The UK Government's Draft Trans Guidance for Schools & Colleges: A Barrier to Inclusion and Safety for Trans Students

19 Dec 2023

Trans young people deserve to live authentically and safely, yet the UK Government's draft trans guidance for schools and colleges in England further exacerbates the barriers they face in achieving this. As an organisation championing LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion, Pride in London is deeply concerned. We believe trans students have the right to an inclusive education that nurtures them to live as their true selves. This guidance contradicts that, putting them at greater risk of significant distress and harm. 

Notably, the draft guidance lacks support for social transitions, with a vague "cautious approach" advocated instead. This could enable inconsistent or overtly restrictive policies that cause distress. While the draft guidance cites the Cass Review in its attempt to sow doubts about social transition, it selectively omits the Cass Review’s clear finding that “doing nothing” in terms of active intervention or treatment of trans youth is also not to be considered a neutral act. Indeed, doing nothing is contrary to our schools’ duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, including taking prompt action to prevent the impairment of children’s mental and physical health or development.

The guidance also mandates recording and disclosing students' biological sex over their gender identity. Assessing accommodation requests solely on sex assigned at birth rather than the lived experience of the student is dehumanising and at odds with schools’ Equality Act obligations. Additionally, the restrictive policies mandated regarding facilities like bathrooms and changing rooms could severely compromise trans students' privacy, safety and dignity on a daily basis. Rules on participation in gendered sports, uniforms, names, pronouns and parental disclosures take the same tone – one that refuses respectful flexibility and inclusion at the expense of vulnerable trans youth.

We call for a rework of this guidance in the spirit of nurturing all students equally and protecting the fundamental welfare of all trans young people. Trans students deserve to walk openly in their truth, not live in fear of humiliation, judgement or danger in environments designed for their growth.  Their voices and experiences should lead policy, not restrictive ideals out of step with their needs and wellbeing.  

At Pride in London, we know each young person has creative, intellectual and social contributions beyond a gender label. We ask the UK government to honour that whole identity in students – including for trans youth. Guidance that blocks any child from equal access, dignity and opportunity has no place in a modern, progressive Britain that leads from compassion. Our trans youth deserve better – we all do.

We urge the public to make their opposition known by writing to The Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP, Secretary of State for Education, The Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch MP, Minister for Women and Equalities, as well as their local MP. Speak out against this detrimental guidance that will cause direct harm to young people all across the country.

Guidance for Schools and Colleges: Gender Questioning Children

UK Government Consultation