Following the revelation in the last couple of weeks that a number of schools have been reintroducing Section 28 policy (in which the promotion of homosexuality is outlawed) as they switch over to academy status, today I have read that there is a move to remove protection for trans children in the guidelines for the delivery of the national curriculum. This involves changing from the following wording:
4.2 Teachers should take account of their duties under equal opportunities legislation that covers disability, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, gender identity, and religion or belief
Teachers should take account of their duties under equal opportunities legislation that covers disability, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation
– probably in breech of the equalities act, and certainly undermining the equality group arguably already most vulnerable to both peer bullying and systemic oppression. In the case of the reintroduction of Section 28, in some cases this seems to be a genuine oversight where policy makers have cobbled together old documents in preparing for the shift to Academy status – not excusable, and just one indicator of the ways in which localisation of policy and power puts vulnerable students at risk. In the case of the removal of gender identity, however, it is noteworthy that the change comes alongside two other regressive political changes in the wording used.
The change from ethnicity to race and gender to sex shows a move to enforce differences between equality groups as biological (and therefore something which cannot be changed and which as a consequence it could be seen as not within the remit of the institution to fully protect from an equalities perspective). Ethnicity and gender recognise the lived, environmental form which equality differences take, which institutions form a part in and can serve a purpose in redressing.
Equality has been under attack from the starting point of this government, and it is no surprise that they are seeking to undermine what is presumably viewed as the woolly liberal aim of protecting children from harm on the basis of differences largely not affecting our white male upper class CIS government. We need to stop treating it as a rearguard issue and take them out.
Please sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/department-for-education-take-cissexism-out-of-the-national-curriculum