An all-girls Catholic school in London informed parents that pupils will now be required to use the preferred pronouns and names for fellow transgender students. Headmaster Marian Doyle of the Sacred Heart High School in Hammersmith, London, sent a letter to parents announcing the new policy. In it, Doyle stressed the changes were to “promote greater wholeness for transgender individuals.”
“Every child at our school is made in the image of God and is nurtured and supported to know who they are and how best to make use of their talents. We are proud of them all,” Doyle said. “Our community not only has a duty to uphold and maintain its charism but also to operate within the law, and as a Catholic school we must look to ensure we respond to different situations for young people, whatever they may be, with compassion, dignity and respect.”
Policy changes to help students adapt and understand their fellow transgender classmates has become more widespread since Britain’s 2010 Equality Act, which requires schools to teach students the culture of England, including acceptance of differences and eliminating discrimination.
At least one parent was not pleased. “It will be very confusing for the young people at the school,” said the upset parent, who called it a “very dangerous letter.”
Other parents have become concerned as well, including Sally and Nigel Rowe, who removed their six-year-old son from a Christian-based school because they were afraid he was going to be disciplined for mistakenly addressing a student with the wrong gender greeting. The other child, born a male, had asked to be called a girl. Young Rowe went home to his parents and told them he was confused because the transgender student would wear boy clothes one day and a dress another day.
The Rowes removed their son from the school, citing the teachings conflict with their religious beliefs and are considering legal action.
“Remember we’re talking children that are six years of age,” Mr. Rowe said. “A six-year-old is not really able to, does not have the mental capacity to work out those kind of things. It’s such a young age and we’re concerned about that.”
The Rowes decision has been met with anger and sometimes hostile comments, claiming they are transphobic. Mr. Rowe said: “I am shocked by the suggestion, especially from a church school, that just because we question the notion that a six-year-old boy can really become a girl, we are transphobic.”
Not all Christian schools embrace the new policies. Vishnitz School in North London, a Jewish school for girls, failed inspection because it did not teach about homosexuality. Inspectors said the school did not show British values because it did not explain about LGBT issues including sexual orientation.
Gill Robins of the Christians in Education campaign debated the inspectors’ findings in a blog post. He wrote: “It’s now been made crystal clear by Ofsted that the Equality Act is actually hierarchical, with sexual orientation and gender reassignment at the apex of the Act.” Ofsted has revealed its true agenda. “It doesn’t matter how good your school is in all other respects – simply refusing to teach very young children about gender reassignment will lead to your closure.”
Doyle, of the Sacred Heart High School, insists this is the only way to ensure all children are treated with fairness and understanding. She said children should be allowed to be who they feel they are without discrimination because we are all made in the image of God.
High School students are more likely to understand the nuances of transgender and the LGBT community than six-year-olds. Are we trying to push too much on our youngsters? No matter which side of the fence you sit on, it’s a confusing world.