Suella Braverman has used a major speech to set out the Government’s legal advice on transgender pupils, stating that schools that only offer “gender neutral” lavatories are acting unlawfully.
The Attorney General warned that teachers who allow their students to “socially transition” to the opposite gender without their parents’ consent could open themselves up to a negligence claim, and be in breach of their duty of care to the child.
Ms Braverman, who ran as Tory party leader and made it to the final six candidates in the contest before she was knocked out, has endorsed Liz Truss and has been tipped for a prominent position in her Cabinet should she win. She used a speech on equalities legislation to say that only on the advice of a medical professional should schools use a transgender child’s preferred pronouns.
Her speech comes after a landmark review found that the NHS’s only facility for transgender children based at the Tavistock Centre in north London, the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), must be shut down on the basis that it is “not safe” for children.
Writing in a national broadsheet, Ms Braverman says it can be lawful for a school to “refuse to allow a biologically and legally male child, who identifies as transgender, from using girls’ toilets. There is also a separate duty to provide single-sex toilets in schools, breach of which would be unlawful. The legislative background therefore means that biological male children are generally not permitted to use the female toilets in schools,” she added.
Officials at the Department for Education are currently drawing up guidance for schools on transgender children, which will need to be signed off by the Attorney General before it is published later this year.
Another contentious issue is children transitioning “behind their parents’ backs” when schools allow pupils to assume a new gender identity without informing their families. Referring to transgender children as their preferred pronoun is a “serious intervention,” which should not be done unless it is on the advice of an independent medical practitioner, Ms Braverman argued
Following the closure of the Tavistock’s clinic, NHS England will move young people who believe they are trans into regional centres, which will take a more “holistic” approach and consider other mental health or medical issues.
Figures show the number of young people in the UK referred to the Tavistock Centre has increased 17-fold in the past decade. Figures from the GIDS show that 2,383 youngsters were referred in 2020-21, compared with 138 in 2010-11.