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13th Aug 2021

Scottish four-year-olds can change gender at school without parents’ consent

Kieran Galpin


Gender row continues with new Scottish legislation

A seventy-page document issued to Scotland schools calls for teachers not to question a child if they seek to be referred to with pronouns different from their biological sex. Under new guidelines issued by the Scottish government, children as young as four will not require parental consent to change their gender while at school. This has no relation to transitioning, medical procedures, or a legal changing of gender.

The move for more inclusive learning environments has meant Scotland’s schools have also been told that trans pupils should be able to use whatever lavatory or changing room they choose, develop “gender neutral” uniform options, and include transgender characters and role models in lessons.

The document aims to create a safe environment where kids can feel free to experiment with gender, push back on gender-related stereotypes, and possibly have an open dialogue with staff if they believe they are trans.

“A transgender young person may not have told their family about their gender identity,” the document states.

“Inadvertent disclosure could cause needless stress for the young person or could put them at risk and breach legal requirements. Therefore, it is best to not share information with parents or carers without considering and respecting the young person’s views and rights.”

“Those children are now being encouraged on to a medical pathway, potentially for the rest of their lives. We should not be teaching children, and especially primary school children, that you can change sex, because you cannot change sex,” says Marion Calder, co-director of the For Women Scotland campaign group, which has a history of pushing back against gender recognition legislation.

This landmark move for inclusive education could also address the serious repercussions of gender stereotyping.

“Gender stereotypes hold us all back. We have boys who cannot express their emotions, become aggressive, under-achieve at school and go on to be part of a culture of toxic masculinity which normalises violence,” says Fawcett CEO Sam Smethers.

“We have girls who have low self-esteem and issues with their body image, with one in five 14-year-old girls self-harming. We have a heavily segregated labour market where just 8 per cent of STEM apprentices are women. Gender stereotyping is at the root of all of this. We have to grasp the challenge to change it.”

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