The Economist is reporting…
ST PAUL’S, a fee-paying girls’ school in west London, often tops the league tables for exam results. But it is in the news for another reason: the publication of a new “gender-identity student protocol”, which allows pupils older than 16 to wear boys’ clothes and to be addressed by boys’ names. Although the school would not accept a male applicant, it is happy to support existing pupils who wish to change gender, explains Clarissa Farr, the school’s head teacher. Growing numbers of her pupils, she says, no longer see themselves as girls.
In 2010 the Labour government passed an equality act that obliges public and private institutions not to discriminate against transgender people. That has led to some improvements. Uniforms increasingly have a unisex option. New schools tend to be built with cubicle toilets and changing rooms, rather than communal ones split by gender. Whereas America has national debates about toilet use, in Britain discontent rarely spreads beyond local parents.
Still, most schools face up to the issue only when one of their pupils comes out as transgender. Even when well-meaning, a rushed response can make things trickier. Teachers are sometimes reluctant to discuss the subject for fear of saying the wrong thing (at St Paul’s, pupils came up with a glossary to help). Yet, say campaigners, most of the time teachers need only listen to what children want.
Tell us what you think in the comments or on Twitter. ~ Andrew
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