UK: Better news for Christian teachers

UK: Better news for Christian teachers

Teachers in England have been told they do not have to address pupils in their chosen pronouns under new government guidance on how best to support transgender students.

The draft document, released by the Department of Education, was meant to be published before the summer holidays, but was delayed to ensure it met the "high expectations" of teachers and parents.

It states that children, teachers or staff at a school should "not be required to adopt the use of preferred pronouns".

In the absence of preferred pronouns, the child's preferred name should be used, with schools having a duty to ensure bullying is never tolerated.

The guidance also states that schools and colleges do not have to, and should not, accept all requests for social transition.

Social transitioning relates to a pupil requesting to change pronouns, names and uniform.

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."

Other main points from the draft guidance include:

• Schools should make sure competitive sport is fair for all students, which will almost always mean separate sports for boys and girls;
• Schools must provide sex-separated toilets for students aged eight and over and suitable changing accommodation and showers for pupils aged 11 and over;
• Single-sex schools can refuse to admit pupils of the opposite biological sex, regardless of whether they are questioning their gender;
• A gender questioning child should wear the same uniform standard as other children of their sex;
• Sleeping arrangements like dormitories, tents and shared rooms should be sex separated.

It remains to be seen 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.