Gender Fluidity Promoted To Children As Young As Three, Educators Still Want To Go Further

AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File
AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File

Children as young as three are being taught about transgender issues and encouraged to discuss feelings of transgenderism, Members of Parliament have been told by a pro-trans organisation, but it wants the government to be more proactive on promoting trans issues in school as it says the number of very young children “transitioning” is “increasing rapidly”.

Educators working with older children have also requested more resources to teach children about transgenderism on the basis that young people are much more “gender fluid” than their predecessors. One educator has told MPs that, with minimal expenditure, there has been “a significant rise” in number of students at her college who identify as trans. She believes that the same results could be replicated elsewhere were the government to grant funding.

The Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) wants children of all ages to be introduced to transgender issues and has produced a range of teaching materials for the classroom to accomplish this aim.

For 3-6 year olds, it recommends the Penguin Land series, which features cartoon penguins saying things like “We can’t always tell if you’re a boy or you’re a girl. You can tell us later, and we’ll change your name”

In another book, a penguin tells his friend: “We’ll tell them you are Sally and were never really John!”

The organisation has justified the materials in its lesson plans on the basis of the Equalities Act, which all schools have a legal duty to abide by. “Understanding gender diversity starts here, at primary school level, before children’s views become influenced by the prejudices of the adults around them,” it says.

Prejudice against transgendered people is currently the subject of an enquiry by the Women’s and Equalities Committee, chaired by Maria Miller, the former Conservative equalities minister. The Committee has received a number of submissions from individuals and organisations interested in promoting transgenderism.

Submitting evidence to the committee, GIRES told MPs that “the numbers of very young children transitioning in primary school are increasing rapidly, so information and reassurance needs to be given at the earliest stage.

“The Penguin Land stories, for instance, will help teachers to put simple messages across to children.

“The DfE has not been enthusiastic about including atypical gender identity development in the curriculum. Schools usually avoid it until they are faced with the transition of a young person, yet this should be included at all levels of the syllabus, and be celebrated in the same way as other protected characteristics.

“All teachers should be trained to support young LGBT pupils, and to recognise and tackle transphobic bullying, including cyberbullying.”

At the other end of the age range, Kirsty Walker, who is employed by the City of Liverpool college, a further education facility for 16-18 year olds told the Committee: “Gender fluidity is much more common amongst young people than you might expect, and they will often not classify it as such or even identify as genderqueer or trans despite the fact that they often embrace other gender identities.

“On social media websites such as tumblr, for example, young trans and genderqueer people will share information on chest binding, types of hormone medication, make-up tips, and experiences of discrimination, alongside posts about their favourite books or bands. This contributes to the normalisation of different gender identities, and enables young people to explore ideas about gender.

“I feel that in the future, we as a society will start to move away from making statements about our gender because of the increased sense of fluidity that young people today are expressing.”

She then goes on to argue that more funding should be given to schools and colleges in order to promote gender fluidity, and to encourage more students to become transgendered.

“I think there needs to be more funding for schools and colleges to access training and ensure that their trans students receive proper support. Our programme has seen minimal expenditure but the benefits to students are huge.

“There has been a significant rise in the number of young people at our college identifying as trans, and the picture will be the same nationwide.”

Currently, adult referrals to NHS Gender Identity Clinics are rising at 20% per year. But adolescent referrals are increasing much more quickly: the Tavistock gender identity development service, the only service to cater to young people, is recording a doubling of annual referrals, and predicts the rate to reach 1200 next year.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We have launched a £2 million grant programme to build schools’ knowledge and capacity to prevent and tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying this year.”

Much of the evidence to the committee has also focused on ditching the diagnoses of transgenderism as a mental health issue. In a spoken evidence session, Steve Shrubb Chief Executive of the West London Mental Health NHS Trust told MPs: “anything you can do that reinforces this journey away from a label that suggests fundamentally this has a mental health issue would be extremely helpful.”

Eager to help, the Conservative MP Flick Drummond asked in response: “Should [training on transgenderism] be at medical schools and for nurses?  How can we change the training in the NHS?”


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