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HomeCulture WarParents’ victory over school that backed ‘gender-change’ pupils, aged six  

Parents’ victory over school that backed ‘gender-change’ pupils, aged six  


FIVE years ago, Nigel and Sally Rowe raised concerns after two six-year-old boys in their son’s classes at a Church of England primary school were allowed to attend while identifying as girls.  

Pupils were told they should refer to the boys as ‘her’ and use the female names the two had adopted. 

Understandably, the Rowes’ sons were disturbed and the couple complained that the school should not be allowing six-year-old children to ‘transition’.  

It might also have been expected that a C of E school would respect basic Christian teaching that we are all created male and female. Scientifically speaking, you can’t change your biological sex. Furthermore, in UK law you can’t alter your legal gender until you are 18. So why was the school indulging six-year-olds? 

The school had no sympathy with the points raised by the Rowes or the disturbing effect on their sons. In fact, no sympathy for truth, science, Christian teaching, or even the law.  

Instead, the couple were told one of their sons would be deemed to be demonstrating ‘transphobic behaviour’ if he refused to ‘acknowledge a transgendered person’s true gender, e.g. by failing to use their adopted name or using gender inappropriate pronouns’.  

The irony of a person’s ‘true gender’ being ‘adopted’ was obviously lost on the school. The Rowe children merely wanted to refer to their friends by their true gender. 

Not put off by the school’s appalling response, the couple complained to the local diocese. Surely the Church would understand their sons’ desire to speak truthfully about the gender of their friends?  

But no. The diocese backed the school’s position, citing the Church of England report Valuing All God’s Children in support of recognising a six-year-old’s ‘transition’.  

This guidance, which cites the LGBT campaign group Stonewall more than 20 times, is used by the Church’s 4,700 primary schools. It says children as young as five should be affirmed if they want to identify as the opposite gender. 

At this point, the Rowes decided to withdraw their children and home-school them, rather see them disturbed and indoctrinated. What sensible parent wouldn’t? 

They also took their case to the media. Surely in the court of public opinion people would sympathise? Instead, they found themselves vilified and accused of having medieval opinions by Phillip Schofield on ITV’s This Morning

When I went on BBC News to discuss the case. Presenter Simon McCoy couldn’t resist asking me if I was homophobic. He said: ‘This is a conversation, if there was television 100 years ago, I suspect we’d be having, I’m a bit surprised in 2017, when we all know that youngsters do develop much earlier, that children grow into adults, that some of them are different …’ 

Notice the arrogant assumption from the mainstream media that believing that six-year-olds can’t change gender is outdated and harmful.  

In spite of such opposition, and in spite of being ostracised by much of the local community, the Rowes fought on, asking the Department for Education to intervene. They presented expert evidence showing how trans-affirming policies lead to ‘catastrophic outcomes’ for many children.  

The Department for Education rejected their case, arguing that the school’s treatment of two children who chose to identify as the opposite gender ‘does not constitute education’. But with the help of the Christian Legal Centre, the Rowes pursued a judicial review of that decision and were granted permission by Lord Justice Lane for their case to be heard in full at the High Court. 

Now, five years later, rather than face a judicial review, the Department for Education has decided to settle the case. As part of the settlement, the Government has committed to reform guidance for schools on transgender issues.  

It said there will be a ‘public consultation on draft guidance in autumn 2022, to which the claimants will have the opportunity to respond’. The Rowes were also awarded £22,000 in costs, which they intend to donate to the Christian Legal Centre. 

In a speech last month, the then Attorney General, Suella Braverman, provided some clarification on how schools should treat children who are questioning their gender. It was as if she knew of the Rowes’ case and directed her comments to the school concerned, without actually naming it.  

She said: ‘No child should be made to fear punishment or disadvantage for refusing to adopt a preferred pronoun for a gender-questioning child.’ This is exactly what the Rowes wanted all along and indicates what the proposed guidance will say.  

The moral of the story is that courage, conviction, and perseverance in the truth eventually wins. The Rowes were vilified, ostracised, and lost friends for taking their stand. They persevered in the knowledge that what they were doing was right, not just for their children, but for all the school’s  pupils. In the end, they have been vindicated.  

It’s time for parents, teachers, and governors to stand up against the sexualisation of young children. Silence is acquiescence – you are complicit in the abuse. Who will speak for the children? I hope the example of the Rowes encourages many more to do so. We can’t allow the next generation to be sexualised and lied to any more. 

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Tim Dieppe
Tim Dieppe
Tim Dieppe is Head of Public Policy at Christian Concern.

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