Transgender ideology in Scotland's schools is peddling a harmful lie – Susan Dalgety

Scottish Government guidance tells teachers that ‘a transgender young person may not have told their family about their gender identity… Therefore, it is best to not share information with parents or carers without considering and respecting the young person’s views and rights’

More than 50 people crowded into a Holyrood committee room on Tuesday night to share their concerns about an ideology that is sweeping Scotland’s schools. From state secondary schools in Dundee to private schools in Edinburgh, Scotland’s children are being told they can change their sex, often with the active encouragement of teaching staff and sometimes without their parents’ knowledge.

Fifteen-year-old Lily crushes her breasts with a chest binder she found online, changes her name to Oliver, and everyone pretends this is normal. Except, as the people at the meeting on Tuesday night heard from respected educational experts, it is anything but.

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The event was hosted by Tory MSP Jeremy Balfour and the group, Concerned Adults Talking Openly about Gender Identity Ideology, which was formed last year after parents in Edinburgh’s Portobello neighbourhood become concerned about what was being taught in local schools. But we need to go back more than three decades to discover the genesis of a movement that has helped convince well-meaning, if perhaps naïve, politicians and education leaders that children can be born “in the wrong body”.

The Stonewall Youth Project was formed in 1989 to support gay, lesbian and bisexual young people. In 2003, it added transgender to the list and changed its name to LGBT Youth Scotland (LGBTYS). It is worth noting that Stonewall UK did not add the “T” to their work stream until 2015.

Perhaps surprisingly, LGBTYS survived a scandal in 2009, when its chief executive, James Rennie, was convicted of running Scotland’s largest paedophile ring. Rennie had also sexually abused a young boy for four years, starting when the toddler was a three-month-old baby. And last December, LGBTYS said it had called in Police Scotland over “new allegations” of “historic exploitation”. That investigation is still ongoing.

Today, the organisation aspires to make sure “all schools in Scotland are inclusive places for LGBTI learners”, and receives nearly £500,000 a year from the Scottish Government. More than 60 per cent of Scotland’s schools, including 40 primary schools, have adopted its LGBT charter, and it organises youth groups for 13 to 25-year-olds across Scotland. As one secondary teacher told me recently, “if a student tells me she is trans, or confused about her identity, I have to point her in the direction of LGBT Youth Scotland”.

One private school in Edinburgh, George Watson’s, is happy to allow its youngest pupils to socially transition without their parents’ knowledge and has been awarded LGBT Youth Scotland’s highest accolade – a Gold Charter Mark – for its inclusivity. In Dundee, campaigner Colin Jamieson has just used freedom of information laws to reveal that several of the city’s secondary schools are happy to change a pupil’s identity without any fuss.

Craigie High School has a pro-forma email that reads: “Hi, please put out to teachers of xxxxxxxx. I have now changed xxxxxx’s name to xxxxxxx – please use the pronoun him/he or they. Use the name xxxxxxx when writing reports." They are the first school in Dundee to win a Bronze Charter Mark from LGBTYS and are working towards their silver. St Paul’s RC Academy, also in Dundee, even has a gender reassignment plan for its pupils, to capture information such as “chosen gender to be recorded” and which toilet facilities the child would like to use, but as yet no LGBTYS award.

Schools can point to the Scottish Government’s guidance on supporting transgender students, published in 2021, to justify their enthusiasm for ignoring material reality – and all too often, a child’s parents. On page 35 of the guidance, teachers are advised to respect a young person’s right to privacy. It says: “A transgender young person may not have told their family about their gender identity. Inadvertent disclosure could cause needless stress…Therefore, it is best to not share information with parents or carers without considering and respecting the young person’s views and rights.” But best for who?

One desperate Glasgow parent, who uses the tag @UnconsciousMum, has taken to social media to share her experience, after two of her three children, both girls, changed their gender with support from their school. She warned that by the time children reach primary seven, many will have been taught that “It's possible to be born in the wrong body… to easily change sex, and that a little boy with a penis can be a girl”.

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In a powerful message a few weeks ago, she said that transgender ideology had caused her children's gender dysphoria, self-harming and suicidal ideation. “It is NOT the other way round,” she wrote. “It is NOT because they are transgender. It is NOT safeguarding. It is NOT protection. It is directly because of it.”

An educational psychologist with 40 years’ experience in education, who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, agreed. Carolyn Brown said there was “growing evidence about the harms caused by gender identity ideology, both psychologically and physically". She argued, among other things, that school toilets and changing rooms should be kept single sex; that as a point of principle, schools should tell parents if their child is questioning their identity; and the Scottish Government’s transgender guidance should be dropped.

Dr Shereen Benjamin, a senior lecturer in primary education, told the meeting that changing the guidance was essential. “Teachers, understandably, treat it as an authoritative source on a topic they know to be difficult,” she said. “It needs to be withdrawn and re-drafted by experts in education, psychology and social services.”

As I wrote last week, there is a growing unhappiness among our young people, and the disconnect between objective reality and gender identity ideology is surely a contributory factor. No one can change their sex, no matter what the government guidance says. But as long as our politicians persist in peddling a lie – that human beings can change sex – teachers will feel obliged to teach our children that the impossible is possible. What a mess.



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