At last, minister says teachers MUST tell parents about transgender pupils: Education Secretary Gillian Keegan says she disagrees with stance of some schools for staff to ‘affirm’ a pupil’s new name and pronouns in secret
Teachers must tell parents if their children declare they are transgender in class, the Education Secretary has said.
Gillian Keegan said she disagreed with the stance taken in some schools where staff ‘affirm’ a pupil’s new name and pronouns in secret.
She promised that the ‘common sense’ involvement of parents would be included in long-awaited transgender guidance for head teachers, which was first promised five years ago but has yet to materialise.
But she also revealed there will be ‘quite a long consultation’ on the ‘sensitive’ rules due to be published before the summer holiday, raising the prospect that it may be many more months before the guidance is in force.
Her comments in an interview with web forum Mumsnet come after a BBC survey found that three-quarters of secondary school teachers said they taught trans or non-binary pupils.
Gillian Keegan (pictured) said she disagreed with the stance taken in some schools where staff ‘affirm’ a pupil’s new name and pronouns in secret
And a report by the Policy Exchange think-tank found that many schools allow children to ‘self-ID’ as the opposite sex without telling their parents.
Mrs Keegan has previously called for a ‘big dose of common sense’ in the fraught area of gender rights, and insisted it was ‘absolutely fine’ for teachers to say good morning girls in a single-sex school.
But she went further yesterday when asked about schools where teachers allow pupils to ‘socially transition’ and ‘affirm’ their new gender identities.
A secondary school teacher on Mumsnet told her: ‘My senior leadership team have told me that if a girl tells me she thinks she’s a boy, I should affirm immediately and use a new name and pronouns, but keep the whole thing a secret from her parents.
‘Do you agree with this? And if not, what are you going to do about the hundreds of schools which follow this policy?’
Mrs Keegan replied: ‘No, I don’t agree with that. I think transparency is really important. I think the parents’ role is really important. Parents, first and foremost, are the main advocates for their children. They’re the people who are the closest to their children.’
She said there had been a call for transgender guidance for schools and was working on it with equalities minister Kemi Badenoch.
She said there had been a call for transgender guidance for schools and was working on it with equalities minister Kemi Badenoch
‘We’re putting that together and we will be publishing it for consultation, quite a long consultation because I want everybody’s views and it is a sensitive area.
‘That will be published before the summer term. And then there’ll be a long consultation.’
Asked if the guidance will suggest that parents should be informed, Mrs Keegan replied: ‘Yes. It seems obvious, doesn’t it the common sense, sort of nature, it just seems so obvious, but yes, parents should be informed.’
Transparency is really important
The Education Secretary listed transgender pupils among the extra issues that teachers have to deal with. ‘It’s tiring because it always feels like there’s more to do, there’s more to catch up.
‘And there’s more pressures, there’s more special educational needs. There’s more transgender, you know, ten years ago, nobody was worried about that. Now people are worried about that.’
Asked if she sympathised with striking teachers, she replied: ‘I have a lot of sympathy with teachers. I think it’s an incredibly difficult job that’s got more difficult.’
But she stressed: ‘I have never thought strikes were the right answer.’ She said she would rather try to solve the problems that were leading unions to walk out and went on: ‘All strikes do is affect children and our kids have been through so much in a pandemic.’