Edexcel, a leading UK exam board, has given teenagers the option to opt out of gender classification on their A-level exams. In a major shift, non-binary students can now request that male and female flags be removed from the examination system.
A spokesperson for Pearson, the parent company behind Edexcel, said: “We are continuing to look at how non-binary students can have the option of signalling that they do not wish to be classed as either male or female when they register for a qualification and receive results with Pearson Edexcel. For this summer we have removed the gender flag altogether from the documents students receive from us, and we are giving them the option of removing the male/female flag on our qualifications systems by requesting this through their school or college.”
While there were initial concerns this could affect exam boards ability to measure gender trends on test results, the JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) believed that the gender opt out numbers would not be high enough to have “a material impact on the aggregated results.” They followed with “where a candidate has no designated gender, JCQ does not enter their results for national reporting.”
Edexcel’s parent company Pearson followed by announcing plans to introduce mentions of same-sex couples in their new textbooks, alongside a promise to update all their products to become more LGBT+ inclusive. Pearson will seek advice from UK LGBT+ charity Stonewall in implementing the changes.
Stonewall spokesperson, Sidonie Bertrand Shelton, said: “By offering non-binary students a voluntary way to express their identity, schools will get a better understanding of who makes up their student body. Having more inclusive data will help schools create more welcoming environments and ensure every student is accepted without exception.”
While Edexcel are leading the charge, other A-level exam boards promised to look at their own systems and how they accommodate non-binary students.
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