Books about transgender parents should be on the primary-school curriculum, according to a new guide on diversity for teachers. It adds that dress codes should be modified to allow trans pupils and staff to wear clothes suited to their preferred gender.
The guidance from the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), billed as the first of its kind in Britain, aims to help schools “become places where all staff can thrive and feel confident to be authentic about who they are.” It calls for school leaders to “ensure trans students and children with trans parents feel included in their learning, and trans staff members feel positively represented in lesson content and welcomed in the school environment.”
The guide says this could come from ensuring “books featuring trans parents or celebrating gender identity and difference are included in the curriculum,” for pupils aged four to 11. “When pupils see staff members are able to be authentic about themselves within the school community and are treated with equal respect and acceptance, they are more likely to feel able to be authentic and open themselves as well as encouraged to treat all members of the school community with equal respect,” it states.
The NAHT said schools are struggling with how to handle the issue of transgender pupils and need guidance. Paul Whiteman, its general secretary, said: “We haven’t made as much progress as we should on LGBT rights in schools. We need to change that.”
The association also advocates for “gender-neutral phrasing” for dress codes, asking schools to ensure that uniform rules “avoid gender stereotypes.” Around 120 state schools, including 40 primaries, have introduced gender-neutral policies allowing girls to wear trousers and boys to wear skirts.
The guidance has been welcomed by ministers and Ofsted, the education inspectorate. A government spokesman said: “We welcome any initiative which supports LGBT staff in schools.”
However, Chris McGovern, head of the Campaign for Real Education, told The Times it would confuse children. “Indoctrination in the politically correct anxieties, passions and neuroses of adults has no place in school. This latest intrusion into childhood will cause upset, confusion and trauma for many youngsters,” he said. “The only lesson children need to learn is ‘the golden rule’ – treat others as you would wish to be treated.”