U.K. School Guidance Endorses Parental Notification
New government guidelines in England are urging schools to adopt parental notification policies regarding students’ social gender transition efforts. Published on Tuesday by the United Kingdom’s Department for Education, the new guidance recommends that teachers first wait before agreeing to a student’s request to be referred to by a new name or new pronouns in order “to ensure it is a sustained and properly thought through decision. This period of ‘watchful waiting’ may help to ensure unnecessary action is not undertaken.” If a student’s social transition-related request persists, teachers are then instructed to “engage” with parents.
“If a child requests a change, schools and colleges should make parents aware of the situation and can point them to support outside the school environment (for example, pastoral or medical support) if they request more information,” the guidance stipulates. “It is important that the views of the child’s parents should carry great weight and be properly considered. We would expect parental consent to be required in the vast majority of cases.”
Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council, commented to The Washington Stand, “This guidance document for schools is a wonderful improvement over the activist driven policies and practices British families endured for too many years.” She added, “The fact that they state clearly the need to involve parents in such fundamental matters is encouraging.”
The new government guidance also stresses both the legal and moral responsibility teachers have to protect students entrusted to their care. The document explains that teachers “should note that safeguarding requires an individual to consider what is in the best interests of the child, which may not be the same as the child’s wishes.” Teachers are also instructed to weigh “whether the child has properly considered the impact of their requests.” Part of this includes “understand[ing] societal or other factors that may have in-fluenced [sic] the child…” Some of those factors enumerated in the document include the influence of peers and social media, pressure derived from stereotypes about the student’s biological sex, and the child’s sexual orientation.
The document suggests teachers ask themselves, “Does the child feel pressured to identify differently because they
simply do not align with stereotypes associated with their sex?” It also urges teachers to consider, “Is there an interaction with a child’s sexual orientation?”
The guidelines note that a recent government review into the controversial Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service clinic for children “heard from young lesbians who felt pressured to identify as transgender male, and conversely transgender males who felt pressured to come out as lesbian rather than transgender.” The guidelines add, “Where a child discloses that they are also questioning or exploring their sexual orientation, schools should make clear that they are under no pressure to reach a particular outcome.”
Also emphasized is the absence of long-term research on the effects of gender transition procedures, both social and “medical,” especially where children are concerned. “We do not yet have definitive evidence on the long- and short-term impact of changes on children,” the guidelines warn, noting that the report on Tavistock suggests that transition procedures “could have significant psychological effects on a young person.”
In fact, this absence of evidence of long-term effects of gender transition procedures on children has motivated many European nations (including the U.K.) to severely curb or even outright halt providing such things as puberty blockers, hormone drugs, or gender transition surgeries to children.
The U.K.’s investigation into the Tavistock clinic was pivotal in the nation’s renewed commitment to safeguarding children. The revelation that staff members were pressuring child patients into accepting regimens of puberty blockers and hormone drugs, the almost-total lack of psychological oversight, and the clinic’s affiliation with transgenderism activist organizations forced the government to close it down. Dr. Hillary Cass, the pediatrician tasked by the government with investigating the claims against Tavistock, was so disturbed by the agenda-driven negligence that she had found that she recommended the government close the clinic several months before she had even completed her investigation.
The government guidelines issued Tuesday further note that even if a student’s social gender transition requests are approved, they will still have to use bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams corresponding to their biological sexes.
The U.K.’s new guidelines come as schools and school districts across the U.S. continue to reject parental notification policies. A report published earlier this year by Parents Defending Education found that over 1,000 school districts, responsible for nearly 11 million students, still had policies in place barring teachers from notifying parents about their own children’s social gender transition requests.
Kilgannon commented, “Many school districts and even entire states in the U.S. are insisting on the deception of parents about their minor children in this regard.” She added, “I hope that we will see a trend towards a more conservative approach here in the U.S., when even more socialized and culturally liberal nations are pulling back from transitioning of children being an unquestioned standard of care.”
A poll published last month found that a majority of American voters support parental notification policies.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.