We welcome the decision of the Scottish Secretary, Alister Jack, to block the Scottish government’s Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) bill on constitutional grounds. The bill, which would have allowed children to apply for a gender recognition certificate from the age of 16 while removing the need for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, would have made it more difficult to safeguard vulnerable children.

We are already deeply concerned about the widespread adoption of ‘social transition’ in UK schools, where trans-identified children are affirmed in their belief that they are either the opposite sex, or have no sex at all. Many of these children are autistic, victims of child sex abuse, or struggling to accept that they are same-sex attracted. Their motivation for identifying out of their birth sex cannot be properly explored, and they cannot receive support, while their teachers and peers are colluding in the lie that ‘changing gender’ will resolve all their problems. Many teachers who do not agree with trans ideology have told us that they do not dare to raise questions about this within their schools, but the responses to a recent thread on Twitter that posed the question “What is the greatest safeguarding concern for schools at the moment?” demonstrates how many are concerned about this.

Vulnerable children are not getting the help and support that they both deserve and need, leaving them at the mercy of predators. Children are groomed in so many different ways: sexual exploitation, county lines, far right extremism, religious extremism, misogyny and, as we’ve seen from innumerable examples in @Headteacherchat’s thread, gender identity ideology.

What is particularly pernicious about gender identity ideology is that whilst schools are at least attempting to combat other forms of online indoctrination and grooming, they have embraced this one. Rather than challenge the homophobic and misogynistic misinformation children have read online about ‘gender identity’, some schools are reinforcing the damaging lies via activist teachers and political propaganda that the DfE have funded with public money and unions such as the NEU push with no regard for child safeguarding. This is a national safeguarding scandal and schools are in crisis.

A state-sanctioned recognition that trans identification at age 16 is enough to legally change a child’s sex would only make this situation worse. Established safeguarding frameworks and practices are already being ignored in schools when it comes to this issue. The Gender Recognition Reform bill would have further legitimised that and made it even more difficult for parents and teachers to advocate for children. It would have facilitated the move of more distressed, worried and confused children along the path from pronoun changes at school to hormones with irreversible side effects. Under 18s are children, and all are worthy of protection.

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