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'It's good news for Christian teachers': Government trans guidance for schools welcomed

by Will Hobbs

Teachers should inform parents if their child wishes to change their gender identity at school, unless the child is believed to be put at significant risk by doing so.

That's according to newly published government guidance, which states that schools are under no obligation to accept a child's request to socially change their gender.

The guidance, first promised in 2018, is not compulsory.

Leader of the Association of Christian Teachers, Lizzie Harewood, has welcomed the guidance as a "helpful start" for heads and teachers but says she expects it to be met with legal challenges.

"It's good news for Christian teachers, who would have found it really difficult to acknowledge a child's new identity on faith grounds.

"I don't think [the guidance] entirely settles the issue.

"I also don't think it will restrain activists. I've already been reading some teachers who are saying that they will ignore parts of the guidance, and some schools saying that they will also follow suit.

"So that does concern me, although I do think, in general, it's a step in a better direction."

Harewood said she wonders what difference the guidance will make to currently active cases against teachers and parents who have been previously disciplined for misgendering or for expressing gender-critical views.

Baptist minister and founder of the Oasis Charitable Trust, Steve Chalke, told Sky News that he has concerns that in some families, parental influence may not be safe for children when it comes to questions of their own gender.

"This is what I'm struggling with. We've got to create a place of safety and sanctuary for some children who live in a repressive religious regime where to announce you're anything other than straight is a very condemning thing. If a child chooses to tell you something that matters to them, what a school needs to be is a sanctuary."

Harewood also stressed a need for Christian teachers who oppose trans ideology on theological grounds to make sure this does not come at the cost of loving sensitivity towards children who are questioning their gender.

"We have to remember as Christians, as teachers, as professionals, as human beings, that if there is a child presenting with confusion or quite clear gender dysphoria, we need to treat them with kindness, with compassion; that doesn't necessarily mean affirming their chosen gender."

A nine-week consultation period will allow parents and teachers, and those who have an interest, to respond and provide feedback to the government.

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