Posts Tagged 'schools'

Promise for trans pupils turns out to be less and potentially hollow anyway

Stumbling across the blog ‘UK Equality Bill Excludes Gender Variance‘, via TNUK, their latest post gave me food for thought about reality behind the recent press splurg about an umpteenth promise from Westminster to protect trans school students. The moment friends started telling me the news I was pretty sceptical of it proving to be any good, but following thatlongnamedblog’s go, I thought I’d dissect it myself.

Pulling the source of the story, a question and response in a House of Commons debate on schools, from Hansard* (not the easiest of tasks) we get this;

T9. [261322] Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab): I am sure that my [honorable friend] will agree that bullying in schools is insidious in all its many forms. Indeed, it has been reported that nearly half of all trans-gendered pupils attempt suicide before their 18th birthday. Will she tell me what the Government are doing to protect this very vulnerable group of young people?

Sarah McCarthy-Fry**: I certainly agree that this is a very vulnerable group of young people and that any bullying in schools is a cause for great concern. We recently committed to extending guidance on homophobic bullying to include trans-gender pupils. In addition, now that we have considered the many responses we received to consultation on the 2007 discrimination law review, I am happy to announce that we will extend the discrimination provisions to include trans-gender pupils in the forthcoming Equality Bill.

That was on the 9th March. Then on the 10th a (presumably) DCSF spokesperson told Pink News;

“The decision to extend protection in the Equality Bill is therefore a departure from existing policy but a logical one considering the similarity of experience of transgender children and that of lesbian and gay children, and given the decision to extend discrimination protection on grounds of sexual orientation to schools through the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations. The intention is to harmonise the protection against discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment with that of the protection on the ground of sexual orientation in schools.”


  1. ‘It’s alright really there’s no abuse in schools just bullying, and bullying ain’t abusive, right?’
  2. The Govt is *still* treating TG as within ‘homosexual’, i.e. we’re just cross-dressing gay guys >_<
  3. Yet, despite being ‘just tarted up gay guys’, all those trans kids just have to continue to put up with abuse till whenever the “forthcoming Equality Bill” (more on this in a minute) turns up …rather than the government bothering to set up a temporary protection of all TG pupils via a secondary legislation measure extending the Sexual Orientation protections to cover TG. Something that’d take all of a day, and at worst a week, to do (seriously!)
  4. TG apparently = ‘the gender reassigned’. (More on this in a minute.)
  5. “gender reassignment” *vomit!*

TG vs ‘the gender reassigned’:

Despite no less than thrice saying this was going to cover all TG pupils, the DCSF drops in at the last minute that this is covering just “grounds of gender reassignment”. The Govt defined ‘Gender Reassignment’ in 1999 as;

“a process which is undertaken under medical supervision for the purpose of reassigning a person’s sex by changing physiological or other characteristics of sex, and includes any part of such process.”

So that’d be in effect narrow this down to just transsexed pupils who have managed the assault course / lottery of accessing medical care. Which isn’t all TG pupils by a long stretch.

Hollows promises?:

We’re told this’ll come in the “forthcoming Equality Bill”, a.k.a the Single Equality Bill. Now I checked, this hasn’t been introduced to Parliament yet. Now isn’t that an election I see on the horizon? Isn’t that a good chance of a Tory win I see (regretably)? And when was the last time you heard of a party fresh into government resurrecting it’s enemy’s Bills?

The (1st) Equality Bill was originally introduced in the House of Commons in March 2005, and didn’t get passed till Feb 2006. Taking into account the lost month due to the 2005 general election and 2.5 months due to the summer recess, that’s 7.5 months to get it passed.

Lets assume for example the Single Equality Bill is introduced next month, April. 7.5 months of Parliament from then is early January 2010. Now, given past practice, likely dates for the next general election are, in order of likelihood***; a) 4th June 2009, b) 6th May 2010, meaning this Parliamentary term will likely end either early this May, or early April 2010.

If it’s this May, anything could happen really, depending on the election results but prospects don’t look great. While if it’s April 2010, then we have basically have 3 months breathing room. Except this is assuming;

  1. the SEB gets the same priority as the 1stEB (unlikely given the economic fuss), and
  2. doesn’t get a harder ride, (unlikely given it contains the more ‘controversial’ issues they kept out the 1stEB to get that passed), and
  3. is not substantially longer than the 1stEB (no idea given they won’t make their fucking minds up!).

…oh, and that they actually introduce it in fucking time! (early July)

tl;dr – Promise to protect all TG pupils from abuse in schools is a sham – it’s only going to cover TS pupils who have access to medical supervision. Also it’s 50/50 as to if the legislation it’s promised via will come about soon or ever!

* the official record of Parliament

** McCarthy-Fry is Parliamentary Under-Secretary of Children, Schools and Families, i.e. 3rd in rank at the English Dept for Children, Schools and Families.

*** The present parliament will expire at midnight on 10 May 2010 … which would make the absolute last legal date of the next general election 3 June 2010. But Labour has since coming to power preferred to hold general elections around the 4th anniversary of the last, coinciding with local and/or EU elections. This year’s local and EU elections are on 4 June 2009, and 2010’s local ones would fall on 6th May 2010 following the ‘1st Thursday on May’ tradition.

“Bringing the profession into disrepute”

Somewhat late on in the consultation (over 3 weeks into 12), news has come out about the General Teaching Council for England‘s (GTCE) consultation into a new revised mandatory Code of Conduct for school teachers in England

The purpose of the Code seems to be to set a basic standard and *ethos* for the teaching profession. This revision is fairly heavy, with a big change being the intent to mold teachers into being ‘model role models for children & young people’. The mainstream media caught onto the news over concerns that that last bit could impact excessively on the private lives and affairs of teachers. While the papers and BBC focus on teachers conduct in public social situation (such as at the pub), my concern is the potential for a widely drawn ‘moral code’ with emphasise on ‘the respectability of the profession’ to become a tool for antisexualist and related normatising oppression, as past and recent history have shown.

Looking at the draft guidelines, they are sadly decidedly vague and open to widely varying interpretations at best. But then that seems to be the trend with any restrictions from government these days.

The key problem area seems to clause 8;

8. Demonstrate high standards of honesty and integrity and uphold public trust and confidence in the teaching profession

Registered teachers [ should ]

• Uphold the law and maintain standards of behaviour both inside and outside school that are appropriate given their membership of an important and responsible profession.

8. Demonstrate high standards of honesty and integrity and uphold public trust and confidence in the teaching profession

The GTCE may take action against teachers who fail to maintain appropriate standards of honesty and integrity or undermine public trust and confidence in the profession. …

Clause 8 doesn’t try to discern between reasonable negative responses by the public (and media) and unreasonable ones (such as the support for Section 28). Also, by citing ‘respect the law’ in such an extremely unquestioning manner they are not only playing along with a national government which is criminalising ethical harmless fun and self-expression (amongst other stuff like democratic protest), but also could end up projecting (even more so) a terribly corrosive unthinking authoritarian ‘just do as you are told, don’t question it’ mindset to pupils.

Further, this is on top of the fact the GTCE already get automatically notified of ALL criminal convictions (including cautions), which combined with the creeping criminalisation of consensual bodily pleasures and the pernicious gossip-heeding Criminal Records Bureaux checks is essentially acting to ‘cleanse’ child and caring related professions of people with “deviant” sexualities, sensualities or genders. I note this ironically violates the GTCE’s commitment within the draft Code to equality and diversity. …Although of course, i cynically expect the old line of “oh, we didn’t mean equality for
you, just normal people”
to be used here. >_<

Putting aside ethical behaviour which is already criminalised, I would guess off the top of my head the Code if implemented as it currently stands could be used to attack teachers who are; kinksters, swingers, polyamorous, sluts, cross-dressers, public sex-positive etc activists, or visit sex workers (not illegal yet!). Normative monogamous vanilla non-activist LGBs and transsexed people would probably be sufficiently protected from prejudiced use of the Code by current equality legislation.

Certainly there is nothing specifically aggressive in the Code’s current form, but there is worrying potential for misuse against Sexual & Gender Diverse teachers (and populus in general).

• • • • • •

You can get copies of the code (PDF) and answer an anonymous ‘leading questions’ survey on it here. Although I would suggest, if you can, sending them a personal response focusing on the particular concerns about sex, gender variance, and kink either instead of or in addition to their survey.

The consultation closes on Friday 27 February 09.

Contact details:

  • General Teaching Council for England, Whittington House, 19-30 Alfred Place, London, WC1E 7EA

Anyone else’s interpretations of the draft and possible prejudicial use of it would of course be welcome. 🙂

• • • • • •


A proposed Code of Conduct for teachers in England which desires to make them role models for pupils and force them to follow society’s morals, even in their private lives, runs the risk of becoming a tool for ‘SexoGenderal Cleansing’.

[Addition edits on 20/12, for clarity and due to clear up sleepytyping vagueness]

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