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Schools Update

Volume 736: debated on Thursday 20 July 2023

I have been working closely with my right hon. Friend the Minister for Women and Equalities on guidance for schools and colleges when a child is questioning their gender.

We have always said that this is about safety for children. It is a difficult and sensitive area and more information is needed about the long-term implications of a child acting as though they are the opposite sex. We also need to take care to understand how such actions affect other children in the school or college. These decisions must not be taken lightly or in haste.

It is vital that the guidance we publish gives clarity for schools and colleges and reassurance for parents. So we have made the decision to allow more time—to speak to teachers, parents, lawyers and other stakeholders —in order to ensure this guidance meets the high expectations that these groups rightly have for it.

In the meantime, schools and colleges should proceed with extreme caution. They should always involve parents in decisions relating to their child, and should not agree to any changes that they are not absolutely confident are in the best interests of that child and their peers. They should prioritise safeguarding by meeting their existing legal duties to protect single sex spaces and maintain safety and fairness in single sex sport.

I want to give reassurance of how seriously we are taking this issue, and will endeavour to keep the House updated ahead of any developments.