New schools guidance relating to gender dysphoria on its way

25th April 2023

The UK Government guidance will aim to improve the consistency in schools when safeguarding children with gender dysphoria.

The Department for Education are in the process of drafting UK Government guidance on how state and independent schools should approach safeguarding children with gender dysphoria. Under the new guidance, it is expected that schools will have to tell parents if pupils wish to change their gender, begin using a different name or wearing a different school uniform.

The Sunday Times reported that the guidance will clarify the following:

  • Children who identify as a different gender from their biological sex cannot share changing or shower facilities with the opposite sex;
  • Children who are socially transitioning or questioning their gender should be provided with alternative facilities where appropriate, as is already the case in some schools for pupils with complex needs; and
  • Biologically born males who have socially transitioned will not be permitted to join girls’ teams in certain contact and competitive school sports and vice versa.

According to Leading Britain’s Conversation, the guidance may allow teachers to refuse the use of preferred pronouns, even if the pronouns are requested by the parent or the pupil, if there is no other evidence relating to change of name etc.

There has been concern amongst schools that families may issue proceedings against schools for safeguarding issues stemming from gender dysphoria. Further, there has been concern expressed by politicians that schools deal with socially transitioning pupils inconsistently which is a threat to safeguarding and welfare. In a policy exchange document published on 30 March 2023, it was suggested that some schools were incorrectly relying on Data Protection Law or the Equality Act 2010 to not inform parents about their children changing gender.

Blake Morgan regularly advise education providers on discrimination and safeguarding law and how to deal with gender change requests in practice, please do contact us for further advice.

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