LGBTQ+ groups condemn UK's "dangerous" trans guidance for schools

The guidelines to support transgender students are subject to a 12-week public consultation where parents and educators can submit feedback until March.

Photo of arms holding Trans rights are human rights sign representing response to new UK trans guidelines for students.
Image: X @Nancy_M_K

On Tuesday, December 19, the UK government released its much-anticipated guidance for how to support trans, non-binary and gender-fluid students in English school settings. Among other things, teachers are allowed to “decline” a student’s request to use different pronouns, and access to single-sex facilities should be based on a student’s “biological” sex.

The draft document specifies that teachers may choose to withhold information from parents in “exceptionally rare” circumstances if they believe a child could be put at “significant” risk of harm by sharing their gender identity, but educators have expressed concern about how to determine if the parents would be supportive.

The guidelines use combative language describing “gender identity ideology” as a “contested belief,” terms the Human Rights Watch has seen far-right groups use in an attempt to restrict LGBTQ+ rights. The guidance also states that under most circumstances, teachers should inform parents when a child wants to change their gender identity.

The trans student guidance is the first of its kind to be established in the UK, and before being finalised, it is subject to a 12-week public consultation where parents and educators can submit feedback until March 12, 2024. Several charities have already weighed in.

Gendered Intelligence shared this message to young people in the UK: “Don’t lose hope. This guidance will be stressful and difficult for many, but it is non-statutory. This means it does not change the rights and protections you are guaranteed by law, and it does not stop your teachers, your friends, or your families from supporting you.

“You can still have, and you still deserve, a happy, fulfilling, and supportive school experience.”


Stonewall voiced concerns about the draft language, describing the proposed guidelines as “chilling” and “actively dangerous.”

Stonewall added, “We know from our long-standing work with teachers and schools that they are looking for clarity and practical guidance on how they can support trans children to thrive in their education. This confused draft guidance provides neither.”


Galop, an LGBTQ+ anti-abuse charity, explained that trans and non-binary students who experience family abuse often find support through teachers at school. While the government guidance states that it would be very rare for a child to be at risk of significant harm in the event of the school informing their parent or carer about their gender, Galop says that evidence demonstrates that this is incorrect.

Galop said for students who are questioning their gender identity, informing unsupportive parents “will lead to dangerous situations for some trans and non-binary young people.”


Mermaids, a transgender youth support charity, called the guidance around students’ names, pronouns and clothing “unworkable, out of touch and absurd” and assured students, “The overwhelming majority of teachers and parents believe trans pupils should be safe at school and will disregard these discriminatory guidelines, which will be non-compulsory.”

Trans Activism UK said that the language is both unlawful and non-statutory, adding, “Should any school feel compelled to follow this guidance, they will face an immediate risk of isolating marginalised pupils and creating an environment that encourages the bullying of vulnerable children.”


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