I wrote an article the other day about educating young people about what transgender means. I stated that I wrote to governments to gather opinions but had received no responses. I believe that was strictly at the time I wrote it but when checking my e-mails today it seems that the UK government had replied to me as I wrote that piece, very coincidental since I had enquired over a month ago. Although I am yet to receive a response from the Scottish government, the Scottish conservatives or The White House. I thought though since the UK government have gone to the trouble to reply I would post their response.
“Dear Mr White
Thank you for writing to the Prime Minister regarding transgender awareness in schools. I have been asked to respond as the Government Equalities Office has responsibility for LGB&T policy.
We recognise that children can identify with the opposite gender and show interest in clothes or toys associated with the opposite gender without being transgender themselves. Gender is a vital part of a person’s identity and developing a positive sense of one’s unique gender identity is an essential part of growing up. It is therefore important to give children and young people the freedom to explore their identity in an environment that is open to, and respectful of, diversity and does not seek to make them conform to the expectations of others. This can help children not only to challenge negative gender stereotypes, particularly when it comes to future careers, but can also provide trans children with a supportive environment.
Schools in England can teach about transgender in their personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) lessons drawing on the guidance and resources available. The PSHE Association has produced a suggested programme of study as guidance for teachers, which includes teaching about including gender and gender identity at KS2, KS3 and KS4. The programme of study is available on-line: https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/content.aspx?CategoryID=1004.
We recognise that transgender issues are complex and sensitive matters for schools to navigate, both in terms of how they educate all young people and support individual staff or pupils who may be transitioning or be otherwise exploring their gender identity. Schools will have to work with parents, carers and clinicians to ensure the appropriate individual support is provided.
We know transphobic bullying affects young people’s well-being, educational performance and life chances. That is why the Government is supporting schools to take action on homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying, announcing a £2million grant programme in 2014 to help build schools capacity to tackle this type of bullying more effectively. The eight projects we are funding through this programme represent a diverse mix of approaches aimed at increasing knowledge and confidence of teachers to deal with homophobia and transphobia. In March 2016 we announced that an additional £1m will be made available to tackle HBT bullying this year.”
So it seems that some vague attempt is being made, at least in England, to support and educate young people about gender identity although it is obvious far more could be done.