Ministers have dropped plans to ban pupils from changing their gender identity in schools after being warned it would be illegal, it has been revealed.
New guidance for schools, expected to be published next week, will state that children can socially transition with their parents’ consent, meaning they can use another name or pronoun and wear the uniform of the opposite sex, The Times reported.
But teachers and pupils will not be compelled to address children who want to change their gender identity by their chosen pronoun.
The U-turn comes after the attorney general is said to have warned ministers a ban on social transitioning would breach the Equality Act and require new laws.
The government’s new guidance is expected to contain an effective “presumption against” social transitioning. It means children will only be able to transition in limited circumstances and with appropriate safeguards in place.
The guidance states explicitly that teachers should not be “compelled” to address children by their chosen pronoun if they have a “good faith” objection, The Times reported. There are narrow exemptions for “exceptional” circumstances, it added.
It is also expected to order schools to abide by laws such as the Equality Act and keep toilets, changing rooms and contact sports separate.
Those who socially transition will not be allowed to play contact sports with children of their adopted gender.
Rishi Sunak promised in March that transgender guidance for schools would be published by the summer term, but it has been repeatedly delayed.
In July, the government said it needed more time to ensure it met the “high expectations” of teachers and parents.
Headteachers have slammed the PM, branding the lack of guidance “frustrating” as teachers are having to navigate the “complex and sensitive subject” of gender identity on their own.
At the time, education secretary Gillian Keegan said: “It is vital that the guidance we publish gives clarity for schools and colleges and reassurance for parents. So, we have made the decision to allow more time – to speak to teachers, parents, lawyers and other stakeholders – in order to ensure this guidance meets the high expectations that these groups rightly have for it.”
Last month, Ms Keegan promised the guidance was being refined and would come “soon”.
She added that the subject is “quite a contentious area” which has prompted much debate and said the government wants to make sure it gets the right balance.
Education unions have described delays as frustrating as they leave schools in a difficult position, while England’s Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza said teachers, families and pupils are “crying out for” it so there is “clarity” in the approach across the country.News Related