NICOLA Sturgeon and her SNP government seem to be totally in thrall to transgender ideology and its ramifications in the education sphere, according to Debbie Hayton in the Spectator. Their latest guidance, ‘Supporting Transgender Pupils in Schools’, confirms everything already demanded by the trans lobby, but I can’t help thinking that some of these more original notions must bring an embarrassed flush to the faces of even their most stalwart and progressive acolytes. Especially perplexing are the document’s references to educational visits and participating in sports. They suggest to me that the current Scottish Secretary for Education, Shirley Anne Somerville, has never spent time in loco parentis either in or out of the classroom.
Planning a single-day outing is one thing. Ms Somerville can’t ever have had to complete the statutory risk assessment required before accompanying school pupils on an educational trip. When I was a teacher I had to fill in lengthy documents dealing with taking my sixth-formers to language conferences in London. I had to reassure the authorities that provision had been made for dealing with crossing a busy road, losing the tickets, missing the train home, being abducted by aliens, etc. All this to ensure the safety of 16/17-year-olds who regularly went clubbing up Peckham on a Friday night, unaccompanied. I often felt it might be more appropriate if they had been tasked with analysing the risks involved in having to be accompanied by me.
The planning and supervision of residential visits was a serious challenge, especially with mixed groups, and particularly towards the upper age limits. So much so, that many teachers had by then decided to give jaunts like that a definite miss. Now, however, just to add to their burdens, the Scottish Education Department are suggesting that, to make provision for the inclusion of transgender pupils, it is quite in order for teenagers of the opposite sex to share a room. In my experience, there were plenty of challenges to contend with on the journey when they were only sharing a bus, but a room . . . Evidently there’s a whole new area where a pupil’s right to privacy meets the right to gender self-identification, and all the potential for taking advantage likely to be demanded by the more imaginative sixth-formers. Let’s just hope the First Aid Box has been updated and replenished.
As for privacy, Hayton goes on to quote this little bombshell: ‘A transgender young person may not have told their family about their gender identity. Inadvertent disclosure could cause needless stress for the young person, or could put them at risk and breach legal requirements. Therefore it is best not to share information with parents or carers without considering and respecting the young person’s views and rights.’ In other words, teachers please note: ‘No worries. This is our little secret and your Mum and Dad need never know.’
Even the former Education Secretary John Swinney had serious reservations about a previous transgender development. When SNP MP Mhairi Black accompanied the drag queen FlowJob to Glencoats School in Ferguslie Park to discuss issues arising as part of LGBT History Week, Mr Swinney said the school had made an error of judgment and distanced himself from Black’s comments about the visit. Ms Black’s view: ‘If my school had invited a gay MP and a drag queen to discuss LGBT History month, or even acknowledged that LGBT History Month existed, it would have made an immeasurable difference to the difficult childhoods my LGBT classmates and I had.’ And Glencoats is a primary school.
The Holyrood administration is definitely on to a winner when it comes to inclusivity in participation in contact sports – rugby, for example. You have to understand this first, though. Some girls who identify as trans boys use breast binders. The guidelines include the following helpful comments for teachers’ edification: ‘Binders can lead to shortness of breath, can be painful during physical exertion, and there are health risks associated with wearing binders that are too tight.’ The guidance continues: ‘Binders can however have a positive impact on a young person’s mental health, so staff should allow a young person to decide for themselves about whether or not to wear a binder, to help them join in. Some transgender young people may be willing to wear a looser binder than usual during PE.’
I am not making this up. John Swinney must be breathing a mighty sigh of relief that he was obliged to step down.