Legal threat looms over teachers not telling parents if pupil changes gender

Government guidelines say a child's permission is needed for teachers to discuss transgender choices with the child's family. Picture: Getty Images
Government guidelines say a child's permission is needed for teachers to discuss transgender choices with the child's family. Picture: Getty Images
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The Scottish Government is facing a court challenge over schools guidance suggesting teachers need not tell parents if their child wants to change gender.

Yesterday the Christian Institute (CI) threatened to take legal action against the Scottish Government guidelines on dealing with transgender children.

Lawyers for the CI, which was one of the organisations to successfully challenge the controversial named person proposals, have written to the Government expressing “significant concerns” about the guidance.

In particular, the body objects to a clause saying a child’s permission is needed for teachers to discuss transgender choices with the child’s family.

The institute says: “If children in the school say that they want to live as a different gender, it is important to provide support and listen to what they are saying. Teachers and schools should be confident in discussing this with the child and, with the child’s consent, their family.”

CI deputy director Ciarán Kelly said: “The guidance discourages teachers from notifying parents about a life-changing decision, which the school and the child are making.”

No centralised figures are held for the number of Scottish pupils who express a desire to change gender. However, anecdotal evidence from LGBT youth workers suggests almost all of the 200 schools visited were dealing with at least one “transitioning” child.

A LGBT Youth Scotland spokesperson said: “This guidance was developed with a focus on children’s rights and, importantly, they have the right to privacy.

“This means that children and young people can talk to teachers and other professionals about how they feel without informing others. The guidance does encourage teachers to engage with parents, but it’s important to listen to the views of the child in any decision-making.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the particular disadvantage experienced by trans people across many walks of life and are supportive of all measures to increase inclusion in schools for pupils and staff alike. Scotland is recognised as one of the most progressive countries in Europe on LGBTI rights.”