Guidance keeps sympathetic people sympathetic

(To bastardise the idiom, ‘Locks keep honest people honest’, which Twiggydyke used in a discussion about data security last weekend.)

Via The F Word (and Pink News and the Schools Out blog), I hear that the English Dept. for Children, Schools and Families is developing “guidance … for schools on gender and gender identity with the consultation starting soon”. That’s good. Baroness Morgan of Drefelin[1] also “expressed her wish to see a light shining in the dark corners of classrooms and for the reality of LGBT lives to be fully realised in the curriculum”. Even better, excellent news.

Except… this is going to be guidance. I.e. entirely voluntary, and no guarantee it will be pushed actively in any way.

On one hand, given the reasonable-to-good quality of the information booklets on trans health issues (for both trans people, their close ones, and staff) that the English NHS has been recently producing (although I haven’t managed to read all of them yet), one expects that this promised guidance by the DCSF will at least be of passable quality. But, since it is *only guidance*, those teachers and schools who are already sympathetic to and informed about trans and gender variant pupils, will seek them out, digest them, and continue being good at either the same or an enhanced level. Those who have an ‘dormant’ sympathy, may come across them, and then if they do, hopefully be able to provide a passable level of support. And finally, those who are ignorant, fearful, restricted by a negative culture around them, uncommitted to their job, overworked, stressing about league tablets, prejudiced, or simply outright biggoted, won’t seek the guidance out and won’t follow it’s toothless suggestions, thus they will continue to fail not just trans and GV children and young people, but all children and young people, by allowing or encouraging the continued operation of the oppressive forces of compulsory gendernormativity (and it’s ilk) within their schools.

In essence releasing guidance, even the best guidance one could possibly imagine, will only improve the behaviour of schools and teachers who are already inclined to act right. And giving guidance to those who hate or couldn’t care less, is… well pretty much pointless. So all this exercise will do[2] is to create the impression that the government cares and that things are now better and safe for all trans and GV pupils in all our schools, while actually doing only a fraction of that promise.

And there a word for that, Tokenism.

If they truely wanted to put T+GV children and young people on a equal footing in life to their gendernormative cis fellows, then; compulsory teaching units on gender diversity, compulsory T+GV inc. diversity training for all staff and govenors, publically displayed school Equality Opportunities statements, and an effective approach to eliminating hate crime and abuse (a.k.a “bullying”) within schools would be….

…merely a good starting point.


tl;dr – The government is promising guidance to english schools on trans issues, but as it’s “guidance”, it’ll be mainly ignored. We don’t need guidance, or suggestions to respect us! We need OBLIGATIONS!

[1] not to be confused with Baroness Morgan of Huyton

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