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Caroline Farrow: Transgender dodgy dossier that could wreck young lives


Schoolchildren in Scotland and their parents are about to be thrown under a bus, especially if they are girls. At least that’s if new guidance for schools written by LGBT Youth Scotland is put into effect.

The document begins with the usual emotional blackmail about children who experience gender dysphoria and mental health problems, implying that this is all due to stigma, pressure to conform and fear of rejection or negativity. The message is clear – anything less than unconditional acceptance of a child’s insistence that they were born into the wrong body and are the opposite sex will cause them serious damage and could lead to self-harm or suicide.

To hammer home the message, an entire page of the guidance is devoted to graphics highlighting large percentages of children who report negative experiences on account of their sexuality. However, when you look behind the stats, the sample size of children who were interviewed is relatively small, just 300. So the 37 per cent of children who had left education thanks to ‘homophobia, biphobia or transphobia’ in the learning environment amounts to 111 children. Is this something we really ought to take at face value, or could a supposed phobia be a smokescreen for other problems?

As in the case of the rest of the stats, self-reporting is notoriously unreliable as a data collection method. Even if you do believe these figures, the survey was of LGBT pupils and not solely those who identify as transgender. How many of the 77 per cent of pupils who reported experiencing ‘homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying’ (bullying is unacceptable whatever form it takes) experienced specifically transphobic bullying which now requires a 57-page policy document outlining specific measures? What about those children who are bullied on account of their physical appearance, for not possessing the latest gadget, dressing in the most fashionable clothing or whose behaviour doesn’t conform to that of their peers? Don’t they get a special document and policy too?

The 88 per cent of those who experienced transphobic bullying who believed that it had negatively impacted on their education might sound like a big number, but bearing in mind the overall group is 300, we aren’t given the figure of how many of those children experienced specifically transphobic bullying to be able to extrapolate the actual number. Bearing in mind the climate of micro-aggression and snowflakery being encouraged in children, how much of this supposed ‘transphobic bullying’ was really bullying and how much was it something inadvertent, like a teacher or pupil forgetting the right pronoun, or someone struggling to come to terms with the fact that you are now Sharon, whereas for the last four years you were Kevin?

Of the 67 per cent of transgender children who report having mental health issues, is this really simply down to stigma, or something to do with their gender dysphoria, which is supposedly going to lead them to commit suicide unless they are allowed to behave exactly as they please?

So just what are these dodgy stats being used to justify? The wholesale indoctrination of very young children, that’s what. The document is intended for use across the primary and secondary sectors. Amongst other things, it specifically suggests that primary schools use books and resources which include transgender identities. Right from the outset, children must get used to the idea that sex is a nebulous concept which can easily be changed. It also suggests that primary school children participate in ‘LGBT History Month’ and ‘Transgender day of visibility’. Poor mum (and it is almost always the mother who ends up with this task) is going to have her work cut out making a costume for that one!

It would be a laughing matter if in fact this document wasn’t so deadly serious. Eddie Izzard is referred to as an appropriate transgender celebrity who needs to be affirmed and celebrated amongst schoolchildren. Teachers must be careful though. Calling somebody a ‘trans scientist’ is wrong, just as no longer can we have lady or female scientists. ‘If teachers explain at the end of a lesson that a particular professional’ who has been picked out for praise in the lesson ‘is transgender, it has a normalising effect and demonstrates inclusion’.

Here are some other choice examples:

‘If a learner feels uncomfortable sharing facilities with a transgender young person, they can be allowed to use a private facility such as an accessible toilet, or to get changed after the trans young person is done. A transgender young person should not be forced to use alternative facilities simply to make other young people feel more comfortable.’

If a girl feels uncomfortable with a boy in her facility then she must be quiet and wait until he has finished before she enters it, or use another facility. Never mind if she’s desperate to change her sanitary products. The boy with gender dysphoria matters more.

‘If parents of other children voice concerns about their child sharing toilets and/or changing rooms with a trans learner they should be reminded of the school’s values – those of inclusion, equality and respect”.

In other words, parents should shut up. Which is echoed elsewhere. If your child is going to be sharing a room with another child who isn’t of the same sex, then it’s best practice for you not to be informed about it. Let’s just pretend that sexual assault or pregnancy isn’t a possibility. Boys and girls sharing bedrooms. What could possibly go wrong?

‘If a transgender young person wants to share a room with other young people who share their gender identity, they should be able to do so. If a transgender young person is sharing a room with their peers, there is no reason for parents or carers of the other young people to be informed.’

No longer do you need a note from your mum to get off PE – you can wear a breast binder instead. Never mind the dangers outlined in this 2015 study (compressed or broken ribs, punctured or collapsed lungs, back pain, compression of the spine, damaged breast tissue, damaged blood vessels, blood clots, inflamed ribs, and even heart attacks) – your feelings are so much more important. There’s no critical thinking or actual effort to help the child. I wish teachers had exhibited the same amount of passive and pathetic helplessness, suggesting that I might ‘join in’ during PE lessons in my day!

‘A trans boy or non-binary young person who has developed unwanted breasts might bind their chest to flatten it, so they might need to wear a loose-fitting shirt or sweatshirt. Binders can lead to shortness of breath and can be painful during physical exertion. 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 wear a binder, and help them join in.’

There’s nothing that they haven’t thought of. Even Scottish country dancing is an opportunity to bust those gender-based triggers:

‘Encouraging gender neutral language when calling dances. For example, rather than say “Gentlemen, spin your ladies for a count of eight”, say “Those on the outside, spin your partners for a count of eight”.’

I went to a single-sex school in which we ‘gels’ were taught ballroom dancing and country or barn dancing. Not once did we find it offensive or distressing to take the role of ‘gentlemen’. These kinds of dances are binary – men do one set of steps, ladies another, and it’s much easier to remember that you are taking the part of a man or woman than remembering exactly where you are on the floor. In fact I’ve been to many a ceilidh where ladies have paired up with each other thanks to a shortage of men!

This ought to be the stuff of parody but we can’t laugh it off. This is a deadly serious attempt to indoctrinate children and potentially put them in dangerous situations and override the will of parents.

LGBT Youth Scotland might sound like a fringe group, but bear in mind huge chunks of their material has already been copied and pasted by the Catholic Education Service and incorporated into an anti-bullying document to be used in Catholic schools.

With compulsory Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) including transgender issues, on the cards for English schoolchildren from next year, how long before this kind of guff finds its way into the national curriculum?

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Caroline Farrow
Caroline Farrow
Columnist for the Catholic Universe

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