The Telegraph reports this morning on a series of guidance packs produced for schools by Stonewall, the trans lobby group. Our spokeswoman Tanya Carter explains why Safe Schools Alliance are very concerned about the safeguarding aspects of these.
Stonewall’s guides inform schools that there should be no single-sex toilets, and that boys and girls should be able to compete against each other in sport.
As is often the case with Stonewall resources, useful suggestions for ways to challenge stereotypes are mixed in with advice which is ideologically driven and contravenes safeguarding requirements. Many people would agree that making children line up boy-girl is divisive, and can make girls responsible for boys’ behaviour. Equally, phrases like “man up” are sexist and put undue pressure on boys to avoid showing emotion.
However Stonewall moves beyond treating boys and girls equally to pretending that there are no physical differences between them. The inevitable outcome of mixed-sex sport will be that girls will do worse, lose confidence, and very possibly get injured. Girls’ participation in sport already falls off dramatically when they enter secondary school. Forcing them to compete against boys who have all the physical benefits of male puberty is not the way to address this.
The guides also advise schools that they must allow trans pupils access to the changing rooms, toilets and overnight accommodation that they feel most comfortable in. This is incorrect, as explained in our factsheet on Single-sex Toilets and Changing Facilities. It ignores the safety, privacy and comfort of the other students involved and is likely to leave schools open to challenge. It is very alarming that despite the many recent reports of sexual harassment of girls in schools, organisations such as Stonewall are still pushing an agenda which takes away girls’ rights to single-sex spaces.
Secondary schools choosing to pay £800 pa to Stonewall for advice like that would do better to invest in some good quality training to support teachers in delivering the PSHE curriculum. Ofsted’s recent Review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges found that “some of the main weaknesses in the delivery of RSHE were linked to the lack of subject knowledge that teachers had on topics like consent, healthy relationships and sharing of sexual images”.