UK: Local Govt Abandons Trans Toilet Policy in Schools After Legal Challenge

douglas murray
AP Photo/Steven Senne

A local goverment in England has withdrawn a “Trans Inclusions Toolkit” allowing transgender youths into single-sex toilets, changing rooms, and dormitories, following a case brought to the High Court by a thirteen-year-old girl who argued that the policy infringed upon her privacy rights.

Oxfordshire County Council had initially vowed to fight the case in court, saying that it “utterly refuted” objections from parents that the policy endangered their children. However, after a judge ruled that the case was “sufficiently arguable”, the council decided to remove the policy and will now wait upon national guidelines to be published by Boris Johnson’s government.

The 50-page guidance paper, which applied to 493 schools in the county, said that youths who claim to be transgender should be able to use the bathroom of that aligns with their preferred gender, as well as allowing what gender gym classes they prefer and what gender dormitories to sleep in on school trips.

The teenage girl who brought the case against the council argued that the council’s trans policy provided “no right to privacy from the opposite sex”, and that she “worried about girls in other schools around the country who have these guidelines”.

“[The document] plainly misrepresented the law by assuming that an array of gender identities had protection under the Equality Act. They do not,” said the girl’s lawyer, Paul Conrathe, in comments reported by The Times.

“The toolkit advised that biological boys could access girls’ toilets, changing rooms, and dormitories on residential trips. Rather than protect and promote the welfare of children, it exposed girls, in particular, to a greater risk of harm. The High Court has already considered the toolkit and ruled that it is arguable that it is unlawful. Oxfordshire safeguarding board have done the right thing in withdrawing it. It was plainly legally indefensible,” Conrathe added.

The girl who brought the case to the high court said that she was “very surprised that the council never asked the opinion of girls in Oxfordshire about what we thought before they published the toolkit.”

“Although they have withdrawn it now, they haven’t apologised to me or said they were wrong. I would like to know what the [Oxforshire County Council] are going to do to make schools a safe place for girls going forward,” she added.

Victoria Edwards, a local lesbian mother, had launched a crowdfunding campaign to help the girl pay for the legal challenge against the county’s trans toolkit, raising over £22,000 for the case.

“I’m pleased that the [Oxforshire County Council] have withdrawn the toolkit. I’m disappointed, however, that it has taken a 13-year-old girl, a crowdfunding campaign and a High Court judge granting a judicial review to uphold the privacy, dignity, and safety of Oxfordshire’s schoolchildren,” Edwards said.

Across the country, at least a dozen counties have introduced similar transgender policies, although last year local government in Warwickshire rescinded a similar guidance paper after objections from parents.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka


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