A leading group of girls’ schools has said it will not accept transgender pupils because doing so could “jeopardise” their single-sex status.
The Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), which represents 25 schools in England, updated its gender identity policy last month to include admission rules.
Under the new section, the group states it does not accept applications from prospective students who are legally male but identify as trans or non-binary.
GDST says having an admissions policy “based on gender identity” rather than the legal sex recorded on a student’s birth certificate would “jeopardise the status of GDST schools as single-sex schools” under the Equality Act 2010.
The group will, however, “carefully consider” applications from students who are legally female but who identify as trans or non-binary “on a case-by-case basis,” according to the new guidance.
And any existing student who begins to transition while already at one of GDST’s schools “will be supported to remain at the school post-transition as long as they wish to do so,” the group said.
Cheryl Giovannoni, chief executive of GDST, said the policy intended to offer a “supportive educational environment” to pupils exploring their gender identity or in the process of transitioning.
“Our trans students are welcome in our schools and our policy primarily sets out ways in which schools can support them,” she added.
The document, seen by The Independent, states that GDST schools “are able to operate a single-sex admissions policy without breaching the Equality Act 2010 on the basis of an exemption relating to biological sex”.
It adds: “Under current laws and guidance, the GDST believes an admissions policy based on gender identity rather than the legal sex recorded on a student’s birth certificate could jeopardise the status of GDST schools as single-sex schools under the act.
“We will continue to monitor the legal interpretation of this exemption.”
Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School of College Leaders (ASCL), said headteachers were having to make decisions on biological sex and gender as more and more children “come out” as transgender.
She told the Sunday Telegraph: “It is a really big issue and the lack of formal guidance for schools is something that we are concerned about.
“It is something that almost all schools are having to think about but particularly single-sex schools.”
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