We are pleased to see that the National Education Union (NEU) have agreed to carry out a review after it was revealed they organised training from the charity Educate and Celebrate which misrepresented the law, sought to deny reality and erase students’ sex-based rights.
Educate and Celebrate offer resources and training to nurseries, schools and colleges. One of their patrons is Peter Tatchell, who has stated that girls who assert their rights to privacy should be “challenged” and who has minimised the risks to girls of mixed-sex spaces.
The CEO of Educate and Celebrate, Elly Barnes, promotes a particular agenda, unquestioningly accepting trans ideology and calling for teachers to “smash heteronormativity“. Any school signing up to her organisation is, de facto, also promoting this agenda. Dr Barnes’ advice for schools who think that parents may not appreciate this is to tell them to be secretive about what they are teaching children. This is an anti-safeguarding approach and antithetical to the best interests of children.
The resources Barnes promotes for schools conflate sex and gender and deliver a message that reinforces sex stereotypes. She has personally endorsed a book promoted by the charity called ‘Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity?’ which tells the story of Kit, a twelve-year-old girl who is being medically transitioned to live as a boy. Kit tells the reader that when she was born “the doctors told my mum and dad that they had a baby girl, and so for the first few years of my life that’s how my parents raised me… I didn’t like playing with dolls, or wearing dresses, and I hated having long hair”. By the age of three she was telling her parents she was a boy, and this was accepted and supported by the adults around her. As reviewed by Transgender Trend, “The story of a fictional 12 year-old girl ‘transitioning’ into a “boy”… suggests that diversity is not to be celebrated but medicalised by changing sex and thus replacing non-conformity to one stereotype with conformity to the opposite sex stereotype.”
This contradicts Government guidance on RSE which states that schools should not use materials “which suggest that non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity”. We would not expect the NEU to be promoting an organisation which does this.
We hope the NEU review into appropriate resources for schools will also include a review of their own resources. Many NEU members, supported by Safe Schools Alliance, have been raising concerns about these for several years now, in particular their Trans Educators Toolkit and their advice on Supporting trans and gender questioning students.
The NEU appear to be confused about the difference between sex and gender. Their advice on trans students uses scientifically inaccurate language which contravenes guidance from the Department for Education. It also indicates that children can use the toilets which align with their gender identity and recommends the sexist, homophobic and scientifically inaccurate genderbread person as a suitable resource. It signposts to organisations about which we have raised safeguarding concerns, such as Mermaids, and links to a Toolkit which includes advice withdrawn from Oxfordshire County Council following legal action.
The Educator’s Toolkit tells staff they can use the toilets and facilities that correspond with their “gender identity”, overriding the safety, dignity and privacy of other staff in the school. The Public Sector Equality Duty states that public bodies have to foster good relations between protected groups, but the NEU is clearly failing to do that. In October 2020 Safe Schools Alliance had a meeting with the Joint General-Secretaries of the National Education Union, Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney. When we asked Dr Bousted if the union had consulted any women when they put together this guidance, she asked why they would have had to discuss this issue with women: they had consulted with their trans members.
The NEU have also issued a statement on the speech given by Liz Truss MP in 2020, asserting that rights for trans people are not at odds with “at the expense of women workers or women’s rights”, thereby failing to consider the sex-based rights of their members.
We are deeply concerned at the disregard for child safeguarding shown by the NEU in promoting such contested resources, and at the perceived lack of support for teaching staff who do not subscribe to gender ideology.
Enough is enough. All members of the NEU should have had child protection training and know these resources are wrong.