Thursday, October 29, 2020
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Now Gavin Williamson must follow Liz Truss’s lead

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LAST week we pointed readers to a document called ‘Free to Be’. Produced by a group called EqualiTeach, it is designed for use in our primary schools with the intention of challenging something the transgender lobby calls ‘cisnormativity’.

This is their notion that our acceptance of our bodies and biological sex is a mere social construct, not a physical reality. It tells young children that they have an ‘inner gender identity’ which may or may not align with their biological sex.

It advises teachers that there is no need for them to tell the parents should their child come out as a different ‘gender’ at school. Finally, it overtly and pointedly slurs groups which have been set up to protect the rights of women and girls.  

‘Free to Be’, which EqualiTeach states has been produced as a ‘part of a year-long project funded by the Government Equalities Office’ has, since our exposure, been widely condemned on Twitter.

Once she became aware of it, Women and Equalities Minister Liz Truss rapidly disowned it, categorically announcing that: ‘This document was not approved by government. It does not reflect government policy. The GEO logo should not be on it and I have asked for it to be removed.’ 

Such a robust response from Truss was reassuring. However, the problem is that what EqualiTeach said is correct. The document was funded by the GEO. Back in February 2019, the GEO announced that it was paying EqualiTeach to ‘extend work that protects children from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying’. 

EqualiTeach shared £1million with five other organisations to do this work – meaning that six organisations got about £167,000 of taxpayers’ money each. Not bad if you can get it.  

Punters can hardly blame EqualiTeach for putting the GEO logo on the cover of its document and properly acknowledging its source of funding. Many questions therefore remain unanswered.  

How were the six organisations handed £1million supposed to divvy it out? Was it just left to the GEO’s then director, Hilary Spencer? Did Truss’s predecessors, Penny Mordaunt and then Amber Rudd take a proper competent interest? 

What exactly did the GEO think EqualiTeach would do with the funding? What specification or brief did it provide? What review process was there? Did the GEO ask to see outputs? 

These questions all need answering. We very much hope that Liz Truss will investigate and find out who was responsible for this shambles and the extent to which it is continuing.  This is essential if momentum to push back on the encroachment of gender identity ideology into government is to be maintained.

Truss is at least clear that an overhaul of the GEO is needed. Outlining her priorities to the Women and Equalities Select Committee recently, she said: ‘First of all [these are] reshaping the Government Equalities Office and bringing it more closely together with the Cabinet Office units … to create an equalities hub.’  

In an explicit shift away from the usual identity politics preoccupation, she said: ‘I would like to see us working more closely on issues like geography, so where are communities being held back, and also on issues on background, income, as well as issues of gender, race and disability …’

This is good news. However, as we’ve made clear on TCW, gender identity ideology does not emanate only from the Government Equalities Office. The Conservative government let the trans obsession in and it is its responsibility to drive it out. 

The Tories have allowed it to be pushed at us from all directions across the public sector: by our schools, the NHS, police, courts, criminal justice system, and even by the Office of National Statistics. 

Liz Truss and her colleagues need to focus on where pushback is most urgent. First and foremost this must be education, to halt this deeply worrying indoctrination and confusion of young children.


The EqualiTeach document is but the tip of an iceberg. If Liz Truss is serious in the intent she has signalled, she needs to get her colleague, Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, on board. For a start, as the Safe School Alliance reports, EqualiTeach, its documents, and several similar programmes previously described in these pages by Belinda Brown and Will Jones, are already operational in our schools. 

Gavin Williamson’s  controversial ‘Relationship and Sex Education’ reforms are due to go live in our schools in September. The Department of Education guidance to these reforms says that ‘primary schools are strongly encouraged and enabled to cover LGBT content’ and ‘secondary schools should cover LGBT content’. 

In the supporting resource material provided on the Department for Education website, the only LGBT resource linked to is Stonewall’s. This also was funded by taxpayers, courtesy of the GEO.

The fact that the link currently leads to a sticker pack exemplifies how little care the Tories have taken over the whole issue. The actual document that was originally linked to is here. 

The ‘child friendly glossary’ in Stonewall’s document, for use in our primary schools, says: ‘Everyone has a gender identity. This is the gender that someone feels they are. This might be the same as the gender they were given as a baby, but it might not. They might feel like they are a different gender, or they might not feel like a boy or a girl.’

 As ever, I can only say, imagine being a child and trying to navigate that. Just in case you think they would sometimes get a break from it all … ‘whilst the children are getting changed for PE, make use of the time to show them videos which challenge gender-based stereotypes’ (p28) and ‘it’s easy to build LGBT visibility into any maths lesson: it can be as simple as looking at the wording of your word problems’ (p18).

If the Conservatives are serious about not gaslighting our kids, their parents and their teachers, then Gavin Williamson needs to defer the introduction of his RSE reforms. Even this, sadly, would only be a start, because charities and schools are already pushing gender identity at our children. 

But it would be a clear signal to all those who have been uncomfortable with the direction of travel that the Conservatives are now on their side and will draw a line in the sand.

When we wrote about these issues recently in TCW, we received this comment from a teacher: ‘Spare a thought for the teachers who have to teach this even when we do not agree (or get sacked is the bottom line).

‘I try now to say nothing, even when asked by my students about this. I guess my silence may say a lot though. I have an options list (currently) which allows me to ignore sex and gender on my A-level, but for how long?

‘In PHSE (Personal, Health and Social Education) many of my colleagues are trying not to teach this stuff too. Every year there are complaints from those put in the front line to teach PHSE.

‘They pass it to assistant tutors, none of them want it either. But we have to do as we are told. At the moment, when the subject comes up on the PHSE list, most teachers find something more pressing they have not completed that needs additional attention, but we won’t be able to do that for ever.

‘With my own child I am having to teach her not to repeat what she hears about these issues at home, but just go along with what the school and her teachers tell her. It’s the law that has put me in this position. Speak out and I will be vilified and even prosecuted. Many older teachers retire as soon as they can. Others leave teaching altogether…’ 

It is tragic that this is where we have got to. In the future, people will write books about how gender identity ideology infiltrated our public sector while the Conservatives dozed.

Thankfully, Liz Truss has woken up. Now she needs to shake her colleagues awake. She should start by asking Gavin Williamson to get a proper grip on how gender identity ideology is being pushed at our kids in their classrooms – and then make it stop.

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Caroline ffiske
Caroline ffiske is a former adviser to the New Zealand Government, served two terms as a Conservative councillor in Hammersmith & Fulham and is currently a full-time mother. She tweets as @carolinefff

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