Schools re­ceive le­gal warn­ing over guid­ance on LGBT pupils

The Herald on Sunday - - NEWS -

SCOT­TISH lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and schools could face le­gal ac­tion over “con­tro­ver­sial and mis­lead­ing” guid­ance on deal­ing with trans­gen­der pupils.

The Chris­tian In­sti­tute (CI) has sent let­ters to 17 au­thor­i­ties ask­ing what steps they took to check whether the guid­ance re­flected equal­ity law and the Hu­man Rights Act.

Lawyers act­ing for the i nsti­tute ex­pressed “sig­nif­i­cant con­cerns” about the guid­ance pub­lished late last year.

CI spokesman Si­mon Calvert said: “The Scot­tish Govern­ment with­drew its en­dorse­ment of the guid­ance when we pointed out the le­gal er­rors in it. Now it’s time for coun­cils to pull the plug on it too.”

The doc­u­ment, “Sup­port­ing Trans­gen­der Young Peo­ple: Guid­ance For Schools in Scot­land”, says teach­ers should not tell par­ents if their child changes gen­der in school un­less the child gives per­mis­sion. It also states school staff must in­form lo­cal au­thor­i­ties of par­ents who “strug­gle” with their child’s trans­gen­der iden­tity.

The guide­lines were pro­duced by LGBT Youth Scot­land and say school­child­ren as young as four “should be sup­ported to ex­plore and ex­press their iden­tity re­gard­less of their age”. They also say par­ents should not be told if their child has to share a bed­room on a school trip with an op­po­site sex pupil who claims to be trans­gen­der.

The guid­ance had car­ried the en­dorse­ment of the Scot­tish Govern­ment. How­ever, when the in­sti­tute set out the con­cerns, the Govern­ment asked for the im­me­di­ate re­moval of its en­dorse­ment.

The let­ter to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties states: “Your coun­cil has en­dorsed this guid­ance. How­ever, it con­tains some key er­rors and omis­sions which mean the guid­ance is li­able to mis­lead schools as to their rights and du­ties.

“This could lead to un­nec­es­sary le­gal ac­tion against schools and the coun­cil.”

An ac­com­pa­ny­ing let­ter, sent to the Scot­tish Govern­ment, con­tains de­tailed ob­jec­tions to the guid­ance.

It states: “Teach­ers and schools will be mis­led into think­ing that equal­ity law gives ab­so­lute rights to trans­gen­der peo­ple to the ex­clu­sion of the rights of other ser­vice users.”

On the rights of par­ents it says: “Par­ents have the right to be kept in­formed by a school of mat­ters re­lat­ing to their child’s de­vel­op­ment and well­be­ing.”

The Chris­tian In­sti­tute (CI) sent let­ters to au­thor­i­ties over equal­ity laws

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