’s safety, equality and fairness. Women and children require a robust legal framework to protect their specific vulnerabilities. As a woman who is concerned by the alarming statistics that remain in the area of gender based violence, not one change is acceptable that reduces any protections in regard to women and children. There are many professionals, academics, women’s groups, women and men questioning the impact of current transgender ideology. Some high profile women’s and equality’s groups, as with councils, did not consult their members before endorsing policies on this issue.
A significant confusion in this debate is the attempt to interchange ‘gender reassignment’, currently well defined in law, with ‘gender identity’, which has no legal definition. As a result women and children’s safeguards are compromised as well as the safeguarding currently afforded to transsexuals in the medical process.
Government guidance on how the Equality Act exemptions should work at the moment should be clarified since self-id appears to be widely accepted without any change in the law and all without risk assessment or equality impact assessment. These exemptions are for the protection of women and may disallow male access to women’s safe spaces such as toilets, changing areas and regarding women’s accommodation in hospitals, refuges or prisons. Astoundingly there are no risk assessments for female prisoners or staff when deciding whether or not to house a self-identifying male in the women’s estate. I thank Rhona Hotchkiss, a former prison governor for her tireless work to raise this issue.
Data gathering on Sex
I was encouraged by Holyrood’s culture, tourism, Europe and external affairs committee’s report in 2018 recommending that the sex question in the census retains the binary options of male or female, recognising that moving to a non-binary sex question puts at significant risk the reliability of census data, which is key to policy development, research and strategic planning of public services. ‘Sex’ should not be confused with ‘gender identity’.
I attended a discussion regarding data gathering on sex and gender led by Scotland’s chief statistician. Concerns were clearly expressed at the potential loss of data on sex. Researchers from Stirling University confirmed that crime statistics are already skewed by allowing criminals to self-identify their sex. However the Scottish draft guidance on the sex question for the up-coming census currently is a gender identity question. Academics have written regarding the loss of data on sex should such an approach be taken and a court case was won regarding the England and Wales census so that sex question in that census in 2020 more properly gathered data on ‘legal’ sex, ie that on a birth certificate or gender recognition certificate.
I have spoken out about a couple of staff surveys which have confused sex and gender identity, but no changes have been made so far. However I spoke to my union about one of their surveys and they made proper changes to reflect sex and gender identity separately.
I feel there has rarely arisen such a serious issue as this. There has been institutional failure throughout our public bodies and many businesses regarding policy capture which ignores equality law and safeguarding. Most politicians, public equality officers and education heads remain silent to their shame. It negatively impacts all women and has the potential to use a generation of our young people in a sociological and medical experiment.
I am grateful for and stand with For Women Scotland, Joanna Cherry MP, JK Rowling and the many other gender critical women’s groups and men that are speaking out on this. The fight will continue.