Teachers across the U.K. are pushing back against guidelines from the Department of Education that would allow teachers to openly misgender their students and out them to their parents.
Despite hopes for a more accepting and positive experience for LGBTQ+ students, the Department of Education new guidance, released late last month, went in the opposite direction.
Under this new guidance, school officials would be required to inform parents if students request to change their pronouns or wear school uniforms that do not align with their sex assigned at birth, with “very rare” exceptions for students who may be in danger if such information was shared. It also allows for misgendering, stating: “no teacher or pupil should be compelled to use [a trans or nonbinary student’s] preferred pronouns.”
LGBTQ Nation reports that Mermaids, an organization advocating for transgender youth, called the guidance “unworkable, out of touch and absurd.”
“Rather than listening to trans young people and reflecting best practice of inclusive educators across the U.K., the government has created more confusion for schools and is putting young people at risk,” Mermaids said in a statement.
Though the guidance must still undergo a 12-week public consultation before being finalized, teachers have been voicing their unwavering support for trans and nonbinary students, including in conversations with actress and trans ally Georgia Tennant, who has been documenting the messages of support she has received, according to LGBTQ Nation.
Teachers have vowed to continuously support and respect their trans and nonbinary students by using correct pronouns, names, and protecting students who share information with them about wishing to transition or gender dysphoria.
Not long before the guidance was released, the National Education Union (NEU) found that many young LGBTQ+ people found school to be a negative experience, according to reports from The Guardian.
“We hope the Department for Education [DfE], school leaders and union can all work together constructively so that all LGBT+ young people have a good experience at school. Schools need to be involved properly in developing guidance that is clear and helpful and can work successfully along their safeguarding duties,” said a spokesperson for NEU.