The Mail on Sunday has criticized transgender non-profit group Gendered Intelligence – for teaching children about gender.
The newspaper ran a story yesterday about the group – which works to raise awareness of transgender people, including running a series of gender and anti-bullying workshops in schools.
The Mail said that it had “seen footage of Gendered Intelligence conducting workshops with primary classes”, in which founder Dr Jay Stewart explained to children he was a man, despite being assigned female at birth.
It added that “thousands of pupils” had the “controversial classes” – claiming that children were “encouraged to explore their gender identities”.
The newspaper quoted Margaret Morrisey of campaign group Parents Outloud – who appears to have previously condemned everything from TV series Call the Midwife to plans to ban smacking children when asked to by the newspaper.
Morrisey warned that children were “far, far too young” to learn about gender issues, adding: “We’re in danger of frightening children and making them feel they ought to feel like this.”
Comments on the article were shockingly hostile, with one popular comment claiming: “The people who advocate this kind of policy aught (sic) to be prosecuted for child abuse.”
The group spoke out against factual inaccuracies, writing: “There are some misconceptions in the article – mainly the alluding to Gendered Intelligence encouraging young people to become trans, which of course is not true.
“We are also disappointed that the Mail on Sunday were not entirely transparent in ordering our video for the purpose of writing a piece on our work in schools.”
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Dr Jay Stewart said: “It’s so important to teach children in schools that they can be anything that they want to be, regardless of the gender that they have been given at birth. They can be engineers, nurses and politicians; they can be caring and kind, strong and forthright; they can wear what they like and look how they like. It’s okay for all children to be girlish, boyish or anything in-between.
“Our work at Gendered Intelligence includes going into primary school settings. It’s important because gender stereotyping and reinforcing gender norms start from a young age.
“If we are going to tackle the prejudice in society towards those who express their gender differently from what is considered the norm, we need to introduce teaching early on in a person’s education.”
He added: “Some members of the general public might make assumptions about what is actually being taught when we go into primary schools.
“Gendered Intelligence delivers age-appropriate workshops and assemblies by working closely with the senior leadership teams of each of the schools that we work with.
“We are proud of this work. Feedback from students and staff has always been positive. There are amazing schools who have done incredible work to make sure they include trans pupils and staff. We need to work towards implementing this good practice across the board. The Department for Education can play its part by ensuring that there is systemic change rather than ad-hoc good practice.
“We need more open discussions and debates about gender diversity in schools as awareness grows in society. This is a crucial step in ending transphobic and gender related bullying.
“Young trans people suffer prejudice, and even violence, at school, college and university. In turn, they experience high levels of poor mental health. That’s why our campaigns such as Stop Our Silence are so important.
“Trans people – like all people – have a right to an education in a safe environment. The only way to make school safe for trans pupils, and safe for everyone to express their gender, is to start talking about gender variance at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Kellie Maloney recently called for trans issues to be given greater prominence in schools.