In October 2020, the Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC) launched an inquiry relating to the 2018 government consultation on the Gender Recognition Act. The results of the GRA consultation had been announced the previous month.

WESC published a call for evidence with a focus on two areas: the Government’s response to the GRA consultation, and wider issues concerning transgender equality and current legislation. Click here to read the full SSAUK submission to WESC.

The call for evidence related to specific experience ‘from you or your organisation’s own knowledge, work or research’. Although WESC listed 16 questions in its terms of reference, most of these were aimed at understanding the effects of legislation on trans people. However, Safe Schools Alliance were able to provide evidence on two questions. These were:
‘Are the provisions in the Equality Act for the provision of single-sex and separate-sex spaces and facilities in some circumstances clear and useable for service providers and service users? If not, is reform or further guidance needed?’
‘Should the age limit at which people can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) be lowered?’

Executive summary

In our submission we:

  1. Show examples from school or council/local education authority (LEA) trans inclusive policies which incorrectly assert that it would be discrimination, and by implication illegal, to enforce single sex spaces such as toilets, changing rooms, and overnight accommodation.
  2. Discuss the impact of the policies on safeguarding and on children’s rights to bodily privacy, safety and dignity.
  3. Discuss the action we undertook with one council to highlight the issues, which culminated in SSAUK-supported legal action by a teenage girl wanting to protect her rights to single-sex spaces, followed by the withdrawal of the trans-inclusion toolkit by the council and the subsequent withdrawal of similar policies by many councils around the country.
  4. Argue that this demonstrates that the provision in the EA2010 for the provision of single sex spaces do not appear to be clear to many organisations, including those entrusted with the safeguarding of children. We will also argue that therefore clear, usable and legally-compliant guidance should be issued which protects all children.
  5. Make some suggestions about what the guidance could include to help schools to approach the issues.
  6. Briefly explain why lowering the age limit that a person can receive a GRC and therefore altered birth certificate to below 18 will make it more difficult for schools and other organisations such as youth groups to adequately safeguard children.

    Click here to read the full SSAUK submission to WESC.

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