Attorney general Suella Braverman says schools have no legal obligation to affirm trans pupils
British schools do not have to affirm trans youth such as by using their pronouns, attorney general Suella Braverman has said.
She told The Times that teachers have no legal requirement to support trans and non-binary pupils by letting them use the toilets or wear the school uniform that aligns with their gender.
Braverman blasted schools’ “unquestioning approach” to trans youth, saying they should take a “much firmer line” by treating trans youth as the gender they were assigned at birth.
It would be “outrageous” for educators not to have the right to question a child’s gender identity because under-18s cannot legally change their gender, Braverman said, schools in no way have to accommodate trans youth.
“A male child who says in a school that they are a trans girl, that they want to be female, is legally still a boy or a male,” she continued in the interview published Friday (27 May). “And schools have a right to treat them as such under the law.
“They don’t have to say, OK, we’re going to let you change your pronoun or let you wear a skirt or call yourself a girl’s name.”
Attorney general Suella Braverman hails ‘heroine’ JK Rowling
The same goes for non-binary pupils, the government’s chief legal adviser said, adding: “I would say to the school they don’t have to and that they shouldn’t allow that child to go into the girls’ toilets.”
Braverman claimed that the 2010 Equality Act allows for “important single-sex exemptions” such as this.
The legislation allows trans people – those of any age who fall under the protected characteristic of “gender reassignment” – to access all single-sex spaces. They can only be barred from spaces on a case-by-case basis if there is a proportionate and justifiable reason to do so, the act says.
Legal experts previously told PinkNews that if a single-sex service provider were to blanket ban all trans people, this would violate the Equality Act.
While trans adults can change their legal gender via the Gender Recognition Act, the drawn-out process means fewer than 5,000 Britons have successfully acquired a Gender Recognition Certificate.
Simply using trans kids’ pronouns, their correct name and wearing the clothing they want significantly cuts their risk of attempting suicide and experiencing depression or anxiety, researchers have repeatedly found.
The Tory MP for Fareham also hailed JK Rowling, the Harry Potter author who has come under fire for her deeply anti-trans views, as a “heroine”. The billionaire is “very brave, very courageous” for speaking out against trans people using single-sex spaces, Braverman said.
Braverman’s chilling remarks are among the clearest yet of a cabinet minister’s views on trans rights in schools. Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi is currently drafting guidelines on how schools should support – if it all – trans youth.
Zahawi said in April that he is working on the guidelines together with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), an equality law watchdog.
The commission has been dogged by claims of transphobia in recent months, from the time it advised that trans conversion therapy be delayed to calling for live-saving gender recognition reforms be paused.
In April, it laid out a way for trans people to be lawfully excluded from single-sex spaces under the Equality Act in its guidance for single-sex service providers.
During a hearing with the education select committee at the same time, Zahawi suggested that teachers should out trans children to their families or guardians.