Children as young as ten are being asked whether they are confused about their gender in a new survey distributed to schools by the National Health Service (NHS). Critics have called the question ‘intrusive.’
The survey, conducted by the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, usually monitors weight, height, and fitness. Now the form, which may have been sent to schools nation-wide, is asking children who have yet to attend high school whether they feel “comfortable in their gender.”
The form also asks children other rather adult questions, like whether their friends smoke cigarettes, “have your friends ever been drunk when you have been with them?” and “has anyone ever asked you to try drugs?”
It is unclear whether the new survey has been adopted across the United Kingdom.
The children are given the option of ticking a box to confirm which gender they identify with. Children can choose boy, girl, or other.
Currently children have to wait until the age of 18 to begin gender reassignment therapy.
According to the Telegraph, Parents have been told that the NHS survey helps healthcare workers and teachers develop “better ways to understand and support” children who may be having gender identity issues.
It has not been confirmed whether children struggling with their gender will be approached by either the healthcare or education system based on their responses.
Leyland mum Lyndsey Simpson told the Telegraph she’d been in “a state” about the questionnaire when her 10-year-old daughter brought it home last week.
“I don’t want someone putting into my daughter’s head that she might not be happy with her own gender,” she said. “It’s one thing if they feel that way already, but if they don’t, then do you want them to be unhappy for their whole lives?”
“The headteacher had no idea what was in it, and when I told him his jaw dropped,” she added.
Simpson’s husband is a minister in the Diocese of Blackburn, and has raised the issue with the diocese.
Parents were given a week to opt-out and return the survey to schools with a signed letter, which the Simpson household promptly did.
Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg called the survey “intrusive,” and encroaching on things that “are private matters in a family.”
“The problem with this approach is not just with the question but with the intrusive survey that invades people’s privacy and assumes the state has a role in a matter that actually belongs within the family,” he said. “These questions are not likely to be helpful. The child is too young – if they have these sorts of issues, the parents are the right ones to discuss it with, not a state survey.”