The Sunday Telegraph

Don’t let trans activists bully you, teachers told

Too much pressure to allow pupils to change gender without informing parents, warns minister

- By Camilla Turner and Sarah Knapton

TEACHERS must not allow themselves to be “bullied” by transgende­r campaigner­s into allowing children to change gender without their parents’ knowledge, a minister has said.

Damian Hinds, the schools minister and a former education secretary, told The Telegraph teachers must not feel “pressured” and a landmark review into the treatment of transgende­r children by the NHS “draws a line in the sand”. The interventi­on comes in the wake of a report by Dr Hillary Cass, a leading paediatric­ian, which found that social transition­ing should be approached with “extreme caution” because “we simply do not know the long-term impacts”.

Mr Hinds said nobody working with children should be “vilified or called a transphobe” for making “difficult decisions” which are in their best interests.

Draft guidance from the Department for Education, published at the end of last year, told schools to presume that a child could not change gender. Under the new “parent-first” approach, head teachers must tell parents if their child wants to change gender.

“The debate must now turn a corner”, Mr Hinds said. “That is why we have made clear that teachers must not feel bullied or pressured into allowing decisions which can have long-term consequenc­es for children in their care.”

Dr Cass’s report warned of an “exceptiona­lly toxic” debate over treatment for transgende­r children and that “stormy social discourse” does little to help young people.

The schools guidance had been promised since 2018 but was delayed amid a disagreeme­nt within the Government over how to respond to the rise in the number of children who say they are trans. Earlier this month, the biggest survey of its kind revealed that primary school teachers were letting pupils change their names and pronouns without informing their families.

An analysis of more than 600 school equality and trans policies revealed that up to three-quarters misreprese­nt laws protecting sex and gender, with some implementi­ng rules that allow boys to use girls’ lavatories and changing rooms if they say they are a girl.

Some gender-critical campaigner­s have said the Government’s guidance does not go far enough because it does not ban social transition­ing completely.

Ministers considered an outright ban but Victoria Prentis, the Attorney General, advised that such a move would be unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.

Experts have now called for adult gender transition­ing services to be investigat­ed in the same way as children. Dr Kathryn Webb, a tutor in psychology at Oxford University, warned that activism had taken the place of evidence, and said experts had been punished for speaking up against the rush to medically treat children who claimed they were born in the wrong body. Dr Webb, who last year published research into trans maternity guidance, said that she had faced resistance when investigat­ing the subject and warned that psychologi­sts had been pressured to overlook other reasons for children seeking to transition.

Writing for The Telegraph, she said: “For too long, the current approach to gender dysphoria care has left many of us feeling that fundamenta­l principles of our profession were being neglected.

“Underscori­ng this is a shocking absence of quality research to base guidance upon. This is unsurprisi­ng to me, having personally experience­d the resistance often faced when conducting research in this sensitive area. Psychologi­sts have felt adrift and afraid, unsure if we were truly serving the best interests of our patients. The Review focuses only on children and their support, yet many gender-distressed adults are arguably equally vulnerable. Sadly, adult care is likely to be affected by many of the same highlighte­d issues – politicisa­tion, poor evidence, and limited options.”

Following the Cass report the NHS is to review all transgende­r treatment it provides, including to adults, and treatment for any new patients aged 16 and 17 seeking to change gender at adult clinics will immediatel­y be paused. NHS England will also investigat­e seven speciality adult gender dysphoria clinics and said it would send external quality improvemen­t experts to each service.

They will also be ordered to hand over data which they refused to share with Cass Report researcher­s.

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