Rishi Sunak urged to toughen up transgender guidance for schools – despite being warned that it could be unlawful
- Prime Minister admitted advice for teachers is being worked on by Government
- Attorney General said social transitioning ban would breach the Equalities Act
Rishi Sunak is under pressure to toughen up transgender guidance for schools despite being warned by government lawyers that it could be unlawful.
The Prime Minister admitted that the long-awaited advice for teachers is still being worked on despite previously promising it would be issued before the end of the summer term this week.
He is facing calls from some Tory MPs and campaigners to ensure that the guidance stops schoolchildren changing their names, pronouns, hairstyles and uniforms to match their preferred gender.
But it has emerged that No10 received legal advice from Attorney General Victoria Prentis that such a ban on so-called social transitioning would breach the Equalities Act.
According to The Times she said the Government would have to change the anti-discrimination law – which protects people of any age who are undergoing ‘gender reassignment’ – if it wanted to stop children assuming a different gender in school.
Government lawyers have also raised concerns about proposals to include a free speech defence so that teachers would not be ‘compelled’ to use a pupil’s chosen pronouns, according to The Times.
The Prime Minister admitted that the long-awaited advice for teachers is still being worked on despite previously promising it would be issued before the end of the summer term this week
No10 received legal advice from Attorney General Victoria Prentis that such a ban on so-called social transitioning would breach the Equalities Act
In addition, the Department of Health is said to have warned that the NHS would not have enough doctors to provide advice on whether or not children should be able to socially transition, as suggested by Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch.
It comes after the Mail revealed that the contentious guidance may be delayed until the new school year in September amid a Cabinet row over Mrs Badenoch’s objections to social transitioning.
On a visit on Wednesday, the PM told broadcasters: ‘This is a really complex and sensitive issue because it affects the wellbeing of our children.
‘And it’s important that we get it right, given those complexities and sensitivities.
‘I’m committed to bringing forward that guidance but I want to make sure that we take the time to go through it properly.’
Prominent backbencher Miriam Cates admitted she was ‘disappointed’ by the delay but agreed: ‘I do think that it’s more important to get it right than to get it out quickly, because we are talking about the safeguarding of children.’
She told Times Radio: ‘It’s quite a disturbing phenomenon, and we really need to get it right, both legally and morally and from the point of view of workability for schools. So it’s better to not release it than to release a bad version.’
But she said a ‘lawful and safeguarding-first’ way forward could be found.
‘It has to be statutory because it is not fair on schools to have to make these decisions without the backup of the Government.
‘The indoctrination at play here is quite serious, is well beyond the head’s remit to be able to make these decisions safely and fairly. So this isn’t the school’s job, theirs is obviously teaching and learning. The Government needs to be the backstop for this.’