Gender Questioning Children – has this clarified matters? banner


Gender Questioning Children – has this clarified matters?

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In December the Government finally released their long-awaited draft guidance on Gender Questioning Children.

I think it is fair to say, from the sectors initial response, that as currently drafted, there remains concerns and questions for schools and colleges as to the approach which they should take towards any child questioning their gender.  The consultation on the draft guidance ends on 12 March and interested parties are encouraged to respond to the draft.

The guidance sets out five general principles which schools and colleges can use to frame their response to requests by a parent or child to accommodate a child who is questioning their gender.  The principles are:

  • Schools and colleges have statutory duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children.
  • Schools and colleges should be respectful and tolerant places where bullying is never tolerated.
  • Parents should not be excluded from decisions taken by the school or college relating to a request for a child to socially transition.
  • Schools and colleges have specific legal duties that are framed by a child’s biological sex.
  • There is no general duty to allow a child to social transition.

How the above principles should be applied in practice is set out, to some extent, in the draft guidance.  However, there remains uncertainty within the draft guidance and inevitably, schools and colleges are still going to have to navigate carefully the many differing views of parents and students.  Perhaps, following the consultation period some of the initial questions will be addressed.  At present, schools and colleges are not required to adhere to the draft guidance nor change any current policies and procedures which they have in place.

We will look at this topic again in the summer once the consultation process has ended but for now, it will be interesting to see all the commentary regarding the proposed application of the guidance.  Whether or not the final guidance will address the concerns and the balancing acts which schools have had to undertake remains to be seen and I suspect that schools will continue to face difficult decisions dealing with this complex issue.

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.
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