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Meet the Safe Schools Alliance, who want to ban trans kids from bathrooms and redefine what an LGBT+ hate crime is

Vic Parsons May 7, 2020
Safe Schools Alliance is trying to bring anti-trans bathroom bills to the UK

Three people pose with a Safe Schools Alliance leaflet in photos posted on the group's website. (SSA/Mina Boromand and Zohreh Boromand)

Guidance for schools on tackling anti-LGBT+ bullying and hate crimes has been withdrawn, following pressure from anti-trans lobby group the Safe Schools Alliance.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which conducts criminal prosecutions in England and Wales, launched its LGBT+ bullying and hate crimes schools pack in January 2020.

The guidance was supposed to help teachers tackle LGBT+ hate crimes in classrooms.

Hate crimes against gay and lesbian people more than doubled in the UK between 2014 and 2019, while offences against trans people have trebled in the same time period, according to a Guardian analysis.

And in 2018/19, police recorded more than 11,600 hate crimes against LGBT+ people – including stalking, harassment and violent assault.

The CPS guidance, referring to the protected characteristic of “gender reassignment” in the Equality Act 2010, made clear that homophobic and transphobic bullying shouldn’t be tolerated in schools and that transgender pupils should use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity.

But the Safe Schools Alliance (SSA) said this “made female students feel unsafe in schools”.

The CPS has now temporarily withdrawn the guidance pending review, following a letter from lawyers representing a 14-year-old girl who threatened legal action.

The girl’s legal challenge said that she “finds the thought of biological boys accessing the girl’s toilets as very distressing”.

Lawyers Sinclairs Law said the girl disagrees with “transgender ideology”.

“She believes that a person is the sex that is observed at birth and that this cannot be changed. It is a matter of biological fact. Gender is a social construct,” the lawyers letter to the CPS says.

Trans people have existed since the dawn of time.

Scientific research and medical experts have confirmed that trans people have higher rates of anxiety, depression, suicide attempts and other mental-health issues – unless they are affirmed in their gender and given access to healthcare, in which case their mental health is comparable to that of their cisgender peers.

The SSA position is not backed up by any evidence, but is shared by the UK’s transphobic right-wing media and various fascists around the world, including Donald Trump’s administration, Poland’s government, and Hungary’s far-right prime minister, Viktor Orbán.

On launching the CPS’s LGBT+ hate crimes guidance, Chris Long, chief crown prosecutor and CPS national lead on hate crime, said: “We know lots of hate crime isn’t reported.

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

“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.”

On its crowdfunding page for the legal challenge, which has raised more than £6,000, the SSA claim that the CPS LGBT+ hate-crime guidance for schools “means the police and CPS are monitoring our classrooms and encouraging school children and teachers to report each other for disagreeing with transgender ideology”.

Safe Schools Alliance fight against trans school kids using the bathroom.

Last week, the UK’s High Court granted permission for a judicial review of Oxfordshire County Council’s guidance on which bathroom transgender people should use.

The case, being brought by a 13-year-old girl who says she objects to sharing changing rooms and bathrooms with trans girls, does not yet have a court date but is going ahead, the High Court has confirmed.

Oxfordshire County Council’s “Trans Inclusion Toolkit” , which was updated in 2019 to include guidance on toilets, changing rooms, residential trips and PE classes, is aimed at professionals working with children and young people in schools, colleges and other education settings.

It follows best practices identified by the Government Equalities Office regarding trans and gender-questioning youth, which state that children and young people have the backing of the Equality Act 2010 to use the toilet corresponding to their gender identity.

This supports trans girls using the girls’ bathrooms and trans boys using the boys’.

The council said it “utterly refutes” concerns that children are being put at risk and that its guidance is underpinned by the Equality Act 2010.

It added that it is “confident [the guidance]…provides help” in a “difficult and emotive area”.

The unnamed teenage girl, who describes trans girls as boys, has raised more than £22,000 to fund her legal battle against this trans-inclusive guidance through crowdfunding website CrowdJustice, and is again backed by the Safe Schools Alliance (SSA).

If she wins her case, trans youth in Oxfordshire will be forced to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender they were assigned at birth.

The SSA said it was “delighted” that the High Court had granted permission for a judicial review, and hoped that a successful verdict would have “national implications”.

The Safe Schools Alliance told PinkNews: “Our position is that all children should be treated equally and fairly and kept safe at all times.

“Schools should uphold the Equality Act 2010, including the single sex exceptions. Schools should be mindful that there are nine protected characteristics, all of which are equal in law.

“On the few occasions it is necessary to split children into ‘boys’ and ‘girls’, for reasons of safety, privacy and dignity, this should be done on the basis of biological sex. If any child is caused distress by being with their biological sex, we recommend that schools work with children and their families to find a solution that does not impinge upon the rights of any other student.”

Who are the Safe Schools Alliance?

The SSA formed in May 2019, seemingly to criticise model Munroe Bergdorf’s appointment as Childline’s first LGBT+ ambassador, and is behind several other legal attacks on trans youth and trans rights.

None of the people behind the well-funded group are publicly named on its website, which says it is a “group of concerned parents, grandparents, teachers, governors, health professionals, education professionals, and carers from more than 30 local education authority areas in the UK” who have “no religious or political affiliation”.

However, it has fought campaigns on the same side as religious anti-LGBT+ groups in the UK and said it was “pleased” by Tory equalities minister Liz Truss’ recent comments about Gender Recognition Act reform, which have been fiercely criticised by LGBT+ and human-rights organisations as an attack on trans youth.

The SSA is also strongly opposed to Drag Queen Story Time events, which it says raise “concerns” about “child safeguarding”.

The legal case the SSA are backing against Oxfordshire County Council is similar to so-called “bathroom bills” brought forward by Republicans in multiple US states, which seek to ban trans people from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

Asked by PinkNews if the SSA would like so-called “bathroom bills” to be introduced more widely in the UK, spokesperson Tanya Carter said: “Our aim is for safeguarding to be at the forefront of all school policies, for the Equality Act 2010 to be upheld and correctly applied and for all children in school to be safe, feel safe and have their needs met.”

In practice, anti-trans bathroom bills force trans people out of public spaces as access to toilets, changing rooms and other single-sex facilities is denied.

The SSA has received tens of thousands of pounds from anonymous donors via crowdfunding campaigns to fund its efforts lobbying against trans-inclusive relationship and sex education.

Safe Schools Alliance force Warwickshire County Council to drop trans guidance.

Earlier this month, schools in Warwickshire were forced to remove a 50-page booklet – created by trans support group Gendered Intelligence and LGBT+ youth group Allsorts Youth Project – that provided guidance to trans students.

The booklet was part of Warwickshire County Council’s relationships and sex education programme, All About Me.

The SSA campaigned for the Tory-controlled council to drop LGBT+ resources in relationship education programmes, as did anti-LGBT+ groups including The Christian Institute, which has lobbied against same-sex marriagediscrimination protections for LGBT+ people, trans rights and inclusive education.

The Christian Institute claimed that the LGBT+ relationships resources were promoting “experimental transgender ideas in schools”.

“We did not work with them [The Christian Institute] on the campaign against Warwickshire,” Tanya Carter says.

“We have not had any dealings with them and we are not ‘aligned’ with them in any way. We are completely different organisations.”

Warwickshire County Council’s “trans toolkit” also advised that trans youth use the bathrooms and changing facilities that they felt most comfortable in.

This guidance has now been formally suspended for 300 schools, which means that access to bathrooms for trans youth – currently a non-issue, as most schoolchildren in the UK remain at home under coronavirus lockdown – is at risk.

Attacks Black trans model Munroe Bergdorf.

The Safe Schools Alliance first came to public attention in June 2019, when it – along with notoriously anti-trans Times columnist Janice Turner – criticised the NSPCC for appointing Black trans model Munroe Bergdorf as Childline’s first-ever LGBT+ campaigner.

The SSA said Bergdorf was “supportive of children dressing as ‘drag queens'” and therefore unsuitable for the role.

Nearly 150 NSPCC staff condemned the charity’s subsequent decision to abruptly cut ties with Bergdorf, writing a public letter expressing their “embarrassment and shame” at the NSPCC.

Bergdorf said she was “unbelievably sad” that the charity had decided to “bow down to anti-LGBT+ hate and overt transphobia“.

More: crown prosecution service, Equality Act 2010, janice turner, munroe bergdorf, oxfordshire county council, safe schools alliance, The Christian Institute, transphobia, warwickshire county council

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