UK government publishes "out of touch" transgender guidance for English schools

Transgender youth support charity Mermaids has called the new guidance around students' names, pronouns and clothing "unworkable, out of touch and absurd".

This article is about transgender guidance for schools in the UK. The image shows a protest for trans rights, with a person holding a sign in the air reading
Image: Pexel Oriel Frankie Ashcroft

On Tuesday, December 19, the UK government unveiled new guidance for schools and colleges in England on how to support transgender students, which suggests that teachers should inform parents when a child wants to change their gender identity.

The UK government’s draft guidance says that teachers should be able to refer to children as “girls” or “boys” and suggests that teachers should “take a very cautious approach” when students want to change their names, pronouns or uniforms.

The newly published guidelines go on to say that teachers do not have a “general duty” to allow pupils to socially transition. It includes details about students’ names, registered sex and pronouns as well as rules for single-sex spaces, accommodations, school uniforms, clothing and sports.



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Under the new guidance, single-sex schools have the right to refuse to admit pupils who are questioning their gender, primary-aged school children are not allowed to use different pronouns from their assigned sex at birth, and schools are required to record the name and “biological sex” of every pupil in the admissions register.

The guidance further states 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 transgender guidance is the first of its kind to be established in the UK, and it is subject to a 12-week public consultation where teachers, parents and social groups may weigh in and share their feedback before it is finalised. Many LGBTQ+ activists will object to the new rules, while conservative voices are likely to argue that the guidelines are not strict enough.

Mermaids, a transgender youth support charity, called the guidance around students’ names, pronouns, and clothing “unworkable, out of touch and absurd,” and said it puts young people at risk and criticises the government for not consulting with young trans people or best practices when creating the guidelines.

A spokesperson for Mermaids said, “All young people deserve an accepting and supportive school environment to learn and be their authentic selves.”

Some teachers who advocate for trans students anonymously told the BBC that they plan to continue following their own policies and not out children to their parents regardless of what guidance is finalised.

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