‘No decision’ made on banning pupils changing gender identity – Downing Street

Reports have suggested the Prime Minister is considering dropping plans to bar so-called social transitioning at schools.

Sophie Wingate
Thursday 07 September 2023 14:16 BST
No 10 could also not say when long-awaited new guidance on gender self-identification would be issued to schools (David Jones/PA)
No 10 could also not say when long-awaited new guidance on gender self-identification would be issued to schools (David Jones/PA)

Downing Street has said “no decisions have been taken” on legal action that would ban schoolchildren from changing their gender identity.

Rishi Sunak is reportedly considering dropping plans to bar so-called social transitioning at schools, whereby children can choose another pronoun and wear the uniform of the opposite sex.

No 10 could also not say when long-awaited new guidance on gender self-identification will be issued to schools.

No decisions have been taken. So I’m not going to get into speculation around ongoing work around this guidance

Prime Minister's spokesman

The non-statutory guidance was originally expected before the summer holidays began.

While draft guidance said children should be allowed to socially transition with their parents’ consent, ministers later considered bringing in a new law to ban it outright.

But newspaper reports suggested that such a Bill will not be introduced in the King’s Speech, which sets out proposed legislation for the year ahead.

We’ve been repeatedly clear about the importance to proceed with extreme caution on this issue and that school should always involve parents in decisions relating to their child. But as I say, this work is ongoing

Prime Minister's spokesman

The Prime Minister’s spokesman told reporters: “No decisions have been taken. So I’m not going to get into speculation around ongoing work around this guidance.

“I think we’ve always said that this guidance will provide clarity so that parents have control, that children are kept safe, and that teachers have the appropriate information they need.

“We’ve been repeatedly clear about the importance to proceed with extreme caution on this issue and that school should always involve parents in decisions relating to their child. But as I say, this work is ongoing.”

Asked when the guidance will be issued, the official said: “I don’t have a steer for you on that point, no.

We need to take care to understand how such action affects other children in the school or college. That’s why we’re taking this additional time

Prime Minister's spokesman

“Obviously, we recognise the need to do this as quickly as possible, but more information is needed about the long-term implications of a child acting as though they are the opposite sex.

“And we need to take care to understand how such action affects other children in the school or college. That’s why we’re taking this additional time.”

Asked whether it would be before the next general election, he said: “I’m not going to put a specific timeline on it, not least because I don’t know when the next election will be.”

Mr Sunak’s top priority is the “well-being and safety” of children and he believes it is “vital” that the right safeguards are in place, his spokesman said.

The ongoing delays to the publication of the draft guidance are incredibly frustrating and continue to leave schools in a difficult position

Paul Whiteman, NAHT

At the moment, schools make their own decisions, including on whether to introduce gender-neutral toilets or changing rooms.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT school leaders’ union, said: “Decisions about how best to support transgender pupils can be complex and sensitive.

“NAHT has long called for clear government guidance to support schools and pupils, so that leaders are not left to navigate sometimes difficult issues in isolation.

“The ongoing delays to the publication of the draft guidance are incredibly frustrating and continue to leave schools in a difficult position.”

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