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Schools reminded they could face legal action if they don’t allow trans pupils to use toilets matching their gender identity

Reiss Smith January 30, 2020
UK schools told let trans pupils use correct bathrooms or face legal action

Schools have been reminded that it is unlawful to block trans pupils from using the correct bathroom. (Envato Elements)

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has reminded schools that it is unlawful to block trans pupils from using the correct bathroom for their gender.

CPS has issued a new version of its LGBT+ Bullying and Hate Crime schools pack for secondary school, developed in partnership with Stonewall and other organisations.

The 186-page document is designed for teachers to use in lesson times, and is full of school-based examples of where LGBT+ hostility becomes a hate crime.

One notable section explains the legalities of bathroom rights, underlining that the exclusion of trans pupils from single-sex facilities such as bathrooms could be seen as “indirect discrimination” under the Equality Act 2010.

Teachers and staff who blocked trans pupils from accessing such facilities “might be charged with a Section 5 offence as they are using threatening behaviour causing harassment, alarm and distress and are both equally guilty as principal offenders”, the pack reads.

Trans people may only be excluded from single-sex facilities if it can be proven that this is a “proportionate way to achieve a legitimate objective”.

An example given in the Equality Act’s exploratory notes is group counselling sessions for women victims of domestic abuse, where the presence of a trans woman would discourage other women from attending.

CPS schools pack lists what counts as a hate crime.

The wide-reaching pack also includes a list of anti-LGBT+ hate crimes which includes “ostracising and excluding” children from friendship groups for “reasons of sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, trans identity or perceived trans identity.”

Throughout, it reminds teachers that pupils should be debriefed after any discussion of anti-LGBT+ hate crime to ensure that they leave on a positive note.

It also encourages teachers to make sure that vulnerable pupils know that they can speak to them and other members of staff in confidence.

Chris Long, chief Crown prosecutor and CPS national lead on hate crime, said that he hopes the pack helps to improve hate crime reporting among young people.

“We know lots of hate crime isn’t reported,” he said in a statement.

“We hope this refreshed schools pack can help to educate young people and support victims in reporting homophobic and transphobic abuse.

“Education and working with young people is key to tackling hate crime generally.

“This is not about prosecution of youths, but about prevention and educating future generations on homophobic and transphobic hate crime and supporting victims in reporting hate crime.”

In April 2019, the Royal Institution issued a debate kit free to all schools posing the questions: “Should schools make all their toilets unisex?”

More recently, in December 2019, it was reported that a number of single-sex private schools are considering a change in policy to allow trans pupils to attend for the first time. 

More: crown prosecution service, Equality Act, Stonewall, trans pupils

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