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Why a Growing Number of Transgender Children Are Being Removed from UK Schools

Flickr/Guillaume Paumier

More and more families in the UK are taking their transgender children out of school because they say their child’s rights are being breached, the BBC has reported.

Schools enforcing gendered uniform rules, and not using the name or pronoun the child prefers, leave the parents with “no option but to pull” them out of the classroom. 

“Sometimes the child is being bullied and the school is not dealing with it appropriately,” said head of the Good Schools Guide, Bernadette John.

“We also hear that schools are causing transgender children undue stress and anxiety by refusing to allow them to use the name or pronoun they prefer, or to wear the uniform and use facilities for the gender they identify with,” she added

Read more: Brits Are Coming Out for LGBT as Report Reveals ‘Shocking Levels of Hate Crime and Discrimination’

John highlighted the “tremendous anguish” that people — both adults and children — can feel when they are not able to express their true identity, driving them to self-harm or even suicide, in an article published in Absolutely Education magazine.

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Increasing numbers of young people are identifying with gender that is neither male nor female, or a combination of both — the number of children being referred to the NHS with gender identity issues increased more than tenfold between 2010 and 2016.

Under the Equality Act, transgender children have the right to wear the school uniform of the gender with which they identify; use gender-specific facilities, such as toilets or changing rooms; and to be addressed as whichever gender they identify as. 

Read more: India’s Supreme Court Rules Sexual Orientation Is a Protected Right

Schools are fundamental in driving progress in society’s changing attitude to gender, and gender identification, and activists and teaching unions have called for training in schools so the issue can be addressed more sensitively. 

“While a growing number of schools are supporting their trans pupils, too many are not equipped to do so,” says a report released by LGBT charity Stonewall, entitled the “Stonewall School Project,” in June. 

“It is vital that this is remedied as a matter of urgency,” it added.

Read more: 5 Young Trans Activists Are Changing How the World Thinks About Gender

The study found heartbreaking statistics concerning transgender children’s experience of school. 

Some 64% of trans pupils are bullied for being LGBT at school. One in 10 trans pupils have received death threats, and more than 40% have tried to take their own lives. 

The Human Rights Campaign gives this advice to parents whose child is LGBTQIA. 

“Being transgender is not a phase, and trying to dismiss it as such can be harmful during a time when your child most needs support and validation,” it says on its website

“Trying to change your child’s gender identity — either by denial, punishment, reparative therapy, or any other tactic — is not only ineffective; it is dangerous and can do permanent damage to your child’s mental health,” it adds.