Transgender activism position has potential to bring Humza Yousaf down​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ - Brian Monteith

First Minister needs to distance himself from Greens and help our children if he wants to survive

In what was undeniably the worst week of his leadership, the First Minister was forced to reverse previous positions, but his grudging retreat could yet turn into a rout. From the beginning of the week Humza Yousaf was still looking foolish over the Hate Crime Act, which, having been the Justice Minister who gave no quarter when pushing it through Holyrood, he remains especially responsible for. The derision from its introduction was still rumbling on, framing his week as it started.

Meanwhile, the publication of the Cass Review on NHS England’s gender services for children had led to medical interventions such as puberty blockers being withdrawn south of the Border. At the beginning of the week Yousaf’s Government refused to give its own response and voted down Conservative attempts to force a statement in Holyrood. But then, feeling mounting public wrath and outrage – and the possibility of legal suits requiring compensation – it suddenly announced puberty blockers would no longer be available at the NHS’s Sandyford Clinic in Glasgow except to those already on a course of drugs (the same approach as is being taken in England). Some Green MSPs in the coalition were outraged.

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Outraged Green MSPs

As if that was not enough, Yousaf then confirmed legally set Net Zero targets were to be abandoned because the performative virtue signalling numbers were not going to be met. More Green MSPs were outraged still.

It appeared there were two factions in the Scottish Green Party competing to be the loudest in projecting their anger at the SNP’s betrayal on transgender or net zero politics – putting the coalition at serious risk of collapse. A vote of Greens to continue or not is now to be held.

In any normal week those events alone would have looked horrendous enough, but by Thursday evening he was severely embarrassed when Peter Murrell – the SNP’s former Chief Executive and husband to his predecessor, Nicola Sturgeon – was charged with embezzlement of SNP funds. Undoubtedly close to both (Yousaf was not called the continuity candidate for nothing) he had to express his shock and disbelief.

While media attention is initially going to be drawn towards the decision the Crown Office has to take on whether or not enough evidence has been gathered by the police to warrant Murrell facing prosecution, and then cover what might transpire at any trial, there is significant potential for the lengthy process to damage the SNP.

Quite differently, however, the Hate Crime Act and his government’s association with transgender activism both present Yousaf with a direct liability for any mounting public disgust and anger.

Concerns were mounting last week when it became clear his administration had made funds available amounting to a million pounds per year for an independent and unaccountable activist charity, LGBT Youth Scotland, to employ some 48 activists helping establish LGBT clubs in Scottish schools.

Alarm bells ringing

Further, Scottish education must operate under official LGBT guidance drawn up by Humza Yousaf’s administration which introduces protocols that lead to children as young as four being asked to question their gender, while preventing parents or guardians of pupils from being told if their child has changed gender. Such a path could lead to medical intervention, such as puberty blockers, which Hilary Cass has set alarm bells ringing about.

Is it just me who thinks the priorities of Humza Yousaf and his ministers are alarmingly out of step with what the vast majority of parents would want – that they, at the very minimum, be informed of key decisions being taken by their children?

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Should we not expect, at a time when Scottish education is falling well behind international standards – there is a real problem with literacy, numeracy and the performance of Scottish pupils in maths and science – that every effort is made to address those genuine educational weaknesses?

Should we not be looking to see maths and reading clubs being established in every school rather than particular gender clubs – and that funds given to LGBT activists should be going to solve shortages of maths teachers under Yousaf’s watch?

Should we not expect, in the light of the Cass Review, the guidance to schools which gives priority to “affirmative gender care” be immediately suspended and new guidance drawn up that restores the rights of parents to be informed about the children they are meant to have legal responsibility for?

An abysmal situation

Individual stories are now surfacing of real problems being faced by parents who are having to withdraw their children from Scottish schools – one family moving their daughter to an independent school in England because all the state sector schools in East Lothian followed the same Scottish Government advice and offered no hope of an alternative approach.

Finding solace by using independent schools is no guarantee, however, with one Edinburgh family going public with the huge problems caused when their daughter’s, name and gender change was told in confidence to her brother but not to the parents at a private school.

Sorting out this abysmal situation – where real damage is being done to Scotland’s children – should be Yousaf’s priority, but of course, he has to consider what the Greens have to say.

More examples of genuine secret, yet life-changing, interventions with accompanying family disruption are now likely to surface – with, I believe, the ability to engulf Yousaf in public disgust – just as the case of male transgender sex offenders being sent to women’s prison did.

Yousaf should dump the Greens before the Greens dump him. He should then abandon the guidance and funding of transgender activism in schools and return rights to parents. Only then does he stand any chance of avoiding more bad weeks at the office.

Brian Monteith is a former member of the Scottish and European parliaments and editor of



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