‘Trans’ survey for 10-year-olds
Official NHS questionnaire asks primary school pupils if they feel comfortable with their gender
TEN-YEAR-OLD children are being asked by the NHS whether they are “comfortable with their gender” in official health surveys being completed in schools, it emerged last night.
The form given to children in Year 6 asks: “Do you feel the same inside as the gender you were born with? (feeling male or female).” Youngsters are also asked to tick a box to confirm their true gender, with options of “boy”, “girl” and “other”.
Parents have been told that the NHS survey helps healthcare workers and teachers develop “better ways to understand and support” children who may be struggling with their identity, but it is not known whether individual children will be approached for further support based on their answers.
MPS and parents claimed the question was intrusive and could confuse children, amid growing concerns in some quarters over the inclusion of transgender issues in primary schools. The form, issued by the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, is thought to have been sent to schools in the county but it is unclear whether the initiative has been more widely adopted.
A tutor wrote to the The Daily Telegraph expressing surprise at the line of questioning in the survey, which has traditionally been used to monitor weight, fitness and health issues.
Tim Loughton, the Tory MP and a former children’s minister, considered the question “deeply worrying”. He said: “At a time when children are growing up and having to deal with all sorts of challenges in the modern world, they are being asked to confront their gender, which for many will be unsettling. Clearly we need to be sensitive about the issue of gender and sexual orientation but forcing children to question whether they are the right gender so early on can be deeply destabilising.”
The NHS does not offer gender reassignment surgery to under-18s but children are sometimes given hormone treatment. Critics claim the medical risks are not well-enough understood, but advocates say the trauma caused by going through puberty in the “wrong” body can lead to mental health problems and an increased risk of suicide.
Figures released earlier this year by the Gender Identity Development Service show that the number of under-18s referred to the clinic has increased from 314 in 2011 to 2,016 last year.
Lyndsey Simpson, a mother from Leyland whose daughter brought home a letter about the questionnaire on Thursday from her Church of England school, said the 10-year-old had been in “such a state” about it.
“I don’t want someone putting into my daughter’s head that she might not be happy with her own gender,” she said. She said the head teacher had not been aware of the question and that he had been “very supportive”.
Jacob Rees-mogg, a Conservative MP, said: “The problem is not just with the question but with the intrusive survey that invades people’s privacy and assumes the state has a role in a matter that actually belongs within the family.”